Wondering what’s in store for you after graduating from UBC’s Environmental Engineering program?
The practice of environmental engineering is currently at the forefront of addressing humanity’s biggest challenges. Environmental engineering dates back to Roman times with the construction of aqueducts to prevent droughts and to provide clean water. In addition to provisioning a safe and potable water supply and adequate sanitation, the scope of a career in environmental engineering includes:
- Waste water management
- Air and water pollution control
- Contaminated soil remediation and contaminant transport
- Recycling and resource recovery
- Environmental assessment and environmental law
Environmental engineers design and manage processes and products that minimize or eliminate pollution, protect human health, and promote sustainability and ecosystem health, without sacrificing economic viability and efficiency. Specific tasks can include:
- The design of facilities, management systems, and information systems
- The performance of impact assessments (including regulatory, sustainability, environmental, social, and risk)
- Sustainability planning and design
- Environmental policy formulation
The increasing demand for environmental engineers by all levels of government agencies, as well as by the manufacturing and processing sector, the agricultural sector, resource industries and consulting firms, makes environmental engineering an ideal career for a systems thinker with a passion for addressing climate change and improving ecosystem health.
A graduate of UBC’s Environmental Engineering program will find employment in one of four major sectors:
Environmental consulting firms
As the base for many renowned environmental consulting firms that work throughout the world, British Columbia has 129 members of the British Columbia Environment Industry Association (BCEIA). These include major international companies such as Stantec Consulting Ltd., SNC Lavalin Inc., WSP, AECOM, Jacobs, Pottinger Gaherty Environmental Consultants Ltd., Hemmera (Ausenco), Klohn Crippen Berger Ltd., and Golder Associates Ltd., to mention just a few.
All of these companies are often looking for fresh new faces in the environmental engineering sector. Positions in these companies include industrial waste management, remediation, environmental services, consulting, environmental risk analysis, water management and all aspects of environmental management and planning.
Your contribution can help shape the future of sustainability in the world’s largest cities. As an environmental engineer, you will be providing critical municipal services to large cities, including water supply, waste management, energy conservation & recovery, pollution reduction and remediation of contaminated sites for construction. With the continuing impact of climate change, this is especially critical as urban areas prepare for the impacts and the mitigation of biodiversity loss.
Extractive industries and Agriculture
Key infrastructure industries such as mining, oil and gas employ environmental engineers to design systems and new technologies in order to mitigate the effect of these activities on the environment. In this way, it reduces the overall footprint, water, reagent use and energy consumption. Alternative processes are needed to recover values from residues and wastes for reuse in order to contribute to a circular economy, and your newfound skills and knowledge can help with this. Pulp and paper mills are a key example, and an education in environmental engineering is in high demand for these types of industries.
British Columbia is home to 198 Indigenous First Nations, a full 33% in all of Canada, many of whom live in remote communities and do not receive “on the grid” services. Drinking water advisories are common, and the access to safe drinking water is a constant concern. At any given time, there are between 500 and 700 boil water advisories in those communities. In response, the Canadian government has committed to supplying all of these communities with clean water by 2021, which make the demand for environmental engineers an urgent one, now and into the future. Environmental Engineers are responsible for designing appropriate technologies for remote communities to supply them with safe drinking water and to treat their wastes to improve overall health and protect the environment.
As evidenced above, a career in environmental engineering will be both challenging and rewarding.