Protecting the Environment: Becoming an Environmental Engineer

Learn how environmental engineers protect the environment and how a person can become one.

Teaching Objectives:

  • Students will be able to list and describe various capacities in which environmental engineers work.
  • Students will understand that environmental engineers design ways to protect the environment.
  • Students will understand that environmental engineers can work for companies or for the government.
  • Students will be able to describe some ways in which environmental engineers prevent pollution.
  • Students will be able to describe what hazmats are and give examples.
  • Students will be able to explain the ideal characteristics and interests for a person who wants to become an environmental engineer.

Suggested Grade Level

5th – 9th Grade

Lesson Excerpt:

Environmental engineers find the best ways to protect the environment. They develop ways to dispose of trash, get clean drinking water to people and prevent or clean up pollution. Some environmental engineers work for the government, helping to develop and enforce laws that protect the environment. Others work for private companies, ensuring that the companies follow environmental protection laws. Still others work as consultants. Instead of working for a single company, consultants are hired to help different businesses design environmentally friendly ways to operate. For example, an oil company must follow certain laws about where or how they can drill. Environmental engineers develop systems for getting oil from the ground without violating these laws.

Environmental engineers also work to prevent and clean up pollution. Pollution comes from vehicle fumes, animal waste on farms, manufacturing and even litter on the street. Engineers design ways for people to create less trash. They also design systems that produce less pollution. In addition, environmental engineers create ways to safely dispose of hazmats (hazardous materials) such as paint, batteries, medical waste and waste from nuclear power plants.

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