Engineering sustainability: A new degree coming from the Carl R. Ice College of Engineering in Fall 2020

The environmental engineering program will combines multiple disciplines. (File photo | Collegian Media Group)

Students at Kansas State will soon be able to combine disciplines and earn a degree in engineering and sustainability.

In fall 2020, the Carl R. Ice College of Engineering will offer a new environmental engineering program. The 126-hour curriculum will focus on preparing students to create innovative solutions to sustain our planet.

A committee formed to explore ideas for the program three years ago.

“We were looking into what other environmental engineering programs in adjacent states were like as well the job opportunities for students,” said Trisha Moore, the program’s future director and professor of biological and agricultural engineering.

Some universities in adjacent states incorporate environmental engineering into civil engineering, whereas K-State currently only offers an environmental emphasis within biological systems and civil engineering.

“The unique thing about this is that is goes through a separate accreditation process so that the course the students take in their preparation is very environmentally focused,” Moore said.

All current degrees in the college of engineering are within a department, like computer science or mechanical engineering, but the environmental engineering degree is just under the entire college as opposed to a specific department.

“The reality is that we all work together,” Moore said. “That’s one of the cool things about having a program like environmental engineering. We need people from civil engineering, and we need some of the perspectives from biological engineering and we need some chemical engineers as well. There’s all these different players, but we have faculty from three different departments who will be contributing in terms of developing the program, assembling the program and teaching in the program.”

Environmental engineering will include current faculty with backgrounds in environmental engineering.

Students can declare the major in spring 2020, and the official cohort of students capable to begin the four-year program will start in fall 2020.

Courses will focus on environmental, civil, biological and agricultural engineering and design.

“I get excited about any opportunity for crossing disciplines,” Moore said. “I think that recognizing and seeing how every perspective brings something valuable to solve these complex issues.”

Moore said she hopes the program help design systems for people that do not harm nature.

“I hope that by packaging a program this way that it focuses students to get the much needed expertise but also the together pieces like life cycle analysis,” she said.

After the first graduates of the environmental engineering program have completed their degrees, the program will seek to gain ABET accreditation.