Connecticut College, one of the first colleges in the country to offer a major in environmental studies, has partnered with Worcester Polytechnic Institute to offer a new dual-degree program in environmental engineering.
The innovative five-year program combines courses in chemistry, geosciences, physics and biology at Connecticut College with engineering and design courses at WPI to provide students with all the skills they need to enter this distinctive engineering field. Students participating in the program will earn a bachelor of arts degree in environmental engineering studies from Connecticut College and have the option of earning an additional bachelor of science degree in environmental engineering from WPI.
The new bachelor of arts in environmental engineering studies, ratified by the Connecticut College faculty last semester, requires three years of study at Connecticut College and one year of study away at Worcester Polytechnic Institute during the junior year. After graduating from Connecticut College, students may transfer to WPI for a fifth year of study to pursue their bachelor of science degree.
“As the world’s population continues to grow exponentially, ensuring that humans have safe water to drink and healthy food to eat is a massive challenge,” said Doug Thompson, the Rosemary Park Professor of Physics, Astronomy and Geophysics at Connecticut College. “This unique program will provide students with the skills they need to identify problems and suggest solutions, for example, to minimize and remediate contaminated sites or to purify surface and groundwater sources. Students completing this degree will be well-positioned to enter directly into the field or to continue their studies in graduate school.”
While studying at Connecticut College, students also have the opportunity to enhance their coursework by taking additional engineering courses at the United States Coast Guard Academy, immediately adjacent to the Connecticut College campus.
“We are thrilled to be creating a new program in partnership with Worcester Polytechnic Institute," said Connecticut College President Katherine Bergeron. “WPI and Conn are both known for creative innovation in higher education and this program speaks directly to Connecticut College’s mission of ‘putting the liberal arts into action.’ By expanding our STEM offerings in this way, we will be able to prepare students to address some of the biggest challenges facing modern society.”
WPI President Laurie Leshin agreed, noting that the unique partnership of a liberal arts college and a STEM university symbolizes the complexity of global engineering challenges.
“We need the brightest minds from all universities to tackle some of the world’s biggest environmental challenges,” said Leshin. “We’re looking forward to exposing Connecticut College students to WPI’s experiential project-based curriculum during their junior years, and to our incredibly strong environmental engineering offerings as fifth-year students. I’m confident that both of these opportunities will enrich their overall undergraduate experience and give them additional tools they need to make an impact in the world.”
Ben Guan ’19, a physics major with a double minor in computer science and mathematics, said he thinks the new environmental engineering studies major will be very appealing to problem solvers who want to learn to look at issues from both a critical and technical perspective. Guan, who is both a Science Leader and a Posse scholar, has already taken a number of engineering courses at the USCGA.
“With both a liberal arts degree and an engineering degree, you can look at a problem and come up with a technical solution, while also considering the social and economic impacts of a problem,” Guan said. “I’m passionate about sustainability, and I think having a good understanding of theory and also having practical engineering skills will help me do something useful for humanity.”
The new environmental engineering studies program will be available to students beginning with the Class of 2022. Students interested in the new program or other engineering opportunities at Connecticut College should contact the Physics, Astronomy and Geophysics Department.