The Tasks of the Environmental Engineer

Ingeniøruddannelserne på SDU. Fotograf Mette Krull
During the past century, our life expectancy has doubled and our material wealth has increased five times. Simultaneously, the world population has risen four times, and today, at the end of 2009, we are approximately 6.8 billion people on the globe. It is a strong, and in many ways, a positive development. But it also gives rise to reflection.

The downside of the positive development is a growing threat to its own foundation; nature’s resource base and the condition of the environment on which we depend. Significant resources such as farm land, fossil fuels, rare metals and an essential nutrient such as phosphorus can be in shortage at a global and regional level as water and food can and already is at a local and regional level. We are facing a potential global climate impact of our changes in nature’s carbon cycle, and we see severe effects in humans and animals, which most likely stem from our use of toxic and hormone-like chemicals.

This seems to indicate that in the coming century we are facing mankind’s greatest technological change yet. We are forced to change our development and technology from our high dependence on limited and depletion-threatened resources and instead build on renewable resources and let technologies with high environmental impacts be replaced with technologies that are in better balance with nature. It is a big challenge. But it also opens up new possibilities and gives the engineer a key role in the development of technologies for a more sustainable future.

We face a time of technological upheaval and we have to come up with new solutions to almost everything, from major social infrastructure systems to your home, your car and the steak on your plate.
More than any other, the engineer will be the one to come up with the technological solutions. The environmental engineer will be the one who masters the environmental dimension professionally and who can find the eco-friendly solutions among all the new inventions.

Here you can read about some of the most important tendencies and technological changes underway in the social infrastructure, in industry and agriculture, and in our homes. This will give you some idea of the tasks that we face and what your role as an environmental engineer could be.
At the same time, you will gain an insight into some of the university’s research and you can find examples of the exciting, current activities that you can participate in during your studies as well as many of the other projects that you will work on.

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