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UW Design Team Claims National Championship

October 27, 2011
Three students
University of Wyoming students won the national championship in the wastewater design division at the 2011 Water Environment Federation's recent national conference. From left are Colin Rinehart, Alpine; Emily Huth of Salt Lake City, Utah, and Darrin Harris, Louisville, Colo. (CEAS Photo)

A University of Wyoming environmental engineering senior design team won the national championship in the wastewater design division at the 2011 Water Environment Federation's recent national conference in Los Angeles, Calif.

The senior design competition originates from the capstone design elective in an environmental engineering course in the UW College of Engineering and Applied Science. Team members are Darrin Harris of Louisville, Colo., Emily Huth of Salt Lake City, Utah, and Colin Reinert of Alpine. Assistant Professor Jonathan Brant, an Anadarko fellow in the Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering, is the team's adviser.

Having qualified for the national event by winning the regional competition, the students were given problem statements supplied by municipalities and other professional firms.

"Each problem statement is a real-world engineering project that is, or will soon be, completed by a professional firm," Brant says. "This year the University of Wyoming was charged with developing a preliminary design for upgrading Colorado's Littleton/Englewood Wastewater Treatment Plant to reduce the phosphorus concentration in its effluent."

As part of their project the students had to prepare a design binder that summarized their proposed design, the criteria that they considered in selecting their design, an economic analysis of three design alternatives and an implementation plan. They had to give a 20-minute oral presentation and answer questions from a panel of judges.

"I was a little nervous because I knew this was an opportunity to represent the University of Wyoming on a national level," Harris says. "The capstone design program and the professional development courses offered through the Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering provide students with an opportunity to develop the thought processes and skills that allowed us to tackle such large, real-world problems."

He adds that Brant's passion in the water industry "has been a key factor in motivating me to be successful during my time here at the University of Wyoming and has inspired me about a future career in the world of water."

In addition to receiving a plaque commemorating their national championship, UW received a $2,500 cash prize.

Brant attributed the team's success to assistance from faculty members Patricia Colberg and Ryan Kobbe, regional competition coordinator Abigail Holmquist and Littleton/Englewood Wastewater Treatment Plant staff members who offered advice and suggestions during the competition.

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