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New environmental engineering major coming fall 2020

Environmental engineers use a combination of engineering, soil science, biology, and chemistry to come up with solutions to environmental concerns.


Engineering and Technology building is home of the College of Science and Engineering

Many students take on summer jobs between school years, keeping themselves busy and making some extra cash for college. 

Central Michigan University professor Goksel Demirer will be spending his summer a bit differently.

This summer, Demirer will spend this summer contacting apple cider mills in the Grand Rapids and exploring the opportunities for using their leftover apple pulp. 

A cider mill produces around 400,000 pounds of apple waste per year. These mills have no use for apple pulp, so it gets discarded, but Demirer said it is actually valuable. Apple pulp contains more sugar than coca-cola, around 70 grams of sugar per liter. Demirer hopes to convert this waste into natural gas, which is then used as bioenergy. He is collaborating with colleagues in Germany to publish this research.

Demirer intends to use this real-world experience to help him construct and strategize a new program here at Central Michigan University.

CMU hired Demirer in 2018 to initiate the new environmental engineering program, a new and unconventional field of study.

The approach to helping the environment has changed dramatically over the past 15-20 years, Demirer said. Instead of waiting for a waste problem to arise, environmental engineers preemptively design environment-friendly facilities.

Environmental engineers use a combination of engineering, soil science, biology and chemistry to come up with solutions to environmental concerns. These engineers strive to improve recycling strategies, waste disposal, and water and air pollution control. They address issues such as unsafe drinking water, climate change, and environmental sustainability.

Climate change has been at the forefront of news lately, and has been studied by many branches of science. 

“Many fields analyze this concept, but environmental engineering actually solves the problem,” Demirer said.

The curriculum for the program includes chemistry, physics, calculus, biology, pollution prevention and engineering classes. The program’s mission is to create graduates who can succeed in the job market or advanced studies.

The median pay for an environmental engineer is around $87,620 per year, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook. Environmental engineering ranks third in the best engineering jobs in the country, and twenty-first in the best STEM jobs, according to U.S. News. 

This program will be available to students in the 2020 fall semester. 

“I have a strong feeling that we’re going to attract a lot of students in the very near future,” Demirer said.