Awarding Ambition

Jan. 9, 2018

About the author: Bob Crossen is the managing editor of Water & Wastes Digest. Crossen can be reached at [email protected]

January. The start of a new year when we take stock of the last 365 days and set goals for the next 365. We all tend to resolve to do things better than the year before, and in doing so, strive for excellence.

Ambition is an important characteristic to carry in any year, and it does not discriminate with age. In fact, youthful ambition can lead to some incredible discoveries, innovations and new thinking.

In November, Water & Wastes Digest, in conjunction with the Water & Wastewater Equipment Manufacturer’s Assn., awarded a $1,000 scholarship to Ericka Addison. In addition to her normal curriculum as a student at the University of Rhode Island, Addison conducts research with Dr. Joseph Goodwill on a physical-chemical process that can be used to improve water reuse capabilities. She also worked as a summer intern for Aerzen, where she used her education to develop her own ammonia-based aeration control system for wastewater treatment facilities.

Addison is not the only young talent developing new technologies, however. In 2017, the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge tasked fifth- through eighth-grade students with identifying and solving a problem through science. Gitanjali Rao, an 11-year-old from Lone Tree, Colo., invented a mobile system called Tethys, which speeds up the process of lead detection in drinking water.

She chose that direction because of the water crisis in Flint, Mich., and began by reading articles about lead problems in water. When she realized that residents in Flint did not have easy ways of detecting lead in water themselves, she planned a system that not only would detect lead, but also would tell how much is in the water.

With the help of her mentor Kathleen Shafer, research specialist in the corporate research materials laboratory at 3M, Rao developed a system with a core processor and a carbon nanotube disposable cartridge that connects to a smartphone. By dipping the tube into the water, the chloride-doped carbon nanotube reacts with lead compounds in the water, which adds resistance to a circuit that is measured by the processor.

These are just two of many young talents in the industry, and we are always looking for new stories like these. In fact, each year Water & Wastes Digest recognizes 10 young professionals in the industry who are under the age of 40 by May 1. Nominations for these young professionals are open on our website at

If you know a good candidate or think you may be a good candidate to be recognized, visit the site and fill out the form. We would love to hear about those ambitious individuals.

Sponsored Recommendations

Get Utility Project Solutions

June 13, 2024
Lightweight, durable fiberglass conduit provides engineering benefits, performance and drives savings for successful utility project outcomes.

Meeting the Demands of Wastewater Treatment Plants

May 24, 2024
KAESER understands the important requirements wastewater treatment plant designers and operators consider when evaluating and selecting blowers and compressed air equipment. In...

Modernize OT Cybersecurity to Mitigate Risk

April 25, 2024
Rockwell Automation supports industry-leading Consumer Packaged Goods company, Church & Dwight, along their industrial cybersecurity journey.

2024 Manufacturing Trends Unpacking AI, Workforce, and Cybersecurity

April 25, 2024
The world of manufacturing is changing, and Generative AI is one of the many change agents. The 2024 State of Smart Manufacturing Report takes a deep dive into how Generative ...