Earth and environmental engineering is an inherently broad and multidisciplinary field. Therefore the approach of the EEE curriculum is to expose students to multiple facets within this engineering specialty, while focusing in-depth on one of three particular problem areas that are of critical importance in the 21st century. 

A strong foundation in basic math/sciences and liberal arts is also an important part of the EEE curriculum, since these fundamentals are needed to understand and address the technical and socioeconomic aspects of all environmental problems.

The EEE curriculum also spans a broad spectrum of educational methods and research/professional experiences. Traditional lecture classes are complemented with physical laboratory and computer modeling components, and specific classes are devoted to laboratory and field methods relevant to EEE. A number of introductory and upper-level elective courses are taught using a project-team–oriented approach, with student groups working semester-long on a problem, or components of a larger problem in a studio setting. Service learning (i.e., learning by doing) is also strongly emphasized, via course projects, summer internships with local companies, undergraduate research opportunities, and the EEE senior design project.

First- And Second-Year Curriculum

Our first- and second-year curriculum is consistent with the Columbia SEAS and liberal arts core requirements. In addition, there are a number of EEE–specific math and science courses. More importantly, there are two courses taught by EEE faculty, which provide an early introduction to Earth and environmental engineering and continuity throughout the four-year EEE curriculum:

  • EAEE E1100: A Better Planet by Design. Scheduled for first-year spring semester. This is EEE’s professional-level course, so it is not required by the EEE program but highly recommended.
  • EAEE E2002: Alternative Energy Resources. Scheduled for second-year fall semester.

Junior/Senior Curriculum

Our junior/senior–year curriculum consists of an intensive set of technical engineering courses, with the following objectives:

  • Build fundamental skills in applied math and sciences such as fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, and statistics.
  • Understand traditional environmental engineering topics related to pollution control, transport, and remediation.
  • Introduce emerging 21st-century environmental engineering problems related to all three EEE concentration areas: Water Resources and Climate Risks, Sustainable Energy and Materials, and Environmental Health Engineering.
  • In-depth focus on one concentration area to be selected by the student, through technical electives.

Concentration Areas

Students select from one of three undergraduate concentration areas, each of which focuses on a particular problem area within EEE. A preapproved course sequence for each concentration is listed below, which includes two science courses during sophomore year (fall semester) and six technical elective courses during junior and senior years. Alternative courses within each concentration may be acceptable, but must be approved by a faculty advisor.

Water Resources and Climate Risks

  • PHYS C1403: Introduction to Classical and Quantum Waves (SEM III)
  • EESC V2100: Climate System (SEM III)
  • EAEE E4009: GIS for Resource, Environmental, and Infrastructure Management (SEM VII)
  • EAEE E4350: Planning and Management of Urban Hydrologic Systems (SEM VII)
  • EAEE E4257: Environmental Data Analysis and Modeling (SEM VIII)
  • ECIA W4100: Management and Development of Water Systems (SEM VIII)
  • CIEN E4257: Contaminant Transport in Subsurface Systems (SEM VIII)

Sustainable Energy and Materials

  • CHEM C3443: Organic Chemistry (SEM III)
  • EESC V2200: Solid Earth System (SEM III)
  • MECE E3311: Heat Transfer (SEM VI)
  • EAEE E4001: Industrial Ecology of Earth Resources (SEM VII)
  • EAEE E4900: Applied Transport and Chemical Rate Phenomena (SEM VII)
  • MECE E4302: Advanced Thermodynamics (SEM VIII)
  • EESC W3015: The Earth's Carbon Cycle (SEM VIII)
  • MECE E4211: Energy: Sources and Conversion (SEM VIII)

Environmental Health Engineering

  • CHEM C3443: Organic Chemistry (SEM III)
  • EESC V2100: Climate System (SEM III)
  • EAEE E4009: GIS for Resource, Environmental, and Infrastructure Management (SEM VII)
  • EHSC P6300: Environmental Health Sciences (SEM VII)
  • EAEE E4257: Environmental Data Analysis and Modeling (SEM VIII)
  • EAEE E4150: Air Pollution Prevention and Control (SEM VIII)
  • EHSC P6309: Biochemistry Basic to Environmental Health (SEM VIII)

Degree Tracks

Semester-by-semester listing of recommended courses for the undergraduate Earth and Environmental Engineering program.