Newsletter and Technical Publications
<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
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
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.