Solving Stormwater Problems One Mentorship At A Time
Sometimes opportunities present themselves when you least expect it and the opportunity to mentor a group of civil engineering students at Sacramento State was something I couldn’t pass up. You may ask why a Landscape Architect would have any business mentoring engineering students… Well, when the class is focused on green infrastructure, low impact development and stormwater management, then count me in!
Callander Associates has been very supportive of my interests in stormwater management including construction stormwater and post construction low impact development and I wanted to share this knowledge with the students. The CE190 class this semester has included in their curriculum the USEPA’s 2nd Annual Campus Rainworks Challenge.
This is a competition for college and university students to design creative and innovative green infrastructure for their campus. I mentored a group of 6 students who were as eager and excited to team up on this project. Throughout the semester we met to brainstorm master plan concepts, discuss innovations in green infrastructure and prepare for the competition. The students prepared Master Plans and Concept Plan Reports and presented their concepts through video presentations. I had the opportunity to interact with the other student groups during presentation and Q&A’s and also met the other mentors who came from various engineering backgrounds. We shared a common interest in exploring new ways to capture, collect, reuse and reduce stormwater discharge from polluting our waterways.
It was a great experience meeting the students and other mentors and was exciting to see what innovative ideas the students came up with for the competition and to further explore these in the profession.
There is a new standard found more often in our projects that require stormwater management. As designers we are always striving to find creative and aesthetic ways to integrate it into the site. If I had one goal from this experience, it would be to teach the engineering students to look beyond solving a stormwater problem and more towards creating an experience. I think they met that goal.
I have to thank Colleen Salveson (our marketing guru in the San Mateo office) for approaching me about this opportunity; Colleen’s cousin, Dr. Matthew Salveson, an Associate Professor at Sacramento State who invited a Landscape Architect into the world of civil engineering; and Ben Woodside who teamed up with me as a guest lecturer for the class.
A couple of selected groups were then invited to refine their reports and videos for the national competition. Winners will be announced in February and March. The winning teams will receive a cash prize and the opportunity to apply for a grant to help implement their design on campus. For more information on the USEPA’s 2nd Annual Campus Rainworks Challenge, go to:
Melissa Ruth, Project Manager, RLA, QSD/P
Melissa works out of our Rancho Cordova office. Her experience at Callander Associates has included a variety of projects such as parks, trails, playground design, planting design, master planning, stormwater pollution prevention plans and landfill studies. She is our resident expert on Stormwater Pollution Prevention and is a Qualified SWPPP Developer/Preparer (QSD/P).