Tech Team First at Environmental Contest, May 18, 2001

LAS CRUCES, N.M., May 16, 2001 -- A team comprised of four New Mexico Tech seniors designed, constructed, and presented an innovative recovery system which placed first in its category at the 11th Annual Waste-Management Education and Research Consortium (WERC) International Environmental Design Contest, which was held last month at New Mexico State University.

Charlotte Salazar, Andrea Estrada, Lara Beasley Lara Beasley, Andrea Estrada, Gordon Rueff, and Charlotte Salazar earned first-place honors in the weeklong competition's Task XI category, in which they designed and constructed an acid recovery system to treat wastes typically generated by semiconductor industries. The team took home $2,500 for its winning efforts.

Gordon Rueff Estrada, Rueff, and Salazar are all seniors majoring in environmental engineering at New Mexico Tech, while Beasley is a senior majoring in environmental science with a geology option.

At the contest, WERC posed 11 different tasks which are designed to accurately simulate pollution problems that occur in real-life situations in public and private sites throughout the United States. More than 40 teams and 350 university and high school students competed in this year's event.

Another team from New Mexico Tech vied for top honors in the Task VIII competition -- a mine stabilization project for a pit high wall -- but did not finish in the top two positions.

The Tech team members involved with solving the Task VIII problem were Damian Luna, LaViena Pablo, Shawn Smith, and Julie Valdez -- all seniors majoring in environmental engineering, except for Pablo who is majoring in mineral engineering.

Contestants in the international competition were asked to present design proposals, oral and poster presentations, and working bench-scale models to verify the design, functionality, and cost-effectiveness of their proposed solutions.

The winners of the environmental design contest then were determined by "success" ratings scored by a panel of judges made up of 90 acknowledged experts from academia, government, and industry.

WERC was established in 1990 in New Mexico under a cooperative agreement with the DOE as an educational partnership to conduct programs and provide technology development projects on better ways to address issues related to the management, minimization, and prevention of all forms of waste through education, technology development, information transfer, and public outreach. In addition to New Mexico Tech, WERC members include New Mexico State University, the University of New Mexico, and Díne College, in collaboration with Los Alamos and
Sandia national laboratories.