A Missouri University of Science and Technology professor is leading a new effort to bring academic leaders in environmental engineering together on an annual basis to improve education in universities nationwide.
Dr. Joel Burken, professor and associate chair of civil, architectural and environmental engineering at Missouri S&T, is serving as chair for the Environmental Engineering Department and Program Chairs Conference to be held July 29-31 at The Ohio State University. The conference is sponsored by the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (AAESP) and the American Academy of Environmental Engineers (AAEE). Burken is president of AAESP, an association of roughly 900 professors in the U.S. and abroad.
The conference theme – “Preparing the Future Stewards of Our Planet” – underscores the mission of both organizations to recruit and educate more prospective college students into the environmental engineering field. The meeting is supported with a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to Missouri S&T.
“Environmental engineering is rapidly expanding in scale and in professional scope as we face many new challenges in protecting human health and the environment around us,” says Burken. “This conference and continuing efforts will focus on establishing a continuing communications platform among the leaders in academia to address the needs of educating and training those entering the environmental engineering profession.
“The number of undergraduate programs has expanded greatly, going from fewer than 10 in 1995 to over 50 in 2007,” Burken says. “We have roughly 50 leaders registered for the conference, representing most of the programs in the country.”
Burken and his co-organizers plan to hold the conference annually, with next year’s meeting scheduled to be held in Golden, Colo.