Oklahoma State University

NCEES Engineering Education Award $10,000 winner

School of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Project: Town Water Supply Engineering Design


Students: Aedan C. Cottle, Adam P. Monaghan, Emmy R. Ooten, Cale R. Sawatzky, Lucas Evan, Josh Caldwell, and Dawson Wiseman

Faculty: Norb Delatte and Greg Wilber

Professional Engineers: Norb Delatte, Greg Wilber, Kevin Mullins, Kipp Martin, and Jenny Sallee

Additional participants: Annie Chiodo, Robert Kelley, Walter “Scotty” Hayes, Teresa Miller, and Paul Truett

What value does a real-world project bring to the students?

Real-world projects will help get the students excited. They also have the opportunity to interact with clients and the public that will eventually use the project.

How do you decide which projects to work on?

In addition to projects with Engineers Without Borders and the Community Engineering Corps, we reach out to nearby cities and towns to see what problems we might be able to solve for them.

How did this project prepare students for professional practice?

The projects prepare them to communicate technical information to both technical and nontechnical audiences. They also learn to take a vague initial problem statement and refine it into a real project.

What advice do you have for other programs wanting to add similar collaborative projects to their curriculum?

It’s a lot of work to find real projects each semester, but the work pays off in student enthusiasm.

What did you like best about participating in this project?

I liked getting to work in a team and having a semester to figure out and work through the project to deliver a finished product in the end.

What did you learn?

I learned a lot about water towers and hydraulics. We had never discussed water towers in school, so there was a lot to learn. It was cool to apply some hydraulics to the project.

How did the participation of professional engineers improve the experience?

It was extremely helpful to have professional engineers since they work with similar projects every day. They know the ins and outs and can help solve issues efficiently.

What do you think the engineers learned from working with students on this project?

I think we may have asked questions that wouldn’t have typically been asked. We were really trying to understand how everything worked in the project and all be involved every step of the way.

Why did you get involved with the project?

My company has a strong culture of giving back. I can also remember the engineers in my past that helped and taught me my trade. It’s my time to do the teaching.

How did you assist the students in the project?

We discussed options and alternatives. What is the best way to approach this project? What does the client want to get out of this? Then, I reviewed the reports that were prepared by the students and made comments that I thought would improve the understanding of these reports. I tried to also give reasons for my comments.

What did you learn from working with the students?

That the students of today are just as curious and hardworking of those in my generation.

What did you want students to learn from working with you?

That criticism of your work is not a personal attack on you. You still have a lot to learn. Heck, I still learn new things every day. You don’t ever want to stop learning.