When Michael Thompson ’12 (Shokan, N.Y.) stood up to share his research with a room full of civil and environmental engineering professionals, he was understandably nervous. Still, he describes his experience at the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Environmental & Water Resources Institute 2010 World Environmental & Water Resources Congress in Providence, R.I., as a “thrill.”
Working as an EXCEL Scholar with Arthur Kney and David Brandes, associate professors of civil and environmental engineering, Thompson developed a graphical screening method that can predict the quality of stream water. A volunteer can take a water sample and test it for hardness and electrical conductivity, and then plot the results on the graph. If the plot point falls within bounds, it is clean water, and if it falls outside of the set bounds, it is impacted water.
Thompson is considering graduate school or the Peace Corps after graduation. This is his second year working on the project, and it has taught him that life doesn’t always mirror the controlled environment of a college lab.
“In class when you get a project, you have an outline and know what to do,” he says. “One of my professors has a quote from Einstein on his door that reads, ‘If we knew what we’re doing, it wouldn’t be research would it?’ It takes a long time and is something that you have to work toward day after day to even start to see results.”
Other students who presented at the conference include Michael Adelman ’10, “Techniques for Nitrogen Management in Municipal Solid Waste Composting,” with Kney; William Barlow and Bryan Hendrickson ’10, “An experimental study of stage-discharge relationships for thick-walled concrete orifices,” with Brandes; Jesse Calkins ’10, “Removal of Heavy Metals using Pervious Concrete Material,” with Kney and Muhannad Suleiman, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering; and Jeffrey Shoemaker ’10, “Rapid destruction of perchlorate on Ion Exchange Resins using stabilized zero-valent iron nanoparticles” with Kney and Steven Mylon, assistant professor of chemistry. Their papers also were published in the conference proceedings