Narrow your focus to a specific area of study as you find new ways to reduce a product’s environmental effects at every stage of its lifecycle, from conception, development, and prototyping to commercialization, recycling, and disposal.
Sustainable engineering refers to the integration of social, environmental, and economic considerations into the design of product, process, and energy systems. Additionally, sustainable engineering encourages the consideration of the complete product and process lifecycle during the design effort. The intent is to minimize environmental impacts across the entire lifecycle of a product or process while simultaneously maximizing the benefits to social and economic stakeholders. This environmental engineering degree builds on RIT’s work in sustainability research and education, and 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 is designed to accomplish the following educational objectives:
Heighten awareness of issues in areas of sustainability (e.g., global warming, ozone layer depletion, deforestation, pollution, ethical issues, fair trade, gender equity, etc.).
Establish a clear understanding of the role and impact of various aspects of engineering (design, technology, etc.) and engineering decisions on environmental, societal, and economic problems. Particular emphasis is placed on the potential trade-offs between environmental, social, and economic objectives.
Strong ability to apply engineering and decision-making tools and methodologies to sustainability-related problems.
Demonstrate a capacity to distinguish professional and ethical responsibilities associated with the practice of engineering.
Plan of study
The MS in sustainable engineering builds on RIT’s work in sustainability research and education and 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. Course work is offered on campus and available on a full- or part-time basis. Technical in nature, the program equips engineers with the tools they need to meet the challenges associated with delivering goods, energy, and services through sustainable means. In addition to basic course work in engineering and classes in public policy and environmental management, students are required to complete a research thesis directly related to sustainable design challenges impacting society. Many of these thesis projects support the sustainability-themed research being conducted by RIT faculty in the areas of fuel-cell development, life-cycle engineering, and sustainable process implementation.
Students must successfully complete a total of 30 credit hours of course work comprised of four required core courses; two graduate engineering electives in an area of interest such as energy, modeling, manufacturing and materials, transportation and logistics, or product design and development; one social context elective; one environmental technology elective; two semesters of Graduate Seminar I, II (ISEE-795, 796); and a thesis. This research-oriented program is designed to be completed in two years.
Oil and Gas
Utilities and Renewable Energy
Sustainable Engineering, MS degree, typical course sequence
Sem. Cr. Hrs.
Engineering of Systems I
This course covers the principles of product, manufacturing process and supply chain development in an integrated fashion. It will examine the methodologies and tools to systematically define, develop and produce world-class products. Students will work on a project to put these methodologies and tools into practice. Major topics include: product planning and definition, characterization of user value, lean product development, product requirements and benchmarking, concept generation, design for "X" (manufacturing/ assembly/ service/ environment, etc.), sustainable design, design for lean six sigma.
Fundamentals of Sustainable Engineering
This is a high level survey course that reviews the product lifecycle from various perspectives and highlights the leverage over material, process, and environmental impacts available at the design phase. Tools and strategies for reducing the environmental impacts associated with the sourcing, manufacture, use, and retirement of products will be reviewed and evaluated.
This course introduces students to the challenges posed when trying to determine the total lifecycle impacts associated with a product or a process design. Various costing models and their inherent assumptions will be reviewed and critiqued. The inability of traditional costing models to account for important environmental and social externalities will be highlighted. The Lifecycle Assessment approach for quantifying environmental and social externalities will be reviewed and specific LCA techniques (Streamlined Lifecycle Assessment, SimaPro) will be covered.
Graduate Seminar I
The first in a two course sequence that introduces students to research methods in industrial engineering and presents the state of the art in industrial engineering research. The two-course sequence is designed to promote discussion and interaction on IE research topics and to present research methods such as conducting critical reviews of research literature, initiating background research on a thesis topic, and preparing a formal thesis proposal.
Graduate Seminar II
The second in a two course sequence that introduces students to research methods in industrial engineering and presents the state of the art in industrial engineering research. The two-course sequence is designed to promote discussion and interaction on IE research topics and to present research methods such as conducting critical reviews of research literature, initiating background research on a thesis topic, and preparing a formal thesis proposal.
Renewable Energy Systems
This course provides an overview of renewable energy system design. Energy resource assessment, system components, and feasibility analysis will be covered. Possible topics to be covered include photovoltaics, wind turbines, solar thermal, hydropower, biomass, and geothermal. Students will be responsible for a final design project.
In conference with a faculty adviser, an independent engineering project or research problem is selected. The work may be of a theoretical and/or computational nature. A state-of-the-art literature search in the area is normally expected. A formal written thesis and an oral defense with a faculty thesis committee are required. Submission of bound copies of the thesis to the library and to the department and preparation of a written paper in a short format suitable for submission for publication in a refereed journal are also required. Approval of department head and faculty adviser needed to enroll.
Social Context Elective
Total Semester Credit Hours
To be considered for admission to the MS program in sustainable engineering, candidates must fulfill the following requirements:
Hold a baccalaureate degree (or equivalent) from an accredited university or college in engineering, mathematics, or science.
Submit official transcripts (in English) of all previously completed undergraduate and graduate course work.
Have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 (or equivalent).
Submit scores from the GRE.
Submit a statement of purpose.
Submit three letters of recommendation from academic or professional sources.
International applicants whose native language is not English must submit scores from the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE. A minimum TOEFL score of 79 (internet-based) is required. A minimum IELTS score of 6.5 is required. The English language test score requirement is waived for native speakers of English or for those submitting transcripts from degrees earned at American institutions.