Student Design Competition

                     2023-2024 Student Design Competition




The FWEA Student Design Competition is intended to promote “real world” design experience for students interested in pursuing an education and/or career in water engineering and sciences. This competition tasks teams of student members within FWEA to design and present a program meeting the requirements of a problem statement that they have worked on together as a team.  This competition is intended for both undergraduate and graduate students, typically completing a capstone project. A segment of the Florida Water Resources Conference annual program will be the Student Design Competition. Winning teams from each category will move on to the national competition at WEFTEC.


Download the 2024 SDC Guidelines

The student design competition is based on problems relating to the environmental field. Student design teams will be able to compete in one of two categories, wastewater design or environmental design. The competition consists of two portions, the written submittal and the presentation.

The Wastewater design is intended to include the traditional wastewater collection and treatment design projects, e.g., hydraulic capacity design, upgrades to existing treatment systems, biosolids handling, small-scale community wastewater treatment designs, and other related topics. The Environmental design is intended to cover current contemporary engineering topics, including stormwater management, watershed management, green infrastructure, low impact development, water reuse, wetland construction, distributed treatment systems, groundwater treatment, drinking water treatment systems, and other related topics. 

The scope and extent of the project should be at the level of a senior or graduate engineering/science student in a design or capstone course. Students are expected to work with little assistance from an advisor and/or professor and the students are expected to work together as a team to recommend a solution. Students may use whatever references or resources they choose.

Students are expected to perform the necessary calculations for the project. This is not intended to be a research project or literature review. Although some initial literature review and/or research will be required, the bulk of the project should incorporate pertinent calculations for the design.

For example if the project involved a wastewater treatment plant expansion, judges should look that each team performed the following:
  • Sufficient background information with a clearly stated problem statement
  • Analysis of alternative solutions which may include a decision matrix
  • Hydraulic profile
  • Preliminary sizing of major equipment (aeration basins, clarifiers, chlorine contact chambers, etc.)
  • Incorporated information from different manufacturers
  • Population analysis to determine design flow rates
  • Preliminary cost evaluation for both capital and operational costs.

All of the design work should be submitted in the design documentation, clearly labeled and referenced.  Final determination of project category is at the discretion of the S&YP Chair.

Scoring of the project will be determined through an evaluation by judges of the written and oral presentation skills. Written and oral content will be evaluated separately and the scores will be added for the total score.

Written data (submitted in electronic format) will be evaluated by the judges prior to the oral presentations. Judges’ comments on the written and oral submissions will not be released until the completion of the oral presentations.


Each team shall submit an entry form for the competition. One university is permitted to send up to two teams to the competition, one in each category (wastewater and environmental). The team names shall be referred to in the following manner: University-Category. For example, ABC-WW or ABC-ENV. There is no entry fee for the student design competition. Students and other audience members are responsible for their own travel arrangements to attend the SDC. 


ABSTRACT Each team will be required to submit an abstract on Page 2 of the entry form (maximum of 250 words). The purpose of this abstract is to help the S&YP committee verify that the project is entered in the appropriate category and that the project is in compliance with these SDC Guidelines. While the abstract included in the entry form will not contribute to the overall score of the project, it is important to be as descriptive as possible so that the project category can be verified. 


The FWEA is providing prizes for the 2024 program. The prizes shown below, which are subject to change each year, will be awarded following the Student Design Competition at FWRC.  Please note that each team participating in the event will receive a participation bonus for their team regardless of placement based upon the presentations and written submittals. On the entry form, the team shall indicate the school’s student organization to whom the checks will be made out (e.g. “ABC University XYZ Department”). Those funds can then be disbursed as scholarships to the individual students or to the student organization. 
First Place
(Wastewater Design)
Norm Casey Scholarship
WEFTEC 24 Travel Allowance*
First Place
(Environmental Design)  
Norm Casey Scholarship
WEFTEC 24 Travel Allowance*    
All other teams    Participation Bonus$500
*The first place teams will be required to present their projects at the National Student Design Competition to be held at WEFTEC 2024 in New Orleans, Louisiana. 


  • An official entry form shall be submitted to the S&YP Chair by 11:59 pm on February 16, 2024. This submittal does not need to identify team members, but must include contact information for each team planning a submittal.
  • A conference call will be held in March, a conference call number and passcode will be sent out to each team leader (as listed on the Entry Forms). At least one team member is required to call in.
  • A Participation Form showing final team contact, membership and presentation team information, submitted to the S&YP Chair by 11:59 pm March 22, 2024.
  • Preliminary student resumes shall be submitted to the S&YP Chair by 11:59 pm March 22, 2024. Late resumes will not be accepted.
  • A project written data submittal (the “report”) must be received by the S&YP Chair no later than 11:59 pm on March 22, 2024.
  • The presentations will be live presentations at the Florida Water Resources Competition (FWRC) on April 6, 2024.
    • The S&YP Chair needs to receive the final presentation prior to the competition to check for technical difficulties. Teams will need to verify that their presentation is on the general laptop before the start of the competition.
    • Teams will also be required to provide copies of their presentation slides (“handouts”) prior to the competition.
    • Questions will be asked to the students following their presentations. 
    • Winners will be announced following the competition. 
  • Revised student resumes shall be submitted to the S&YP Chair by 11:59 pm April 26, 2024.


SDC sponsors are greatly appreciated to ensure the sustainability of this important program. Please contact the S&YP Treasurer if your organization is interested in being a sponsor. All sponsors will be recognized during the course of the SDC program.


For more information on the FWEA S&YP Committee as well as other FWEA YP Events: S&YP Committee and Events


Please review the program guidelines and contact the Students and Young Professionals Committee Chairperson for any clarification on any of the rules or guidelines of the program. If you are aware of a university student group in Florida that is interested in participating in the SDC for the first time, or have any other questions, please contact:
Nicole Cohen 
Students & Young Professionals Committee Chair
Carollo Engineers

Kamal Taha
Students & Young Professionals Committee Vice Chair

George Dick
Students & Young Professionals Committee Past Chair
Brown and Caldwell

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