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e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry

ESF Launches Master of Engineering Degree

New program is a first of its kind within SUNY

ESF has launched a Master of Engineering (M.E.) degree in Environmental Resources Engineering —a first of its kind within the SUNY system.

Housed within the Department of Environmental Resources Engineering (ERE), the intensive, 11-month Master of Engineering program will offer a unique, practice-oriented course of study focused on engineering design and project management. The degree will culminate in a team-based design project.

"ESF's M.E. degree dives deep into topics, ensuring that students become subject matter experts and leaders," said President Joanie Mahoney. "This degree program goes beyond technical training. It prepares graduates for leadership positions in a wide range of industries and maximizes career opportunities."

The program is designed to fill the educational gap between the bachelor's degree in engineering and professional licensure. "The M.E. program will strengthen the technical training acquired through the Bachelor of Science, and it will build on that knowledge by incorporating management and business perspectives that simply don't exist at the undergraduate level," said Dr. Lindi Quackenbush, chair of ERE.

ERE graduate and professional engineer David Gerber '88 is returning to campus as the M.E. program co-director along with the Quackenbush. Gerber, who has a Master of Engineering Management from George Washington University, is a former member of the ERE Advisory Council and an emeritus member of the ESF College Foundation Board of Directors. He currently serves as senior vice president at Arcadis, U.S., a global design, engineering and management consulting company.

In light of the breadth and depth of knowledge demanded of engineers today, several professional organizations are advocating education and experience beyond the traditional bachelor's degree. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) both recommend a master's degree in engineering as the base educational requirement for licensure.

This new degree answers the call benefiting both students moving directly from undergraduate to graduate study and early-career engineers with some level of professional training. "Employers value the master's degree now more than ever as they start to feel pressure from the marketplace, professional organizations and licensing boards," said Gerber.

The new degree will require the completion of a customized set of coursework drawing from courses across ERE's five graduate degree focus areas: ecological engineering, environmental engineering, environmental resources engineering, geospatial information science and engineering, and water resources engineering. Students will also have the opportunity to take other approved ESF and Syracuse University classes. "Part of what makes our degree unique is its focus within the ERE department," said Quackenbush. "There are other M.E. programs in the state, but we go beyond traditional engineering by incorporating sustainable environmental engineering perspectives."

In addition to advanced engineering coursework, M.E. students will complete graduate-level business management and leadership courses, engineering project planning and management courses, and a collaborative capstone project addressing a real-world engineering challenge.

The Master of Engineering degree requires the successful completion of a minimum of 33 credits at the graduate level inclusive of 16 credits of engineering electives; six credits of business electives; five credits of engineering management and professional experience; and a comprehensive team-oriented learning six-credit capstone engineering design project. The degree program is designed to be completed full-time in one calendar year but can also be completed via part-time study over a two-year period.

The capstone project is a defining feature of the new program. Over a tailored 10-week summer session, students will work in teams to provide engineering planning and design services to real-world clients. "The project is an experiential learning activity," said Quackenbush. "It's not just an exercise; it affects the community in a perceptible way." Projects will involve the investigation and analysis of an interdisciplinary environmental challenge, followed by the development of new knowledge and a sustainable design solution.

"Students will have the unique opportunity to go into the community, seek out an engineering need, address the challenge and deliver a design outcome back to the stakeholders," explained Gerber.

As program co-director, Gerber will advise the M.E. students and teach four newly developed courses. His weekly Professional Experience class is designed to connect each student to some aspect of the business world. "During these one-on-one or small group meetings, I will serve as the conduit between the students and the professional world," he explained. Sessions will involve research, discussion and personalized advising on career goals and opportunities. "We will work together to design a structured professional development plan that works for each individual student and aligns with where they are on their career path," said Gerber.

For more information about ESF's M.E. Degree Program:
David R. Gerber, P.E., PMP