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What is Environmental Systems Engineering?

Protecting the health of workers and the environment, often during challenging projects, is the job of an environmental systems engineer. They understand, demonstrate, and apply systems engineering principles to environmental issues related to industrial activities and to the extraction of energy and mineral resources. These engineers work closely with project leaders, utilizing process systems engineering and environmental systems approaches, to evaluate and address the environmental impact of projects. Often these engineers work in the government sector and offer expertise in big-picture projects facing cities, regions, nations, and the globe.

You Might Like This Program If...

  • You want to minimize the environmental impact of industrial activities and protect the health of workers.
  • You have strong math, science, and engineering skills and want to apply that to improving worker and environmental safety.


  • The ENVSE option focuses primarily on the impact of industrial activities on the environment and the choice of cost-effective remediation strategies.
  • The ENVHS option is concerned with the safe and healthful design of industrial systems so that workers are protected from the potentially high risk exposures associated with today's industries.

Both options follow a similar course schedule over the first two years of study. Specialization in either ENVSE or ENVHS then is achieved through successful completion of additional courses in one of the two option areas.


The ENVSE degree program follows a unique interdisciplinary curriculum that is designed to address the critical environmental, safety, and health problems of the basic industries involved in the extraction, conversion, and utilization of energy and mineral resources. All students gain a deeper understanding of both the impact of environmental degradation on society and the effects on industrial activity of society's demands for protection of workers and the environment. The program is complementary to the more general environmental science programs that emphasize the identification and evaluation of environmental problems, and to the classical environmental engineering programs offered by civil engineers, whose traditional emphasis is on public-sector concerns of water supply, municipal waste water (sewage) treatment, and solid waste (trash) management and disposal.

Want to learn more?

Visit the University Bulletin to learn more about:

  • How to Get In
  • Program Requirements
  • Integrated Undergrad-Grad Program
  • Learning Outcomes
  • Academic Advising
  • Suggested Academic Plan
  • Career Paths
  • Accreditation

The Environmental Systems Engineering B.S. program in the John and Willie Leone Family Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering (EME) at Penn State is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET,

More Information

Undergraduate Program Chair