My daughter is in class 12. Her main subjects are physics, chemistry, maths and computer science. She wants to study environmental engineering in college. What are the prospects in this field? Also, could you list the names of a few colleges in India and Canada that offer this course?
Neera, Dubai

An area of study that has gained significance recently, environmental engineering combines science and engineering to identify and design solutions for environmental problems.

Environmental engineers help to provide healthy drinking water, improve air quality, remediate polluted sites and control water pollution in rivers and lakes among many other such activities. Their studies and conclusions are pivotal in the construction of large projects like dams and power plants.

At many universities environmental engineering falls under the department of civil engineering or chemical engineering. She could also study law as a joint degree to use in environmental engineering law.

Job opportunities in this area of expertise are plenty and would include working for drinking water plants, waste water treatment plants, environmental engineering consultancy firms, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), Nasa projects, environmental advocacy groups, and teaching.

An environmental engineer's expert opinion is needed to get approval to commence operations in pharmaceutical companies, paper firms, chemical industries, tanneries, and so on. He or she is needed to manage operations, pollution control and hazardous waste. You daughter could also specialise in specific fields such as oceanography, natural resource management or urban planning.

In Canada, admission requirements are similar to those of any engineering programme. Your daughter will need to do maths and sciences that include physics and chemistry. It would be good for her to opt for calculus and a higher level of maths.

In India, several institutes offer undergraduate and postgraduate courses in environmental science and engineering. The duration of study for the undergraduate programme is four to five years and it takes two years to complete the postgraduate course. There are different entry requirements and admission to better institutions is through the national entrance exams.

Her college counsellor would be able to guide her regarding the entry requirements for different institutes.