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Students Help Solve Local Water Issues

This spring, CSU hosted a regional design competition sponsored by the Northeast Section of the Ohio Water Environment Association (NESOWEA) for interdisciplinary student teams interested in water and wastewater sciences, engineering and urban studies.

The NESOWEA Student Design Competition was modeled after the Water Environment Federation annual Student Design Competition, which promotes real-world design experience for students interested in pursuing an education and/or career in water or wastewater engineering and sciences. Driven by the rising demand on freshwater for drinking, industry, and agriculture, the global water and wastewater treatment market is expected to reach 674.72 billion USD by 2025. Currently, local government employs 3 out of 4 water professionals in the United States, although women only account for about 4.5% of these positions.

NESOWEA members Paul Solanics from Solon Water and Krishna Chelupati from Stanec Inc. developed the competition guidelines and engaged CSU faculty members Sanda Kaufman, Walt Kocher and Julie Wolin who developed a new interdisciplinary course, Special Topics in Environmental Science, Environmental Engineering, or Urban Studies (EVS 594, EVE 593, or UST 593, respectively). This spring, twenty students enrolled in the joint course and participated in the competition to meet class requirements. 

NESOWEA challenged the student teams to prepare a design to help solve a “real-world” local water quality issue. Each team selected a problem statement and worked on it throughout the semester. Teams evaluated alternatives, performed calculations, and recommend the most practical solution based on topic research, experience, economics, and feasibility. As part of the collaborative project, student teams were mentored by water professionals representing organizations across Northeast Ohio, including Lakeland Community College, Jet Inc., Ohio Wastewater Reclamation Facility, DLZ Corporation, and Stanec Inc.

Five CSU teams presented their final projects to a panel of NESOWEA judges on Friday, April 27, 2018 at CSU’s Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs. Teams from Case Western Reserve University and an additional team from CSU’s Washkewicz College of Engineering College also competed for awards. 

Many thanks to Kathy Richards and NESOWEA Executive Committee for their support and funding for the competition. Founded in 1926, the Ohio Water Environment Association is a non-profit organization with over 2000 members dedicated to the education, preservation, and enhancement of our most precious natural resource: WATER. Members of the Northeast Section are members of The Water Environment Federation, comprised of 33,000 water quality professionals around the world.