Sustainable Engineering Minor

Why Minor in Sustainable Engineering?

" . . . engineers of the future will be asked to use the earth's resources more efficiently and produce less waste, while at the same time satisfying an ever-increasing demand for goods and services."

"Due to population growth and expanded global development, the next generation of engineers must be able design with fewer resources for a wider variety and greater number of end users."

Examples of sustainable engineering include:

  • Design and manufacturing techniques that improve energy efficiency, use recycled materials, minimize pollution, and/or reduce water use;
  • Using methods that minimize environmental damage to provide sufficient food, water, shelter, and mobility for a growing world population,
  • Designing products and processes so that wastes from one are used as inputs to another.

A minor in sustainable engineering can broaden job options. According to the Houston Chronicle, engineers with training in sustainability are often employed by government agencies (e.g. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, NASA), conservation groups, and private industry (e.g. automotive, aerospace, and defense industries and electric utilities). They help agencies and industry reduce their impact on the environment and use energy more efficiently.

What is the Difference Between Sustainable Engineering and Environmental Engineering?

Environmental engineering historically has been treatment-process focused, or end-of-pipe focused: once pollution is created, environmental engineers use principles of chemistry, biology, and physics to clean it up. Air pollution control engineers, for example, design devices which can be used to remove pollution from coal-fired power plant exhaust before it is discharged into the atmosphere.

A more efficient approach, however, is to ask the question: how can we avoid generating the air pollution in the first place? This question leads to consideration and design of sustainable power systems, such as biogas from waste, solar power, and wind power. This forward-thinking approach is the approach of sustainable engineering.

In addition, sustainable engineering, like all sustainable decision-making, emphasizes balancing environmental along with social and economic factors.

  1. Center for Sustainable Engineering (
  2. Davidson, et al. (2007)

What Courses are Required for the Minor

Six courses are required as follows:

Two Core Courses:

  1. CE 2300 Introduction to Sustainable Engineering (offered every fall)
  2. ENGR 4395 Sustainable Engineering Design Project (offered every semester)

plus one of the following Economics Electives:

  • IE 2308 Economics for Engineers
  • ECON 2305 Principles of Macroeconomics

plus three Sustainable Engineering Electives (see below)

By selecting courses to overlap with courses required for their major, students in most engineering disciplines can complete the minor with only 2 extra courses.

Sustainable Engineering Electives - Architecture

  • ARCH 3354 Introduction to Environmental & Sustainability Studies
  • ARCH 3357 Design Technologies - Building Information Modeling for Architects/Engineers
  • ARCH 3361 Architecture and Environment
  • ARCH 3551 Basic Design for Engineers
  • ARCH 3553 Design Studio: Architecture I
  • ARCH 4332 Energy Use and Conservation in Architecture
  • PHYS 1351 Energy and Environment

Sustainable Engineering Electives - Architectural Engineering

  • ARCH 3357 Building Information Modeling
  • ARCH 3551 Basic Design for Engineers
  • One of the following:
    • AREN 4307 Construction Sustainability
    • AREN 4326 GIS/Hydrologic and Hydraulic Modeling
    • ARCH 4332: Energy Use and Conservation in Architecture
    • PHYS 1351: Energy and the Environment

Sustainable Engineering Electives - Bioengineering

  • BE 3415. Fundamentals of Biomolecular Engineering
  • BE 4331. Biopolymers and Biocompatibility
  • BE 4368. An Introduction to Tissue Engineering and Drug Delivery
  • BE 4373. Formulation and Characterization of Drug Delivery Systems

Sustainable Engineering Electives - Civil Engineering

Construction Tech Elective

  • CE 4307 Construction Sustainability

Transportation Tech Elective

  • CE 4310 System Evaluation in Civil Engineering

Geotech Tech Elective

  • CE 4323 Landfill Design

Water Resources Tech Elective

  • CE 4300 Site Remediation in Developing Countries
  • CE 4326 GIS/Hydrologic and Hydraulic Modeling

Environmental Tech Elective

  • CE 4350 Introduction to Air Pollution
  • CE 4351 Physical Unit Processes
  • CE 4353 Water Chemistry
  • CE 4354 Introduction to Solid Waste Engineering
  • CE 4355 Design of Water and Wastewater Treatment Facilities

Sustainable Engineering Electives - Computer Science and Engineering

  • PHYS 1351: Energy and the Environment
  • GEOL course (see options below, 4-hour course may double count as science elective)
  • CE 4300, 4310, 4350, or 4354
  • IE 2308 Economics for Engineers or ECON 2305 Principles of Macroeconomics (whichever is not used to satisfy the economics requirement)
  • IE 3315 Operations Research
  • IE 4345 or 4351

Sustainable Engineering Electives - Construction Management

  • CM 3337 Construction Administration and Economics
  • CM 4357 Sustainable Building Practice
  • ECON 2306 Principles of Microeconomics
  • ECON 2337 Economics of Social Issues
  • PHYS 1351 Energy and the Environment

Sustainable Engineering Electives – Electrical Engineering

  • EE 3302 Fundamentals of Power Systems
  • EE 4314 Control Systems
  • IE 3315 Operations Research

Sustainable Engineering Electives - Industrial Engineering

  • IE 3315 Operations Research
  • IE 4345 Decision Analysis in System Design
  • IE 4351 Systems Engineering

Sustainable Engineering Electives - Mechanical Engineering

  • MAE 4324 Power Plant Engineering
  • MAE 4382 Research Trends in Renewable Energy Technologies
  • MAE 4386 Wind & Ocean Current Energy Harvesting

Other possibilities that may also qualify as MAE technical electives (Check with MAE advisor to verify):

  • CE 4300, 4310, 4350, or 4354
  • IE 3315, 4345 or 4351

Sustainable Engineering Electives - Geology

  • GEOL 1301 Earth Systems
  • GEOL 1330 Global Warming
  • GEOL 2406 Natural Resources and Sustainability
  • GEOL 4323 Issues in Environmental Health
  • GEOL 4356 Environmental Risk Assessment
  • GEOL 4455 Mathematical Modeling of Environmental Quality Systems

Sustainable Engineering Electives - Physics

  • PHYS 1351 Energy and the Environment

Sustainable Engineering Minor Application


Melanie Sattler, Ph.D., P.E.
Department of Civil Engineering

Requirements for Licensure or Certification

All discipline specific programs in the College of Engineering meet educational requirements for professional licensure or certification in all U.S. states, territories, and the District of Columbia.


Melanie Sattler, Ph.D., P.E.