RIT Announces New Master’s Degree Program in Sustainable Engineering

The effort is the first of its kind in the nation

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Rochester Institute of Technology has launched a new graduate program in sustainable engineering—becoming the first university in the nation to offer a master’s level program in the discipline.

The multidisciplinary program features a Master of Science and a Master of Engineering and, building on RIT’s work in sustainability research and education, offers students the flexibility to develop tracks in areas such as renewable energy systems, systems modeling and analysis, product design, and engineering policy and management. The program will begin admitting students immediately.

“This graduate program combines sustainable design and management practices with research and education in industrial, systems and mechanical engineering, along with business and public policy,” notes Harvey Palmer, dean of RIT’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering, where the program will be housed. “Our goals are to further develop the emerging discipline of sustainable engineering and graduate a new generation of engineers who are adept at applying sustainable principles in engineering practice.”

“As we move forward in the 21st century, the value of more environmentally and socially responsible approaches to meeting society’s needs will become increasingly evident,” says Jacqueline Mozrall, chair of RIT’s industrial and systems engineering department.

“Engineers and managers must be equipped to become environmental leaders and decision makers, and universities will need to further develop the tools to enhance this transformation,” Mozrall continues.

On top of basic course work in engineering and classes in public policy and environmental management, students in the sustainable engineering program will be required to complete a capstone project or thesis directly related to sustainable design challenges impacting society. Many of these projects will be incorporated into sustainability research by RIT faculty in the areas of fuel-cell development, life-cycle engineering and sustainable process implementation.

“It is our hope that the sustainable engineering program will be a catalyst to advanced research in a host of fields that will assist in making numerous aspects of our society more environmentally sound and sustainable,” adds Brian Thorn, associate professor of industrial and systems engineering who, with Andres Carrano, also an RIT associate professor of industrial and systems engineering, directs a student research group focused on sustainable engineering work.

RIT’s graduate program in sustainable engineering was developed by an interdisciplinary faculty team that included professors from the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, the Department of Mechanical Engineering, the E. Philip Saunders College of Business, the College of Applied Science and Technology and the College of Liberal Arts.

The effort builds on over a decade of work undertaken by the Kate Gleason College of Engineering in developing curricula in the field and enhancing student participation in sustainability-related efforts. This includes a joint B.S./M.S degree in mechanical engineering and public policy, a minor in sustainable product development offered to all engineering majors, and the creation of an RIT student chapter of Engineers for a Sustainable World.