Student Environmental Challenge team wins $1,500

At the 38th annual Conference on the Environment in early November, groups of college students journeyed to the Minneapolis Convention Center to compete in the Environmental Challenge. Designed to help undergraduate students gain experience with complex, real-world problems and network with environmental professionals, the Environmental Challenge requires students to provide a written solution, a pre-conference formal presentation, and a tabletop poster presentation at the conference. 

For more than a decade, staff members from Barr have organized the Environmental Challenge event, including coordinating with the conference committee, helping recruit participants, developing the challenge’s problem and rules, and recruiting judges from various organizations. 

The challenge alternates between water- and air-related topics, and this year’s challenge involved developing upgrades to a municipal wastewater treatment facility to help it meet its future discharge limits. At stake were $3,000 in prizes, and a team from the University of St. Thomas took home the $1,500 first prize. Senior environmental scientist Aisha Balogh said, “I was very impressed at how well the winning team understood the problem, dug into the math behind operating a wastewater treatment plant, and came up with a realistic solution.”

Co-hosted by the Central States Water Environment Association and the Upper Midwest Section of the Air and Waste Management Association, the Conference on the Environment is one of the premier environmental conferences in the Upper Midwest. In addition to leading the Environmental Challenge, Barr was a conference sponsor and had an exhibit booth, and five staff members gave presentations.


Environmental Challenge first-place team from the University of St. Thomas

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