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    What Engineeer!!!?

    How often have I heard this from people. Especially desi people. As is usual, the first question of most new conversations tends to be What do you do. A very simple and innocent question in itself, but alas tell a desi person your an enviromental engineer and you suddenly get the "woo konse bala hothi hai!" look in thier eyes and then they either just blankly/politely nod thier head as I explain or look for an easy way to get out of that conversation.

    In an effort to prevent people from wondering what an environmental engineer is I will over a series of posts try and explain what I do and what environmental engineers do and why we are an important part of society and not just some suppliment to the regular computer science people.

    For other people who face similar dilemas pease feel free to start your own threads about your own professions and what you do and what they mean to you and your society.

    (I would love to know what a librarian scientist does for one).

    #2
    Environmental Engineers are docters. The only difference is our patients are not humans or other living things but whole systems and everything with in. We are concerned with our environment and that can be taken to be as small (say a place of dwelling) or as as large as we wish to focus on (human pollution in the solar system due to sattellite debris). In the more conventional sense enviornmental engineers (EE) focus on systems that occur on earth (so we dont really get to travel into space http://www3.pak.org/gupshup/smilies/smile.gif).

    Ok next post I will talk about the history of environmental engineering. Please feel free to ask questions/add comments and I will try and answer to the best I can.

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      #3
      Sorry for the silly question but was just wondering...has the field of environmental engineering been greatly affected by issues such as population pressures (and the assorted issues that go with that such as pollution, etc.)? How has this field changed within the past two decades ?

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        #4
        There is another thing which our people asked what is Reliability Engineering http://www3.pak.org/gupshup/smilies/rolleyes.gif

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          #5
          I have only rarely heard or reliablity engineer, but I am guessing thats the equivalent of Quality Control Engineer or some form of Production Engineer. Someone wish to explain further?


          And Nadia, yes population is a major issue for environmental problems as most common enviromnental issues relate to man's activitie, from pollution from industries to excessive logging. 1000's of years ago these same issues were around but thier impact was minor on the environment as most natural resources have the ability to absorb changes. So for rivers, where pollutants were been discharged, over some time or some distance from the source of the discharge the river were fairly clean again. However the rapid increase in the number of people on earth in the last two centuries the mechanization of tools, we are now able to do the same things we could before but on scales of 100 to 1000 times greater. Hence the damage we cause to the environment is so significant that the environment can not recover.Heres a rather gory analogy : if a person gets a cut it heals, however if you cut off his limbs they dont grow back. With this greater effect on the environment there has been greater interest in the field of environmental engineering. In the 70s and 80s there was great deal of interest in the environment especially in the US. there were several laws passed (such as the clean water act) that prevent a lot of companys from disposing thier pollutants (often heavy metals or carinogenic products) into water bodies. All this made environmental engineers the rave in the early 80s. However, since then a lot of the government work has been cut down becuase it adversely affects the big industries (and hence the political lobbies of these firms). With time there have been some new laws but a lot of the work been done by the environmetal protection agencies are based on the older laws. There is now also a lot more work on preventing or reducing pollution to the environment compared to fixing things up - which is generally a much more expensive option.

          Hope that answers your questions.

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            #6
            What exactly do you do on a day to day basis? If you do different projects, then can you tell us a little bit on what you're working on now?

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              #7
              Hmcq - Many many thanks for an informative reply, yes that did answer my queries.

              All this made environmental engineers the rave in the early 80s. However, since then a lot of the government work has been cut down becuase it adversely affects the big industries (and hence the political lobbies of these firms). With time there have been some new laws but a lot of the work been done by the environmetal protection agencies are based on the older laws.
              um I was just wondering - did President Bush's rejection of the Kyoto protocol have any impacts (direct/indirect) upon the work that you and other environmental engineers do? Some environmental protection agencies must have done a fair bit of lobbying to try to persuade the govt. to ratify it. In your post you mentioned that environmental engineers used to be "the rave in the early 80s" - in countries such as Canada or the UK, are they still in demand quite a bit? And sorry last question - what made you decide to pursue this field?

              [This message has been edited by Nadia_H (edited August 03, 2001).]

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                #8
                History of Environmental Engineering:

                I dont have any of my texts with me other wise I would give you a more authoritative review of the field. Everything noted here is from memory or from other web sites, so if I make any mistakes please feel free to correct me.

                There was no environmental engineering field of study until very recently (last 50 years or so). Before then everything was lumped into Civil Engineering.

                In the late 18th century, there was a growing interest in the field of public Health or Sanitary Engineering. At that time most drinking water was not pumped t homes but gotten from wells. Also the domestic waste (including bathroom waste) was collected by people and dumped into rivers.
                There was a major out break of desentry (I think) in Germany in the 1850's? where some portion of the population got filtered water and the other did not. The was a SIGNIFICANT difference in the number of people who did not get the disease from the filtered water and this establisted the field of sanitary engineering as part of the Civil Engineering field. Slowly over the years with increasing number of countries adopting to provide thier citizens with clean pumped water and disposal services the Sanitary Engineering became a distinct area of Civil Engineering. This slowly expanded to cover all aspects of water supply and wastes/wastewater disposal. In the 1950's there was an increasing awareness of man's impact on the environment, especially with all the industrial development. Discharges of mercury into rivers that were used as a source of fish in Japan earlier this century and thier impact on people highlighted the need to take care of our environment. With time sanitary engineering was renamed Environmental Engineering and the focus of things has changed from looking at just water and wastewater issues to everything that affects the environment. In the last couple of years there has been a trend to dissassociate environmental engineering totally from civil engineering and a few schools even have Department of Environmental Engineering (most tend to be named Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering). Though it is not a very old field like mechnaical and civil engineering, it has made its mark and is not accepted as field of engineering on its own right.

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                  #9
                  Originally posted by Muni:
                  What exactly do you do on a day to day basis? If you do different projects, then can you tell us a little bit on what you're working on now?
                  The work I have been doing is called Environmental Modeling. What it involves is building a mathematical model of a system (in this case a system would be something like a river or lake or even an ocean) and try to predict what would happen to river in the future (generally in the 30 to 100 year time spans). People often question why we would require a model since all a river does is flow, but if you look at it from an engineering point of view there are a lot of processes taking place in the river. There is sediment (sand/mud) coming into the river or been picked up from the river bottom, which will be deposited somewhere else in the system. The same applies to any chemicals that are been discharged into the river. How all these interact with the biota (living matter - fish,snails, birds etc) are all important processes that can be emperically defined in terms of mathematical equations.

                  Taking all these processes we can develop a model that would solve all the equations simultaneously and predict what happens to the system (people do this on a less complicated manner by just solving simple equations to see what happens , but by building a model you are doing this on a much larger scale and in a more complex manner). Without computers it would take years to do the same level of complexity that can be done in a day or two now.

                  Building a model:
                  1) You need to figure out the important processes in the system and formulate them mathematically.

                  2) Based on past data you run the model and see if it is able to match results (from data) that was collected in the past. This process is called calibration since you are trying to calibrate the model to match known results. Often times there are certain parameters that can be emperical that can be altered withing reasonable limits to calibrate a model. For example, with the work I have done, we require data on the size of the sand grains in river which is often not available and sometimes you have to make a guess about this based on data in similar rivers. This value could be changed in this calibration process if there is valid reason (say the data is very variable) to make the model predict the results correctly.

                  3) The calibrated model is then used to predict what would happen to the system in the future. You can also use the model to predict what would happen in a worst case or best case scenerio.

                  On the grandest scale you can think about the green house effect which people talk about. The effect of the changes man makes for the future are based on world scale models that look at the major important processes that are occuring and then trying to predict the past and use it in forcasting the future of earth. So they could use this to see how far the sea levels would rise say if everyone suddendly owned a car and was pumping out CO2 24 hours (like worst case scenerio) or say everyone stopped producing CO2 suddenly what would its effect be.

                  Its somewhat like weather forcasting, we tell you where,when and what is happening in a system and for how long and then you can decide what you can do to prevent certain things from occuring (like flooding if you were doing weather forcasting and in our case it tends to be pollution containment or control).

                  Unfortunately I am currently unemployed (by choice http://www3.pak.org/gupshup/smilies/smile.gif) and I cant really tell you about my projects because of confidentiality clauses. But if you have any questions do feel free to ask.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by Nadia_H:

                    um I was just wondering - did President Bush's rejection of the Kyoto protocol have any impacts (direct/indirect) upon the work that you and other environmental engineers do? Some environmental protection agencies must have done a fair bit of lobbying to try to persuade the govt. to ratify it. In your post you mentioned that environmental engineers used to be "the rave in the early 80s" - in countries such as Canada or the UK, are they still in demand quite a bit? And sorry last question - what made you decide to pursue this field?

                    [This message has been edited by Nadia_H (edited August 03, 2001).]
                    President's Bush's rejection of Koyoto does not affect us directly becuase that is related ot industrial air pollution and my work has been pretty much all water related. Most of the Environmental agencies do have lobbies but not even close to the lobbies that the big firms have. Remember an oil firm probably has a bigger budget then most of the govt agencies and fewer employees!

                    In canada I think there is greater awareness of environmental issues but they dont have a lot of serious problems since they have a lot of undeveloped land. In Europre there is greater concern for the environment and I think thier interest level is greater then what we have in the US. However, I still think the heydays of the 80s were the peek for the environmental engineers.

                    As for why I chose this field is simple: I felt this was the most effective way for me to help imporve the world with my background(such grand notions!!!). However I have realized that there are a lot of ways everyone can improve the world and hence that view has changed somewhat.

                    PS: I am still waiting to see other peoples posts about what they do? Fraudia ? Ghalib?

                    Comment


                      #11
                      hmcq:

                      Here's how I'll say it: I make sure the environment is clean for everyone to live in.

                      Now, lafangays like Fraudia and Roman will do chaiR chaRi by calling you a jama'daar but they're just small pangayba'az minority in our community. Ignore them!


                      Always Helpful & Considerate,
                      Ghalib

                      Ciao...

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                        #12
                        >>>>(I would love to know what a librarian scientist does for one)...

                        (with a blank stare) woo konse bala hothi hai

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                          #13
                          hiya mate,
                          I'm studying to be a chemical engineer and we work closely with enviromental engineers in some cases, infact some chemical engineers are also environmental engineers. It is a good field and i would love to go into environmental engineering + HAZOP issues.
                          Its a good field and a growing one too.

                          good luck in your field and dont let people bug you.

                          ------------------
                          the safest way to double your money is to fold it over once and put it in your pocket
                          I love deadlines. I especially like the whooshing sound they make as they go flying by

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Rizwan
                            dont get me wrong, People do not bug me about my profession and I am proud to be doing what i do. I raised the issue here because I would like people gain a better appreciation for the field.

                            I would suggest that you stick to chemical engineering. It pays a LOT better and you have more opportunities and better growth in your career. Unless you really really enjoy environmental engineering.

                            Ghalib - How about I make the environment a healthy place for humans to live in http://www3.pak.org/gupshup/smilies/smile.gif?

                            -->>>>(I would love to know what a librarian scientist does for one)...
                            (with a blank stare) woo konse bala hothi hai


                            I think that is one bala that does not visit the C&A section. Otherwise it would have posted something here.

                            As always your local C&A Guide
                            Hmcq

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Hmcq - wow that was a very informative and interesting reply. Many thanks, much appreciated.

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