Job and Employer: Project Engineer at H2M architects + engineers
Educational background: B.S. Chemical Engineering from Clemson University
Daily duties: Groundwater well construction, rehabilitation and permit applications; potable water treatment technologies including volatile organic chemical removal utilizing granular activated carbon and air stripping, nitrate removal utilizing ion exchange resins; disinfection and pH adjustment; water distribution; construction of bulk chemical tanks; water supply hydraulic design; preparation of construction documents; construction administration on these projects.
What is the most exciting project you’ve worked on? Design and construction of a Nitrate and VOC treatment system for two 1.2 MGD groundwater supply wells. The nitrate treatment system is an ion exchange process where chloride ions from salt brine are exchanged with the nitrate ions in the raw water. This exchange of nitrate for chlorine takes place using sand-sized granular resin beads. A nitrate analyzer constantly monitors the influent water from both wells, splitting off a side stream which is treated and blended back into the bypass stream. This results in blended water that is well below the MCL for nitrate.
The nitrate removal system is followed in series by VOC treatment featuring an air stripping tower. The effluent is piped to the top of the tower. While the water is flowing down by gravity, air from a blower at the base of the tower is forced upwards causing the VOCs to transfer from the water to the air producing clean drinking water. Exit water is tested by continuous analyzers for chlorine, pH and nitrates. VOC testing is performed on a monthly basis by physical sampling.
The design considered sustainability as part of the solution by including a number of “green” technologies. Treating water from the existing well rather than abandonment and building a new well site saved resources and prevented contamination from migrating to other wells. The plant uses full automation with remote access to minimize site visits, extremely low waste regeneration (only 0.2% waste), and a high efficiency natural gas radiant heater for building heat.
By providing owners with reliable facilities that were constructed under budget -- and have the capacity to adapt to unpredictable contamination and an uncertain regulatory climate -- they demonstrate to the public that they are conscious of protecting their health and safety and that it will be protected for years to come.
What is something unexpected you learned on the job? How important every position within a company is to maximizing the quality of the product, from the new hire to 30-year veteran. It takes everyone pulling in the same direction and treating each other with professionalism to be successful. This also applies to design and construction projects. No one member or contract is more important than another. If the team is successful, the project is successful.
Do you have a role at your section and how did you become a volunteer? I am the Chairman of the Water Taste Test for the Long Island Water Conference. I am the moderator for the NYS AWWA Top Ops competition, which tests the everyday knowledge of water treatment operators.
I was fortunate enough to work under individuals who held these positions before me. Because of my involvement in AWWA early on in my career, I had gained enough experience working for them in preparation for these events that I was ready to take the positions over when they felt it was time to step down.
Why did you decide to go into the water field?
Pure and plentiful drinking water is essential to a long and healthy life. I am proud to be a part of treating, protecting and preserving this vital resource for generations to come.
What is your biggest accomplishment?
In 2016 I received the NYS AWWA “Young Professional of the Year Award” which recognizes the finest young water professionals with outstanding and creative approaches in the water community.
Passing my P.E. Exam in 2016 to become a licensed professional engineer.
Toughest thing about your job?
The multi-tasking. I have to wear many different hats throughout the day to provide effective service in a timely manner. Staying organized and maintaining an up-to-date calendar are vital to ensuring our clients get the quality customer service they deserve.
Hobbies and outside interests:
Being a graduate of Clemson University, college football runs through my veins. I go to as many games as possible each year. If I am not at the game, you can find me in my den on a fall Saturday watching the games.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
After I learned that my athletic career wasn’t going to take me past high school, I chose a career path based on the areas I excelled at in school -- math and science. I enrolled at Clemson University as a chemical engineering major where I gained valuable insight into career opportunities available to me, including a co-op at a pigment manufacturing facility in Goose Creek, SC. I knew that I wanted to end up either in the energy sector or the environmental sector working on water treatment as both are critical areas required in daily life. After I graduated, I went to work for an engineering design consultant in Greenville, SC. I worked for a year and a half in the energy sector until I learned of an opportunity to be a project engineer in the water treatment field at my current employer, H2M architects + engineers located in Melville, N.Y., where I grew up. I jumped at the opportunity and have worked here ever since.