SDSU Team Takes first place in cwea student design competition


SDSU students posing with their awards

 SDSU's Water Environment Team were awarded first place.
Pictured (L to R): Dr. Christy Dykstra, Sean Youssefi, Jason Ritchey, Michelle Laurendine & Ehrick Costello


On May 4, 2019, two teams of students from the Environmental Engineering program were the first SDSU students to compete in the statewide California Water Environment Association (CWEA) student design competition, which provides students with “real world” design experience in the areas of water and wastewater engineering. Students were tasked with selecting a problem related to either Wastewater Treatment Design or Water Environment Design, then developing a comprehensive design solution, and evaluating possible alternatives. Their work culminated in the delivery of a design report and a presentation to water/wastewater industry professionals.

SDSU’s Water Environment team, consisting of senior students: Ehrick Costello, Michelle Laurendine, Jason Ritchey and Sean Youssefi, were awarded first place in the CWEA student design competition for their detailed design of a wetlands solution to mitigate environmental and health effects from the shrinking of the Salton Sea. As the Salton Sea waters retreat, contaminated sediments are exposed and become airborne, contributing to respiratory illnesses in California’s Imperial Valley. The wetland system was designed to mitigate these effects in areas of exposed sediment and be a sustainable solution that can follow the receding waterline, while also promoting sediment microbial activity that can help reduce contamination. As the winners of the CWEA competition, SDSU’s team will represent California at the international Water Environment Federation (WEF) competition, which will be held during the annual WEFTEC conference in Chicago, IL, in September.

Both teams were praised by the judges for their excellent work. SDSU’s Wastewater Treatment team designed a dairy farm wastewater treatment system to treat manure-laden wastewater and reduce methane emissions by capturing biogas for energy recovery. Current methods of managing dairy farm wastewater include uncovered anaerobic lagoons that allow methane emissions to escape into the atmosphere. Thus, the proposed design solution would provide dairy farmers with a sustainable system to manage waste, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and offset energy costs. Senior, Anita Sanchez, was the project manager for this team, which included senior students: Cheyenne Graves, Joshua Villones, Courtney Harr, Matthew Sutton and Stephanie Chao, as well as Master's student, Federick Pinongcos.

The teams were supported by faculty mentor, Dr. Christy Dykstra, an Assistant Professor in the SDSU Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering Department. Travel to the CWEA competition was made possible by a generous donation from Steve Doyle. SDSU wishes the best of luck to our team at the international WEF competition in September!