Quantitative measurements of one sort or another serve as the keystone of engineering practice. Environmental engineering and science is perhaps most demanding in this respect, for it requires the use of not only the conventional measuring devices employed by engineers but, in addition, many of the techniques and methods of measurement used by chemists, physicists, and some of those used by biologists.
Every problem in environmental engineering and science must be approached initially in a manner that will define the problem. This approach necessitates the use of analytical methods and procedures, in the field and laboratory, that have been proved to yield reliable results in the hands of many people and on a wide variety of materials. Once the problem has been defined quantitatively, the engineer is usually in a position to design facilities that will provide a satisfactory solution.
After construction of the facilities has been completed and they have been placed in operation, usually constant supervision employing quantitative procedures is required to maintain economical and satisfactory performance. Records of performance are needed for reports that have to be made to supervisory personnel and regulatory agencies.
The increase in population density and new developments in industrial technology are constantly intensifying old problems and creating new ones. In addition, engineers are forever seeking more economical methods of solving old problems. Research is continuously under way to find answers to the new problems and better answers to old ones. Quantitative analysis will continue to serve as the basis for such studies.
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