WSU offers graduate certificate program in sustainable engineering

DETROIT - The concern for preserving the environment and its resources has created a growing demand for engineers specializing in sustainable practices.

Beginning in fall 2009, the Wayne State University College of Engineering is offering a graduate certificate program in sustainable engineering that will position the university at the forefront of sustainability education in southeast Michigan.

Sustainable engineering is a way of engineering that meets the needs of the present, preserves the environment, and considers the possible needs of future generations.

Carol Miller, professor and chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, together with Yinlun Huang, professor of chemical engineering and materials science, worked on creating the program.

"Sustainable engineering strives to create buildings, processes and systems that do not degrade the world around us," said Miller. "It requires a lifecycle analysis so you can take into account not only the immediate costs and effects, but also the resources required to prepare the materials and the resources needed to maintain them."

The program will satisfy students interested in learning sustainable practices as well as employers desiring this specialty in graduates. "As our students enter the workforce, they are being asked to accommodate for sustainability," Miller said. "This program meets the demands of employers. We need engineers with this expertise because many engineering projects now require the sustainability component."

Miller notes that a sustainability program is especially appropriate at Wayne State for several reasons. One is location. "We're in the heart of the largest freshwater resource, and we need to be good stewards of it," says Miller.

The program complements the College of Engineering's Alternative Energy Technology graduated degree program, now in its fifth year. The sustainability certificate program will develop a structured educational supplement to existing engineering disciplines within the College of Engineering. The program is intended for both current graduate students as well as the technical and scientific workforce of the metro Detroit region.

The program requires 13 credit hours of sustainable engineering education in chosen courses from all of the engineering departments. The program is designed in a way to maximize the use of existing courses to develop the program. Students can choose from such courses as "Water Supply and Wastewater Engineering," "Ethics in Engineering and Construction" and "Alternative Energy Technology System and Design.

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