Baltimore City Department of Public Works Director Rudolph Chow has devised a proven solution to a problem virtually all his colleagues face: employees who retire or leave the agency taking institutional knowledge with them. The problem was particularly acute for the department's water and wastewater divisions, so the Baltimore City Water Industry Career Mentoring Program (YH2O) was created and is being deployed with the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development and Chesapeake Water Environment Association. YH20 targets adults between the ages of 18 and 24 with a high school diploma or equivalent who aren't enrolled in training or a school program, and who are either unemployed or underemployed. Participants receive on-the-job training and support from industry veterans and the skills needed to fill entry-level positions that include career-ladder opportunities. It has recruited more than three dozen permanent employees for the city, and several participants have found employment in county government and private industry.
The program has earned a 2018 Education Award from the Water Environment Federation (WEF), a not-for-profit organization of 34,000 individual members and 75 affiliated Member Associations representing water quality professionals around the world. The four other recipients of this year's award include:
Public Communication and Outreach Program Awards | Individual Category: Shea Dunifon
Shea Dunifon, an education coordinator at the South Cross Bayou Water Reclamation Facility in Pinellas County, Fla., approaches public education from the standpoint that the best teachers are those in the industry sharing their knowledge with others in non-classroom. In her role, she explains the wastewater process based upon practical knowledge and experience. Her multidisciplinary background in physics, chemistry and biology allows her to explain technical and scientific concepts with ease to those outside of the water/wastewater industry. Dunifon has energetically increased the facility’s tour participation and conveys technical and scientific information in creative and entertaining ways.
Public Communication and Outreach Program Awards| Member Association Category: Japan Sewage Works Association, “The Secrets of Wastewater”
In 2015, the Japan Sewage Works Association developed an educational comic book for kids on wastewater. Since its publication, thousands of copies have been distributed to public schools and libraries across Japan, and it has also been made available to thousands more on a free website. It has since been translated into English. The plot includes three curious children, an imaginary “Grand Master of Clean Water” who floats on a cloud and takes the children on a trip through the drains, sewers, and treatment works in a rollicking and humorous way, and various process expert characters who explain the technology and its importance at every step along the way.
Fair Distinguished Engineering Educator Medal | Dr. Paul Westerhoff, Arizona State University
The Fair Medal recognizes accomplishments in the education and development of future engineers. This award honors Gordon Maskew Fair, a professor of sanitary engineering at Harvard University. This year’s recipient, Dr. Paul Westerhoff, serves as an Arizona State University Regents Professor in the Civil, Environmental, and Sustainable Engineering program in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment. He is also the Dean for Research and Innovation in the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering. Dr. Westerhoff’s exemplary professional activities in the classroom and the laboratory over a long and distinguished career have led to a wealth of advancements in the engineering field by him and his graduate and undergraduate students. His work has exemplified the ideals of Dr. Fair in leading students to understand not only the basic concepts of water and wastewater engineering, but also the more esoteric concepts of managing emerging contaminants of concern. His passion for teaching and his ability to lead his students to learning and understanding have been fully consistent with the concepts and objectives promoted tirelessly by Dr. Fair.
WEF Canham Graduate Studies Scholarship | Christopher Evan Lawson, University of Wisconsin-Madison
This scholarship, honoring former WEF Executive Director Robert Canham, provides $25,000 for a post-baccalaureate student in the water environment field. Christopher Evan Lawson’s graduate research explores how microorganisms interact in anaerobic ammonium oxidation (anammox) bioprocesses. His goal is to understand and predict how local interactions between species in microbiomes give rise to emergent process-level functions, such as carbon and nitrogen cycling during wastewater treatment.
These awards will be presented during WEFTEC® 2018, the Federation’s 91st Annual Technical Exhibition and Conference, Sept. 29 to Oct. 3 in New Orleans.