EEE 10 years later: Celebrating a decade of accomplishments

Greetings from Environmental and Ecological Engineering (EEE). In May 2013, ten years ago, the first class of students graduated from our department through the BSEEE degree program.

How can ten years have passed so quickly!  All of the students, faculty, and staff who have connected with our department in the ensuing years owe a deep debt of gratitude to those first ten students. Those ten students took a risk on a newly launched program and helped pave the way for all the amazing EEE accomplishments that have happened over the last ten years. In this newsletter, please allow me to remind all of us of a few of the many amazing things that the EEE family has accomplished over the last decade.

As noted above, in May 2013 there were 10 graduates from the BSEEE degree program. The BSEEE program has grown remarkably since then.  In fact, we expect to have 61 graduates from the EEE undergraduate degree program this year.  This means the BSEEE degree program has grown by a factor of 6 in ten years.  In 2016, the state of Indiana approved the EEE graduate degrees (MS and PhD).  Since then, we have produced numerous masters and doctoral program graduates. For the 2022-23 academic year, EEE is expected to have 20 MS and 3 PhD graduates.  In all, over the last ten years, EEE has graduated 400, 116, and 24 students from its BS, MS, and PhD degree programs – that means EEE now has 540 alumni!

The number of EEE faculty has grown as the demand for its academic programs has increased. Beginning with a handful of faculty in 2011, through partnerships with seven other departments and schools, we now have 19 faculty with appointments in EEE. These faculty have experience and expertise that contributes to our two themes: classic environmental engineering and industrial sustainability. The faculty that have joined EEE have thrived. They have developed outstanding research programs, been inspirational teachers in the classroom, established noteworthy records of scholarship, and been amazing mentors to graduate students. As the EEE faculty size has grown, research activities have expanded to embrace such topics/sectors as electronics, PFAS, pharmaceuticals, circular economy, water/wastewater, urban infrastructure, green materials, and electrified transportation.

It is worth noting that while EEE undergraduate and graduate students make up a small fraction (less than 2%) of the total Purdue Engineering student body, our excellent students receive a disproportionately large number of awards relative to their engineering peers. Over the last ten years, EEE undergraduates have received such recognitions as NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, Gates Cambridge Scholarship, Udall Scholarship, and Purdue Engineering Fellowship. Honors to our graduate students have included: Environmental Research & Education Foundation Scholarship, Ford Foundation Fellowship, NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, GEM Fellowship, and Fulbright Scholarship.

There have also been many recognitions for the EEE faculty over the last decade. These include Chip Blatchley (ASCE Fellow), Hua Cai (NSF Career Award), Carol Handwerker (AAAS Fellow, NIST Industrial Advisory Committee), John Howarter (TMS Young Leaders Professional Development Award), Inez Hua (EPA Board of Scientific Counselors: Subcommittee on Safe and Sustainable Water), Chad Jafvert (AEESP Outstanding Publication Award, AAEES Excellence in Environmental Engineering Education Award, AEESP Fellow), Linda Lee (WER Paper of the Year, JHM Paper of the Year, ASA Environmental Quality Research Award), Larry Nies (Murphy Award, AAEES Excellence in Environmental Engineering Education Award), Shweta Singh (AIChE Environmental Division Early Career Award), John Sutherland (ASME Ennor Medal, AEESP Pohland Medal, AAAS Fellow, NAE Member), and Fu Zhao (ASME Fellow, ASME Kos Ishii Toshiba Award).

Building upon this “welcome,” this newsletter checks in on our first cohort of BSEEE graduates and highlights some of the latest accomplishments of the EEE students, staff, and faculty.  Here’s hoping the next ten years are just as impactful as the last ten!

Hail Purdue!

John W. Sutherland, Ph.D.
Professor and Fehsenfeld Family Head
Environmental and Ecological Engineering

Photo Captions:  
Right:  John W. Sutherland speaks at reception honoring his election to NAE.
Left:  External Advisory Council member Dianne Kaminsky (Class of 2013) speaks at 2023 Recognition Night about her experience as one of Purdue EEE's first BSEEE graduates.