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Villanova University Adds First-of-Its-Kind PhD in the Area of Sustainable Engineering

William Lorenz, director of Villanova’s graduate program in Sustainable Engineering
William Lorenz, director of Villanova’s graduate program in Sustainable Engineering

Developed in response to the rising demand for engineers in a leadership capacity with expertise in sustainability, Villanova University College of Engineering has launched what is the only program of its kind: a unique and differentiated engineering doctoral program in the area of Sustainable Engineering. Sustainable Engineering joins Biochemical, Chemical, Civil, Computer, Cybersecurity, Electrical and Mechanical Engineering as concentration areas for the College’s PhD in Engineering. The new program will begin enrolling students in the fall of 2015.

Because sustainability increasingly is becoming a top priority for a variety of organizations, the program provides students with the opportunity to learn from and collaborate with professors from other disciplines who fully understand the impacts of decisions across all dimensions of engineering. Embracing a “whole systems thinking” approach, the program will challenge and expose students to complex problems and present multiple technological solutions using the STEEP model – Social, Technical, Economic, Environmental and Political. This practical approach is applied to current and future real-life scenarios in which students work together to solve problems faced by companies and organizations worldwide.  In addition to traditional research, students will have the opportunity to work hands-on with industrial or organizational sponsors, providing sustainable solutions and watching their ideas come to life.

Villanova already has gained national recognition for its interdisciplinary Master’s of Science in Sustainable Engineering (MSSE) program, one of the first of its kind in the nation. Since launching in late 2009, the program has nearly tripled in enrollment. According to Director William Lorenz, “Current MSSE students have inquired about the possibility of a PhD program for some time, and we have a recent MSSE graduate preparing to become our first official Sustainable Engineering PhD student in the fall.”

Drosdick Endowed Dean of Engineering Gary A. Gabriele, PhD, highlights the cutting-edge research being performed in the College. “With more than 75 externally funded projects, the College offers opportunities for every interest, including water resources and storm water management, genomics biotechnology, biofuels and alternative energy, nanomaterials and material characterization, and much more.” 

Finally, students in the Sustainable Engineering doctoral program can be assured they are learning from experts in the field. Lorenz is a former co-founding partner for ERM, a global provider of environmental, health, safety, risk, sustainability and social consulting services, and program instructor and PhD coordinator Dr. Ross Lee is an experienced technology leader with more than 36 years of experience with DuPont.  Adjunct professor Karl Schmidt is a former Johnson & Johnson vice president who directed the company’s Global Supply Chain Risk Management program and developed its first sustainability program.

Villanova University College of Engineering, founded in 1905, is committed to an educational program that emphasizes technical excellence and a liberal arts education within the framework of the University’s Augustinian Catholic tradition. Graduate programs in the College provide a modern, relevant, well-rounded education that prepares graduates to understand their role in a technical society, make constructive lifelong contributions, communicate effectively, and provide ethical leadership as active members of their professions and communities. The College offers nine MS degree programs, over 15 graduate certificate programs, as well as a PhD.