Engineering a Healthy Earth

A new scholarship helps attract outstanding students to Purdue's newest engineering degree, Environmental and Ecological Engineering.

"If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren't pessimistic, you don't understand the data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this Earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren't optimistic, you haven't got a pulse. " Martin Keogh, "Hope Beneath Our Feet: Restoring Our Place in the Natural World"

The difference for EEE is that it's an industry-focused degree program suffused with the principles of environmental sustainability."

KENNETH BEACHE
(MSCE '94)

A new scholarship helps attract outstanding students to Purdue's newest engineering degree, Environmental and Ecological Engineering. Author Martin Keogh's pulse would likely quicken if he were to visit Purdue and meet the faculty and students in the Division of Environmental and Ecological Engineering (EEE). With the division's mission to "empower students to serve people and the planet," students receive rigorous preparation by the environmental engineering and science curriculum. They experience and understand how teams of diverse engineering disciplines working together can overcome environmental challenges worldwide.

"The difference for EEE is that it's an industry-focused degree program suffused with the principles of environmental sustainability " in such a way that incorporates all aspects of engineering," says Kenneth Beache (MSCE '94), chair of the EEE Advisory Council

"Its changing industry's perspective about who they need to hire in order to address environmental sustainability in their enterprises."

Growing Up

Still a very young program, EEE granted its first 10 bachelor's degrees just two years ago, in 2013. Its newness presents an unavoidable challenge that Purdue's longstanding engineering disciplines overcame long ago.

"As a new unit, we have virtually no scholarships to attract and retain outstanding students," says John Sutherland, the Fehsenfeld Family Head of Environmental and Ecological Engineering. "Its a huge challenge as a startup."

Eric Larson (BS BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES '90, MSCE '92)
Eric Larson (BS BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES '90, MSCE '92)

In fact, EEE finds itself in a catch-22. The division's tiny pool of graduates limits its capacity for alumni-sponsored outreach and mentoring activities for prospective students, as well as for philanthropic support for strategic initiatives and critical scholarships.

For this reason, all the members of the EEE Advisory Council, each of whom graduated from Purdue with degrees in other engineering disciplines, are stepping up to contribute to the division's latest scholarship.

"If somehow we can inspire just one or a handful of people " whether it's giving to this scholarship or doing something else to give back to Purdue " it will be more than worth it," says Eric Larson (BS Biological Sciences '90, MSCE '92), current member and former chair of the EEE Advisory Council. "I think, in a way, we are ambassadors for all of those who were students with us and who graduated from a curriculum that provided an environmental dimension. Hopefully, all of us on the advisory council are representing that history in a way that will benefit EEE," says Larson.

"We all want to raise the visibility for EEE and keep evolving what is already a fantastic curriculum. We also want to grow opportunities for students in terms of internships and industry involvement. These students are really bright and talented, and represent the future of our profession."

If somehow we can inspire just one or a handful of people - whether it's giving to this scholarship or doing something else to give back to Purdue - it will be more than worth it."

ERIC LARSON
(BS BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES '90, MSCE '92)

For now, while EEE remains short on alumni, it is not short on inspiration, thanks to high-caliber, devoted faculty engaged with ambitious, high-ability students and impassioned industry advisors.

"The advantage we have is that we can offer supporters the opportunity to get in on the ground floor and participate in the birth of this program," Sutherland says. "Our students are downright inspiring in terms of their passion for getting out there and making a difference. EEE is where their passion for the environment meets the rigor of Purdue Engineering."

To support scholarships or other initiatives in Environmental and Ecological Engineering, contact Rebecca Fry, director of development, at 765-494-0023 or RLFry@prf.org.