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Monday, January 13, 2014

The American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists Tours State-of-the-Art Delaware Materials Recovery Facility

by Wendy A. Wert, P.E., BCEE

On November 8, 2013 the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists (AAEES) toured Delaware Solid Waste Authority's (DSWA) Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) located in New Castle, DE. The MRF, which opened on August 29, 2013, is the product of an innovative partnership between DWSA and ReCommunity. The automated recycling facility operates under a 20-year agreement to provide service to the entire state.

AAEES President Pat Canzano opened the event by explaining the importance of recycling to the state's economy and environment. This partnership aligns with statewide objectives for universal recycling programs with the goal of converting waste into economic opportunities.

ReCommunity invested $15 million to repurpose the existing 64,000 square foot facility, also installing state-of-the art sorting equipment within the Delaware Recycling Center (DRC) to process recyclable aluminum, plastics, paper, cardboard, tin and glass collected from throughout Delaware.

"When DSWA reviewed the proposals for green industries at the DRC, it was clear ReCommunity is a leader in the recycling industry," said Pat Canzano DSWA CEO. "But what was most impressive about them is their commitment to Delaware and the surrounding community." The retrofitted facility allows DSWA to keep recycling operations in state, which has created more than 35 new jobs in Delaware, which is expected to increase to more than 70 jobs over time.

The world-class operation and design showcased within the ReCommunity Delaware facility includes advanced automated sorting capabilities that allow identification, separation and recovery of recyclables. The equipment includes screening, optical sorting, air and controls technology to recover more than 90 percent of available recyclables. The state-of-the-art facility can process more than 35 tons per hour, with the capacity to handle more than 160,000 tons per year.

At full capacity, ReCommunity Delaware will recover material that will prevent 464,331 metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent greenhouse gases from being emitted annually, which is equivalent to removing 85,045 cars from the road each year. It will also save 218,587 cubic yards of landfill space and avoid 1,806,539 gallons of wastewater from entering landfills.

After touring the automated recycling center, AAEES attendees visited DSWA's new Environmental Education Building. The Education Building is equipped with interactive exhibits that demonstrate how recyclables are sorted and processed from initiation to completion including waste collection, processing and landfill operations.

AAEES is a recognized authority on technical licensure and certification. As with most professions, the interests of the public and practitioners are connected to the delivery of quality engineering and science services. Reputable environmental professionals ensure better conditions for the public.

The AAEES specialty certification program establishes the specific expertise of licensed professional environmental engineers and environmental scientists through peer evaluation and examination. The Academy ensures that appropriate examinations for the environmental engineering and environmental science disciplines are available through support provided to the AAEES Trustees tour DSWA's new Environmental Education Building (above) National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying. The Academy demonstrates its commitment to quality environmental engineering and environmental science education programs through active participation in the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.

An essential component of Certification is the Academy's continuing education requirements. The Academy's tour of DSWA's MRF and Education Building provided the leadership with an enlightened and inspired training opportunity. Through innovative partnerships such as the one between the DSWA and ReCommunity the profession, continues its journey toward making inclusive environmental leadership in the engineering and scientific fields a reality.

Board Certification is the next step beyond Professional Engineering licensure. The Academy also offers certification to scientists and membership categories that serve all levels from students to senior managers. To learn more about the organization, benefits of membership, and how to join, please go to the website at http://www.aaees.org.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

2013 Women's Leadership Legacy Conference in Pasadena, CA, SOLD OUT!

by Wendy A. Wert, P.E., BCEE

On November 14, 2013 the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists (Academy) participated in the fourth annual Los Angeles County Public Works Women's Leadership Legacy Conference by hosting an interactive break-out session titled Women as Leaders in the Engineering and Scientific Professions. This event drew more than 600 attendees to the Pasadena Convention Center to share professional experiences with the nation's top female authors, television personalities, and business leaders.

Under the theme of The You Revolution, this innovative conference featured inspirational addresses, interactive break-out sessions, book signings, meet-and-greet sessions, and vendor booths. This year's star-studded line-up of presenters included Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina, best-selling authors Hollye Dexter, Samantha Dunn, and Amy Friedman; Award Winning Documentary Producer Martha Adams, and US Geology Survey Seismologist Dr. Lucile M. Jones.

In addition, the conference featured Dr. Linda Livingstone, Dean of Pepperdine University School of Business & Management; Ruth Wong, Director of Military and Veterans Affairs, County of Los Angeles; and Gail Farber, Director of Los Angeles County Public Works Department. The annual conference series was developed by the LA County Public Works' Women's Leadership Council. In this climate of constant change, there is a need for strong, committed leadership. Leadership skills are needed not only by those who occupy conventional governance roles. But, history has shown that some of the most important changes have been inspired by ordinary people courageous enough to lead. A reoccurring theme, throughout the conference, was the idea that one person, with a passion can change the world. The success of this event demonstrates the need for more of these forums.

At this year's conference, the Academy, a recognized authority on technical licensure and certification, hosted an interactive break-out session. As with most professions, the interests of the public and practitioners are connected to the delivery of quality engineering and science services. Reputable environmental professionals ensure better conditions for the public.

The Academy's specialty certification program establishes the specific expertise of licensed professional environmental engineers and environmental scientists through peer evaluation and examination. The Academy ensures that appropriate examinations for the environmental engineering and environmental science disciplines are available through support provided to the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying. The Academy demonstrates its commitment to quality environmental engineering and environmental science education programs through active participation in the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.

The Academy and Public Works recognize the need to engage the talents of diverse individuals in the engineering and scientific professions. This shared commitment to quality leadership in the technical fields lead to a highly successful inaugural panel discussion. Judy Johnson, LA Basin Business Development Manager, of URS initiated the discussion by introducing the Academy's interactive break-out session titled Women as Leaders in the Engineering and Scientific Professions.

The Academy's Agencies and Government representative Grace Robinson Chan is the Chief Engineer and General Manager of the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County where she currently provides executive direction to all departments of the agency through a team of managers who collectively oversee approximately 1,900 employees. Ms. Chan is a registered professional engineer in California and a Board Certified Environmental Engineer through the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists. She received a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 1981 and an M.S. in Environmental Engineering from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1983.

Ms. Chan is an avid mentor who participated in the early development of the Environmental Engineers of the Future program. In addition she has been involved with the Sanitation Districts' non-professional intern program through several community colleges for approximately five years. This program has been very successful in educating and training new treatment plant operators and solid waste engineering technicians and is a key part of staff succession planning.

Ms. Chan opened with humorous advice Everyone should be themselves… unless you're Beyonce. Then be Beyonce. After the laughter settled, she explained the importance of honesty in all professional interactions. Before we can lead others, we must first understand ourselves. We need to distinguish our talents and weaknesses, in order to use each to their maximum benefit. Stay true and do not compromise your values.

Ms. Chan continued the discussion by sharing her early experiences growing up in the household of a research chemist, who was an avid reader. She fondly remembered the stacks of books from diverse genera's that were a part of her childhood. Ms. Chan learned from her father to "read everything" since there are elements of value in all fields of study and one never knows what kernel of knowledge may help you solve the next challenge. Read books that have a purpose of personal development and growth. Read well to live well.

The panel agreed that Ms. Chan is well read. They mentioned observing "Grace under fire" during the public hearings for a challenging program. Her responses were factually correct, calmly delivered, and diplomatically selected. Ms. Chan has the diplomacy to "win" an argument by not entering into it.

Ms. Chan also stressed the importance of core values. She mentioned that most organizations draft these, but she also considers them while deliberating difficult decisions. It is the mission of the Sanitation Districts to protect the public health and the environment through innovative and cost effective wastewater and solid waste management, and in doing so convert waste into resources such as reclaimed water, renewable energy, and recycled materials. The core goals are integrity, leadership, and service. We are committed to ethical standards and integrity in our work. We are committed to the advancement of excellence in wastewater and solid waste management. We are committed to reliable, responsive and courteous service.

The Academy's Academia and Research representative Jeanette Brown is a Professor of Practice at Manhattan College and a Research Scientist at the University of Connecticut where she is currently leading research into the thermal conversion of carbon containing waste materials such as wastewater biosolids and food wastes to produce energy. She is the former Executive Director of the Stamford Water Pollution Control Authority. She is a Past President of the Water Environment Federation, American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists and American Society of Civil Engineers. Jeanette received a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Maryland in 1966 and an M.S. degree in Environmental Engineering from Manhattan College in 1987. Her areas of expertise include utility management, biological nutrient removal, biosolids management including energy recovery and stormwater management.

Dr. Brown opened by encouraging involvement in professional organizations such as the Academy. She mentioned that all of the panelists in the break-out session are "Board Certified Environmental Engineers" and we are proud of that. Technical skills are important, and the only way to gain them is to keep working unbelievably hard. In life as well as in our careers we must take action. We must therefore always be progressing. Building upon success and learning from failure. Volunteering for committees and offices allows you to spend every day using your abilities to their maximum value for the good of others. As we move forward in pursuit of our goals, we need to lift others up with us as well.

The panel shared an example of Dr. Brown's leadership from the WEFTEC Operations Challenge awards program. These awards are given out to the highly skilled operators who are at the front lines of water treatment. Dr. Brown not only took the time to personally thank each and every winner for their contributions to the practice, but to everyone's surprise she invited the entire auditorium to her hotel room after the ceremony so that she could continue to mentor and celebrate their achievements. We have no idea how she worked out the logistics, but this is one of many examples of Jeanette's devotion not only to the field of environmental engineering but, more importantly the practitioners, the people who do the work.

The Academy's Industry and Business representative Kris Morico is a leader of corporate environmental programs at General Electric including: G.E.'s Global Water, Chemical Management Programs, and Environmental Excellence certification initiative, which recognizes locations with outstanding environmental performance. Kris also leads the 4th ecomagination team committed to a 25% absolute water reduction by 2015. She is a licensed Professional Engineer in the state of Connecticut, a Board Certified Environmental Engineer through the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists, as well as a Certified Safety Professional. Kris also holds a Class IV Water Treatment Plant Operators License issued by the State of Connecticut Department of Public Health and is an Environmental Laboratory Director through the same agency.

Kris received a B.S. in Biology from Fairfield University, an M.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Connecticut, an M.E.M. in Environmental Management from Yale University, and an E.M.B.A. from the University of Connecticut. She serves on the advisory board for the University of Connecticut School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and as a trustee for the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists. Kris is also a visiting lecturer at Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Ms. Morico opened with some excellent advice Have a good sense of humor, have a little brevity! Ms. Morico continued by stressing the importance of relationships with professional mentors, colleagues, and friends as a key factor in career development. She shared her appreciation for the support she has received throughout her career from her mentor, friend, and fellow panelist, Jeanette Brown. Ms. Morico encouraged attendees to work at these relationships. Give more than you take, and help more than you receive.

The panel shared their experience while working with Ms. Morico on a number of national boards and committees. What stands out most is her willingness to take on tough challenges. For example, one of the most deliberated topics is the cost effectiveness of environmental sustainable practices. Through her vast professional experience she contributed data and credibility to this initiative. Now, due in no small part to her tireless efforts the Academy, has developed sustainability certification for both engineers and scientists.

Ms. Morico continued by suggesting that a humble manner can lead to success. For example scientific process requires critical peer review of technical work in order to validate the results. "Critical" technical comments are not negative, in fact they strengthen the body of work and are welcome by the authors. Integrity and character also matter. Exceptional character is the strength to do the right thing at all times, and to teach others to do the same. Our actions and deeds spread far and wide.

An essential component of Certification is the Academy's continuing education requirements. The Academy's interactive break-out session at the Public Works Leadership Legacy Conference provided the membership with an enlightened and inspired training opportunity. Through mentoring partnerships such as the one between the Academy and Public Works the profession, continues its journey toward making inclusive environmental leadership in the engineering and scientific fields a reality.

Board Certification is the next step beyond Professional Engineering licensure. The Academy also offers certification to scientists and membership categories that serve all levels from students to senior managers. To learn more about the organization, benefits of membership, and how to join, please go to the website at http://www.aaees.org.