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Sustainable development has become one of the fundamental criteria for best practices in engineering. Responsible for providing effective and innovative solutions that address the challenges of sustainability, Sustainable Systems Engineers play a lead role in planning, designing, building, manufacturing and ensuring a sustainable future.

MSU Denver’s new degree in Sustainable Systems Engineering moves beyond engineering’s tradition of breaking designs down into disconnected parts to apply a holistic, systemic approach to solving problems. It integrates MSU Denver’s civil, electrical and mechanical engineering technology programs with earth and atmospheric sciences, political science, business management and communication arts and sciences to examine how engineering activities influence humanity’s well-being.

As a Sustainable Systems Engineering student, you will gain the knowledge and methods to analyze and solve sustainable development problems by studying the relationship of engineering to economic development, environmental impact, social structure and the sustainability of natural resources.

Learn about scholarships for Sustainable Systems Engineering students.

Explore the Sustainable Systems Engineering program's curriculum.

Benefits of Earning Your Degree at MSU Denver

The Sustainable Systems Engineering program provides students with numerous choices and opportunities to participate in real-world sustainable development projects that focus on engineering solutions. Both local and international projects are available to you through internships, work-study positions, international exchange programs and study-abroad.

Current student projects include environmental sustainability, power/renewable energy sustainability, water resources sustainability, humanitarian engineering and advanced manufacturing sustainability.

MSU Denver also has four engineering-related student groups offering collaborative and networking opportunities.

Learn more about MSU Denver clubs and organizations.

Career Opportunities for Our Graduates

four images: Sustainable Systems Engineers focusing on: sustainable energy, restoration of natural environments such as forests, transportation, and water supply

Sustainable Systems Engineering graduates are immediately prepared to work on or lead projects that require a systemic, interdisciplinary approach to complex situations or to pursue graduate studies or engineering licensure. The career-focus areas where Sustainable Systems Engineers are needed include:

  • Water supply
  • Food production
  • Housing and shelter
  • Sanitation and waste management
  • Energy development
  • Transportation
  • Industrial processing
  • Development of natural resources
  • Cleaning up polluted waste sites
  • Planning projects to reduce environmental and social impacts
  • Restoring natural environments such as forests, lakes, streams and wetlands
  • Providing medical care to those in need
  • Minimizing and responsibly disposing of waste 
  • Improving industrial processes to eliminate waste and reduce consumption
  • Recommending the appropriate and innovative use of technology


Runing Zhang_Civil Engineering TechnologyRuning Zhang

Professor and Sustainable Systems Engineering Coordinator Runing Zhang has more than 20 years of industry experience in civil, mining and transportation engineering. His research interest is in sustainable systems development in areas such as sustainable infrastructures, artificial intelligence and IT applications in smart city/smart structures and sustainable water resources. Other interests include the development of numerical modeling for geotechnical engineering applications and solid/rock mechanics-related engineering applications.

Aaron Brown_Sustainable Systems EngineeringAaron Brown

Associate Professor Aaron Brown has long been an advocate of engineering that improves that quality of life for those who are less fortunate. For instance, he led a project where students developed a water filter for survivors of the 2015 earthquake in Nepal and also to design a chimney that they could construct themselves to vent the smoke from their homes when they cook. Brown’s course, Humanitarian Engineering, takes students to foreign countries such as Costa Rica and Mexico, where they work on humanitarian mechanical engineering projects.

Sample Classes

students in class

Mechanics of Static Systems
Sustainable Development Strategy
Probabilistic Design Methodologies 
Sustainable Systems Engineering
Thesis in Sustainable Development
Geotechnical Engineering
Energy and Power
Humanitarian Engineering
Refurbishment of Structures
Engineering Decision and Risk Analysis

Facilities and Resources

MSU Denver’s new Aerospace and Engineering Sciences Building (AES) is a dynamic learning space that houses the Institute for Advanced Manufacturing and integrates the disciplines of Electrical, Civil and Mechanical Engineering Technology, Industrial Design, Computer Science, Computer Information Systems, Aerospace Science and Aviation Technology.

Students of these disciplines will benefit from the advanced-technology opportunities and experiential laboratories that the AES Building provides, such as a state-of-the-art 3D printer.

MSU Denver, located on the Auraria Campus in downtown Denver, offers an amazingly diverse selection of academic disciplines and many opportunities for students to gain real-world experience in the city’s thriving economy.

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