Description of Course Goals and Curriculum
The objective of this course is to introduce students to the various mechanisms associated with wastewater treatment technologies. Topics include wastewater reaction rates and kinetics, BOD and dissolved oxygen analyses of industrial and natural systems, treatment plant infrastructure and design, etc. Though there is a focus on the theory of large-scale wastewater treatment processes, this course also covers some big-picture topics like the environmental implications of treatment technologies and legislative policies that have been associated with mitigating environmental implications. At the beginning, the topics tend to build on each other with respect to the basis of knowledge. Later on in the course, topics are connected to earlier topics thematically but with less theoretical basis. Lectures are divided into topics, though they are not necessarily separated by class sessions i.e. some topics may be covered half a class period, while others may require several. Though there are no formal prerequisites, it is helpful to have basic knowledge of calculus and chemistry.
Learning From Classroom Instruction
The class sessions are two 80-min blocks per week. Rarely, the professor will present PowerPoint slides.The few slide lectures are uploaded to BlackBoard, so don't worry about writing everything down from them. Most of the time, the lectures will be straight off of the blackboard. Much of what is written is helpful information (examples, equations) that will be useful for homework and exam studying. Thus, it might be advantageous to write everything down that is written on the blackboard. Since the professor writes on the blackboard, keeping up should be less of a challenge. That doesn't mean, however, that you should zone out from what he is saying. Often times he will pause with the blackboard writing to emphasize key points; you should make note of these as well. At times, the meaning of different variables can be confusing since some are reused and similar forms are used for totally different parameters in the same equation (e.g. x and X or k and K). If you are confused about what a variable means as it is being written, be sure to ask during class of get it cleared up after lecture. Otherwise, the equations in your notes may be incorrect and thus useless for assignments. Often times lecture will begin with a review of the previous lecture, so there may be no need to review your notes in great detail in order to prepare for lecture.
The reading materials are reference materials for review after lecture as you are going over your notes and starting the homework. It is not necessarily required to read the entirety of book chapters posted on BlackBoard; you can merely look at the sections that you did not understand well in lecture and review important equations. These materials (especially for the sake of clarifying equations) become very useful for the homework.
Learning For and From Assignments
There are three types of assignments in this course: problem sets, exams, and a final project. The problem sets are not "graded" in that they are not assessed on a point-by-point basis and do not formally count towards your final grade. However, they are reviewed by the TA and assessed holistically for effort, completion, and accuracy. At the end of the semester, the record of your problem set history could be used to boost your grade if you are on the border of a higher and a lower grade. It is likely that if you do not do the assignments with effort, you will not be in good shape for the exams as the content is similar. The most important preparation for the problem sets is showing up to lecture and taking extensive notes. It is also useful to review the book chapters for information as you are working on the assignments. At times, you will be required to make assumptions without being prompted. If you think you need to assume something, explain your thought process. It is always better to make an assumption than to not do a problem at all because you don't have enough information.
There are two exams that take up a class period each. One is given during midterms, and the other right before winter break. The best preparation for these exams is not only to make sure you can do the types of problems on the homework, but also to understand the equations and their variables that are covered in lecture. It is also helpful to understand and review the more qualitative take-aways from lecture notes. There are no past years' exams for preparation, so reviewing examples from the homework and lecture is the best method of preparation. Again, make assumptions as you see fit, but state them clearly and explain your basis.
The final project requires you to use a computational tool (provided) to simulate the stretch of a river and make recommendations with respect to improving the dissolved oxygen levels. You will use some information and equations mostly covered in the earlier half of the course, but most of the legwork will come from your own experimentation and creativity with the model. It is important to begin this project early and familiarize yourself with the model so that you have no problem when it comes to devising your own solutions to the given scenario. This assignment is a great opportunity to get a taste for the processes that environmental engineers work with when solving problems and making recommendations for projects in the real world. The most important aspect is to use your knowledge of the elementary principles covered in class to be creative with solutions – you must understand what types of management processes cause what changes in the system, and how they affect other processes. In order to successfully come up with and test solutions, however, you need to give yourself plenty of time. Your lecture notes and book chapters can be useful for reviewing topics that are necessary to understand for this assignment.
Online resources like Wikipedia may be useful for explaining relevant equations if you cannot find them in the texts. However, the texts are the most useful resources. If the chapters posted on BlackBoard are not sufficient, seek out the full copies from other resources like the library. As with any STEM class, office hours are helpful for making sure you are well-equipped to tackle the homework problems.
What Students Should Know About This Course For Purposes Of Course Selection
This is a challenging but rewarding course that is mainly designed for environmental concentrators in CEE, but is also frequently taken by students in other natural sciences (geo, physics, chemistry). Thus, it can serve as an interesting departmental elective for natural science students that are interested in learning about water management systems. The workload and structure is pretty typical of other mid-high level engineering courses.