American Society of Civil Engineers

Brief History of Environmental Engineering: “The World’s Second Oldest Profession”

by Kathleen M. Leonard, (Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, University of Alabama in Huntsville, Huntsville, AL 35899 E-mail:
Section: Environmental and Water Resources History, pp. 389-393, (doi:

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Document type: Conference Proceeding Paper
Part of: International Engineering History and Heritage: Improving Bridges to ASCE’s 150th Anniversary
Abstract: This presentation addresses one of the oldest professions that we have on Earth, environmental engineering. In fact it has existed hand-in-hand with civil engineering for over 5 millennia. From ancient cultures to modem cities, environmental engineers have contributed not only to technology, but also to civilization. It is useful to look at the past accomplishments and current contributions of environmental engineers to civilization.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Environmental engineering
Engineering profession