Department History

Prof. Ahmet Mete SAATCI

October 2011

First Days

My post-doctoral advisor Prof. Ken Ives once said, “If they ever ask you to present the history of something, you can tell you're getting old.” When he said this, he was asked to tell the history of filtration at the conference we attended.

In 1990, when I returned from abroad, I was invited by our former rector Prof. Orhan Oğuz to establish our Environmental Engineering Department at Marmara University. Assoc. Prof. Nüket Yetiş, Assoc. Prof.  Ömer Cebeci, and the former rector of Yeditepe University Assoc. Prof.  Ahmet Serpil were working to establish the foundation of the Faculty of Engineering.

Our first assistants were Zehra Can (now Professor in our department) and Recep Şahin from METU (General Manager of Environmental Management at the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization).

Our first students were about 15 people. The families of candidates came and spoke with me privately to decide whether they would choose this newly formed program. It was not easy to convince them because we did not have our laboratory, offices, and other physical infrastructure. I was telling them that the program would be in English and I was explaining that I had previously worked on the establishment of ITU Environmental Engineering Department and a similar department abroad.

Establishment of Educational Philosophy and Department Courses

An interesting curriculum was created with the participation of faculty members from other faculties in the meetings about what the first department courses would be. In the first years, 4 Physics courses and Accounting in Environmental Engineering courses were some of these (I still keep these course programs, my first meeting notes, and course schedules in my office). While creating the curriculum, we examined American and Turkish universities. We have stipulated a few main issues for our graduates to be successful in life. These are:

  • The advanced use of computers in education and practice of the profession (PCs had only just begun to be used at that time). English education. We have not forgotten that our students will work not only in Turkey but also abroad and that they should receive their education accordingly. For this, we started from the fact that they should have good English skills. We preferred American textbooks. 
  • Ahmet Serpil closely followed the education quality of the English prep school and he showed the utmost effort not to reduce the quality.
  • To train engineers who can practice their profession not only in Turkey but all over the world. Today I am happy to see that this ideal has been largely coming true. When I call my former students, I often hear the phrase "Professor, I am pursuing a job abroad". We have quite a few graduates who work in different countries and have their own offices abroad. We tried to explain to them in the lessons that Turkey's population is 1% of the world's population and that 99% of the water users are outside of Turkey. The reason why we gave importance to the water part among the environmental issues was that we thought that the projects, investments, and needs in this field were more than other fields.
  • Not only a theoretical education but also an education system that gives importance to practice. For this, we gave importance to design and site visits. Later, we left the examples in the American textbooks and started to explain the examples of solving the problems in Turkey. We started to teach our solution-oriented consultancy projects for the financial continuity of the department. Over time, these projects allowed us to use American textbooks only as reference books. Developing our students' ability to work individually and in groups. For this, we started to give design projects that they would solve as a group. We asked them presenting their work to improve their public speaking skills. We made an effort to teach the solution of these examples in the first grades as well.
  • We tried to help our students learn to prepare professional engineering reports and to gain the ability to present these reports in a professional meeting. We visited Drexel University, which provides group work training, and examined how they did these studies. As a result of these studies, we started to give design and presentation courses.

Establishment of the Laboratory and First Projects

In the Environmental Engineering Laboratory.

Treatment plant consultancy

Technical trip to the treatment plant with students (December 2010).

The device used in the first jar test experiments in our laboratory.

Prof. Ahmet Samsunlu, founder of the first Environmental Engineering Department in Turkey (1975, Ege University) and serving at ITU Environmental Engineering Department for 25 years; Prof. Ahmet Mete Saatçı, founder of Marmara University Environmental Engineering Department; Prof.Omer Akgiray, Head of Marmara University Environmental Engineering Department.



This page updated by Environmental Engineering on 15.12.2021 22:14:39