Build a sustainable future through engineering and design
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To prevent a global temperature rise of about 1.5C, universities around the world are focusing their efforts on building a sustainable future.

They are what World Economic Forum (WEF) Head of Academic Engagement Jaci Eisenberg describes as “forward-looking”.

“The forward-looking university adopts meaningful steps for its university to approach carbon neutrality and to contribute to a carbon-neutral world.

“(…) the forward-looking university also expands its sustainability efforts to its largest community and its largest intervention point: its alumni,” wrote Eisenberg.

For students interested in using their engineering or design degree towards building a sustainable future, a university that shares their vision for a more sustainable world is a great place to start.

This is where they will gain valuable knowledge on current and upcoming engineering and design trends in the built environment sector so that they will be equipped to produce sustainable products, interiors, structures and landscapes for the future.

This momentum to build a healthier planet also aligns with Concrete Block Association (CBA) Housing Manager Chris Stanley’s viewpoint, who says that the biggest built environment trend in 2020 will be a focus on sustainability.

“Building regulations will be increasing the importance of the design and build thermal performance of new buildings to help reduce environmental impact and increase sustainability,” he said.

“Energy efficiency and the aim of zero-carbon emissions will drive innovation in construction. Better thermal performance materials and designs will also be developed with the aim to make buildings of the future incredibly resilient, cheaper to live in and with a reduced impact on the environment.”

Keep pace with these sustainable design and engineering practices on the rise with these four forward-looking universities:


Established in 2011, the Engineering School of Sustainable Infrastructure & Environment (ESSIE) within the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering at the University of Florida brings together civil, environmental, and coastal and oceanographic engineering faculty to solve cutting-edge problems related to global sustainability.

Comprised of the Department of Civil and Coastal Engineering and the Department of Environmental Engineering Sciences, the School offers academic and research opportunities that prepare graduates for an ever-changing interdisciplinary world.

Source: University of Florida ESSIE

ESSIE is unique in its ability to research and provide solutions for both natural and man-made hazards. The School’s renowned faculty are passionate about addressing coastal, environmental, infrastructure and community needs. They specialise in areas that support ESSIE’s major research themes including health and hazards engineering, transport systems, coastal ecosystem dynamics and sustainable materials management. This diversity of expertise provides the framework to train students to explore innovative engineering solutions, preparing them to become the 21st century engineer.

Leading by example, the School continues to provide research and solutions to impending and ongoing hazards. Our faculty are leading initiatives toward creating resilient coastal communities, building hazard-resistant infrastructure and much more.

The School’s diverse curriculum appeals to every student. ESSIE offers hands-on, unparalleled opportunities for research within its respective programs.

Both departments offer the Master of Science, Master of Engineering, and Doctorate degrees. For  Civil and Coastal Engineering, students are able to specialise in a particular field of interest such as geosystems engineering, coastal ecosystem dynamics, sustainable construction engineering and more. The Department of Environmental Engineering Sciences includes specialisations in air resources, environmental nanotechnology, systems ecology & ecological engineering and water systems.

If you want to make a global impact on sustainability, click here to gather further information about the School.


At the Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering (EEE) at Columbia University, faculty members are focused on building a sustainable future for the planet through engineering and design.

Despite being small in size, the Department dedicates its resources to actively researching solutions to significant, detrimental issues that affect the planet.

Hence why EEE students are at the forefront of pioneering environmental research.

For instance, Columbia Engineering senior Amar Bhardwaj was recently selected to receive the highly prestigious Marshall Scholarship, which supports up to 50 top young scholars from the US to pursue graduate study at universities across the UK.

“My ultimate goal is to engineer solar fuels technologies that will be widely deployed,” says Amar.

And by offering an innovative Master of Science in Earth and Environmental Engineering programme, more EEE learners like Amar can achieve extraordinary things.


If you’re eager to collaborate with colleagues and top professors in the study of Earth dynamics, including its surface, interior, and human impacts, then a course at the University of British Columbia could be what you’re searching for.

At their Department of Earth, Environmental and Geographic Sciences, under the Irving K Barber School of Arts and Sciences, students can decide between an MSc programme or a PhD research programme.

The MSc Earth and Environmental Sciences degree equips students with useful skills and methods, as well as practical research methods that address real-world problems in earth and environmental sciences.

Source: UBC

The PhD in Earth and Environmental Sciences requires students to produce original and substantive contributions to advance our understanding of the Earth and its environmental systems.

For instances where the School’s graduate programmes have inspired graduates to make a real-world impact, check out the insightful stories of Elinor McGrath and Erica Massey; these alumni have insightful research to show.


At the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, the faculty ardently supports student-led sustainable change.

For example, a six-year study by structural engineering professor Scott Ashford and graduate student Adam Young found that bluff erosion accounted for 68 percent of the fresh sand that nature provides to the county’s eroding beaches.

“Adam’s results should alert all groups interested in the preservation and development of Southern California’s beaches that the assumptions they have been using to identify the supply of beach sand should now be re-examined,” says Professor Ashford.

This is just one of many successful student breakthroughs that have happened at the School, with many more to come from its Master’s and PhD structural engineering cohorts.

For students that opt for the multidisciplinary MS degree programme, they will be supplied with fundamental structural engineering knowledge to take forth into their career.

Whereas PhD candidates will be prepared for careers in teaching, business and research, according to their chosen academic or professional specialities.

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International

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