Environmental Engineering Program

From Undergraduate Engineering Handbook

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The environmental engineering profession works to protect and manage our air, water, and energy resources. Environmental engineers quantitatively analyze the environmental changes that inevitably result from human activities, designing strategies to remediate problems, minimize impacts, and measurably improve environmental quality.

The environmental engineering field is refreshingly multi-disciplinary in nature, combining fundamental principles drawn from physics, chemistry, geology and biology with analytical methods. Practitioners focus on developing devices, techniques and solutions that can effectively address a variety of real-world environmental problems.



1. Principles and Skills: Provide an understanding of engineering principles along with analytical, problem-solving, design, and communication skills to continue succeeding and learning in diverse careers.
2. Preparation for Practice: Prepare for successful engineering practice with a longer-term perspective that takes into account new tools, such as advanced information technology and biotechnology, and increasingly complex professional and societal expectations.
3. Preparation for Graduate Study: Prepare for possible graduate study in engineering or other fields.
4. Preparation for Service: Develop the awareness, background, and skills to become responsible citizens and leaders in service to society.
(a) A proficiency in and ability to apply knowledge of engineering, mathematics through differential equations, probability and statistics, and science including physics and chemistry
(b) An ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data
(c) An ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs
(d) An ability to function on multi-disciplinary teams
(e) An ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems
(f) An understanding of professional and ethical responsibility
(g) An ability to communicate effectively
(h) A broad education with understanding of the impact of engineering solutions in a global and societal context
(i) A recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in, life-long learning
(j) A knowledge of contemporary issues
(k) An ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice
(l) Background for admission to engineering or other professional graduate programs
The undergraduate environmental engineering curriculum consists of a set of core classes considered essential for the major, along with additional classes students can select from a list of breadth electives. This major was added to Stanford’s undergraduate curriculum in 2000 and became an ABET-accredited environmental engineering degree in 2004.

Those undergraduates potentially interested in the Environmental Engineering major may want to examine the Environmental and Water Studies specialization of the Civil Engineering major as a possible alternative; a comparison of these two majors is presented below.
For more information on environmental engineering, please contact Jill Nomura in Room 316 of the Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki Environment & Energy (Y2E2) building.


The department of Civil and Environmental Engineering welcomes student participation in the VPUE undergraduate research programs. Interested students should check the VPUE website and the CEE website for announcements regarding the application procedures. Annual program announcements typically appear in January with application due dates in February.


Those students interested in environmental studies should be aware of the differences between choosing the Environmental Engineering major and the Environmental and Water Studies specialization of the Civil Engineering major. Noteworthy considerations include:

1. Curricular Differences: The Civil Engineering (CE) major requires ENGR 14 (Applied Mechanics), CEE101A (Mechanics of Materials), and CEE101C (Geotechnical Engineering), while the Environmental Engineering (EnvE) major does not. This is because these classes are essential background for the structures/construction area of Civil Engineering. The EnvE major lists CEE 64 (Air Pollution) as a required class (while CE does not) and offers 10 of Depth electives (vs. 6 units for CE).
2. Professional Considerations: Both the CE and EnvE degrees are ABET-accredited, which is a first step toward a professional engineering license. The EnvE degree was accredited by ABET in 2004.
3. Philosophical Considerations: Some faculty and students feel that "Civil Engineering" implies a broader background, and may thus lead to a broader range of job opportunities. But others argue that "Environmental Engineering" is a more accurate description for a course of study that emphasizes the environment. And finally, there are others who feel that the name itself makes little or no difference.


Attention, freshmen and sophomores: Are you thinking about an engineering major, or wondering whether an Environmental Engineering major is for you? If so, here is some advice on courses accessible early in your undergraduate career that will help you assess your interest in our major. If you end up joining our program, this early start on fulfilling requirements will pay off by giving you more flexibility in class scheduling for your junior and senior years.
1. For an introduction to Environmental Engineering, classes required for all of our declared majors which are readily accessible to you are:

  • CEE 64: Air Pollution and Global Warming: History, Science, & Solutions (W)
  • ENGR 90/CEE 70: Environmental Science & Technology (A)
  • CEE100: Managing Civil Engineering Projects (WIM)(A)

2. For electives providing additional exposure to the major, try:

  • CEE 50N: From the Foothills to the Bay (A, Freshman seminar)
  • CEE 63: Weather and Storms (A)
  • CEE 70N: Water, Public Health & Engineering (not offered 2011-12; Freshman seminar)
  • CEE109: Creating a Green Student Workforce for Sustainability (W)
  • CEE166D: Water Resources and Water Hazards Field Trips (W) CEE173A: Energy Resources (A)

3. For any Engineering major, three Engineering Fundamentals must be taken; see Chapter 3, Fig. 3-4 for a list of courses offered. Early on, you should consider taking:

  • ENGR 30: Engineering Thermodynamics (A,W; required fundamental for EnvE)
  • ENGR 60: Engineering Economy (A,Sum; required depth core course for EnvE; will not be offered )
  • ENGR 90: Environmental Science and Technology (A; required fundamental for EnvE)

4. The following Science/Math classes are required for almost all majors within the School of Engineering:

  • CHEM 31A or 31X or ENGR 31: Chemical Principles (A)
  • PHYSICS 41: Mechanics (W) [co-requisite: MATH 41]or 4 units of AP Physics C
  • MATH 51: Linear Algebra & Differential Calculus (A,W,S,Sum) or CME 100: Vector Calculus (A) [prerequisite: MATH 41/42 or 10 units of AP Calculus]

5. Finally, there are additional Science/Math classes required for students majoring in Environmental Engineering that can readily be taken early on:

  • GES 1A or 1B or 1C: Introduction to Geology (A,W, S; one course required)
  • STATS 110 (or STATS 60 or EESS 160 or CME 106): Statistics (A,W,S)


Mathematics and Science (45 units minimum)

  • MATH 41/42. Calculus (or 10 units AP Calculus) 10 units A,W (req'd)
  • CME 100 & 102. Math/Computational Methods for Engineers (or Math 51 & 53) 10 units AW (req'd)
  • PHYSICS 41 or score of 4-5 for AP Physics C. Mechanics 4 units, W (req'd)
  • CHEM 31A or X or ENGR 31: Chemical Principles (req'd) 4 units, A [or AP Chemistry if placement exam puts into CHEM 33]
  • CHEM 33 Structure and Reactivity (organic chemistry)* 4 units, WSSum
  • One additional Physics or Chemistry course from Figure 3-2 (see note 2) 3-4 units
  • GES 1A or B** or C. Intro to Earth Sciences (different topic each quarter; count only one) 4-5 units, AWS
  • STATS 110 Statistical Methods (or STATS 60 or EESS 160 or CME 106) 3-5 units, AWS
  • For students taking CHEM 31A, CHEM31B can be used to fulfill this requirement. CHEM 35 or 135 is recommended as valuable for those students planning to continue on to graduate school in environmental studies.
    **GES 1B not offered 2011-12

Engineering Fundamentals

Three courses minimum, including the two listed below:

  • ENGR 30. Engineering Thermodynamics 3 units, A
  • ENGR 90/CEE 70. Environmental Science and Technology 3 units, A

Technology in Society (TiS)

One 3-5 unit course required: See Chapter 3, Figure 3-3 of this handbook for an approved list of courses that fulfill the TIS requirement for Environmental Engineering majors.

Environmental Engineering Depth

At least 68 units of Fundamental and depth courses are required by ABET and by the Department (Fundamentals + Depth = 68 Units Minimum)


  • ENGR 60* Engineering Economy 3 units, A
  • CEE 64** Air Pollution and Global Warming: History, Science, & Solutions 3 units, W
  • CEE 100 Managing Civil Engineering Projects (meets WIM requirement) 4 units, S
  • CEE 101B Mechanics of Fluids 4 units, S
  • CEE 101D* Computations in CEE 3 units, A
  • CEE 160 Mechanics of Fluids Laboratory 2 units, S
  • CEE 161A Rivers, Streams and Canals 4 units, A
  • CEE 166A Watersheds and Wetlands 3 units, A
  • CEE 166B Floods and Droughts, Dams and Aqueducts 3 units, W
  • CEE 171 Environmental Planning Methods 3 units, W
  • CEE 172 Air Quality Management 3 units, W
  • CEE 177 Aquatic Chemistry and Biology 4 units, A
  • CEE 179A Water Chemistry Laboratory 3 units, W
  • Design Experience: Choose CEE169 or, CEE179B or CEE 179C. 5 units, S
  • Note that ENGR 60 will be replaced with a new class offering similar content after 2011-2012
    **Can count either towards the Math or Science requirement, or as engineering units.


  • CEE 63* Weather and Storms 3 units, A
  • CEE 101C Geotechnical Engineering (includes lab) 4 units, A
  • CEE 109 Creating a Green Student Workforce for Sustainability 2 units, A
  • CEE 129 Climate Change Adaptation for Seaports 3 units  A,W,S
  • CEE 164 Introduction to Physical Oceanography 4 units, W
  • CEE 166D Water Resources and Water Hazards Field Trips 2 units, W
  • CEE 172A Indoor Air Quality (alternate years) 2-3 units, S
  • CEE 173A Energy Resources 4-5 units, A
  • CEE 176A Energy Efficient Buildings 3-4 units, W
  • CEE 176B Electric Power: Renewables and Efficiency 3-4 units, S
  • CEE 178 Introduction to Human Exposure Analysis 3 units, S,Sum
  • CEE 199 Undergrad Research in Civil & Env. Engineering 1-4 units, Any
  • Can count either towards the Math or Science requirement, or as engineering units.

Other Elective Courses:
Students may choose additional courses from within the School of Engineering to reach a total of 68 units of Fundamental + Depth courses combined if necessary in order to satisfy ABET and departmental requirements to graduate. The following CEE courses do not satisfy the ABET requirements: CEE 44Q, CEE 133F, CEE 159, and CEE 175A. For courses outside of CEE, you must obtain approval from the CEE Department Associate Chair to confirm satisfaction of ABET requirements.

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