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DESIGN SOLUTIONS TO IMPROVE OUR COEXISTENCE WITH THE ENVIRONMENT. BECOME AN ENGINEER IN SERVICE TO SOCIETY.

Environmental Engineering (CEE)

en·vi·ron·men·tal en·gi·neer·ing

Branch of engineering which addresses the impact of human activity on the environment and the design of sustainable engineering solutions to provide people with safe water, air and land, for the benefit of humankind.

Also Known As: Water Process Engineer, Air Quality Engineer, Hydraulic Engineer, Alternative Energy Engineer, Civil Engineering, Environmental Health Engineer, Environmental Lawyer, Environmental Policymaker, +10,000 more

young woman working in a garden

WHY CEE AT MICHIGAN?

  • 6:1

    student to faculty ratio

  • No. 2

    US News and World Report

  • 180+

    years as a department

  • $9M+

    spent on research in 2019

  • >60%

    female (Winter 2019)

CEE was the first engineering department at the university.

Environmental Engineering is the newest degree program in the College of Engineering.

Over 92% of graduates are employed directly out of school or pursue a higher education.

woman fills up bottle in lab

What do Environmental Engineers do?

We use engineering principles combined with the natural sciences to solve environmental problems, helping society meet the challenges of limited global resources and human environmental impacts. Whether it’s reducing the effects of pollution on our resources, treating and recycling wastewater to keep our lakes and oceans healthy, improving sustainability, or curbing air emissions to reduce climate change, we aim to make our planet greener.

Environmental Engineering Areas

  • FocusCEE

    FocusCEE allows you to focus your engineering education in CEE by tailoring your curriculum to a particular theme. Each focus area combines a major in CEE with additional courses that often meet the requirements for a specific LSA minor, plus immersive experiences outside the classroom.

    Sustainability- To ensure a greener and more equitable future, we need sustainable solutions to the world’s environmental and resource challenges. This Focus will deepen your engineering education to include knowledge of sustainability, food, energy and policy, to name a few.

    Community Policy and Planning- Modern engineers will work hand-in-hand with diverse groups of community members to ensure that the cities we build improve quality of life for all those who reside in them. This Focus will deepen your engineering education to include a combination of equity, sustainability, policy and planning. You will learn how to enrich the lives and experiences of many residents — from rural regions to megacities.

    Smart Cities- Beyond self-driving cars, the connected cities of the future will have smart buildings, smart water systems and smart energy grids. This Focus will deepen your engineering education to include knowledge of infrastructure, the environment, technology, sensors and data science.

  • Clean Water for Drinking

    Improve water quality by designing water treatment processes to treat and recycle water.

    Courses: Fluid Mechanics, Design of Environmental Engineering Systems, Aquatic Chemistry, Environmental Microbiology

  • Clean Air for Breathing

    Improve air quality by designing air treatment systems to minimize industrial exhaust fumes, model the way that pollutants move through the air, and understand the impact of air pollution on climate change.

    Courses: Thermodynamics and the Environment, Environmental Engineering Principles, Air Quality Engineering Fundamentals, Air Pollution Meteorology

  • Clean Land for Living

    Study land that has been contaminated by pollution, and learn how to repurpose it for other uses.

    Courses: Environmental Engineering Principles, Groundwater Hydrology, Geoenvironmental Engineering, Environmental Microbiology

  • Water for All Uses

    Learn about the patterns of water flow to control flooding and design water systems that help stop water pollution.

    Courses: Hydrology and Floodplain Hydraulics, Groundwater Hydrology, Flow in Open Channels, Sediment Transport

  • Alternative Energy and Sustainability

    Produce energy using alternative, renewable sources and study the process of energy conversion.

    Courses: Thermodynamics and the Environment, Air Quality Engineering Fundamentals, Energy Infrastructure Systems, Sustainable & Fossil Energy

  • Environmental Policy and Entrepreneurship

    Work with businesses, government and the public to promote sustainable and eco-friendly technology as the new norm.

    Courses: Sustainable Engineering Principles,Entrepreneurial Business Fundamentals, Climate Change: The Move to Action, Environmental Law

  • Environmental Engineering is a broad discipline! We do not have any formal concentrations, and the courses listed above under the various headings are all offered within the context of the major. Our students often select minors to supplement their major, which could be completed in the context of the FocusCEE program.

Environmental Engineering is a broad discipline! We do not have any formal concentrations, and the courses listed above under the various headings are all offered within the context of the major. Our students often select minors to supplement their major, which could be completed in the context of the FocusCEE program.

Graduate receiving hood during ceremony

Sequential Undergraduate/Graduate Studies Program (SUGS)

Complete your bachelor’s and master’s degrees in only five years with SUGS by taking some graduate-level classes during your undergraduate years, so you can save yourself one semester and complete the masters with only two additional semesters.

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Sample Course List

First-Year

First-Year

  • Fall Semester
    • CoE Core Calculus I (Math 115)
    • CoE Core Engineering 100
    • CoE Core Chemistry (125/126 and 130 or 210 and 211)
    • Elective Intellectual Breadth
  • Winter Semester
    • CoE Core Calculus II (Math 116)
    • CoE Core Engineering 101
    • CoE Core Physics (140 and 141)
    • Elective Intellectual Breadth

Sophomore Year

Sophomore Year

  • Fall Semester
    • CoE Core Calculus III (Math 215)
    • CoE Core Physics (240 and 241)
    • Major Requirement Statics and Dynamics (CEE 211)
    • Major Requirement Thermodynamics & the Environment (CEE 230)
  • Winter Semester
    • CoE Core Differential Equations (Math 216)
    • Major Requirement Structure & Reactivity I (Chemistry 210)
    • Major Requirement Intro to Civil & Environmental Engineering (CEE 200)
    • Major Requirement Sustainable Engineering Principles (CEE 265)
    • Major Requirement Fluid Mechanics (CEE 325)

Junior Year

Junior Year

  • Fall Semester
    • Major Requirement Statistical Methods (CEE 373)
    • Major Requirement Environmental Engineering Principles (CEE 365)
    • Major Requirement Earth Science Elective
    • Elective General Elective
  • Winter Semester
    • Major Requirement Computational Methods (CEE 303)
    • Major Requirement Environmental Engineering Lab (CEE 366)
    • Major Requirement Environmental Process Engineering (CEE 465)
    • Major Requirement Aquatic Chemistry (CEE 481/581)
    • Elective Intellectual Breadth

Senior Year

Senior Year

  • Fall Semester
    • Major Requirement Hydrology and Floodplain Hydraulics (CEE 421)
    • Major Requirement Environmental Microbiology (CEE 482/582)
    • Major Requirement Technical Elective
    • Elective Intellectual Breadth
    • Elective General Elective
  • Winter Semester
    • Major Requirement Professional Issues and Design (CEE 402)
    • Major Requirement Technical Elective
    • Major Requirement Technical Elective
    • Elective General Elective
    • Elective General Elective

Individualized plans of study will be developed by students in consultation with an advisor.

Practice Your Purpose

Apply the skills you are learning in class to the real world.

Student Groups

A woman in a hijab squints at a measuring tape held against a pole by an older man
BLUElab - Better Living Using Engineering Laboratory
Aquaponics Logo
Michigan Aquaponics
Citizens Climate Lobby Logo
Citizens’ Climate Lobby
Protesters with signs: “My future is not for sale”, “there is no planet B”, and “why go to class when the world is burning?”
The Climate Action Movement
Climate Blue Logo
Climate Blue
Compost Michigan Logo
Compost Michigan
A group of students in a garden holding a large “Food Recovery Network” sign.
Food Recovery Network
A woman atop a roof wearing a hard hat and holding a power tool in front of a set of solar panels.
GRID Alternatives
Live Green Logo
Live Green
SFCE Logo
Students for Clean Energy

Professional Development

ASCE Logo
American Society of Civil Engineers
Chi Epsilon Logo
Chi Epsilon
EESA Logo
Environmental Engineering Student Association
female student working in lab
Network for Women in Civil and Environmental Engineering
Students stand in a circle arranging a series of index cards on the floor
Undergraduate Student Advisory Council

Examples of Current Research

Herek L. Clack headshot
Herek Clack: Environmental Impacts of Airborne Aerosols
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Aline Cotel headshot
Aline Cotel: Environmental & Biological Fluid Mechanics
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Glen Daigger headshot
Glen Daigger: Recovering Resources from Wastewater
READ MORE
Brian R. Ellis headshot
Brian Ellis: Strategies to Mitigate CO2 Emissions
READ MORE
Christian M. Lastoskie headshot
Christian Lastoskie: Environmental Impacts of Energy Consumption
READ MORE
Nancy G. Love headshot
Nancy Love: Replenishing the World’s Phosphorus by Recycling and Processing Urine
READ MORE
Terese M. Olson headshot
Terese Olson: Environmental Chemistry
READ MORE
Branko Kerkez headshot
Branko Kerkez- Real-time Water Systems
READ MORE

Alumni Biographies

Each of these alumni are real people who were once in your shoes, deciding a major. Explore their path and how a Michigan education set their life in motion.

  • Adam Larky headshot
    • Adam Larky
    • Energy Development Ltd
  • Andrea Hayden headshot
    • Andrea Hayden
    • Fausone Bohn, LLP
  • Domenico Grasso headshot
    • Domenico Grasso
    • University of Michigan, Dearborn
  • Lynn Williams Stephens headshot
    • Lynn Williams Stephens
    • Brown and Caldwell
  • Mariah Gnegy headshot
    • Mariah Gnegy
    • Virginia Tech
  • Melissa Koob headshot
    • Melissa Koob
    • Environmental Resources Management (ERM)
  • Monica Walker headshot
    • Monica Walker
    • General Motors
  • Omar Keith Helferich headshot
    • Omar Keith Helferich
    • Clean Water Institute of Calvin University
  • Sierra Schatz headshot
    • Sierra Ryan Schatz
    • US Peace Corps
Adam Larky headshot

    Adam Larky

    Energy Development Ltd

Andrea Hayden headshot

    Andrea Hayden

    Fausone Bohn, LLP

Domenico Grasso headshot

    Domenico Grasso

    University of Michigan, Dearborn

Lynn Williams Stephens headshot

    Lynn Williams Stephens

    Brown and Caldwell

Mariah Gnegy headshot

    Mariah Gnegy

    Virginia Tech

Melissa Koob headshot

    Melissa Koob

    Environmental Resources Management (ERM)

Monica Walker headshot

    Monica Walker

    General Motors

Omar Keith Helferich headshot

    Omar Keith Helferich

    Clean Water Institute of Calvin University

Sierra Schatz headshot

    Sierra Ryan Schatz

    US Peace Corps

Not sure what major to choose?

Tap into our network of 85k+ engineering alumni. Do you have questions you’d like answered? Our alumni are always eager to talk about engineering.
(Current and admitted UM students only.)

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Industries & Occupations

  • Consulting Engineer
  • Environmental Clean-up
  • Environmental Regulatory Compliance
  • Federal Government
  • Flood Control
  • Public Health Engineering
  • Pollution Control
  • Resource Management
  • Scientific Research
  • Waste Management
  • Wastewater Treatment
A professor strikes a power pose while wearing a hard hat and reflective vest surrounded by tubes at an industrial site

Companies

  • AECOM Technology Corporation
  • Army Corps of Engineers
  • CDM Smith
  • CH2M Hill
  • DTE
  • Environmental Consulting and Technology
  • Ford
  • General Motors
  • Geosyntec
  • Jacobs Engineering Group
  • LimnoTech
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • Shell
  • Stantec
  • Tetra Tech
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Find salary information at the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Discover the various salary ranges based on experience level and location.

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Adam Larky headshot

Adam Larky

  • Energy Development Ltd
  • Senior Project Manager

University of Michigan, BSE Civil Engineering, 1992
University of Michigan, MSE Environmental Engineering, 1994
University of Michigan, MSE Engineering Management, 1999 (incomplete)
Career Summary

I started working in engineering consulting specializing in solid waste management. After graduation from UM I moved to Kansas City to work for a large engineering firm, Burns & McDonnell. I worked on solid waste planning projects, groundwater monitoring and investigation projects, and ultimately landfill design and construction projects. I worked my way up from a project engineer to a project manager at BMcD.
In 2001, my wife and I decided to move back to Michigan. I was recruited to work for another consulting firm in Livonia, Michigan to help manage their solid waste consulting practice. The firm was ultimately acquired by a company that went bankrupt and acquired another larger firm. In 2006, a group of us decided to start our own consulting firm, Cornerstone Environmental Group, LLC. I started by managing our local Michigan office but overtime I was promoted to Region Vice President and managed the entire midwest operation. I was working primarily on landfill and renewable energy projects. In 2016, we sold the firm to Tetra Tech. In 2019 I decided to move out of consulting and I started working at EDL and I am now part of the Project Delivery Team responsible for developing renewable energy projects.

Reflection on Time Spent at U-M

I still have a lot of my friendships from U-M and I especially value my time working on the concrete canoe.

Andrea Hayden headshot

Andrea Hayden

  • Fausone Bohn, LLP
  • Law Partner

University of Michigan, BSE Civil and Environmental Engineering
Wayne State University Law School, JD, 2008
Career Summary

I am currently a partner at the law firm of Fausone Bohn, but I have worked for various companies and law firms throughout my career, each of which have provided me with different opportunities to enhance my skill set and broaden my network. Before practicing law, I worked as an environmental engineering consultant, which gave me a strong technical background useful in the practice of environmental law and business transactions in general.

Advice to Students

Whatever you may be interested in, the University has an opportunity to get involved. Joining a student group – any group – is a great way to learn new things, apply what you already know, and meet new people. The academics are very intense and exceptional at Michigan, but taking the time to join a group or two really enhances the college experience. I would offer the same advice in your professional life.

Domenico Grasso headshot

Domenico Grasso

  • University of Michigan, Dearborn
  • Chancellor

Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Bachelor of Science
Purdue University, Master of Science
University of Michigan, PhD Environmental Engineering
Licensed Professional Engineer, Connecticut and Texas
Chair of National Academics Committee on Grand Challenges in Environmental Science and Engineering
Career Summary

Prior to joining UM-Dearborn, Domenico was provost and chief academic officer at the University of Delaware, where he spearheaded efforts ranging from the creation of the Division of Enrollment Management and Institute for Financial Services Analytics, to community engagement and cybersecurity initiatives.

He began his academic career as a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Connecticut. He then moved to Smith College, holding posts as the Rosemary Bradford Hewlett Professor and founding director of Smith’s Picker Engineering Program, the first engineering program at a women’s college. Later, he served as dean of the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences and vice president for research and at the University of Vermont.

He is a passionate defender of sustainability and environmentally conscious practices, and his research has delved deeply into the fate of environmental contaminants and the development of techniques to reduce risks to human health and the natural world. He has found ways to engage the youngest STEM learners and co-founded, along with pioneer astronaut Sally Ride, TOYChallenge, a nationwide toy design event for middle school students.

Reflection on Time Spent at U-M

While at the University of Michigan, I enjoyed: Football games, Walking through the diag, Foreign and arthouse films at MLB, Breakfast at Angelo’s, Working out at CCRB, Playing IM softball, Studying in the reading rooms at Rackham

Advice to Students

Don’t sleep in … imbibe as many varied activities as you can … there is so much to do at U-M and in Ann Arbor.

Lynn Williams Stephens headshot

Lynn Williams Stephens

  • Brown and Caldwell
  • Principal Engineer

Michigan Technological University, BS Civil Engineering, 2007
University of Michigan, MSE Environmental Engineering, 2008
Career Summary

Following my graduate research and studies, I joined Brown and Caldwell (BC), where I served as a process engineer for both drinking water and wastewater. Within a year, I was able to leverage my UM research on biological filtration to a pilot-scale study for the cities of Lake Oswego and Tigard. Because of this experience, I was able to manage this pilot study investigating ballasted flocculation, ozonation, and high-rate biological filtration (the first pilot study for high-rate filtration in the state of Oregon). Operating this pilot equipment and informing the detailed design for a 38 million gallons per day (mgd) facility was an amazing experience!

Another cool project that I worked on early in my career was the process design for a sludge process where I was intimately involved in the secondary biological treatment process selection. This work also involved pilot testing an ammonium removal process. Following the pilot investigation, I led the detail design for the process, which was constructed and is in operation. My experience at UM made this project involvement possible.

Currently, I am a Principal Engineer for BC and our client service manager for the Water Research Foundation (WRF). In this role, I guide which WRF projects we pursue as a company. Over the past 5 years, I’ve been the Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI) on 8 WRF projects, and I’m currently a Co-PI on the Biofiltration Guidance Manual for Rapid-Rate Filtration Facilities.

I’ve also had the opportunity to expand my water quality/treatment knowledge and apply it to planning and climate change resiliency projects. For instance, I have worked with Honolulu Board of Water Supply to assess climate change impacts to groundwater supplies and water infrastructure. I also published the Blueprint for One Water, which focuses on guidance for utility managers looking to embark on a One Water or integrated water resources framework.

I also serve as BC’s One Water lead for the Pacific Northwest where I support strategy and projects in drinking water, reuse, and integrated water management. UM gave me the foundation for my career, but my project experience has launched my skillset and knowledge to what it is today.

Favorite Student Orgs

I got involved in Sa Nim Collaborative, which joined BLUElab. From 2002 until 2008, Sa Nim worked in Rancho al Medio, a small village of 1,400 people in the Dominican Republic (DR). During my trip to the DR, I focused on water quality testing and assessing drinking water systems. As a part of the student leadership, we decided that we had made sufficient progress in the DR and chose a rural community in Guatemala, Samox San Lucas, and a partnering NGO, CasaSito, to continue to help. In this new community, we built point-of-use biosand filters for the schools. It was an incredible experience! I learned so much about what true community is about and how the challenges with improving health and sanitation in the developing world is much less about the engineering hurdles, but more about the societal and social hurdles. It also taught me invaluable leadership skills. Brown and Caldwell also supported me to go down for another trip to Guatemala where I followed up on our projects. I am thankful that I got involved in this organization. I highly recommend finding a way to apply your talents and ambitions to give back to a community in need.

Mariah Gnegy headshot

Mariah Gnegy

  • Virginia Tech
  • Graduate Research Assistant

University of Michigan, BSE Civil Engineering, 2016
University of Michigan, BSE Environmental Engineering, 2016
Virginia Tech, MS Environmental Engineering, 2018
Virginia Tech, Ph.D. Civil Engineering, expected 2022
Career Summary

After graduating from UM, I knew I loved doing independent research, which is why I pursued a graduate degree. I’d always been interested in water quality/infrastructure issues, and I found my undergrad research project in environmental microbiology to be challenging, but very rewarding. Through my graduate research, I get to study pathogens in our air and water that can cause human disease.

During my first project in grad school, I got to sample wastewater treatment plants internationally, which was great experience to learn how to work in a different country.
The second project I’ve worked on involves assessing the risk of pathogen inhalation at wastewater treatment plants. This has been my favorite project to work on because I work on something I am passionate about (pathogens in the environment) and I get to apply my engineering background to a public health problem. My program has almost no requirements on specific courses so I have been able to take a variety of classes in public health, genetics, and virology. This has significantly expanded my breadth of knowledge beyond environmental engineering. Finally, my last project is an industry-driven contract involving testing of a “probiotic” product. This project has been interesting because I still get to do independent research but I work very closely with a company to help them develop their product, so I have gotten experience as to what is involved with doing research for a large industry.

Ultimately, my professional goal is to do risk assessment on environmental pathogens for a federal agency (like the EPA or the CDC) so my background in environmental engineering combined with my graduate experience in public health is allowing me to work towards that goal. Because I still want to be able to do independent research, I found that it was necessary for me to obtain a graduate degree; graduate school has given me the freedom to explore areas related to environmental engineering that I find interesting.

Favorite Student Org

Steel Bridge Team – I loved getting hands-on shop experience and it was great for teamwork/leadership experience. I also enjoyed being a part of FEMMES (Females Excelling More in Math, Engineering and Science) because we got to hold events to encourage younger females to pursue STEM and teach them more about it.

Favorite Class

ENGIN 101 (Intro to Programming) with Dr. Ringenberg. When I took that class as a freshman, I wasn’t sure if engineering was right for me (I was terrible at coding!) but he made it so accessible and easy to learn that I gained the confidence I needed to stay in engineering.

Advice to Students

Find a network of people/students (through student orgs or classes) who will support you personally, academically and professionally. The people I met at UM supported me during my time there as well as beyond graduation. I don’t know where’d be without my fellow wolverines!

Melissa Koob headshot

Melissa Koob

  • Environmental Resources Management (ERM)
  • Account Director/Partner

University of Michigan, BSE Civil and Environmental Engineering, 1997
Career Summary

I have benefitted from the variety of experiences provided by consulting. Notable points in my journey include traditional field work, part-time secundment in a manufacturing setting, development and management of global compliance programs, operations management and account development. Each point built on the next and helped refine communication, leadership and technical skills.

Career Timeline
  • Environmental Resources Management
  • Tetra Tech
Advice for Students

Get involved and make time for the hobbies you love. I found great support structures in SWE and the Women’s Glee Club. I also balanced my engineering classes with a fair number of language and dance classes.

Monica Walker headshot

Monica Walker

  • General Motors
  • Environmental Engineer

University of Michigan, BSE Environmental Engineering, 2016
University of Michigan, MBA Ross School of Business, 2021
Career Summary

In undergrad, I had a variety of internships that helped me decide my career path. First, I researched in a lab at Michigan State University in the Biosystems Engineering department, trying to find solutions for nutrient runoff from local farms. Next, I interned with GM at an Assembly plant in Lansing, learning air/water/waste compliance and implementing a composting program. After that, I worked for the consulting firm Resource Recycling Systems, where I developed a business case for sending food waste to anaerobic digesters in wastewater treatment facilities. During school, I also worked for Environmental Consulting & Technology Inc., which furthered my knowledge of stormwater management solutions, and for the Student Sustainability Initiative at the Graham Institute, helping student groups host zero waste events.

Immediately after graduating I hired in with GM, where I first worked for a year and a half implementing an electronic safety data sheet database. Here, I was able to travel to our facilities in Thailand, Korea, Ecuador, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, and Canada, and helped gather waste data for our public sustainability report, as well as lead large-scale waste reduction projects. Currently I work for General Motors, where I manage water and waste compliance for our stamping facility. I am also the environmental project manager for all construction, demolition, and remediation at the Flint manufacturing complex. I am also a board member for the non-profit Flint River Watershed Coalition and in May 2019, I started Ross’ Weekend MBA program. I’ll finish up this degree in two years while also working full time.

Career Timeline
  • General Motors
  • Flint River Watershed Coalition
  • Michigan State University Biosystems Engineering Department
  • Resource Recycling Systems
  • Environmental Consulting & Technology, Inc.
  • Graham Institute- Student Sustainability Initiative
Favorite Student Orgs

The student organizations that had the biggest impact on my life are the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and the Michigan Marching Band (MMB). I am currently an officer in the SWE Detroit section. The MMB is where I made some of my closest friends, and how I learned to prioritize my time.

Favorite Classes

Stream Restoration with Aline Cotel (this class had the biggest effect on my career choice), Cities and Sustainability with Douglas Kelbaugh, Probability/Statistics with Branko Kerkez, Groundwater Hydrology with Avery Demond, Surface Hydrology with Andrew Gronewold, Wastewater Treatment Principles with Nancy Love, Microbiology with Jeremy Semrau, Air Quality with Herek Clack

Omar Keith Helferich headshot

Omar Keith Helferich

  • Clean Water Institute of Calvin University
  • Visiting Scholar

University of Michigan, BSE Civil Engineering, 1958
University of Michigan, MSE Civil / Sanitary Engineering, 1959
University of Michigan, MBA Business/Quantitative Methods, Michigan State University, 1966
Michigan State University, Doctor of Business Administrative- Marketing, Operations, Information Management, 1970
Career Summary

My career began with the Army ROTC at U of M and was on Active Duty for eleven years plus eight years in the active reserve. I worked on missile and nuclear testing safety engineer at Las Vegas and Christmas Island test sites. I then moved on to be a health physicist, an industrial hygienist, and was a member of the nuclear device incident response team, where I worked on environmental incident response and recovery and leadership. I have worked in a plethora of areas, from nuclear safety systems design to master production scheduling, project management, and systems/ process consulting. I have studied operations, supply chain management & information management and done projects using IT, operations research tools, and performed evaluation of environmental impacts.

Moving on, I worked in consulting in productivity improvement for food, chemical, agricultural, electronics and pharmaceutical companies. I co-authored a book on Expert Systems in Logistics in 1992 before moving on to Michigan State University in a role responsible for scholarships, internships, work study, and placement for 500 students in purchasing, operations and logistics management. In my career in education, I have taught in several institutions and have taught courses that have included humanitarian projects in the US and Dominican Republic, with projects including the Special Olympics, Rotary International, American Red Cross and other non profits. I am currently a volunteer for Calvin College on water projects in Jordan, the Dominican Republic, and other countries.

Career Timeline
  • Army ROTC U of M
  • US Atomic Energy Commission Contractor
  • Westinghouse Atomic Power Division
  • Industrial Nucleonics
  • Systems Research Inc
  • Cleveland Consulting Associates Inc
  • Dialog Systems Inc
  • Michigan State University
  • Integrated Strategies Inc
  • Central Michigan University
  • American Red Cross
  • Calvin College
Advice for Students

Learning is constant especially with rapid technology and process advances

Motivation is one the keys to success along with learning from mistakes and failures —“Getting Back Up”

My parents taught me to not waste energy or negative attitudes even towards those who cause you problems. Use your energy on positive tasks.

Parents also knew I would get a good position after the U of M. They said when you get your job for pay take time to identify how you can give back to the community. The three words were that I continue follow-

Select a mission that gives you Passion, stay patient when the results do not always follow your ideal, and then continue forward with Perseverance. Passion, Patience and Perseverance.

As a young officer, I also learned the following: Prior Preparation, Prevents, P*** Poor, Presentation.

Treat all individuals with respect – my parents told to respect people as I moved up because that is correct and you might meet the same people when you come down. I actually experienced this step. I was president of a company where one of staff started a company. I later became a VP for the former staff member.

Sierra Schatz headshot

Sierra Ryan Schatz

  • US Peace Corps
  • Regional Coordinator

University of Michigan, BSE Environmental Engineering, 2016
Career Summary

In my final year of college, I was debating between trying for an engineering job at a company or doing volunteer work for a while instead. I had a couple of interviews, but I realized that I really had no desire to go right into a desk job! I applied to the Peace Corps and was accepted as a Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) volunteer in Panama, leaving two months after graduation. During training, I was assigned to serve two years in a small indigenous community in the mountains that lacked potable water and latrines.

I have gotten the chance to work on a huge variety of projects here in Panama. I did a community analysis with counterparts and determined that running water, health education, and latrine construction were priorities. I created hygiene workshops for kids and adults and collaborated on an HIV/AIDS prevention initiative. I wrote a grant and received funding from an American nonprofit to construct a 1,000-gallon storage tank, rehabilitate a spring source catchment structure, and build a few concrete pit latrines and rainwater tanks alongside my community members. I never imagined myself as a construction manager leading a team of indigenous men, most without a high school education, communicating in Spanish and Ngabere, the local language, but here I was. I learned so much about budgeting, creating construction timelines, and adjusting just about every aspect of the project along the way to fit within the cultural norms of my community. I gained other invaluable skills, too: patience, empathy, confidence facilitating workshops in Spanish, and more patience.

I decided to stay in Peace Corps for a third year, supporting about 29 volunteers working in the Comarca with their projects. I help them resolve conflicts in their communities and also act as a liaison between the Peace Corps office in Panama City and volunteers in the field. I like this position because I am experiencing the more urban side of Panama and learning to navigate the rules of professionalism in this new environment. I’m preparing to transition to a more professional job in the US.

When I return to the states this fall, I plan to work for the government, possibly with the US Army Corps of Engineers, EPA, or Indian Health Service. I want to continue to use my engineering skills to serve the country.

Reflection on Time Spent at U-M

At Michigan, I played on the Women’s Club Water Polo team and served on the board for three years. Fitness has always been important to me and I loved being part of a team. I worked a few part-time jobs on campus, too, to pay for my expenses and save for larger purchases and trips.

Favorite Classes

My all-time most memorable classes were: Earth 442: Earth Surface Processes & Soils, CEE 265: Sustainable Engineering Principles, Women’s Studies 220: Perspectives in Women’s Health, Urban Planning 423: Intro to Urban Planning, Dance 100: Modern Dance (for fun!)

Advice to Students

Attend talks by famous people when they come to campus! I listened to some incredible speakers my senior year that I will always remember. Obama came to speak when I was a freshman, and I still regret not going to see him!

Take an upper-level writing course that actually interests you, not just the one everyone says is easiest. I took an Arab Culture course and loved it.

Get to know your academic advisors and ask them for career advice. A CEE advisor was one of the key people who pushed me to apply for the Peace Corps.

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