WEF honours the education work of water professionals, organizations

The Water Environment Federation (WEF) proudly announces the 2018 WEF Awards recipients for  education. The WEF Education Awards recognize WEF members for significant accomplishments in promoting awareness and understanding of water environment issues through the development and execution of academic research, curricula and public education programs. 

“The Water Environment Federation is extremely proud to honor the incredible contributions of these individuals and organizations in protecting one of the world’s most valuable resources and contributing to their communities,” said Eileen O’Neill, WEF Executive Director.

The 2018 recipients for Education are:

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. 

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. 

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.

Public Communication and Outreach Program Awards | Other Category: The Baltimore City Department of Public Works YH20 Youth Water Mentoring Program

The Baltimore City Water Industry Career Mentoring Program (YH2O) is a dedicated effort to provide a sustainable solution to the nation’s water challenges by preparing young adults for water sector careers. Rudolph S. Chow, director of Baltimore City Department of Public Works, recognized the problem created when employees retired or left the agency, and took institutional knowledge with them. There needed to be a steady pipeline of young people willing to build careers in all areas of the water industry. YH20 targets adults between the ages of 18 and 24 with a high school diploma or equivalent who are not currently enrolled in training or a school program, and who are either unemployed or underemployed. Participants receive on-the-job training and support from water industry veterans and the skills needed to fill entry-level positions that include career-ladder opportunities. It is an effort of the Baltimore City Department of Public Works and the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development, with assistance from the Chesapeake Water Environment Association. It has recruited more than three dozen permanent employees to the Baltimore City Department of Public Works, and several participants have found employment in county government and in private industry. 

These awards will be presented during WEFTEC® 2018, the Federation’s 91st Annual Technical Exhibition and Conference, September 29 to October 3 in New Orleans.