Water is our most valuable resource and it’s one we’ve historically taken for granted. Today, as our water supplies become more scarce, there is a growing demand for people to be trained in water management.
This professional program, the Master of Engineering Leadership in Integrated Water Management, is the first of its kind in Canada and has been designed to meet the need for professionals in this area. It combines business skill development with technical courses in chemical, biological and civil engineering. This combination of classes will be of interest to many, and the program will attract students involved in all aspects of water management in a wide range of industries — from those working in municipal government on drinking water or wastewater treatment to those in industries such as mining, oil and gas, agriculture and forestry.
I am a co-director of the program and will be teaching one of the core courses in the design of chemical and biological industrial water treatment. I am a chemical engineer who became very interested in biology. My work focuses on biological water treatment, primarily the bioremediation of contaminated areas such as mine sites. I also work in the agriculture and forestry industries. The problems I’m tackling with companies are site-specific and complex, and involve designing and implementing engineering solutions that are customized for each site.
This program will enable students to interact with faculty from many different disciplines and to choose from electives that will enrich their technical background in a specific area. As an integrated program, the courses fit together to give students opportunities that would be hard to find elsewhere and could certainly not be found in a single department. Water issues are not specific to a particular discipline, and water management professionals must work collaboratively with people from many different backgrounds and fields of study. Our graduates will have the knowledge and skills to launch or enhance their career in this exciting and continually evolving area.
Dr. Susan Baldwin is a professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of British Columbia. She spent the early part of her career working in the mining and energy industries before returning to university to study her two passions: mathematics and biology. Dr. Baldwin found synthesis of her training and interests in the fields of biomonitoring and bioremediation. She now does research on using biology to solve engineering problems, such as in the mitigation of anthropogenic effects on the environment. Examples of her recent studies include bioremediation of mine waste and monitoring of marine ecosystem health with mussels. Her laboratory has adopted genomics techniques for studying microbial communities in bioremediation and to develop biomarkers for ecosystem health.