YSU Engineering Students Win NESOWEA Student Design Competition for the First Year

By Abigail Cloutier

A team of four civil engineering students at Youngstown State University won the Northeast Section of the Ohio Water Environment Association’s Student Design Competition in Cleveland, which focused on a plan to reduce water toxicity through a water treatment plant in Lorain, Ohio.

The YSU civil engineering students teamed up to compete against students from Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland State University, where each team attempted to solve the toxicity issue for Lorain. 

Christopher Metzinger, Spencer Desalvo, Tyler Stratton and Walter Wasilewski represented YSU and won against six other teams for the first time.

Metzinger, a senior civil engineering major, said the students had to conduct a plan that meets Environmental Protection Agency standards. 

“Our design would be a good guideline for wastewater treatment plants if they are failing a wet test,” he said. “Now they have a pretty easy, efficient and economical way to help solve the problems that toxicity failures cause in a wastewater treatment plant.”

Metzinger said the team was first responsible for a presentation. They will now be in charge of a more in-depth project.

“Now, we have to make a full design report for the national conference called the Water Environment Federation’s Technical Exhibition and Conference, which will be held in about a month in Chicago,” he said. 

Youngstown is currently undergoing similar updates to wastewater treatment plants.

Desalvo, a senior civil engineering major, said the project touched him and his teammates on a personal level.

“Living in northeast Ohio and [visiting] the Great Lakes and all around, you see the nicer areas and the areas that need more work,” he said. “Being a civil engineering student and working in the wastewater realm of things, you see how important water is to people.” 

Desalvo said the competition allowed the team to collaborate and interact with industry professionals in a way that wasn’t otherwise possible.

“This is as real world as it can get,” he said. “We talked to the plant manager and some of the people in Lorain and some of the people who are working professionals in the world right now.” 

According to Desalvo, the ability to connect with professionals helped them excel. 

Photo by Abigail Cloutier/The Jambar

“We had numerous professionals from Ohio and all over the country that talked to us and got our information,” he said. “We had days prior to and following that we were able to sit and talk to professionals that have kinda been in our shoes and sat at the same desks we sat in.”

Anwarul Islam, program coordinator and professor of civil, environmental and chemical engineering at YSU, helped guide the students throughout the project, although he was not directly involved.

“The focus and recognition should be on [the students],” Islam said. “They deserve the recognition, not the department, and they worked hard for it.”

The team of civil engineering students will present a full design report of their project at the Water Environment Federation’s Technical Exhibition and Conference in Chicago at the end of September. 

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