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Environmental Science and Engineering

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- Envoronmental Science and Engineering

Environmental engineering is an interdisciplinary field with the common goal of understanding, predicting, and responding to human-induced environmental change. It is a multidisciplinary field of engineering science that combines the biological, chemical and physical sciences with the field of engineering. Environmental engineering is a discipline of engineering that deals with the prevention & control of water, air, and soil pollution. 

Environmental scientists work to address environmental issues such as global warming, stratospheric ozone depletion, and local and regional air and water pollution. This work requires perspectives from different scientific disciplines, including atmospheric physics and chemistry, oceanography, glaciology, hydrology, geophysics, ecology and biogeochemistry.

The earth system is a complex set of chemical, physical and biological interactions, which is further complicated by various activities of human society. By exploring the underlying processes and feedbacks within the Earth system, and employing a range of approaches from theory and modeling to experimentation and observation, we train undergraduate and graduate students to think about environmental processes in an integrated way, preparing them to manage the environments we face challenge.

Research in environmental science and engineering is strongly interdisciplinary, with many connections to Earth and planetary sciences and other science and policy programs. 


- Environmental Engineering vs. Environmental Science

Environmental science and environmental engineering share some basic similarities. First, and perhaps most importantly, both fields of study are concerned with the natural environment and its relationship to the human world. Both environmental scientists and engineers are concerned with data collected from the natural environment, especially data about past and future impacts of human activities and their impacts, to design and implement solutions to various problems. 

Beyond that, however, the paths are starting to diverge, although it's fair to say they are complementary and likely have the same end goal. Like any scientist, an environmental scientist is usually responsible for conducting research on a specific project, collecting data provided by the natural environment, and focusing on a specific problem, such as environmental degradation and the impact of human activities on a specific area. Environmental scientists can then analyze this data and further provide recommendations to be implemented to facilitate change or achieve future benefits. 

Here, environmental engineers step in. Once the data is available (analysis and the scientist's recommendations), the engineer can begin to apply his or her knowledge of engineering and environmental science to plans and solutions. His or her actions may include planning new infrastructure to limit the impact of human activity on a particular space, or even developing plans to ensure that particular areas are rapidly developed for human use. 

Ultimately, these two fields of study can largely be understood and distinguished by related terms: science and engineering. Specifically, an environmental scientist will work like any other scientist, collecting and analyzing a set of data to provide answers to certain questions. And, by contrast, an environmental engineer will use a range of engineering principles to develop a plan of action using information provided by scientists. Of course, both fields of research are concerned with the same ultimate goal of answering questions or providing solutions to problems related to the environment, which again highlights the significant overlap between the two.


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