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United Nations Environment Programme
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<International Source Book On Environmentally Sound Technologies
for Wastewater and Stormwater Management>

4.7 Training (Topic g)

Both universities and technical colleges offer environmental training programs. University programs include environmental engineering and environmental management degrees. University undergraduate engineering programs provide basic training in wastewater treatment concepts as part of civil engineering and environmental engineering programs. Environmental engineering programs are most commonly offered through the civil engineering department, but may also be offered through chemical engineering and bio-resource engineering departments.

Although the majority of environmental engineering programs offered in North America are graduate degrees, environmental engineering is offered at both the undergraduate and graduate level in the United States and Canada. Graduate degrees can be preceded by a related undergraduate degree (e.g. Civil or chemical), but an undergraduate degree in engineering is not required to do a graduate degree in engineering in all universities. Undergraduate engineering programs in Canada and the US are accredited by their respective national professional engineering bodies (eg. The Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board - CEAB). An advantage of the Canadian system of university accreditation is that graduates from an accredited university program in one province can register in another province without the need to write technical exams. In contrast, most US states require out-of-state applicants for registration to write exams to prove technical competency.

University training programs may also have an industry focus. For example, one environmental engineering program offered at the University of Memphis provides consulting help for small and medium sized companies trying to meet pretreatment permit requirements or NPDES permits. Graduate and undergraduate students work with a research faculty member with both industry and government experience. Students visit the site, conduct a literature review, and write a draft report. As well as recommending treatment processes, the program has provided technical assistance in negotiating with WWTP's over fees and with regulators over permit limits (Moore, 1997).

Technical college programs focus on the practical more than the theoretical aspects of environmental technology, and admission standards to these programs are not as high as those required by universities. Most of these programs are completed in two years in comparison to university engineering programs which take from four to five years to complete, depending on the university.

Wastewater operator training and certification is required in approximately fifty percent (50%) of North America. Operations training is offered through professional associations, most notably the Water Environment Federation. Universities in Massachusetts, Washington, California (Sacramento), and North Carolina have also worked with local governments to produce programs to train professionals and operators offering on-site treatment design, installation and operational services. Operator certification is governed by the Association of Boards of Certification (ABC), based in Ames Iowa, and is implemented by local state and provincial certification boards.

Continuing education for wastewater treatment professionals is encouraged, and some professional engineering associations have made proof of continuing education mandatory. Government sponsors continuing education through university programs and by workshops given at professional association conventions.

Professional associations sponsor and organize short courses and conventions, at which research and case study papers are presented and equipment suppliers provide information on new developments. Special workshops are presented on topics such as Biological Nutrient Removal, Benchmarking, and Ultraviolet Disinfection, for the purpose of educating one's peers as well as advertising one's expertise. As mentioned above, many engineering associations require that members collect a minimum number of Continuing Education Credits per year to maintain certification.

Equipment suppliers offer technology transfer workshops, which keep clients up to date on new developments as well as advertise the supplier's products. Computer models and design tools, for example, pump sizing programs, are being developed and offered by suppliers to customers.

The Internet is becoming a valuable continuing education and technology transfer tool. Professional organizations such as the Water Environment Federation, and government sponsored information centers such as the Small Flows Clearinghouse, operate discussion groups where technical questions can be asked and answered from around the continent.

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