Any Environmental Engineers around?

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  • Any Environmental Engineers around?
  • Premier Icon Stu
    Subscriber

    Wanting to know if this MSc course is decent as my sister is interested:

    http://www.strath.ac.uk/civeng/pg/envengineering/

    Also are there any jobs in the industry at present?

    Cheers

    Premier Icon jimmy
    Subscriber

    plenty of jobs (relatively) for environmental engineers. as I'm finding out, non-engineering environmental positions are like gold dust.

    can't comment on the course from experience but it sounds to have the right elements. i know they have some good social geographers in their non-engineering dept, so bodes well for industry contacts – thats what I'd be asking about when applying anyway.

    Van Halen
    Member

    any uk engineering/development based company is pretty much **** at the moment.

    as development companies are living off public money at the mo, with the coming public sector spending cuts to pay bank bonuses, unless banks start lending something, the outlook for the next year or so is not great.

    no idea on the course, however, in my experience we would not choose a candidate on their university choice. experience will be the decider – if they have no experience it comes down to how we think theyll fit in and their personality.

    we often take people on and train them up. i have one guy doing an msc on day release. he gets the fees paid for. could be an alternative way forward if she can find a company to take her on?

    Kit
    Member

    any uk engineering/development based company is pretty much **** at the moment.

    Van Halen, I don't know what branch of engineering you're in or where you work, but here in Scotland house building is starting back up again in some urgency. As a geotechnical 'engineer', I'm getting busier every day. It could all collapse again, but seems the house building companies are looking at things positively enough to start moving on sites again.

    EDIT: just looked at that link, and have to say it covers a lot of stuff which I do in my job. An MSc would have been useful in that regard, but it was my experience working for a consultancy while doing my undergrad that got me my job, and I have been learning as I go along. Jobs in this sector are, currently, very limited given that most of the consultancies that we deal with slashed staff, however in 18months time I expect you'd be in a pretty good position with that particular MSc.

    MRanger156
    Member

    I work in Leeds and the only work going around is goverment funded stuff like schools and hospitals.

    If the course is a 4 year one then should be better by then and its a fairly diverse degree to have.

    Premier Icon Stu
    Subscriber

    Thanks for the replies guys, good info. MRanger, its a 1 year MSc hence the question about jobs at the end.

    Premier Icon drain
    Subscriber

    It's a bit dire for the big engineering consultancies in the water sector (which attracts / employs many environmental engineers) at the moment, not so much because of The Recession but simply because of the time in the 5 year planning and investment cycle.

    It always goes quiet in Year 5 (now, ending in March) while companies wait and see what their regulator will/won't allow them in terms of price limits ("funding") for the following 5 years: and then Year 1 is slow in terms of pouring concrete (but busy for design and feasibility). And then it all goes bonkers when deadlines have to be met in the remaining 3 years, and pretty much anyone who can stand up and breathe at the same time can get employed 😉

    Practical upshot is that it's currently famine but the feast will (probably) come back round by 2012 – by which time that course should have ended? Good timing! Some regional stuff like the Olympics and Tideway Tunnel will also drive a big demand.

    [apologies for the gross oversimplification of regulation and investment in the water sector!]

    mavisto
    Member

    As a Geo-Environmental Engineer, we generally don't use half the stuff that the course covers. With regards to the core modules, the site investigation one might be useful and understanding the environmental chemical analysis would be good, but all our samples are just sent to a lab for analysis, we just get the results. As a company, we wouldn't touch landfill design, EIA and hydrogeology partly because they are far too specialist subjects and also because our bosses don't think they would make any money out of them.

    I spend the majority of my time writing reports to get sites through local planning regs with the minimum of fuss, the occasional couple of days out doing an SI or validating remediation/development work.

    My biggest disapointment with the whole job is that I'm not working for the environment I'm working for the building contractor.

    Many of the proposed big brownfield developments have been put on hold because the housing market is so depressed. A developer is only interested in spending big money remediating a site if they can make big money selling the houses.

    If your sister wants to work protecting and working for the environment, don't become a Geo-Environmental Engineer.

    I'm looking for something different at the moment, but the market is dead. I'm looking to move in with my GF, but can't afford to move without a job closer to where she lives. I also much prefer being the gamekeeper rather than the poacher; as however altruistic and moralistic it sounds, I really would like to work towards the benefit of the environment and not just to line the pockets of some house builder.

    Kit
    Member

    As a Geo-Environmental Engineer… I really would like to work towards the benefit of the environment and not just to line the pockets of some house builder

    mavisto, you've basically summed up my job and expectations 100%. I, however, am bailing out! Starting an MSc in Carbon Capture and Storage this year, which I hope will a) let me save the World and b) make lots of money doing so, neither of which I currently do 😉

    Joking aside, CCS seems a good direction for me to go in, as geo-environmental design for me is totally soulless and, like you say, very demoralising if you value the environment.

    Van Halen
    Member

    'I really would like to work towards the benefit of the environment and not just to line the pockets of some house builder'

    that is really the bugbear of many environmental engineers i know. they are despondant that the only work they get is minimising what developers have to do on projects. even the proper newt huggers 'used to live in a van and burn cowpats' types. my other friend racks up more air miles than an air hostess.

    i work for a small to medium consultant civil and structural engineers down south and getting work is generally very hard. mainly schools, small jobs and pre planning stuff. we are meeting our targets but its not easy. pretty much all private housing jobs have stopped.

    mavisto
    Member

    Kit – Member

    Thank god I'm not the only one that feels this way. Already got an MSc in Environmental Biogeochemistry but have been thinking about doing a PhD. The only trouble is the lack of money, my age and the prospect of starting at the bottom of the working ladder 'again'!!!

    My GF has been doing her degree part time and just got a 'First' (smart arse). I've been feeling very jealous of the satisfaction and enjoyment she had been getting from studying. It made me realise just how much I miss it.

    Maybe that's what I do; pack it all in, get any old job that will give me a bit of cash and do a PhD. Now that might just be a plan!!!!!

    Kit
    Member

    The only trouble is the lack of money, my age and the prospect of starting at the bottom of the working ladder 'again'!!!

    I'm going to turn 30 in March, have sold my car and have just got a 2nd p/t job working as a cleaner Guest Assistant at a cinema. I'll be giving up a nice bachelor pad to go live with my folks too 🙁 If you really want to do it, though, you'll find a way! I'm not bothered about starting again, as I've only been working in this industry for 4 years or so (7 years of uni, work experience etc) and within this company I can't go any higher or lower so makes no odds really.

    midgebait
    Member

    I can't comment on the specific course but looking in the back of the Endsreport and the Environmentalist I'd say that job vacancies are between 10 to 20% of the level that they were during mid-2008. I think they'll come back reasonably sharpish once any decent recovery starts as consultancies often recruit people on the back of specific projects. By the time your sister graduates I think the environmental jobs market will be looking reasonable again.

    Having said that, I work as an environmental engineer in industry and the last three times we've recruited we've always found it hard to recruit the right tree-huggers. A lot of people seem to want to go straight into consultancy but my experience of working in consultancy was very similar to the description that mavisto and kit provided.

    My gut feeling is that what the environmental industry needs, and will need even more in the future, will be people with a technical (e.g. civil or chemical engineering, chemistry) background and some environmental specialisation. If you consider the energy market for starters there's going to be a big need for people able to work on CCS (as Kit), nuclear, off-shore wind etc and I don't know if the UK will be able to meet this need. Other interesting jobs are likely to turn up in carbon management and climate change adaption. There will always be jobs available in geotechnical and site contamination work but I wouldn't find the typical jobs in this field enough to satisfy my tree-hugging side.

    skiprat
    Member

    Alot of the course content looks like what i did 15 years ago. The landfill part should be taken out as the future is recycling, waste to energy and the like. I work for a private waste company (have done for the last 9 years) and we are looking at composting, waste to ethanol, washing plants. The waste industry is a huge growth industry and will be for the next few years while we play catch up with the rest of Europe. Its also where people are wanting to invest money.

    Other units will give a good grounding in alot of areas but she may still need more specific training when she has a job. I have just done my NEBOSH health and safety to give me another area to look into.

    Best of luck to her, she just needs to look into what area of tree hugging she wants to get into!!

    Premier Icon Stu
    Subscriber

    Thanks again guys – I'm once again impressed by the random fountain of knowledge that is STW!

    I am an Earth Science person by background (as is she) and a fair few of my friends have ended up in the Environmental sector so I've pointed out that a lot of it is report writing and the like but its good to get a few more opinions!

    tron
    Member

    I used to be an Environmental / Ecological consultant. The catching newts, finding bats and snakes and so-on business is hell on earth. The pay is poor, the hours are horrendous during the season (Feb-Sept), and there is massive competition for jobs. Promotion in that side of things is very often based on time served (ie, bat licences – you'll need to go and volunteer to do more night work with a bat group until someone will sign you off). Further qualifications will stop you being held back higher up the tree, but do nothing for you at starter level in my opinion. Often you will need to have done considerably voluntary or seasonal work in order to get a job – I was the only person on my degree course to have a job lined up.

    The environmental engineering side of things seems a little more sane. You might be required to be on site at the same time as a load of builders (ie, 7) but at least they don't need you there at 11pm, 1am, or indeed, all night. You also get to visit the grottier sites that are full of poisonous chemicals. Did some ecological surveys on a former coking plant, and again, really not my cup of tea.

    And yes, both involve a fair amount of report writing and local plan consulting. Very dull.

    That said, in both cases, you are effectively paid to ensure the client bends the rules to breaking point, minimising their costs. And you are more or less entirely at the mercy of the demand for housing.

    If your sister has an Earth Science background, surely geology for the oil business is the obvious choice? Certainly would be mine if I'd done geology!

    Premier Icon lovewookie
    Subscriber

    As a Remediation Scientist working in Glasgow, that course looks good for the sort of things our company do. Useful to be a dab hand at pretty much everything really.

    plus Bob Kalin is quite a character, very active on the contam land scene and very well respected, there should be a fair bit of input from the likes of Christine Davidson on the chemistry side too.

    mavisto, Env Biogeochemistry? That's a bit specific, not a Newcastle MSc graduate are you?

    I have the same MSc…..

    Thigs in Glasgow are not that quiet for the remediation side of things. The M74 extension is certainly keeping us (me) very busy.

    That said, I'd really like to get back into academia, need to write up and add to my PhD, then try to get into a research post. Did think about the CCS area, but it'd invove too much hunting for funds…

    mavisto
    Member

    lovewookie – Member

    Yes, Newcastle grad here. Keele (Geology and Computer Science) too. Did my masters in 93/94 but was a bit ahead of the game and all the jobs they said would be out there didn't materialise till about 97. By that time I was working as a software engineer.

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