MSU Team Takes Top Honors In Environmental Engineering Contest

EAST LANSING — A Michigan State University College of Engineering team won first prize and $5,000 at the 2015 Air & Waste Management Association Environmental Competition International in Raleigh, N.C., June 22-25.

ECi is a student team competition in which students solve and present a complex “true-to-life” environmental problem, addressing its social, economic, regulatory, and technical issues.

This year’s task involved the evaluation of hydraulic fracturing in King County, N.C., in terms of environmental, economic, and social cost benefits. Teams from MSU, California Polytechnic State University, Louisiana State University, Montana Tech, and the University of Florida competed at 2015 ECi.

MSU’s winning team members are Jake Patin and Daniel Domino, both of whom graduated in May with degrees in environmental engineering; Thomas Bonney and Kate Capeneka, seniors in civil engineering; and Sanpreet Singh Gill, a graduate student in environmental engineering.

They advanced to the national competition after being judged the best final project in the college’s Environmental Engineering 489 class, “Air Pollution: Science and Engineering,” taught by Susan Masten, professor of civil and environmental engineering. Students from the top two teams collaborated and formed Spartan Engineering, the team that represented MSU at ECi.

“My students were required to distill their work into a three-page proposal and present that in the form of a poster to a panel of judges from the East and West Michigan chapters of the A&WMA,” Masten said.

The five-student Spartan Engineering team continued working throughout the rest of the summer to refine their proposal and more completely address social issues such as the impact of fracking on housing and employment, and environmental concerns such as water and air quality, Masten said.

The East and West Michigan chapters of the A&WMA, the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and the College of Engineering sponsored the students’ travel and participation at the conference.

Project Manager Jake Patin said this year’s competition was fierce, and the topic was challenging.

“With the helpful guidance of Dr. Masten, the team pulled together to produce a professional proposal, posters, and presentation quickly – even with everyone busy with their own personal jobs and classes,” Patin said.

Patin said MSU’s team had a secret weapon: Daniel Domino.

“He was actually on last year’s team that took second place at ECi,” Patin said. “He informed us of the previous winning team’s strategy, such as multiple posters, community awareness aspect, and the use of social media, which was key in our recent victory.”

Added Masten: “I am extremely proud of the team’s work, and I am sure that the experience is one that will benefit them professionally for many years to come.”

The Air & Waste Management Association has provided programs and activities designed and conducted by environmental professionals for environmental professionals for more than 100 years. As the leading international association for environmental professions, A&WMA has more than 5,000 members, 34 Sections, and 100 Chapters worldwide. For more on AWMA, visit: http://www.awma.org/

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