Ecological Engineering

at Saint Francis University

  • For more information

    Strosnider Investigating

    William Strosnider


    A natural treatment system where cattail (Typha sp.) improve water quality while providing vibrant habitat for multiple species. Ecological Engineers design systems to take maximum advantage of naturally occuring processes and reactions, renewable energy, and native species.

    Is Ecological Engineering for you?

    As an extension of the Environmental Engineering program, we also offer the option to focus studies in our Ecological Engineering Concentration. Ecological Engineering is a rapidly growing engineering discipline that integrates systems ecology with the methods of the engineer to design ecosystems for the mutual benefit of humans and nature. Examples of Ecological Engineering include water treatment wetlands, restoration/rehabilitation of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, living machines, green roofs, sustainable agricultural ecosystems, and many other applications where renewable energy use is predominant.

  • Ecological Engineering Concentration at SFU

     Restored Peat Bog
    A restored peat bog in Northern Germany. Ecological Engineers work to restore sensitive ecosystems like this, applying ecology with the methods of the engineer.

    Students in the Ecological Engineering concentration prepare to be leaders in this fast-growing field via:

    • Foundational coursework in ecology and microbiology
    • Advanced coursework in ecological engineering
    • An ecological engineering capstone sequence
    • Related internships and research opportunities
    • Real technical projects helping our environment and society

    Aside from the required coursework, students in the concentration are presented with the opportunity for internships or research positions related to Ecological Engineering as well as the option to focus their senior capstone sequence on an Ecological Engineering problem. Students who complete these requirements, and the requirements of the Environmental Engineering program, graduate with a B.S. in Environmental Engineering with a Concentration in Ecological Engineering.

    Our Center for Watershed Research and Service provides a unique opportunity for students to put their ecological engineering skills into practice working on internship, research, and class projects for our nonprofit partners at home and abroad.

    Real Projects
     Sandyvale Community Gardens EcoLatrines
    An eco-latrine design concept created in ENVE 423 for the Sandyvale Memorial Gardens. This concept was used to raise funds and guide the final design.

    Real world experience is the hallmark of Environmental Engineering at SFU and it logically follows that it is also a key component of the Ecological Engineering Concentration. 

    Example Project: Treatment Wetland Design

    In ENVE 424 (Ecological Engineering), our students learn how to approach the design process as an ecological engineer. This class always centers around a large real project and one year it happened to be the design of a sewage treatment wetland for a small nearby community. Aside from being a great practical experience for the students, the designs were used by the community to help think through the full range of the available treatment options.

     Bandstra moving limestone
    Dr. Bandstra helping construct an open limestone channel at 16,000 ft. above mean sea level in Southern Bolivia. Ecological Engineering concentration students helped build and monitor this application of ecological engineering that is used in the passive treatment of acid mine drainage. This particular system helps improve water for use by subsistence farmers that live just downstream.

    Ecological Engineering students Ecological Engineering poster

    The designs were presented to our partners in poster format. Excerpts from the posters from the two groups, which show a sustainable design for wastewater treatment, can be seen above. On the left, Kelsea, Liz and Marie pose at the project site. On the right, their treatment wetland design, which included an innovative approach for phosphorus removal and additional alkalinity generation.
    Curriculum Overview
    What Description When
    Ecology (BIOL 203 and Field Lab)

    Ecology is the foundational science of Ecological Engineering. Ecology is the study of how all organisms interact with eachother and their physical surroundings. Concepts from this course will be applied in subsequent classes.

    Freshman or Sophomore year
    Microbiology (BIOL 302 and Lab)

    Microbiology is often applied in engineered systems by Ecological Engineers. This course will provide more core foundational knowledge.  

    Sophomore, Junior, or Senior year
    Appropriate Technologies for Humanitarian and Environmental Service (ENVE 423)

    Ecological Engineering approaches are often the most fitting for service projects in the developing world, due to their lower operational costs, use of simple materials, and ability to function off of the grid. This class provides an overview of the various ecological/environmental engineering solutions that may be employed to serve people and the environment in the developing world.

    Freshman, Sophomore or Junior year
    Ecological Engineering (ENVE 424)

    This course wraps together the previous coursework to prepare students for rigorous ecological engineering applications. Centered around a real design project, the course covers the philosophy and design principles of ecological engineering. The course focuses on the synergistic application of the students' accrued ecology, microbiology, physics, and chemistry knowledge.

    Junior or Senior year
    Major Engineering Design Experience (ENVE 495, 498, 499)

    The engineering capstone sequence is already a requirement of the environmental engineering program. However, the Ecological Engineering concentration students will work on a major design project related to the concentration (e.g., treatment wetlands, green roof design, habitat restoration, etc.)

    Senior year
    Career Opportunities

    As broader sections of society realize the importance of sustainability, Ecological Engineering continues to grow as an engineering specialty.

    Here are a few examples of Ecological Engineering firms:

    Also, many graduate programs are looking for prospective Masters and PhD students with experience and interest in Ecological Engineering.

    Here are a few examples of Ecological Engineering graduate programs:

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