June 17, 2011

Four civil engineering technology students compete in Wastewater Challenge

Civil engineering technology student Lou Mangone

Age is nothing but a number—especially for civil engineering technology sophomores Brendan Cioto, Stephen Aissis, Adriana Pepdjonovic, and Lou Mangone. The four students, younger than all other competitors, represented the Wentworth Green Team for the first time in the Water Environment Federation (WEF) Wastewater Challenge in Sacramento, Calif., at the end of May. The competition charges students to design a treatment system for a hypothetical water leak caused by a failed levee system. Wentworth placed fourth among 12 other competing schools, all of them veterans of the Challenge with at least one graduate student on their team.

“It was an amazing feeling to place so high, being some of the youngest students there and having never competed before,” said team captain Cioto. “I think that not having as much schooling as everyone else was both a setback and an advantage. It forced us to not over-think things, and allowed us to make an effective and simplistic system.”

Mangone said that he was unaware that Wentworth was the only team without a graduate student until after the competition. “Looking back now, I think it’s great we were able to compete and perform so well against older students.”

Wentworth was one of 26 schools who applied to the WEF competition in the beginning of April. The team was asked to submit a detailed proposal addressing the levee problem. “We spent almost any free time we had in the library writing and re-writing it,” said Cioto. Two weeks after submitting the treatment, Cioto received an e-mail asking the Green Team to compete in California.

Then came the hard part: Taking the stage. “Having to present in front of the various judges, other teams, and spectators was incredibly nerve-wracking,” said Pepdjonovic. “But Professor Hopcroft [professor of civil engineering technology] was patient with us and drilled the information into our heads until we knew it like the backs of our hands.”

Hopcroft recognized how much his students had learned over the course of four days. “I am confident we can make a much stronger showing next year in Raleigh [N.C.],” he said.

Cioto, Pepdjonovic, Aissis, and Mangone all plan on competing in next year’s WEF competition, and say they have learned a tremendous amount about themselves and civil engineering technology from the challenge.

“I think these events with hands-on learning allow students to get a feel for how working with a team in a high-pressure situation is really like,” said Cioto. “It was great networking and meeting people we can contact for questions, suggestions, and other valuable information relating to the competition,” added Aissis.

© Wentworth Institute of Technology   |   550 Huntington Avenue   |   Boston, MA 02115   |   617-989-4590