Environmental Program Overview

Current environmental engineering class sizes at Waterloo range from 40-50 students, providing ample opportunity to work closely with environmental faculty and learn in a stimulating, interactive environment. The key to our program is the real world experience gained in co-op work terms and brought into the classroom.

First Year

The first year is common with the Civil and Geological degree programs. The first year program is designed to facilitate your transition to university life while at the same time providing you with a solid foundation in Engineering Science.


  • Calculus
  • Algebra
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Programming
  • Physics

In addition, you will take two concept courses.

The first concept course will cover the basic methods and principles used by engineers. It has a special emphasis on field skills, such as surveying, and technical communication skills, such as technical report writing and computer aided design.

Second Year and Beyond

In second year you begin specialized courses to acquire knowledge in specific areas. Some of the areas of study include:

Physical and Chemical Processes

  • Fate and transport of contaminants
  • Aqueous chemistry
  • Biological degradation

Water Resources

  • The hydrologic cycle
  • Open channel flow and river restoration
  • Pipe networks
  • Stormwater management

Water and Wastewater Treatment

  • Plant design
  • Flocculation and sedimentation
  • Reactor physics

Third Year

Areas of Interest

Staring in third year, Environmental Engineering students start to focus in one of three areas: Water treatment, water resources, or pollutant remediation and modelling.

Fourth Year

By fourth year, you will have five co-op work terms under your belt and a breadth of real-world environmental engineering experience to add to the theoretical and applied knowledge learned in the classroom. All of your experience will be brought to bear in your full-year 4th year design project, where you will work with a group three or four of your classmates to design an engineering solution to a complex problem. The topic is yours to choose.

In the past, the environmental program has sent 4th year design groups to compete in the annual WERC environmental design contest in New Mexico.