Next fall, students will be able to get a dual masters degree that will combine engineering and natural sciences to produce environmentally conscious engineers.

Gregory Keoleian, an associate professor in the School of Natural Resources and Environment and one of the architects of the Engineering Sustainable Systems degree, said the program is a vital step in the right direction for sustainability.

“This program is important because we want to educate engineers about sustainability challenges and provide them with the tools to address those challenges,” Keoleian said. “This degree looks at the nexus of sustainability and technology.”

Although the initial program will only be available as a dual masters degree, Keoleian said there are other efforts to try to integrate environmental concerns into the undergraduate engineering programs as well.

The partnership between the College of Engineering and the School of Natural Resources for the program is the first of its kind in the nation. Students in the program will have to complete all of the requirements to earn a masters of science in both engineering and natural resources and environment.

When the program begins, participants will follow one of three tracks depending on their engineering field. These tracks will focus on sustainable energy systems, sustainable design and manufacturing systems or sustainable water resources.

The program will initially include only existing classes, but as the degree grows, more classes and specialization categories will be added.

“In the past, technology has been the cause of environmental problems, but this program is to train engineers to enable technology to be part of the solution,” Keoleian said.

Engineering junior Nelson Cooper said the new program fills a hole in the College of Engineering’s curriculum.

“The program sounds great,” he said. “There is a big need for it. If you’re not a civil and environmental engineering major – which is basically civil engineering with a few environmental classes thrown in – sustainability hardly ever gets mentioned.”

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