The Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering recently introduced four new graduate certificate programs in civil engineering. Part of an ongoing partnership with the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering, the programs allow city employees to earn graduate-level certificates in water quality management, water and wastewater treatment, groundwater management, and sustainability.
The program began in fall 2017 with an initial cohort of 12 students. Designed for working professionals, it offers engineers an introduction to advanced education without making a full commitment to a master’s program. All coursework for the certificate programs can be applied to the Master of Science degree should students decide to continue.
The partnership allows Loyola Marymount University to “make a broader impact on civil engineering in Los Angeles and establish a bigger presence in these agencies,” said Jeremy Pal, director of the civil engineering graduate program and professor of civil engineering and environmental science. Pal oversees the certificate programs and is also co-teaching the certificate course in “Sustainable Engineering” this semester. Currently, eight of the 12 students in the initial cohort are pursuing the sustainability certificate, a trend Pal sees as encouraging. “It’s important that we see this issue coming into the forefront of thinking,” he said. “The goal is to enhance their professional skillset as 21st century engineers.”
Ibrahim Hafeez is an associate civil engineer for the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering who is currently pursuing certificates for water quality management and sustainability. “I can take what I’m learning from these classes and apply it to the work that I do pretty much every day,” he said. “I think sustainability is the next paradigm shift in terms of how young engineers are going to approach civil and environmental engineering as a whole,” Hafeez added. “So having a sustainability certificate is a good opportunity to learn some of those principles.”
“It’s been extremely relevant,” said fellow student Crystal Lee, a civil engineering project manager for the city’s Bureau of Engineering who enrolled in the program to deepen her understanding of the many processes she oversees. “The classes are really fun, they’re very small, and they’re very personal. All of the teachers seem like they really want you to learn, and that’s my main goal — to really get informed.”
For his part, Pal sees a benefit not only for the engineers enrolled in the program, but also for the LMU community. “It’s a great benefit to the classroom and even to the professors in the classrooms to have working engineers come and bring their experiences into our lectures,” said Pal. “It’s a win-win for everyone.”
Pal explained that the current cohort is a pilot program he hopes will eventually be expanded to other departments and agencies. “Ultimately, we’re trying to establish a model that other programs, including our own, can use in the future,” he explained, adding that impacting the broader community is the overarching goal. “We’re educating engineers with the role model of sustainability, education of the whole person and global citizenship in mind.”