Environmental Engineering Team Places 2nd in International Design Competition

Thursday, October 17, 2019

 

Left to right: Team members Samuel Boyce, Eleanor Thomas and Blake Lindner. Photo courtesy of Samuel Boyce.

 

A team from Georgia Tech took the No. 2 spot at the Water Environment Federation’s international student design competition.

The team, comprised of spring 2019 environmental engineering graduates, earned second place with their entry—the first time a team from Georgia Tech has ever entered the competition.  

The team created a design report and presented their results in Chicago on Sept. 22. 

“The team was wonderful to work with,” said John Koon, professor of the practice in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering.  “The project subject is a very complex one.  Working with this design topic required the students to learn about the chemistry of a number of chemical contaminants present in wastewater, learn very sophisticated and complex treatment concepts, and understand the intricacies of the regulation of reusing wastewater for drinking purposes.”

The Georgia Tech team’s design was a project for the Gwinnett County Department of Water Resources. The work for the project initially began in Koon’s environmental engineering senior design course. The team evaluated the use of treated municipal wastewater as a source of drinking water that Gwinnett County could use to supplement its water supply.  

Samuel Boyce, CE 19, said that at the beginning of the spring 2019 semester, Koon told the class about a special water reuse project in the Atlanta area that would be an entry for the student design competition at the annual WEFTEC conference for water engineering in September. 

“Our team decided we would be willing to take on the challenge despite our spring graduations and uncertain futures,” Boyce said. “Over the summer, we condensed our design into a single preferred alternative with an accompanying 20-page report and presentation for our final submission to WEFTEC. Two of our four team members were not in Atlanta full time, but we were able to communicate effectively in producing our final design. Given the separation of our team through the natural forces of graduation, we were very pleased with our final presentation and our second-place title.”

Koon said the project was particularly impressive because of all the time and effort the team put into it. 

“After completing their design report for the senior design course, they reworked the report to conform to the WEF competition requirements over the summer.  They put together their presentation, spent lots of time honing it to be no more than the allotted 20 minutes in length, and practiced it until it was CNN-perfect—by that I mean that it was so good that it was comparable to what the major news anchor team professionals deliver.”

The Georgia Tech students were advised by a team from engineering firm Black & Veatch, led by Bernadette Drouhard, a member of the Water Environment Federation and a part-time master’s student in environmental engineering at Georgia Tech.

The Georgia Tech team was comprised of recent environmental engineering graduates who earned their bachelor’s degrees in the spring. The members are: 

·       Claire Anderson, a graduate student at Stanford pursuing a PhD in environmental engineering

·       Samuel Boyce, a graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in environmental engineering at Georgia Tech 

·       Blake Linder, a graduate student at Georgia Tech pursuing a PhD in environmental engineering 

·       Eleanor Thomas, now working with a non-profit organization in Berkeley, Calif.

 

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