Weird! I thought when I first heard the name “Environmental Engineering”. How can anyone connect hard-core technical science involving nuts and bolts, to trees and flowers? Highly juvenile, yes, but my definition of “environment” before I started this degree some three years ago was exactly that; trees and flowers.
Juggling against my love for math and mechanics, while reckoning myself as a thorough nature girl at heart, I thought this maybe my life’s calling, finally the right answer to give when someone asked me what I wanted to be when I “grow up”.
Hence I applied, and when the first merit list confirmed my seat, I jumped at the first opportunity and never looked back. Ideal, isn’t it? Well, here is a slight twist..there is a lot more to this degree than just getting to appreciate the marvels of nature, something I was naïve enough to initially expect.
Let’s start with the basics. Firstly, why is there a need for such a degree? That’s because since time immemorial, we humans have a long history of polluting our air, water, and soil. This contamination not only deteriorates nature, but can also cause irreversible damage to all life forms. I often think that an environmentalist is more beneficial to a society than medical doctors, as by treating our surrounding they prevent the outbreak of many epidemics, otherwise caused by contaminated drinking water and air. Prevention is better than cure, as goes the adage. Pakistan, for instance, is enduring a whooping loss of about Rs 1 billion per day due to environment degradation, according to a report by World Bank!
Enter Environmental Engineers. Harnessing the trademark Personal Protective Equipment (ppe) and blue field jeans, they use the principles of math, biology and chemistry to clean up the messes you’ve made and prevent new ones from happening. Their primary duties are involved in water and air pollution control, recycling, waste disposal, and public health issues. For example, they might figure out how to clean up toxic material that has seeped into the ground at an old gas station or design an effective way to treat wastewater. Environmental engineers conduct hazardous-waste management studies in which they evaluate the significance of the hazard, offer analysis on treatment and containment, and develop regulations to prevent mishaps. They design municipal water supply and industrial wastewater treatment systems. It is essential for them to conduct research on proposed environmental projects, analyze scientific data, and perform quality control checks. Studying and attempting to minimize the effects of acid rain, global warming, automobile emissions, and ozone depletion is all part of the job. Some may also be involved in the protection of wildlife.
To get a complete occupational profile of an Environmental Engineer, consult this link.
This pretty much sums it up. So for all those of you who choose this as their career choice, be fully prepared to combat a wide range of subjects head on, get used to enduring long hours of lab work, field work..and the smell of raw sewage. Honestly! But jokes aside, once you get the hang of this, being an Environmental Engineer is one of the most satisfying careers ethically and financially!