Ecological Engineering [CRN 77137]

Discipline: Civil Engineering
Instructor: Bolton
Credits: 3
Day: A
Start: 0800
End: 0920
Field Work: Day 1 - Monday, 3 October | Spain
Prerequisites: None. Open to non-engineers. Some familiarity with basic math and biology/ecology is helpful but not required Download Syllabus


Ecological engineering adds ecosystem science principles to the traditional physical and mechanical foundation of engineering.  Ecological engineering focuses on the design of sustainable ecosystems that integrate human society with its natural environment for the benefit of both.  Particular emphasis is placed on application of ecological engineering in the restoration of streams and rivers, lakes and reservoirs, wetlands, and coastal ecosystems, as well as treatment wetlands and mined land reclamation. This course familiarizes students with the philosophy, ecological foundations, tools and practice of ecological engineering through readings, homework, case studies, critical discussions, and seminar presentations.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand and describe important physical, chemical, and biological processes that affect ecosystem integrity;
  2. Explain, use, and illustrate mass balances, water balances, energy balances, and chemical balances as tools to help understand and describe ecosystem functions;
  3. Familiarity with approaches to ecological restoration of streams and rivers, wetlands and riparian areas, lakes and reservoirs, and coastal ecosystems.
  4. Understand and apply concepts involved in designing and achieving sustainable uses of ecosystems (e.g., treatment wetlands and land treatment systems), and application of ecological engineering techniques in stormwater management;
  5. Analyze and illustrate the impact that designing ecosystems to solve engineering problems has in the context of societal and global issues; and
  6. Identify and describe the contemporary issues and emerging fields in which ecological engineers will be called upon to use their expertise.

Field Work

Country: Spain
Day: 1 - Monday, 3 October

We will visit stream restoration sites in the Ter River watershed. The local designers will discuss design challenges, construction challenges, monitoring efforts, and current ecological conditions. We will visit the  Ter River Museum, Center for the Study of Mediterranean Rivers, Industrial Anal Manllee, Gambires Island, and les Masies de Voltrega Each student will write a 3-5 page paper describing the ecology of the sites visited, assessing the current state of ecological recovery at the sites visited highlighting, noting strengths and weaknesses of the projects. Paper will not be due until we have covered sufficient detail in class to make an informed assessment.  Good notes, photo documentation and questions will be very important while on site. Learning objectives:

  1. Understand challenges in restoring Mediterranean Rivers
  2. Observe and analyze fish ramps
  3. Observe and analyze riparian restoration in Spain