WEF’s Student Design Competition promotes real-world experience for students interested in pursuing an education and/or career in water/wastewater engineering and sciences. Individuals or teams of students are challenged to prepare a design to help solve a local water quality issue. Teams evaluate alternatives, perform calculations, and recommend the most practical solution based on experience, economics, and feasibility. This episode features conversations with Student Design Competition judges Bernadette Drouhard and Elias Katsoulas, as well as discussion with students from the winning teams from the University of Guelph and Colorado School of Mines. The University of Guelph team won the Environmental Design category with their project titled Innovative Stormwater Management in the City of Richmond Hill, Mill Pond. The Colorado School of Mines team won the Wastewater Design category with their project titled Nutrient Optimization for Municipal Wastewater Utilities in Colorado.
Moriah Brown, Nadine Robertson, and Kayson Smith-Bejgrowicz are participants in the Water Environment Federation’s InFLOW program, which stands for Introducing Future Leaders to Opportunities in Water and identifies promising students from underrepresented minority groups who are interested in professional careers in the water industry and provides them scholarships to attend WEFTEC. In this episode they discuss how little they knew about water careers before InFLOW and how it was encouraging to interact with water leaders that reflected diversity. They also explain how InFLOW changed their perceptions of the water sector and led them toward water careers, with Nadine now working as an operator in New Orleans and Kayson as an engineer in Honolulu.
This episode is part of a series of conversations on the Words On Water podcast about equity and the water sector. It is co-hosted by Travis Loop and Rahkia Nance.
Ed Holmes is the Director of Technical Training for DN Tanks. In this episode Ed discusses bringing students and young professionals into a company in a way that provides them with well-rounded development and integration into day-to-day activities. He shares his perspective on the strengths, interests, and motivations of today’s young professionals, and how they benefit a business. Ed also talks about the importance of lifelong learning in the water sector.
Ifetayo Venner is Water Sustainability Leader and Wastewater Service Line Leader at Arcadis and a member of the Board of Trustees for the Water Environment Federation. In this episode Ifetayo explains how growing up in the Caribbean led her to work in water and how her varied educational experiences and degrees shaped her career. She talks about the reasons the water sector needs to increase its diversity, not just in gender and race, but also in skill sets, education, perspectives, and life background. Ifetayo discusses how students and young professionals should seek out a variety of experiences to discover the direction that is best for them.
Sonja Michaluk is a high school student and the winner of the 2019 U.S. Stockholm Junior Water Prize, the nation’s most prestigious youth competition for water-related research. In this episode Sonja discusses how she explored the use of DNA barcoding to measure the health of waterways with larval Chironomidae, the most widespread macroinvertebrate family. She talks about her interest in the intersection of science and public policy and making data the language of debate. Sonja tells how her research caused a town board to change the planned path of a roadway to avoid a healthy creek.
Haley Falconer is Environmental Division Senior Manager for
the City of Boise. In this episode, Haley discusses managing environmental
services for one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. and how water fits
in the portfolio with energy, waste, and air quality. She talks about the
choice by Boise to use the term “water renewal facilities” and familiarizing
the public with the phrase. Haley reflects on Boise’s recent experience producing
several beers and ciders with purified wastewater. She also explains why she
has been a very active volunteer for the Water Environment Federation.
Dr. Jason He is a Professor of Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech and the new Editor-In-Chief of the Water Environment Research (WER) Journal. In this episode, Jason explains that while it is an exciting time to be water research, it can be challenging to address all the areas of need, such as on emerging contaminants, and to secure funding. He also discusses the history and importance of WER to the water sector, as well as the overall role of peer-reviewed journals in providing high-quality research. Jason talks about recent changes to the journal, including a publishing partnership with Wiley, a new editorial board, and an emphasis on practical research, case studies, and viewpoint columns.
InFLOW is a new program from the Water Environment Federation that stands for Introducing Future Leaders to Opportunities in Water. In this episode, WEF staff Morgan Brown and Rahkia Nance explain that InFLOW identifies promising students from underrepresented minority groups who are interested in professional careers in the water industry and provides them scholarships to attend WEFTEC. In its first year, 16 students from Howard University, Tuskegee University, and the University of South Florida participated in the program. Three of those students – Maya Carrasquillo, Sigmund Skinner, and Faith Oviawe – discuss their experiences with InFLOW and perspectives on water careers.