Michigan Technological University, a leading public research university and key educational leader in Michigan, will soon begin implementing a 2-year project titled, Creating Great Lakes Stewards to PromoteClean Drinking Water & Healthy Urban Watersheds in Detroit, under the leadership of Joan Chadde, Director of the MTU Center for Science & Environmental Outreach. The project is funded with a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Education grant of $91,000. Grant recipients are required to award $4550 to each of five non-profits who will participate in the project. The following sub-grantees will assist with the project: Belle Isle Nature Center/Detroit Zoological Society (DZS), Detroit Math & Science Center/Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD), Wayne State University’s Healthy Urban Waters, Detroit Audubon, and Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision. These collaborating agencies will contribute staff time and or cost share: U.S. Forest Service Urban Connections Program, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and DPSCD.
The overall project goal is to build student and teacher capacity to steward the urban water resources of Detroit now and in the future. The project will engage 32 teachers at 16 schools, reaching 960 middle school students over 2 years, in becoming stewards of their community’s drinking water. Teachers will participate in five workshops during the school year to enhance their environmental education teaching skills and knowledge of their local water resources. Students will participate in 3 field trips during the school year which includes: visiting the Detroit drinking water treatment plant, conducting stream health or ecosystem monitoring, and completing a stewardship project. The 2013-14 student body demographics of Detroit schools are: 80% qualify for free / reduced lunch, 83.9% are African American, 12% Hispanic, 2.36% White and <2% other, with a 71% graduation rate in 2014. (2013-14 Data from NCES).
The following Michigan Tech faculty and staff are contributing their time as cost share on the project: Dr. Audra Morse, CEE chair; Dr. Daisuke Minakata , CEE; Dr. Hugh Gorman, Chair, Dept. of Social Sciences; Gerald Jondreau, School of Forest Resources & Environmental Science; and Dr. Kathryn Perrine, Dept. of Chemistry.
Rose Turner, a senior undergraduate student in environmental program, has been selected as a Portage Health Foundation Intern through the Undergraduate Research Internship Program. Rose will work with Dr. Minakata investigating the treatment feasibility of polyfluorinated carbons using sulfate radicals in advanced oxidation process. Polyfluorinated carbons have been found in nation’s drinking water and one of emerging water contaminants. Rose will present her research findings at the Undergraduate Research Symposium in March 2018.
RTP lead two rail related civil/environmental senior design projects during the 2016-17 school year. During the fall semester a team of 15 students worked on improvements to the Peshekee logyard owned and operated by Longyear, LLC. Their work included rail and highway transportation improvements to serve the site, preliminary plans for a rail served transload warehouse and fuels transload area, and environmental permitting requirements for the proposed work. Suggested improvements included 3950 linear feet of trackwork valued at $1.5 million, $560,000 in site improvements, $230,000 for equipment and tanks to support the fuels transload operation, and $150,000 for the transload warehouse. An additional $200,000 was recommended to procure a trackmobile to improve rail operations in the expanded site. Environmental costs were reduced by the team recommendation for wetland preservation in place of more costly remediation methods.
During the spring semester a separate team of 16 students worked with Sawyer International Airport to provide conceptual and preliminary work on rail access to a proposed refinery site and rail and highway access to a proposed warehouse site. The refinery access team recommended constructing a loop track with 3.5 miles of new trackwork at a price of nearly $9million, while the warehouse team found that rail access would require $6.5 million for the full build out, but a phased approach could bring initial construction down to 21,000 linear feet of rail at $4.5 million, with the remaining work completed as traffic at the warehouse site developed. Highway access and parking facilities for the new warehouse complex would require 3500 linear feet of new roadway, and 160,000 square feet of new parking and support pavements at a price of nearly $3.5 million. SAI also asked our environmental team to look at a recent study on PFC contamination on the airport site produced by the US Air Force Civil Engineering Center. The team produced a detailed report, including recommendations for additional testing and monitoring.
Dr. Thomas Oommen, Dr. Stanley Vitton and Dr. Eric Seagren recently completed a NSF project on dusting from mine tailings impoundments. In the project they evaluated remote sensing tools for monitoring impoundments for dusting potential, and innovative biomediated approaches for mitigating dusting. In particular, they focused on the problem of cold weather dusting.
As part of the project output, with the help of the CinOptics Enterprise on campus, they are producing a series of videos on the problem of cold weather dusting from mine tailings impoundments, and conventional and innovative techniques for mitigating cold weather dusting.
This is the first video in the series. It is a review of the problem of cold weather dusting.
The CEE International Senior Design (“iDesign”) program continued this year with a trip to Panama, August 13-27. Twelve students (10 CEE, 1 GMES, 1 ME) divided into three teams and traveled to rural sites in western Panama. Hosted by Peace Corps Volunteers, the students collected data for their fall semester senior design projects – two water supply systems and a river crossing, respectively. Other trip highlights included visits to the Panama Canal and the Biodiversity Museum.
The trip was led by Professors David Watkins and Melanie Kueber Watkins. Professor of Practice Mike Drewyor is helping to mentor the design teams in the fall term.
Muxue Zhang, a masters student, working with Dr. Daisuke Minakata in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, presented the research findings: ‘Predicting RO Removal of Toxicologically Relevant Unique Organics’ at the 11th International Water Association (IWA) Interaction conference on Water Reclamation and Reuse held in Long Beach, California on July 23-27, 2017. The research was funded by WateReuse Research Foundation. Dr. Minakata also presented the research findings: ‘Predicting the Fate of Organic Compounds Degradation in UV/H2O2 and UV/Chlorine Advanced Oxidation Processes’ from his NSF funded research project.
Lathika Varanasi is a PhD student working with Dr. Daisuke Minakata in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. She presented her research work : ‘Transformation of Dissolved Organic Matter in Engineered Ultraviolet (UV) Photolysis and UV-based Advanced Oxidation Processes’ at the Association of Environmental Engineers and Science Professors (AEESP) conference held in University of Michigan, Ann Arbor between June 20th and 22nd 2017. Co-authors on the research are Erica Coscarelli, David Perram, Dr. Daisuke Minakata (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering), Dr. Maryam Khaksari and Dr. Lynn Mazzoleni (Department of Chemistry). The research was funded by MTU Research Excellent Fund-Research Seed Grant, MTU CEE startup fund, NSF Major Research Instrumentation and Great Lakes Research Center graduate research fund.
The Rail Transportation Program Director, Pasi Lautala, undergraduate research assistant Aaron Dean (MEEM) and graduate research assistant Soumith Oduru (CEE) presented four papers at the conference. Oduru also received the ASME Rail Transportation Division (RTD) Graduate Student Conference Scholarship of $1100 and Dean received the ASME Rail Transportation Division (RTD) Undergraduate Student Conference Scholarship of $800.
The paper titles were “Incorporating Life Cycle Assessment in Freight Transportation Infrastructure Project Evaluation” (Oduru, Lautala), “Effectiveness of Using SHRP2 Naturalistic Driving Study Data to Analyze Driver Behavior at Highway-rail Grade Crossings” (Dean, Lautala, David Nelson (CEE)), “Selection of Representative Crossings Database for the Evaluation of Driver Behavior Over Highway-rail Grade Crossings” (Modeste Muhire, Lautala, Nelson, Dean) and “Sensor Fusion of Wayside Visible and Thermal Imagery for Rail Car Wheel and Bearing Damage Detection” (Hanieh Deilamsalehy, Timothy Havens (CEE), Lautala).