Environmental engineering or environmental sciences?

i'm goig to MSU and want to major in somehing that will allow me to help the environment. i was doing environmental engineering, but I'm not sure if that would keep me in the lab all day and I'm not the best at math and physics-- i am academic but they are not my strongest areas of expertise. my question is, can i still be a successful environmental engineer? is environmental engineering a job where you can really get out and help the environment or is it aimply a job in a lab? i don't really want to get a major in environmental studies because it's pretty general and i actually want to help clean up the earth, but would hat be better?

thank you for the help!

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  • Anonymous
    8 years ago
    Best Answer

    To start, thank you for your interest in helping the earth. Second, when it comes to something as important as life changing decision, you want to consult with academic advisors on campus, heads of campus departments, as well as department advisors and career consultants. Knowing the answer to your particular question is a part of their job. I am not any of the above but I will do my best here. Nevertheless, you still need to consult with them in the end.

    Any of Environmental Studies (BA), Environmental Science or Environmental Engineering can have more impact than the rest depending on how you use it. Remember that David Suzuki is an environmental scientist and NOT an engineer, yet look at the impact he is having. If you want to have a faster and hands-on impact, then go for Engineering. If you want to be the first to find a new scientific discovery that can be used to clean up the environment, then go for Environmental Sciences. The latter will give you the opportunity to make breakthroughs that can revolutionize how science and engineering will be done. A scientist can have a less impact than an engineer can but the direct and tangible impacts of a scientist can never be downplayed or underestimated and will always have a significantly high regard.

    An example of how environmental science can be more rewarding than engineering:

    The ocean is the true last frontier (not space). When it comes to deep ocean exploration, ocean scientists depend on ocean engineers to construct the machines that are used to map deep sea floor. However it the scientists and not the engineers that will make all the discoveries. They get to analyze the new findings such as new species or new rocks.

    Another example:

    On May 6, 2010 Congress held a hearing on climate change, no environmental engineers were present. Only scientists were present to represent the pro climate change side.

    When it comes to fixing environmental problems, the science is already here. We already have the science/engineering knowledge that we need to fix the earth's ecology. What is missing is the political will. We need to look at the environmental issues/solutions from all perspectives. This includes, but is not limited to, social, historical, political, ethnoecological (how locals perceive their environment and their ecological processes) and scientific perspectives. This is where a BA in environmental studies (it will include some science) comes in. Having said that, if you want to have a government position where you can make decision regarding the environment (ie someone who can approve or disapprove a development project), you will need to have a master's degree in environmental studies. You will have a hard time finding a job with just a BA in Environmental studies unless you have a loaded resume. I take it you are more ambitious than that, so if you decide to go for a BA in environmental studies, then get a masters.

    Conclusion: To the best of my knowledge, the best option for you is Environmental Engineering.

    Source(s): Environmental Scientist
  • 8 years ago

    I'm no environmental engineer or scientist, I'm personally an architectural/civil engineering student, but I do know a little bit of the difference, and environmental engineers and scientists basically work hand in hand, although they will probably work with several other branches of science and engineering in solving problems. Environmental engineers design things based on math theories and experimental observations collected by environmental scientists. Most of engineering involves math and sciences to a high level as most likely MSU will have several classes in your core curriculum of calculus, chemistry, physics, and possibly biology all to build upon the classes that you take throughout the remainder of your career. Not to discourage you from taking environmental engineering, but a lot of math would be seen throughout your collegiate career. Just something to think about.

  • 8 years ago

    As an environmental technician you are almost guaranteeing that most of your time will be spent in a lab somewhere, or else in the field collecting samples.

    If you want more action and responsibility get your degree as an Environmental Engineer.

  • Anonymous
    8 years ago

    Engineer for sure u do more direct impact. I did enviro engineering and my senior year we had a class that took us to Mexico to do water sampling in their more impoverished rural communities and we developed water treatment designs for each household. That was very rewarding because we are helping them obtain clean water. I specialized in water quality and restoration ecology. Both fields will help with the growing water crisis and degrading aquatic ecosystems. As an engineer u say how things will be done and u make the impact. As a scientist u observe these effects and make suggestions based on your findings. Less impactful.

    Source(s): Water quality engineer currently working on protecting a wetland ecosystem from a wastewater collection pipeline
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