Ecological Engineering


Ecological Engineering

Ecological Engineering is a new field of study in engineering and we are a new research focus area of the Environmental Engineering Department here at Texas A&M University--Kingsville.

Ecological engineering is defined as "the design of sustainable ecosystems that integrate human society with its natural environment for the benefit of both." It combines natural and applied sciences, especially systems ecology, with the discipline of engineering to educate professionals on how to design, construct and manage ecosystems and to develop sustainable eco-technologies. As society demands higher sustainability from the technologies that engineers implement and the need grows for professionals knowledgeable in ecosystem restoration, academic programs must be developed to train engineers in ecological engineering. Ecological engineering combines basic and applied science from the varied fields of engineering, systems ecology and other natural sciences in an effort to restore and construct aquatic, terrestrial and wetland ecosystems. The field is increasing in breadth and depth as the demand for ecological engineering services grows. Opportunities to design new ecosystems and restore degraded ones abound. Quickly, society is recognizing that a fully integrated interface between technology and nature is the best approach to improving the quality of life.

A Brief History of Ecological Engineering

The concept of ecological engineering was first proposed by Odum et al. (1963) as a branch of engineering and field of science in which solutions to environmental problems would be grounded in the technology available from natural systems so that the human engineering required would only be supplementary. Over the last four decades, others have amended the original definition as ?he design of ecosystems for the mutual benefit of humans and nature?(Mitsch and Jorgensen, 1989), and ?he design of sustainable systems consistent with ecological principles that integrate human society with its natural environment for the benefit of both?(Bergen et al., 1997). Throughout this same period the field has evolved, through countless investigative endeavors worldwide and diligent academic planning at select institutions, from a simple idea into a widely demanded and well practiced specialty of engineering, albeit informally.

Ecological Engineering Graduate Courses at Texas A&M University-Kingsville


Discussion of ecosystem models, types and applications. Development of a dynamic, ecosystem computer simulation model. Emphasis is placed on incorporation relevant forcing functions and system processes into models to predict design outcomes for restoration and re-creation.


Discussion of the fundamental processes and attributes of natural systems, including hydrology, bio-geochemistry and ecology, with the emphasis on the engineer? role in creating and restoring natural systems. Techniques for terrestrial, aquatic and wetland ecosystem creation and restoration, including assessment, planning, and construction.