Two Marquette engineering student teams earn first place in wastewater treatment solutions design competition

Earlier this month, two teams of Marquette engineering students applied their skills to meet the needs of real communities in Central States Water Environment Association (CSWEA)’s fifth Annual Midwest Student Design Competition. Each team tackled a unique challenge prompted by CSWEA and earned first place in their respective categories.

In the Global Water Stewardship category, six student teams were tasked with designing a centralized wastewater treatment facility and collection system for a community in Horquetas, Costa Rica, home to around 37,000 residents and up to 180,000 seasonal tourists.

Marquette’s team for the Global Water Stewardship category. (Left to right: Veronica Bevan, Maya Adelgren, Ben Craighead, Giuseppe (Joe) Camarda, Ashley Tan)

Marquette’s team of five students worked to address the unique economic and environmental needs of the specific community and climate in their design, while also proposing three alternative designs and specific locations for the implementation. As the first place winner, the team earned a stipend to travel to Costa Rica this August to present their design to the local utility organization. This is the third year in a row Marquette has earned first place in this category, with each year’s team focusing on a unique community.

In the Water Environment Federation (WEF) wastewater category, a separate slate of three student teams each presented unique wastewater treatment designs addressing problems identified by their home institutions. Marquette’s team earned first place for their proposal of a pyrolysis machine designed with Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD)’s South Shore Water Reclamation Facility campus in mind. The design aims to convert sludge generated during the wastewater treatment process into a renewable resource called “biochar,” which can then be incorporated into soil or used as a charcoal replacement, renewable energy source or as a sustainable resource for a variety of other applications.

Marquette’s team for the Water Environment Federation Wastewater category. (Left to right: Zach Molczyk, Jessica Calteux, David Zeller, Keagan Morgan)

While this competition category’s designs were hypothetical and not intended for real implementation, Marquette’s team specified their work to MMSD’s unique needs and engaged directly with real MMSD personnel. As an award for their first place finish, Marquette’s team of four students will have the opportunity to attend Water Environment Federation’s Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC) in New Orleans this fall. WEFTEC is the largest annual water quality exhibition in North America.

Both projects stem from work in the students’ senior design capstone course at Marquette, which is designed to align with the annual competition offered by CSWEA for broader professional exposure. In their capstone, the students address additional parameters for their designs and presentations due in May.