EMSA Program at CCSF

The EMSA Program of the Department of Engineering and Technology at City College of San Francisco aims to give students real-world experience in environmental monitoring



In 2012, CCSF received a large grant from the Department of Labor to initiate an environmental monitoring program. From this grant, field instruments to analyze water, soil and air was acquired. In addition, precision water chemistry analysis instruments were also acquired: the instruments are ion chromatography, GC-MS and an ICP. We are also incorporating GIS skills with high-end professional grade instruments for mapping.

What is Environmental Monitoring?

Environmental Monitoring has many definitions. Our definition encompasses sampling, monitoring and analysis of water, air and soil to observe and study the environment. The program encompasses skills from many disciplines including GIS (geographic information system), chain of custody, standard operating procedures, EPA standards and protocols, calibration and field instrumentation and chemistry instrumentation.

Why is this important?

This is important especially in midst of global climate change, sustainable development, green infrastructure and environmental justice. Environmental monitoring gives you the ability to provide scientific data to advocate for and affect policy changes to address harmful pollution in a community. 

How do we provide real-world experience?

We provide real-world experience by using problem-based learning within the context of real-world experience. We partner with multiple organizations who work with students to develop project plans (the what, how when to sample) around a body of water (creek, river, lake, etc). 

As a way to provide real-world experience to our students, we include community service and citizen science into our curriculum. According to the American Association of Colleges and Universities, community service impacts the students for creating engagement and deeper understanding. In our EMSA program, we use several of the high-impact educational practices to engage our students and provide a meaningful learning experience. See article here for High Impact Educational Practices.

In the works:

As we gain experience and training, we will also provide training on other skills such as asbestos and mold identification and California Rapid Assessment Method (a method to assess the habitat of a wetland: www.cramwetlands.org)

This poster was presented to the 2016 Urban Waters National Partnership Workshop, in Washington DC, outlining EMSA program goals in using problem based learning with real-world objectives. Click on the picture to enlarge.

Questions? Contact:
Ying-Tsu Loh, Ph.D.
ying-tsu.loh@mail.ccsf.edu   or 


Counseling available:
Talk to a counselor to map out an educational plan in sustainability and environmental science, ecology and green energy.

Sustainability counselor:
Anastasia Fiandaca, M.S.

Biotechnology and Lab Skills counselor:
Li Miao Lovett, M.A.