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Using Environmental Impact Assessment To Introduce Environmental Engineering To Traditional Civil Engineering Undergraduate Students

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Innovative Teaching Methods

Tagged Division

Environmental Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1385.1 - 11.1385.10



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Paper Authors

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Beth Wittig City College of the City University of New York

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Using environmental impact assessment to introduce environmental engineering to traditional Civil Engineering undergraduate students


The City College of New York undergraduate Civil Engineering (CE) program has a well rounded curriculum which develops proficiency in structural, transportation, and environmental engineering. The 134 credit program is fairly traditional in that it requires statics, dynamics, mechanics of deformable bodies, structural analysis, finite element analysis, soil mechanics, transportation systems and engineering, fluid dynamics, hydraulics and hydrology, and environmental engineering of all undergraduate students.

The program serves a diverse student population, a majority of whom elect to specialize in structural engineering. For example, in Fall of 2004 and Fall of 2005, 52% of the undergraduate students taking the environmental course specialized in structural engineering, and 30% specialized in transportation engineering. Only 18% of the undergraduate students actually specialized in environmental engineering. Since a majority of the students taking the course did not specialize in environmental engineering, the required environmental engineering course was considered to be irrelevant by many of the students.

In response to these factors, a required course called Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been introduced into the curriculum, just before the required Environmental Engineering (EnvE) course. The EIA course introduces environmental concepts as a means to perform environmental assessment, a practice employed by engineers of all specializations to develop more sustainable engineering designs. As such, the EIA course focuses on the environmental media of greatest relevance to EIA, namely air, water, soil, and sound; the physical and chemical descriptions of these media; and the transport and transformation of pollutants in and across these media. Environmental engineering practices to reduce these pollutant concentrations at the source or in the environment are only introduced, and only to make students aware of conventional means to mitigate environmental impact. Conventional methods of drinking water, waste water, and air pollution treatment are now the focus of attention in the revised EnvE course. The primary goals of the EIA course are to engage all CE students regardless of their specialization, and create an interdisciplinary forum to discuss and evaluate some of the social, economic, and environmental issues associated with CE projects. The secondary goals of the course are to prepare students for two higher level required courses, and promote the utility and importance of environmental engineering and thus recruit more students into the field of study.

Structure of the New Course

The course is open to engineering students who have completed sophomore level calculus, computer assisted data analysis and chemistry, and who are in the process of completing or who have already completed fluid mechanics.

Wittig, B. (2006, June), Using Environmental Impact Assessment To Introduce Environmental Engineering To Traditional Civil Engineering Undergraduate Students Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--75

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