Jul 17, 2017 12:00 PM

Opportunity Knocks! Announcing the Start of the 2019 Student Design Competition

Written by Heather Tyrrell

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The Student Design Competition (SDC) is an annual challenge that provides an opportunity for student teams to apply their knowledge to a current real world problem.

Since 2014, the Water Environment Association of Ontario (WEAO) has collaborated with the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) to use the Student Design Competition (SDC) to promote emerging topics within the water industry such as resource recovery and sustainable infrastructure. The competition is supported by a municipality that provides a current and relevant problem.  Each year, the competition is held on the first day of the annual WEAO conference, which takes place April 14 – 16, 2019 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

The topic of the 2019 WEAO Student Design Competition is resource recovery at the Chatham Water Pollution Control Plant (CWPCP). The CWPCP treats municipal wastewater from residential and commercial/industrial sources, and also hauled wastes. Currently, the treatment plant recovers energy by using biogas produced at the plant in a combined heat and power plant.
The goal of the project is to maximize the revenue generated from recovering resources (energy, nutrients) present in the wastewater treated by the CWPCP. The design teams are asked to evaluate the current processes and identify initiatives that will improve financial returns from resource recovery. Phase I proposals will provide recommendations to improve financial returns using only the existing infrastructure (i.e. operational modifications and minor capital investments). Phase II proposals will provide recommendations on infrastructure improvements to improve financial returns above those achievable by implementing Phase I.

At the competition, each team will give a brief presentation of their design report to a panel of expert judges. The project is designed to have the complexity of a senior-level design project. In the past, teams have successfully used the SDC as a university level final-year capstone project, or have completed the SDC as an extra activity beyond their academic requirements. Each team is supported by an academic advisor and an industry advisor who provide guidance and advice. However, only team members may perform calculations or write report sections.

Why Participate? The SDC represents a fantastic opportunity for students to gain experience and build up their resume by applying their technical knowledge to a real world issue. Soft skills are also developed, including writing, organization, and working on a multi‑disciplinary team. Each competitor is awarded a one-year WEAO membership and given an opportunity to network within the water industry. The winning team is supported financially to attend the WEFTEC SDC taking place in Chicago in September 2019.  The second and third place teams are awarded cash prizes of $400 and $100 respectively.

There key benefits for both WEAO and the MOECC. The annual SDC helps to promote important topics of resource recovery and sustainable infrastructure which showcase Ontario’s commitment to innovation. Furthermore, the competition helps to develop future leaders within the water industry providing a platform at the annual conference where their ideas and hard work can be showcased.

Get Involved! The SDC is open to all full-time college and university students in Ontario. Professors and students who are interested in learning more about the SDC should visit www.weao.org/student-design-competition, or contact weao@weao.org with questions or to be put on our mailing list.

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