The turn of the 21st century has produced renewed interest and concern for our environment and the preservation of valuable ecosystems. The greatest problem in preservation is we cannot have sustained growth without development. The University of Maryland, Department of Environmental Science and Technology addresses the balanced use of environmentally friendly technology for sustainable growth. This is the University of Maryland at College Park’s bachelor degree program in ecological technology design.
Ecological Studies and Design at UMD
There are four areas of specialized interests comprising the Department’s features; these include environmental health, natural resource management, ecological design and soil and watershed science. Ecological technology design is an exciting field, giving students knowledge and tools necessary to develop sound environmental practices by cross-educating them in ecology and technology.
One of the resource projects initiated by ENST students, under the direction of Dr. David Tilley, was to build a green wall, as part of a house built on the National Mall for the US Department of Energy’s 2011 Solar Decathlon. The wall is part of an integrated living system, which uses it to save water and to create edible and medicinal products. The house itself is formed from two rectangular units with a butterfly roof. The roof captures and stores sunlight, as well as rain water.
Ecological design teaches constructive use of waste waters that can be purified through a natural selective process, and the building of agricultural, urban and industrial systems that closely imitate natural ecosystems, retaining their sustainable productivity. Their challenges include discovering ways to convert waste products into energy, re-establishing wetlands in urbanized areas, discovering bacteria that will clean toxic waste and managing wildlife in new ecosystems found in cities.
The UMD Campus and Course
The University of Maryland campus center is unique in that it comprised of a faculty fully involved in environmental science and problem solving. It contains an agricultural and environmental studies laboratory, an aquatic toxicology lab, and an engineering design lab, among other experimental laboratories addressing ecological and environmental needs. The facility is top of the line and helps students to enjoy their research and use the facility’s resources to their advantage.
Students in Bachelor of Science programs will receive the opportunity to study abroad, in areas such as Belize, where they can do independent field work on river ecosystems, or participate in the student exchange program in ecology and natural resource management in Brazil. A tremendously exciting course is field work in African ecology, where students have the opportunity to travel to Kimberly, then on to the Sahara Desert, for a first-hand encounter with the various mammal and bird species.
A Bachelor of Science degree in ecological design represents the future of resource development. There is an enormous need to conserve our existing ecological systems, to introduce sound environmental practices, while meeting industrial and energy demands, and create sustainable agriculture to resolve world hunger and clean water shortages. It is, in essence, a pioneering field, with ample opportunities for innovative thinkers and students passionate about developing healthy environmental practices.