Environmental Engineering M.Eng. Projects

Projects provide an unparalleled opportunity to work in a team to address a real engineering problem with the help of faculty, practicing engineers and consultants.

The M.Eng. program requires an engineering project of 3-6 units over 1-2 semesters. We offer a diverse selection of hands-on projects for the different majors that can either be taken over one or two semesters.

Students develop new solutions for open-ended civil and 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.

Group Projects

  • Provide opportunities to apply your skills to a real engineering problem.
  • Provide valuable insight to the sponsoring client
  • Involve worldwide traveling for fieldwork
  • Help you define a desired career path after graduation

Student teams have developed village scale sustainable water-supply treatment plant technologies and designs; seven such plants have been built in Honduras. They 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 Ithaca Area Wastewater Treatment Facility 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. 

Examples of M.Eng. Environmental projects

Addressing elevated manganese in City of Ithaca drinking water supply.

The project with the Ithaca Water Treatment Plant is focused on the problem of elevated manganese in the reservoir water during summer and early fall.  The objective is to build a predictive model for dissolved Mn concentrations to guide oxidant dosing decisions for the IWTP, since they need to account for the oxidant demand of oxidizing Mn2+ to Mn4+.  Last spring 2020, students in the project compiled a lot of data and did some very preliminary multi-variate modeling, so the project will build on this experience.  We are currently growing the dataset through grab sampling and sensor measurements, to provide more data to support a more useful model.  The IWTP is interested in having someone based in their in-house lab to support this project in the fall, 2020.  So, there may be an opportunity for hands-on experience for one or more M.Eng students if the logistics can be arranged. Adviser: Matt Reid. 

Water quality in Puerto Rico

Student team will work with partner Surfrider in western Puerto Rico to develop capacity to monitor water quality using Compartmentalized Bag Tests and other means.  Goal is to develop a database of water quality in different locations and promote strategies to protect health and prepare contingency plans for access to clean water post extreme weather events such as Hurricane Maria. Adviser: Ruth Richardson.

Integrating small-scale renewables into the Puerto Rico electric grid

This project builds on previous work with Prof. Marcel Castro from the College of Engineering at the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez (UPRM).  The question of increasing sustainability and reliability of the electricity supply is of great interest in Puerto Rico.  One strategy is to increase distributed generation using technologies such as solar photovoltaic (PV) panels.  The goal of this team is to study the opportunity to bring solar PV to individual households and communities, and how these systems should be integrated with the island-wide electricity transmission and distribution grid. Adviser: Lindsay Anderson. 

Design of renewable energy supply for sustainability education center

Student team will partner with Plenitud Puerto Rico center in western Puerto Rico (contact: Owen Ingley) to evaluate options for introducing solar power to meet community needs.  Project entails weighing different options for a mixture of solar panel capacity, battery energy storage, and water storage to make recommendations about the optimal mixture to advance the goal of a more energy self-reliant center. Adviser: FrancisVanek.  

Feasibility study in support of carbon-neutral Cornell campus.

Student team will work with two Cornell staff engineers (Mark Howe and Erich Reichert) who are graduates of previous CEE environmental projects to further the goal of a carbon-neutral campus by 2035.  Specific subjects are related to shift from steam to hot water for campus district heating system and electrification of various heating loads to access carbon-free electricity as the primary energy source. Adviser: Francis Vanek. 

If you are interested in learning more about any of these types of M.Eng. Environmental projects, please contact CEE's Graduate Program Coordinator, Melissa Totman, email: melissa.totman@cornell.edu

Learn more about the M.Eng. in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Cornell Project Experience!

Wetland and stream restoration video text