CAEE Students Win 1st Place in Texas Water Conference Design Competition
The University of Texas CAEE Student Team took home the first place trophy in the Texas Water Conference’s Student Design Competition this year. The team was composed of three environmental engineering grad students, Himanshu Sail, Shivani Katkar, and Jake Goodman, and mentored by Associate Professor Manish Kumar.
In the competition, students are to present a solution to a real-world problem. This year, the competition’s prompt centered around the Panther Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in Frisco, Texas. The final product was to include detailed alternatives and final recommendations for expansion of the PCWWTP from 10 to 15 MGD average annual daily flow (AADF) (30 to 52.5 MGD Peak 2-Hr Flow (P2H)), as well as a high-level concept for the site layout for the ultimate build-out capacity of 35 MGD AADF (122.5 MGD P2H).
Himanshu says he was invited to join in the competition, as the University has not competed in several years. Most competing teams are composed of 5-6 veteran members, and are supported by their student chapter of the Water Environmental Association of Texas. While this put the Texas team at a disadvantage, the three students were not discouraged by the challenge.
Once entered, the team made a single trip to Frisco where toured the treatment plant and met with the client, the North Texas Municipal Water District. They were then allowed to submit a series of questions which were shared with all competing teams. They presented their final project at the Texas Water Conference in San Antonio in early April, and were subsequently selected as the first place winners.
In October 2022, the team will travel to New Orleans to compete on the national level at WEFTEC.
When asked if they would consider competing again in the future, they enthusiastically answered yes. Not only did they enjoy meeting students from other institutions, but the conference was an exciting opportunity in and of itself. One of benefits, they recounted, was the ability to network with companies, and to learn about the industry. Additionally, the conference’s exhibits included the actual machinery and equipment that they had learned about in classes.
The takeaways the students had from this unique opportunity showcases the importance of this competition and experiential learning:
"I loved the competition because it offered a unique opportunity to apply learnings from the classroom to a real-life project with consulting professionals. Moreover, the sheer thrill of presenting our work at Texas Water to leaders in the industry was something I really enjoyed. It's about the people you meet and the network you build that opens the door to so many exciting opportunities."
"I loved the WEAT student Design Competition as it helped us to develop individually and as a team. Right from participation till the final presentation, I was able to develop myself both technically and professionally. It gave me practical experience in designing a wastewater treatment plant. The other exciting part was the opportunity to meet and interact with professionals from the industry."
"While participating in the WEAT student design completion, I enjoyed working collaboratively with colleagues to generate a design for a wastewater treatment plant expansion. The competition enabled me to not only apply conceptual knowledge related to water treatment from courses, but gain experience with the iterative design process as well as articulating the design and working around given constraints. I am glad I did this competition because I was able to communicate with professionals with a wealth of industry experience that gave insights into the design process and feedback on our proposed design. I was very excited to present the finished product at the competition and share the joy of placing first with my valuable team members!"
Above image (left to right): Shivani Katkar, Hirmanshu Sail, Jake Goodman