Professor of Civil Engineering

Environmental Engineering

The field of Environmental Engineering has changed substantially over the last several decades. The roots of Environmental Engineering can probably be traced back to "Sanitary Engineering" applications, largely based on treatment of water, wastewater, solid wastes, and air. While all of these endpoints remain at the core of Environmental Engineering, the field has expanded to include other issues, such as fate and transport of contaminants, soil and groundwater contamination, radioactive wastes, environmental sustainability, and ecological engineering. Moreover, the issues that define the core areas have also expanded in scope. For example, specialists in air pollution issues formerly were concerned primarily with issues that were relevant on a basin scale, such as air quality in a given metropolitan area. More recently, researchers in this field have extended their domain to include small-scale air pollution problems (e.g., indoor air pollution) and global-or international-scale air pollution problems (e.g., depletion of stratospheric ozone, global warming, acid rain). Additional illustrations may be found in the "traditional" area of drinking water production. Today, researchers in this area are investigating methods for detection of compounds that previously were undetectable, and were generally not of concern to the scientific community or the public. There is also increasing awareness of the need to provide safe, reliable, inexpensive drinking water to people in many parts of the world, where safe drinking water may not be easily obtained.

In general, the expansion of the field of Environmental Engineering has required incorporation of new knowledge from other fields. This new knowledge comes from other fields of Engineering and the Sciences.

Within the College of Engineering at Purdue University, researchers from many academic units are involved in teaching and research that relates to environmental issues.


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