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Environmental and Water Resource Engineering

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The Cornell School of Civil and Environmental Engineering has one of the largest and most prestigious graduate training programs in the world. The faculty in Environmental and Water Resource Engineering are passionate about water, the environment, energy, and the creation of new solutions for evolving environmental challenges. They possess a wealth of expertise and real world experience. They provide courses that span the water-energy nexus that include sustainable water supply, sustainable energy, wastewater treatment, environmental remediation, organic micro-pollutants and emerging contaminants, environmental fluid mechanics, environmental transport processes, hydrology, water resources, experimental methods and monitoring, and numerical methods and modeling.

The Environmental and Water Resource Engineering (EWRE) M.Eng. Program at Cornell University includes three core areas in which students can focus:

Students select courses that provide depth in any of the three focus areas or breadth across all three focus areas. Students learn from world class educators and researchers with deep expertise in the subjects they teach. Flexible electives allow students to select courses from across the university with almost limitless possibilities.  The Master of Engineering degree is generally completed in two semesters but for those interested in a more immersive Cornell experience there is a three semester option as well. Merit based partial fellowships are available for top students.

Recent graduates have received job offers from a wide array of top firms including: Arcadis, Black & Veatch, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, Brown and Caldwell, CH2M, GHD, ERM, Nomura Research Institute, QEA Anchor, and Veolia North America as well as water departments of major cities, startup consulting, and more.

“The Cornell Masters of Engineering program is one of our top recruiting locations. The students are well prepared due to the technical knowledge and analytical problem-solving capabilities which they learn.  But it’s the self-motivation, oral & written communication skills, team-building and leadership skills which they learn that make them excellent consultants and allow them to quickly progress within our organization.  Additionally, those involved with the AguaClara program have a passion for improving quality of life which is essential for being a successful environmental engineer.” -VP at Global Engineering Consulting Firm

The M.Eng. projects provide an unparalleled opportunity to work in a team to solve a real engineering problem that has broad applications. Many universities focus on teaching students what the faculty know; with our design projects we educate engineers to generate new knowledge. We offer a diverse selection of hands-on projects that can either be taken for one or two semesters. Students develop new solutions for open-ended environmental engineering problems using laboratory experiments, field measurements, and/or computer modeling and simulations. Students can select projects to develop skills in engineering design, engineering research and development, and/or data analysis and decision making.

Several other projects have been considered as well.  Student teams have modeled electricity microgrids for the waterfront energy district as well as for South Ithaca and the Cayuga Medical Center Hospital Complex, that provide energy from distributed generation in parallel with the regional grid but can also function in “island mode” during a grid failure.  Work with the IAWWTF has also extended to converting part of the waste stream into liquid fuels for use in vehicles such as trucks or public buses, and extracting energy from the heat content of the waste water itself for use in district heating.  Teams have also studied local hydropower and wind resources.  

Environmental and Water Resource Engineers have in recent years joined students from CEE’s Engineering Management Program to execute team research projects focused on development of carbon-free energy alternatives around Cornell, the City of Ithaca, and surrounding Tompkins County. We plan to offer a project that continues to develop these concepts for local applications in the Fall 2018 semester.

These sustainable energy projects combine environmental analysis of pollution reduction and climate protection benefits of energy technologies, as well as economic feasibility assessment of investment in them.  For example, in a recent project, energy was extracted from solids in the waste water stream and in truck waste arriving at the Ithaca Area Waste Water Treatment Facility (IAWWTF). Treatment in a biodigester converte the waste flow into electricity and heat.  Increasing the amount of waste brought to the facility can increase its energy self-reliance and reduce its CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, and eventually make it a net exporter of electricity and heat, possibly to a surrounding district energy system that might eventually support commercial and residential development along Ithaca’s desirable waterfront.

Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW) provides several exciting project opportunities including energy-self-sufficient at Ithaca Area WasteWater Treatment Facility, solar energy, and human powered electricity. Students can contact Ruth Richardson to discuss ESW related projects.

Students may pursue projects in the context of ongoing active research of individual faculty. This opportunity fosters the creation of new projects that match the shared interests of students and faculty.

Students also have the option of participating in design projects in engineering management. These projects cover technological and societal challenges surrounding infrastructure, energy, and the environment.

The AguaClara program provides undergraduate & graduate students the opportunity to enhance their education with hands-on, real-world experience in humanitarian engineering and sustainable international development while simultaneously developing expertise in advanced water treatment and design methodologies. Cornell graduates who have participated in the AguaClara project teams are highly regarded by employers. Learn more about AguaClara in this CornellResearch spotlight.

In 2012, the National Academy of Engineering recognized AguaClara as an exemplary program that "infuses real world experience into engineering education." AguaClara teams have won 3 national EPA P3 phase II awards for  technologies that Cornell students developed in our laboratory makerspace. The awards help the team deploy those technologies with partner organizations so that communities can have safe water on tap.

Students create revolutionary technologies (see BBCmundo) to provide safe water on tap. The AguaClara Engineering Team at Cornell focuses on R&D while creating a problem based learning environment for students. The team works to develop sustainable water treatment technologies that are then implemented at AguaClara plants in Honduras, Nicaragua, and India. We are exploring opportunities to deploy our new portable water treatment plant in emergency recovery settings. Approximately 65,000 Hondurans benefit from safe water provided by municipal AguaClara water treatment plants.

Interested students should contact Professor Jery Stedinger to discuss opportunities in the EWRE M.Eng. program.