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A PhD in Environmental Engineering Promotes Green Living and Pay Grades

Posted May 29 2012 11:49pm

A doctoral degree in environmental sciences might be the ticket to the VIP section of the job market today and one of the best ways to be part of the sustainability movement. These types of degrees are also available online – everything from supplementary programs to online PhD courses giving students the options they need to join the market on any rung of the ladder. Hopefully, with study, the use of polluting fossil fuels can be avoided the money saved can be invested into additional sustainable technologies that thriving enterprises can be built on top of.

Those that say that virtue is its own reward would be partially correct in this instance. Not only does do environmental sciences degrees and engineering programs teach students the science of sustainable life and development, increasingly, universities are leading the way with their own internal programs to promote “green living .”

There are a couple of ways to go into sustainability: engineering and sciences. Environmental engineering concerns itself with creating sustainable, low-impact solutions to a wide variety of problems. Environmental science is more concerned with identification, remediation and prevention of specific environmental problems using science.

Environmental engineering and science programs around the world are addressing formerly intractable problems affecting humanity. They are solving these problems using new methods with lower impact on the environment. For example, arsenic contamination is a real problem. Arsenic in dangerous concentrations in natural waters is a problem globally. This pollution is coming from a variety of sources including building materials. Arsenic contamination has been referred to as a 20th–21st century calamity.

High arsenic concentrations have been reported recently from the USA, China, Chile, Bangladesh, Taiwan, Mexico, Argentina, Poland, Canada, Hungary, Japan and India. Among the 21 countries affected by groundwater arsenic contamination, the largest population at risk is in India. This problem is being explored by a joint project between the Department of Chemistry at Mississippi State University and the Environmental Chemistry Division, Industrial Toxicology Research Centre, at Mahatma Gandhi Marg (University) in Lucknow, India.

The project has been named the Project Tests Organic Materials for Removal of Arsenic and its purpose was to evaluate the arsenic-clearing ability of a wide variety of natural materials including low cost adsorbents like treated slags. Other adsorbents tested include: agricultural waste carbons such as coconut husk carbons , biosorbents such as immobilized biomass/orange juice residue, goethite (a mineral) and commercial adsorbents like resins, gels and silica. Interestingly, treated silica was superior at arsenic removal as did immobilized biomass adsorbents thus solving two problems at once.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecast for jobs in the next 10 years shows higher demand in this field than many others. The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecast for jobs in the next 10 years shows higher demand in this field than many others. The BLS report regarding job prospects in this field states: “The projected rate of change in employment for the 10-year timeframe between 2010 and 2020. The average growth rate for all occupations is 14 percent.” Expected growth rate of green collar jobs is projected at 19%.

There are 62 institutions certified in environmental engineering by the Academy of Environmental Engineers. This is one of the accreditation bodies in the field of sustainability. The list of these institutions has been collected and amassed by the American Association of Employment in Education . There are other groups that certify environmental scientists by subspecialty. There are also groups affiliated with the Green Chemistry and similar environmentally-cognizant activities mounted by the chemical industry among others. Many of these institutions offer an online option as well as traditional classes.

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