The Fire Chief Project: Making the work-school connection

Potsdam operator works with collegians on a model to simulate treatment plant’s performance

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How better to help encourage the next generation of clean-water operators than to engage with college students? The North Country Now website ( reports on a project in students at Clarkson College worked with the treatment plant in Potsdam, N.Y., to create a model simulating the plant’s performance.

The students, as part of an advanced wastewater treatment course, worked on the model with support from their professor, Shane Rogers, and Robert Henninger, Potsdam’s water/wastewater treatment and hydroelectric power chief operator. “It will assist plant operators in predicting treatment changes,” Henninger told a reporter. “Basically it’s another set of eyes and ears and mind to help manage the plant.”

Cheng Zhang, Ashley Waldron and Fei Dai worked on the model, which aims to predict how the plant process would have to adjust to accommodate added flows from major new housing or industrial developments. As reported on the website, Rogers indicated that the model “will allow the village to experiment with various simulated scenarios, such as potential improvements to make the plant more energy efficient. The model will illustrate how different parts of the plant would react if one part of it changed.” He said future classes will continue work on the model.

Connecting with students helps further the aims of The Fire Chief Project:

* Raise clean-water operators to the status of the fire chief.

* Make kids grow up wanting to be clean-water operators.

How has your facility and operating team engaged with your local schools and colleges> Send a note to and I will share your experiences and advice with readers of this blog and TPO magazine.

Read more about this modeling project at



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