Thursday, January 19, 2017

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Join the brigade of green warriors
Environmental engineering

Join the brigade of green warriors

18 Jan 2017 | 12:34 AM

There has been a growing awareness around the world concerning the effects of environmental destruction to the health of the planet, which in India, too, has resulted in the creation of stringent laws and processes to ensure that environmental damage is halted, and where possible, even reversed.

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Usha Albuquerque

There has been a growing awareness around the world concerning the effects of environmental destruction to the health of the planet, which in India, too, has resulted in the creation of stringent laws and processes to ensure that environmental damage is halted, and where possible, even reversed. There is, therefore, an increasing need for environment scientists and engineers to help guard the environment and guide the nation along the path of sustainable development. 

Environmental engineers combine the knowledge of  biology and chemistry to devise solutions to environmental problems. Environmental engineers are experts in determining the effects of possible biological, physical or chemical contaminants to the air you breathe, the water you drink, and the land on which you live.  They are well versed in the fields of geology, biology, and chemistry as well as civil, mechanical and agricultural engineering.  

Work profile

The tasks handled by environmental engineers include:

  • Concerns such as air and water pollution, recycling wastes, waste disposal and other public health issues, fall under their field. Environmental engineers study waste management of hazardous substances in order to analyse the risk, the treatment and the methods of containing such hazards.
  • Designing, construction and waste maintenance techniques to preserve the health of rural, sub-urban and urban areas.  They also sketch regulations so as to prevent the occurrence of mishaps. 
  • Municipal water supply systems and industrial wastewater treatment systems are both designed by environmental engineers. 
  • Conducting research on proposed projects for the benefit of the environment, analysing scientific data, and performing quality control checks. 
  • Study the different provisions of environmental law and help ensure that manufacturing and production industries comply with environmental regulations and clean up hazardous wastes at their sites. It is mandatory for all developmental projects to have an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Environmental Management plan (EMP) conducted  by environment engineers before implementation. 
  • Environment engineers work to protect wildlife as well as to prevent the production and repercussion of acid rain, global warming, ozone depletion as well as harmful automobile emissions.

Getting in

Environmental engineering courses are offered at undergraduate, post-graduate and research levels in a large number of institutes in India. Those who have studied physics and mathematics in Class XII, along with any one of the subjects such as chemistry, biotechnology, computer science and biology, can get admission. Engineers having a background in civil, electrical or mechanical engineering can also get into this field after an ME or MTech in environmental engineering, after qualifying through the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE). Almost all institutions require the GATE score for admission to postgraduate engineering courses.

IIT Mumbai. has a specialised Centre for Environmental Science and Engineering to prepare individuals for careers as engineers and scientists in Environmental Quality & Pollution Control, while IIT Kanpur offers an Environmental Engineering and Management (EEM) Programme at the Department of Civil Engineering. The National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), a constituent laboratory of CSIR also offers opportunities for master's and doctoral prgrammes.

Anna University, Chennai, and Annamalai University, offer a five-year integrated MSc. course in Environmental Science. Entry qualification is a pass in Plus II with mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology with minimum 60 per cent marks in aggregate.

Job prospects 

As new hazards challenge us constantly and with greater environmental awareness and regulations which need to be understood and implemented, the need for environmental engineers is greater than ever before. Most environment engineers work with firms that provide professional, scientific, and technical services. Environmental engineers are also employed by businesses catering to the geological, chemical and the mining sector.

These include jobs with state and the central government agencies, in Central and State pollution control boards and with manufacturing and production industries. Waste-treatment industries, refineries, distilleries, food- processing industries, fertilizer plants and so on provide jobs for environmental scientists. Some of the top government organizations that recruit environmental engineers include, Indian Oil Corporation, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation , Coal India Ltd, National Thermal Power Corporation, Hydro-electric projects and Oil India Ltd etc. International firms related to environmental projects are also recruiting environment engineers.

Assessment committees that study and analyse environmental risks  and organisations which handle Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Environmental Management plans (EMP)also recruit environment engineers with MTech. 

Environment engineers can work in research, teaching jobs in colleges and universities, and with NGOs and various governmental departments working towards green development. 

Some research opportunities include fields such as: 

  • Clean technologies and industrial pollution prevention
  • Integrated treatment and disposal of hazardous waste,
  • Biomedical waste management
  • Bio-degradation of complex industrial wastewaters ( fertilizer, food paper, coke oven, dairy, distillery, petrochemicals etc)

Throughout the world there is growing consciousness towards improving the environment with several international leaders meets, seminars and forums conducted for the purpose.  International organizations, therefore, also enlist professionals who are qualified to work  on projects on environmental science and technology.  

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