New environmental engineering minor available for all students

By Carlos Fuentes | February 1, 2019 12:45pm
Students are doing research on constructed wetlands in the environmental engineering classroom. The new environmental engineering minor emphasizes water and waste pollution.
Media Credit: Jennifer Ng / The Beacon

As companies around the U.S. are becoming increasingly interested in clean energy technology, UP is now looking to help graduates compete in an expanding environmental job market.

Next fall, students will be able to study clean energy technology and how to make their own mark in the growing industry with a new minor in environmental engineering. The minor was approved by the Shiley School of Engineering in January. 

The process of adding the minor has been a year-long effort spearheaded by professor and junior faculty member Cara Poor of the Shiley School of Engineering. 

“Students will be able to gain a depth of understanding that will be so important to the future,” Poor said.

Cara Poor has years of experience in the field of environmental engineering and has done much research with students here at UP.
by Jennifer Ng / The Beacon

Environmental engineering focuses on protecting the environment from water and waste pollution. Students pursuing the minor will learn how to create solutions for areas affected by pollution.

Poor has years of experience working in water and waste management. She brought her interests to UP and soon became aware of the student interest around environmental engineering. She suggested a minor at a faculty meeting in May 2018. 

The minor is open to students of all majors, and has nine credit requirements. Although open to all, the majority of students in the program will be engineering or science majors.

According to the dean of the Shiley School of Engineering, Sharon Jones, Poor was the driving force for the new minor. With her background in research on minimizing the impacts of land aquatic systems and protecting drinking water, she brings expertise to the program. Poor is eager to see students take this new minor into their work environment.

“If you’re working, your employer knows that you understand some of these concepts that a lot of companies are trying to incorporate into their culture,” Poor said.

Sharon Jones, the dean of Shiley School of Engineering, will be leaving June 30 to become the Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs at the University of Washington Bothell.

by Jennifer Ng / The Beacon

The process of adding a new minor is lengthy. First, the track must be designed and brought to the faculty of a specific school to approve. Then, the idea is taken to the Committee of Academic Regulations, who vote on it before it is sent to another committee with one faculty member from each school at UP. After the committees give it a go-ahead, the faculty Senate of UP provides final approval, and it finally becomes a minor. 

Michal Nazari, a freshman civil engineering major, plans on adding the minor next fall. He’s planning on a career in water or pollution management, and the minor would help him prepare for a career in those areas.

“I think it’s awesome that UP added this, because it’ll really give me skills that I can use in a career like researching and designing solutions to environmental issues like pollution and repairing damaged environments,” Nazari said.

The environmental engineering field is growing quickly with job numbers rising due to the vast innovation potential in the industry. With the new minor, all students at UP will have the opportunity to make their own mark in an expanding field. 

Michael Nazari is a freshman civil engineering student who is looking forward to the new environmental engineering minor.
by Jennifer Ng / The Beacon

“For good quality of life for people and for the planet, we have to ensure that the environment is taken care of,” Jones said. “And environmental engineering certainly helps us with the skillset to understand what could damage the environment and how to improve the environment.”

Carlos Fuentes is a reporter for The Beacon. He can be reached at