College of EngineeringDepartment of Civil and Environmental EngineeringAcademicsGraduateProgramsEnvironmental Engineering

Environmental Engineering

environmentalEnvironmental engineering is the application of engineering principles to protect public health and minimize human impacts on the environment. Within civil engineering, environmental engineering originally comprised the field of sanitary engineering, the treatment and supply of clean drinking water and the collection and treatment of municipal wastewater. Although most of the U.S. now has access to clean drinking water and adequate wastewater treatment facilities, much of the developing world still has basic sanitation needs. Thus traditional water and wastewater treatment are one of the most important things civil engineers have to offer to the rest of the world.

Because of this tradition, the undergraduate curriculum is designed to expose students to the principles of environmental engineering in the context of water and wastewater treatment. In addition, within the past twenty to thirty years, environmental engineering has expanded to encompass other areas of engineering to protect public health and the environment, including the treatment and disposal of solid and hazardous wastes, the cleanup of contaminated sites, and air pollution control.

Graduate research and instruction is available within a number of these fields (see below).

Graduate study

A masters degree has generally been considered as the minimum required degree for the professional practice of environmental engineering. The environmental engineering program at Auburn has a strong history of producing M.S. students who go on to work at leading consulting engineering firms such as CH2MHILL Inc., Montgomery Watson, Inc., and Malcolm Pirnie Inc., as well as with government agencies such as the Alabama Department of Environmental Management. The environmental engineering program also offers an off campus M.C.E. degree anywhere in the world via online. In addition, we offer a 12-month M.C.E. program.

Our Ph.D. graduates have also gone on to faculty positions at other universities, including the University of Central Florida, the University of South Carolina, Virginia Tech and the University of Western Australia.

Most of the current faculty have research interests in some aspect of water quality, but in a wide range of applications including traditional water and wastewater treatment, industrial wastewater treatment, hazardous and radioactive waste management, site remediation, subsurface contaminant transport, and environmental chemistry and microbiology. One area where the faculty's interests overlap is subsurface science and engineering. Course work and research are available in these areas.

Collaborative relationships also exist with department faculty in hydraulics and hydrology; agricultural, chemical, and textile engineering; and agronomy and soils, chemistry and microbiology.

Candidates with excellent academic records and a strong desire to pursue an advanced degree in environmental engineering are encouraged to contact a faculty member or our environmental engineering graduate coordinator for more information. Most graduate students in our program receive financial support. Applications are accepted year round, but students wishing to enter in the fall and receive full consideration for financial support should send a resume and letter of application to the address shown below by March 15 of the year in which they want to enter. Students may apply for financial support before applying for formal admission to the graduate school.

Environmental engineering graduate coordinator

Dongye Zhao
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
238 Harbert Engineering Center
Auburn University, AL 36849-5337

Faculty in environmental engineering

  • Mark O. Barnett, professor
  • Dongye Zhao, professor
  • Joel Hayworth, associate professor
  • Natalie Cápiro, assistant professor
  • Lauren E. Beckingham  assistant professor
  • Shiqiang (Nick) Zhou, assistant professor
  • Larry D. Benefield, professor emeritus and dean emeritus of the College of Engineering
  • Joe M. Morgan, associate professor emeritus and associate dean emeritus of the College of Engineering