Engineering in the Service of Society and Environment

The engineers trained at Columbia's School of Mines during the 19th and 20th centuries contributed much in developing the technologies that provided the basic materials needs of society.

In the framework of the creation of a university-wide major initiative in Earth studies, the Columbia Earth Institute, the traditional programs in mining and mineral engineering of HKSM were transformed in the late nineties to include environmental concerns for land and water resources. The M.S. program in Earth Resources Engineering was instituted in 1996 to replace the traditional programs in mining and mineral engineering/extractive metallurgy. The B.S. program in Earth and Environmental Engineering was initiated in the fall of 1998 to replace the traditional mining/mineral/extractive metallurgy programs of HKSM and is now accredited by ABET.

The Earth Engineering Center (EEC) is the engineering unit of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. Its mission is to develop technologies that can help in the sustainable development of the Earth's resources: Minerals, energy, water, and the environment. The Research Associates of EEC include Columbia engineers from various disciplines as well as specialists from other universities and organizations.

As shown in this illustration, the traditional educational and research programs of the Henry Krumb School of Mines have now been expanded to address the major environmental concerns of the 21st century.

Application of 20th century technologies to 21th century problems

Technology For Humanity For Earth
Applied geophysics Exploration for minerals and fuels Environmental assessment and remediation
Mining Extraction of minerals
  • Brownfield/greenfield
  • Mine rehabilitation
  • Landfill engineering
  • Constructed wetlands
Hydrometallurgy Metal production and refining
  • Water/soil decontamination
  • Metal recovery from wastes
Pyrometallurgy Metal production and refining
  • Materials/energy from wastes
  • Vitrification