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Solving the Water Problem: Environmental Engineers at Erie Water Works

Academics

Solving the Water Problem: Environmental Engineers at Erie Water Works

Here at Gannon University, with all of the different majors that are offered, there are a number of opportunities for everyone to get hands-on learning experiences needed for their career paths. While there are many examples of students learning how to solve real-world problems while serving their community and working with their community, here is the story of three students.

A team of three environmental engineering students, Jedadiah Bortz, Evan Wujcik and David Bovkun, have been tasked with solving a problem identified by engineers at the Erie Water Works plant, which is the plant that treats Erie’s drinking water. The goal of their project is to design a system to remove suspended solids to reduce the facility’s waste water treatment costs. The students will need to work with facility staff and engineers to identify the problem, research possible solutions and develop and test a prototype. The students have the opportunity to solve a real-world problem while also saving the facility money.

Another interesting thing is that one of the employees that the students are working close with, Richard Imler, is a Gannon graduate himself. He is an alumnus of Gannon University’s Masters of Science program in environmental health and engineering.

Evan Wujcik, an environmental engineering major, said, “We are working to design an on-site wastewater treatment system for the Erie Water Works Sommerheim Plant. The plant produces 1.5 million gallons of wastewater per day. That wastewater is sent directly to the wastewater treatment plant where it is treated. That facility charges Erie Water Works monthly based off of flow (how much) and turbidity (how cloudy) of the water. Our goal is to design an on-site treatment to reduce turbidity, therefore minimizing the plant’s monthly cost from wastewater treatment. This project has been phenomenal. It is an incredible experience to work with their engineers and to work with an active work environment. We have gotten to experience and learn so much extra from working with Erie Water Works. We have been able to see and operate parts of the plant no one else would have been able to do. The engineers are very helpful and always willing and encouraging to help.”

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