The Environmental Engineering Program garnered the national spotlight twice last fall—first when it was ranked among the Top 20 environmental engineering programs in the country, and again when students won first place in a national student design competition sponsored by the Water Environment Federation.
U.S. News & World Report ranked the program 11th among public institutions, and 18th overall, in its Best Colleges undergraduate specialty rankings for 2010. It was the first such ranking for the program since being established in 1998. A total of 94 environmental engineering programs were evaluated in the publication’s survey.
“The quality of our Environmental Engineering Program is validated by this ranking by U.S. News & World Report—and by the ongoing growth in our enrollment,” said Associate Dean for Education Brian Argrow. The program has seen steady growth in the last 12 years and now enrolls more than 140 students.
Students’ entry into the Water Environment Federation’s wastewater treatment design competition also was a first for the program—and a highly successful one at that.
December 2009 graduate Leanne Miller led the team of six undergraduates in performing an alternatives assessment and preliminary design of an upgrade to the Denver Metro Wastewater Reclamation District facility as part of Angela Bielefeldt’s capstone design course. The goal of the project was to help the treatment plant meet more stringent requirements for nitrogen and phosphorous removal before releasing water into the South Platte River.
The team, whose other members included Sean Aronson, John Craven, Jayson Ellis, Rishabh Lyer, and Brad Short, faced off against eight other university teams in Orlando, Florida, in October, and brought home the $2,500 first-place award.
The students put in an estimated 2,000 hours on the project during the spring semester, initially looking at 50 treatment processes and narrowing the choices down to six for which they did in-depth research. Bielefeldt says the students’ analysis was on par with what an engineering consultant would produce for a similar project.
“I’m extremely proud of our students,” Bielefeldt says. “They were largely self-directed and were committed to doing a good job. I look forward to having future teams in the design class participate in this yearly competition—and this first group has set a very high bar that future teams can aspire to meet.”