New Master's Programme in Water Engineering

2020-04-30

This autumn a new Master's Programme in Water Engineering starts. The programme has a strong focus on digitalisation, which is expected to grow increasingly important for the water sector.

Alexandru Tatomir and Roger Herbert.
Alexandru Tatomir and Roger Herbert. 

Roger Herbert, senior lecturer and associate professor in hydrology, is responsible for developing the programme and Alexandru Tatomir, associate senior lecturer, is the programme coordinator.  

Why a new master´s programme in Water engineering?

- Water-related issues in our society have always been of great importance, but there has been increasing concern in recent years about the resilience of our water management systems in light of climate warming and urbanization. This has been the primary motivation behind starting the new master’s program. This program has a specialization in digitalization, which is also increasing in importance in our society, and this has been a secondary motivation for launching the new program. Finally, we cannot ignore the fact that we have a civil engineering program in environmental and water engineering with its home at our department; some of the courses in the master’s program are being shared with the civil engineering program. 

How does digitalization in the water sector work?

- The term digitalization is somewhat like the term sustainability in that there are many different definitions. For the purpose of our master’s program, digitalization implies the availability of vast amounts of data in digital form, often called Big Data. This data comes primarily for electronic sensor networks that are used in the water sector, for example flow meters and pressure sensors in our drinking water network, or pH sensors at a water treatment plant. These sensors provide continuous measurements with large amounts of data. In many cases, signals coming from these sensors are only used by the water industry for relatively simple interpretations of processes, such as a decrease in pipeline pressure indicating that a leak is occurring. However, much more information can be obtained from these sensors using more advanced signal analysis techniques; this is where our master’s program comes in. By applying digitalization tools including machine learning and artificial intelligence, more information can be obtained from these large data series, enabling improvements in the performance of water management systems.

How do you use artificial intelligence in the programme?

- Water engineering master’s students will learn the basics of AI and will use programming in Python to implement machine learning algorithms for data interpretation. Since the students entering the master’s program do not generally have a BSc in computer science, the water engineering students will work on joint projects with the Master’s program in Data Science, where the students have a strong computer science background. In this way, much more sophisticated problems in the water sector can be addressed by drawing on the strengths of both student groups.

What are the career options afterwards?

- After obtaining a master’s degree in Water Engineering the students will be ready to go and solve real-life-related problems. They may go on to find employment with municipal water suppliers, regional environmental authorities, governmental agencies, as a consultant, or at universities and research institutions. Examples of potential positions and workplaces include:

  • regional drinking water and wastewater treatment plants,
  • local, national or international authorities dealing with environmental legislation
  • the processing industry,
  • consultant agencies dealing with water and the environment, and hydropower,
  • environmental offices
  • plant and system planners in engineering offices and industrial companies
  • engineers within research and development departments in industry
  • quality managers
  • experts in national and international organizations
  • teachers and lecturers in schools and universities
  • scientists at research facilities

What are the biggest challenges in the future regarding water?

- The future challenges for the water sector are related to increasing pressure on water resources caused by the demographic growth, contamination of water resources, climate change, and increasing demand and competition over the water uses.

The top challenges extracted from the American Water Works Association 2019 report include:
1. renewal and replacement of aging water and wastewater infrastructure,
2. financing for capital improvements,
3. long-term water supply availability,
4. public understanding of the value of water systems and services, and
5. watershed/source water protection.

Responding to these challenges requires minimizing the loss of life and property from water-related natural hazards (floods, droughts, land movement), and the management of groundwater and surface water resources (for agricultural, commercial, and industrial uses).

Students are coming from different countries, having different backgrounds and perspectives.In some of their countries, everyone does not have access to running water, or it is not running during the entire day. Some of the countries have regions that often suffer from droughts, which are one the most difficult natural disasters to overcome. Some come from regions strongly affected by floods which result in the loss of life, property and infrastructure. Despite their different backgrounds, the students in the master’s program of water engineering will be sharing a common goal of providing and managing water resources in our society.

Read more about Master's Programme in Water Engineering.

News from the Department of Earth Sciences