“Endeavor to persevere,” said Chief Dan George in “The Outlaw Josey Wales.” The quote is from my favorite movie and it’s the theme for this post, having just closed a chapter in my professional career – receiving a master’s degree from the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). It took five years to complete the requirements for a Master’s of Science in Environmental Engineering, which included a 76-page capstone project that spanned three of them. Whew! No more late evenings of research and writing…for now.
Because of my work with InSinkErator, back in 2010 I had the honor of meeting the foremost authority of wastewater engineering, Dr. George Tchobanoglous, at a symposium we hosted. It was an honor to get to know him and this spring, we had lunch together in Davis, California right before my graduation. Discussing my capstone project with George and hearing his encouragement to pursue its publishing was even more thrilling. So now I hope to contribute to the body of knowledge in the area of wastewater treatment with my paper, “Mass Balance Evaluation of Food Waste Carbon on the Conventional Activated Sludge Process.”
My project quantified the potential amount of food waste carbon in the form of Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) that reaches the secondary aeration operations of a conventional activated sludge treatment plant through expanded use of residential food waste disposers. Increasingly, communities seek options to divert organics from landfills; wastewater treatment plants are moving towards resource recovery. Given the widespread acceptance and use of disposers, this research will provide stakeholders the information necessary to understand the total potential impacts of disposers by quantifying the actual organic contribution of food waste to the conventional activated sludge process. A mass balance evaluation provides stakeholders a more comprehensive understanding of the issues of managing food waste using disposers and wastewater treatment.
While attending classes I got to sit alongside young people and share some of my experiences. Just as people like George have influenced my career, hopefully I too was a positive influence with a few of them. And maybe by this time next year perseverance will again prevail with the achievement of publication. Drop me an email if you’re interested in the topic of my study and would like a sneak preview of the pre-published paper.