Engineering Professor David Wunder, Summer 2011
During the summer of 2011, my work with Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr, and Huber (FTC&H) was supported by a Spoelhof Faculty Externship. As stated in the proposal, the intention of the externship was to “optimize exposure and involvement with multi-faceted efforts of process engineering for community-scale water treatment applications.” Also, the goals of the externship included strengthening Calvin’s relationship with FTC&H, and increasing the likelihood of near-term and long-term student internships with this firm and in this region of the US.
My externship can be divided into two areas of involvement/exposure. First, I worked as the senior process engineer for an evaluation of unit operations for a municipal water treatment plant in a suburban area of Detroit as they considered the need for additional capacity in their system. Second, I was hosted by 8 municipalities as they provided detailed and extensive tours of their drinking and wastewater treatment plants.
My work as a process engineer included optimizing the capacity of treatment in light of system storage during high flow conditions induced by heavy rainfall. The work was highly technical, but also hinged on cost optimization of alternative treatment/storage scenarios. This work was for a new client to FTC&H; this project was strategic as it positioned FTC&H for potential future work. As a result of this work, FTC&H has been retained for subsequent work focused on initially on increasing filtration capacity, with later efforts toward detailed design and construction. As part of the future effort, it is possible that a Calvin engineering student will work as an intern (with FTC&H and me) during the pilot testing phase of this analysis. In doing this process work I was reminded why I love doing and teaching engineering—simply and ideally put, we improve the world and enhance people’s lives with elegant and interesting work. Also as part of my externship I was able to have personalized visits of numerous municipal treatment plants throughout Michigan, each with some kind of novel or innovative application area. Abbreviated highlights of these tours include:
- North Ottawa Water System Filtration Plant: cutting edge deep bed filtration technology based on extensive piloting
- Allegan Water Treatment Plant: brand new membrane softening facility
- Allegan Wastewater Treatment Plant: conventional activated sludge process operated with unconventionally high mixed liquor concentrations
- North Kent Sewer Authority Wastewater Treatment Plant: brand new membrane bioreactor with ultraviolet light disinfection
- Ann Arbor Water Treatment Plant: conventional precipitative lime softening plant with ozone-enhanced oxidation and biofiltration
- Coldwater Wastewater Treatment Plant: conventional plant converted to include integrated fixed film biological treatment
- Kalamazoo Wastewater Treatment Plant: activated sludge with (novel) carbon addition for removal of pharmaceuticals.
The exposure to the varied kinds of treatment plants was stimulating and a privilege. Already in the first half of the fall 2011 semester I have been able to enliven and enhance student learning with real world examples and experiences—a differentiator for Calvin engineering and our students.
I am exceedingly grateful for the experience and exposure provided by funding for a Spoelhof Externship. Some benefits realized and anticipated from the externship include: classroom and laboratories informed and infused by relevant and current engineering practices, teaching with greater confidence and competence, and increased exposure of Calvin to multiple regional entities including FTC&H and numerous municipalities. The relationships developed as part of this externship has expanded the network of prospective employers for Calvin students AND partners for Calvin College.
I have been professionally invigorated and challenged by this externship experience. Ultimately, this externship enhances my Kingdom work with Calvin College.