Making an impact on the future

NDSU environmental engineering students are learning to create a more sustainable future and positively impact the world by tackling current and emerging challenges.

Taylor Kimball had many options at NDSU that fit into his passion for environmentalism. The junior from West Fargo, North Dakota, studied biochemistry and molecular biology as a freshman. He also tried natural resources management and biology before landing on the newly created environmental engineering program. It was the perfect fit.

“I learned about the pillars of the program, like designing a future with zero waste and pollution,” he said. “As I did more research on the program, I realized this is what I have to do.”

Environmental engineers use foundations of natural sciences like biology and chemistry in addition to the principles of engineering to improve and sustain the health of the environment. Some of the critical challenges environmental engineers face include sustainably supplying food, water, and energy, reducing pollution and waste and curbing climate change while adapting to its impacts.

Students in environmental engineering begin solving these problems in the classroom. In one of his favorite classes, Kimball and classmates created a conceptual hydroponic fish farm.

“It’s a more sustainable way of producing fish,” Kimball said. “Basically, it’s a way to produce fish in areas where they can’t get a lot of nutrients from their bodies of water. In our class, we looked at where the location would be, how we could get resources there, making sure we would filter the water so we didn’t put waste into the environment and we could release clean water.”

Kimball said the class was challenging, but he learned a lot of skills in design and research during the progression of the project.

NDSU is the only college in the state of North Dakota with an environmental engineering degree. The program’s first semester of classes was fall 2020. But, according to Kimball, this is an advantage for students in the program.

“Since it is in its infancy, it’s growing and improving for the students,” he said. “It feels like a really unique opportunity to be in this major.”

Kimball is actively involved in making campus more sustainable. He is a member of the environmental sustainability club at NDSU and serves on the environmental sustainability committee for student government. His work in both these areas includes expanding recycling programs across campus and creating more green spaces for students.

His courses and involvement on campus have helped Kimball grow close to the other students in his major.

“I really found my group of people in environmental engineering,” he said. “You become close-knit with the group of people in your classes.”

Learn more about environmental engineering at NDSU.