Green Careers: Engineering

If you like to solve problems and develop new ways of, well, doing almost anything, an engineering career may be for you. Increasingly, the focus has been on “green careers,” ways to sustain the planet and to strive to keep our global economy healthy. These kinds of jobs are about more than just math and science, and they do not necessarily promote more expensive processes to get the job done. Green engineering jobs exist in almost all areas of the economy. These include:

Waste Management: Some engineers create the infrastructure such as large pipes and valves that handle waste water and sludge, while others examine how to keep waste moving through the system while detoxifying it. Recycling engineers create ways to move recycled materials through the recycling facility, sorting, baling and preparing materials for reuse. Hazardous waste management engineers develop the processes to safely dispose of hazardous waste such as chemicals and waste water that are the products of mining. Specialties include structural, chemical, environmental and mechanical engineering.

Energy: Engineers interested in energy conservation are interested in finding ways to use energy more efficiently. For example, an engineer can look at ways to alter electrical appliance parts such as a refrigerator’s insulation to make it use less energy. Engineers involved in finding green, renewable energy sources are also looking to contain costs of harnessing that energy and of disposing of any waste created by that energy source. For example, hydrofracturing of shale can produce natural gas. It can also contaminate ground water which is very difficult and expensive to decontaminate once polluted. Engineers try to come up with the least expensive process that will not lead to ground water contamination. Specialties include chemical, environmental and mechanical engineering.

infrastructure: Civil engineers figure out the best ways to build roads, bridges, dams tunnels, sewage systems and buildings while minimizing the negative impact on the environment. Specialties in this area include structural, environmental, geotechnical and transportation engineering.

Health and Safety: Air, water and food controls are put into place because engineers find ways to test them for safety. This includes developing the tests and test kits to determine whether air is safe to breathe, water is safe to drink and food is safe to ingest. Specialties in this include: mechanical, chemical and environmental engineering.

Check out these resources to learn more about green engineering careers: Green Career Links at Green Career Transitions.


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