5 Reasons to Become an Environmental Engineer

by Megan Ray Nichols 

Environmental engineers use science and engineering to help the environment through better design. Multiple fields hire this type of worker, so you won’t have a shortage of job offers anytime soon. If you care about the environment and want to help the planet through a new career or a change from your current one, consider environmental engineering.

1. Protect the Environment

The main reason many enter environmental engineering is the ability to help the planet. In many manufacturing sectors, this position focuses on lessening industry’s impact on the planet. Though solid waste and water management are among the areas in which environmental engineers work, these are not the only ones. In the oil and gas industry, these engineers ensure compliance with regulations concerning pollution reduction and keeping nearby natural resources pristine.

2. Make a Good Salary

Depending on your degree, you can make an excellent salary in environmental engineering right after graduation. Though this varies widely, the average starting salary for environmental engineers is nearly $59,000. As of May 2017, the annual mean wage for environmental engineers is $91,180, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which means you might expect to earn more with a few years of experience under your belt. If you decide to start a consulting company, as many environmental engineers do, you could earn even more.

3. Job Security and Growth

If you get a degree in environmental engineering, you’re looking at a stable job market and future growth. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projected environmental engineering jobs will grow by 12.4 percent between 2015 and 2024. This growth places it second only to the percentage growth for biomedical engineering among engineering jobs. By 2024, there could be 62,000 environmental engineering jobs.

4. Enjoy Multiple Career Fields

Environmental engineering is specialized, but there are so many applications for it, you could find yourself in a range of diverse fields. Environmental engineers first have chemical or other types of engineering degrees. That allows flexibility when searching for a job. Since so many fields have an impact on the environment, you could find yourself in the oil and gas industry, working at a waste management plant or finding ways to discover the source of pollution.

Waste management and water treatment facilities are other places where environmental engineers have a major impact on people’s lives. Without these fields, disease would run rampant. One of the earliest successes in environmental engineering was the creation of London’s sewer system by Joseph Bazalgette to stop the surging cholera outbreak in the 19th century. Thanks to sanitary waste disposal, such epidemics are uncommon in modern societies.

5. Make a Change for the Good in the Oil and Gas Industry

If you love the environment and lament the impact some industries have on it, become an environmental engineer. These positions help oil and gas companies cut back on the air and water pollution created in the drilling and extraction processes. Environmental engineers can work to prevent contamination of the surrounding environment and promote longevity of drilling equipment.

You may also help the industry reduce their wastewater and air pollution. Thanks to environmentalists’ efforts — including engineers — acid rain, which is the result of air pollution, has dropped up to 70 percent in some areas of the planet. Creating plans for wastewater disposal to prevent damage to the local ecosystem is another way environmental engineers work with the oil and gas industry. Until people discover a workable way to use completely renewable energy, fossil fuels will still prevail. As an environmental engineer, you can help this sector become greener.

Education for Environmental Engineers

Though you can get a job as an environmental engineer with just a bachelor’s degree, you may need further training. Graduate programs that get you a master’s and bachelor’s degree in just five years could be the right choice if you have the time to devote to be a full-time student. You may need an environmental engineering degree, a chemical engineering degree or a degree in general engineering. You will still need classes in chemistry, biology, math and various sciences to earn whatever degree you choose. Not all schools offer these programs. Talk to a counselor about your career and education goals.

Help the Planet and Boost Your Career

With a career in environmental engineering, you can make a true difference in the planet. You’ll be able to help industries that may not have been environmentally conscious in the past change their ways to become better stewards of natural resources. Additionally, you can help with the age-old problems of safe and sanitary waste disposal and water processing. Getting clean water and removing waste will always be vital parts of sustaining a healthy and prosperous society. Environmental engineers help change the planet and people’s lives through their work. And this field will only expand as humans search for more ways to help the Earth.

 

 

The Science Behind The Perfect Cup Of Coffee Explained

by Jackie Edwards

Coffee drinking in the US is at its highest level for 6 years with 64% drinking coffee daily and 79% of those people preparing their daily cup of coffee at home. Scientifically speaking, the perfect cup of coffee has volatile oils and caffeine in abundance but with bitter organic acids kept to a minimum. Here’s how you can use science to influence the quality of your daily cup of coffee.

Beans And Roast

The perfect cup of coffee starts with the beans themselves. Arabica and Robusta are the 2 most popular beans in the coffee market. Robusta contains greater amounts of caffeine as well as chlorogenic acids which have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties as well as being linked to lower risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. On the other hand, Arabica contains larger amounts of Trigonelline, a bitter tasting alkaloid linked to battling cancer cells. As far as roasting is concerned, the strength of the roast produced by the different roast time affects the way the sugars and fats in the coffee degrade and how the sugar and amino acids react with each other affecting how it tastes. Lighter roasts have a cleaner taste and are more acidic with the darker roasts tasting less acidic with a stronger, heavier taste.

Coarseness Of The Bean Grind

The coarseness of the bean grind affects the speed that your coffee is made, which, in turn, affects the taste. The finer the grind the shorter the time needed to make your coffee due to the greater available surface area for extraction. A finer ground also leads to stronger, tastier coffee because more caffeine, oils and organic compounds will be present. Take care though, if the grind is too fine it may end up tasting too bitter.

All About Brewing

How you brew your coffee is as important as the quality of the raw materials themselves. The ideal brew ratio is a subject of much discussion amongst scientists. Too much water and the coffee tastes weak; too much and it is overly strong and unpalatable. There is also evidence to show that the calcium and magnesium ions found in hard water make a more flavorful cup of coffee than if clean distilled water is used. Scientists know that temperature affects solubility and compound extraction and the same applies when you make your cup of coffee. The hotter the water used to make your cup of coffee, the faster organic acids and caffeine are extracted. However, if your coffee boils, your coffee will be bitter and the aroma and flavor evaporate. A temperature of 195°F to 205°F is ideal according to the National Coffee Association.

How you brew your coffee is as important as the quality of the raw materials themselves. The ideal brew ratio is a subject of much discussion amongst scientists. Too much water and the coffee tastes weak; too much and it is overly strong and unpalatable. There is also evidence to show that the calcium and magnesium ions found in hard water make a more flavorful cup of coffee than if clean distilled water is used. Scientists know that temperature affects solubility and compound extraction and the same applies when you make your cup of coffee. The hotter the water used to make your cup of coffee, the faster organic acids and caffeine are extracted. However, if your coffee boils, your coffee will be bitter and the aroma and flavor evaporate. A temperature of 195°F to 205°F is ideal according to the National Coffee Association. 

As in any science experiment, there are many variables to consider when making the perfect cup of coffee and everyone’s tastes differ. The type of beans, roast and grind influence the quality of your morning coffee along with the heat and amount of water used to make your cup of joe.

How Drawing Facilitates Science Learning Abilities

by Jackie Edwards

A research study designed to test students’ ability to think in divergent ways in order to generate multiple solutions or ideas found that when the group of children was tested as preschoolers, 98% were considered to be geniuses in divergent thinking. This percentage went down to just 10% when tested at 14 to 15-years-old. The findings seemed to suggest that children lost their ability to think in divergent ways, which is crucial in scientific study and research, as they lost their natural childlike curiosity and creativity.

The act of drawing is an act of recording, and science is one of the most, if not the most, important areas in which it is crucial to record data in order to make sense of patterns and develop insights and hypothesis. It is likely, for this reason, that ancient Greek mathematicians used diagrams to express their findings instead of equations. While students of science are likely not developing world-changing equations and methods in their science classrooms, drawing still proves to be beneficial in helping them retain material and expand their reasoning capabilities.

The effects of drawing on model-based reasoning

The act of drawing is important for artists, students and scientists alike as it enables them to activate visual model-based reasoning. One study even noted that “visual representations are a powerful tool, because they help to make the unseen seen and the complex simple.”While this type of model-based reasoning is useful, it is much more impactful if it is backed up by intuition and highly-developed observational skills that art can add to the equation.

Another study, aimed at helping science students improve their observational skills and show them the interconnectedness of the arts and the sciences, designed a drawing class for students to take before a subsequent biology class. Students who participated in the study indicated that the drawing class helped them make better observations in the biology course.

While this study was focused on drawing the biology-related terms and images, it seems to be that drawing features such as faces, physical attributes, and other anatomy-driven concepts has the ability to increase observational skills in a way that induces deeper retention of scientific material.

Drawing for learning in Science classrooms

Drawing caters to individual learning differences, allowing students to express their learning process in a unique way and find their way to certain scientific terms and tasks in their own manner. Furthermore, research has shown that if students are able to draw a concept to understand it better, they learn to reason creatively in a way distinct from, but complementary to, reasoning through argumentation.

As research develops in this area of learning, teachers and scientists should explore what mental mechanisms exactly drawing involves in order to understand how to incorporate it into the classroom in a way that is conducive to not only scientific learning, but learning in a general sense. From the Great Pyramids to the works of Da Vinci, centuries of engagement in model-based reasoning, visual-based learning and the combination of science and the arts have proven that it is a beneficial mixture in both learning and culture.