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How much of physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics are used in environmental engineering (each)? Is the field generally enjoyable for someone with a love of physics and math? Do environmental engineers spend much of their time at their work outside?

As a devoted environmentalist and vegetarian, I believe improving the environment is absolutely my purpose in math. As I have a passion for physics and mathematics (particularly calculus), engineering seems to be my best fit for my science expertise. However, I am undecided on whether simply teaching physics and participating in environmentally beneficial hobbies is a best bet rather than engineering, due to my wish of a career that is heavy in physics. #engineering #science #mechanical-engineering #mathematics #math #physics #environmental #undecided

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David’s Answer

To obtain your degree you will need math, hydraulixs, soil mechanics, some sort of mathmatical modeling, and maybe some chem. My Undergraduate degree is in Civil and Environmental engineering andI only took one year (freshman) of chem.


With my Masters i took a lot of courses on wastewater treatment, hydrological modeling, subsorface water flow, etc.


When I was first of out college I had a job with a Geotechnical/Environmental engineering firm. As a field engineer, I really did not do much in the way of design or research. A typical job would have the principal engineers (in the office) decide that they needed 4 monitoring wells in approximate locations, or they needed 5 perc tests, in a given area. I would meet my with our contractor, and decided on the final locations of the wells, or where the perc tests would be. The contractor would do the bulk of the work, and I would do any field engineering work (site plats, measurements, ensure things were done correctly, etc). If I took any sort of samples (water, soil, etc) I brought it back to the office and we sent it out to a lab for analysis. We had a full soils lab in the building, with a full time lab manager, but it was more to determine the mechanical properties of soils (sieve analysis, proctor tests, we had a triaxial compression rig in the lab, etc) but for chemical testing, we sent samples out. I think most small to medium companies would do the same. Maintaining a full chemical testing lab, with the required safety and compliance requirements, is a large undertaking and unless you have the volume to justify it, it is not worth the expense.


So, I would say that, no, if you have a "working" carreer as an engineer, you will not use much physics.


However, as a researcer, that may be a different story. I find earh sciences facsinating - I just found (for me) they did not pay too well. And after a while, the whole being outdoors thing starts to wear thin. It was not the outdoors portion, but the travel. If you work outdoors, very rarely is it in your backyard. You go where the work is. I could be on a site 75 miles away to the north on Monday and Tuesday, and 50 miles in the other direction the rest of the week. the constant driving starts to wear on you.


-dave

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DAVID’s Answer

to be an engineer civil/environmental in college you must pass chemistry, physics and calculus to then take engineering courses in soils, hydraulics, water/wastewater. The consulting design field say to design a wastewater plant utilizes biology and chemistry, most math is related to hydraulic design, not calculus or physics


if involved in design and construction you can see some outside work during construction and startup

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