Cornell's environmental engineering degree program, created in 2002, has been accredited by ABET Inc., certifying that the program meets the most rigorous standards of quality and education of the environmental engineering profession.
Now, students can major in environmental engineering and graduate with an ABET-accredited degree in that field, which also qualifies them to sit for the Fundamentals of Engineering examination. The test is administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying and is required for the certification of Professional Engineer (PE). Students often elect to take the exam while they are still in school.
Previously, because environmental engineering was not accredited by ABET, students often also chose a second, accredited major -- usually civil engineering or biological engineering. The accreditation now frees up students to concentrate solely on their discipline of choice, officials say.
Longstanding cooperation between the departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering and Biological and Environmental Engineering in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has allowed students to study environmental engineering for many years. During the 1990s, the two units worked out details to create a concentration, bridging common courses and curricula. Further collaboration resulted in the environmental engineering major in 2002 -- one of the few majors anywhere offered jointly by departments in different colleges.
After creating the major in 2002, Cornell began the process of seeking ABET accreditation, which culminated with a visit to campus in fall 2008 by ABET representatives to evaluate the program. The accreditation covers the dates of May 2007-September 2011. Students who graduated in 2007 or 2008 will therefore get accredited degrees retroactively.