It’s the last week of classes, and as a senior, that means it’s design project time!

Though I’m not yet in the capstone class for environmental engineers, this semester I’m taking CE 485: Water Treatment Design, a class where I’ve learned the fundamentals of designing water and wastewater treatment systems. The tough homework assignments and midterms throughout the 13 week semester have culminated in our final project: taking a theoretical “City” and their water treatment requirements, and upgrading their wastewater treatment facility.

I’m currently working an internship during the academic year at an environmental engineering design firm, so the class has tied in perfectly with the practical experience and knowledge I’m gaining through my internship. What was most interesting about this experience, though, was seeing how the project related to real life work for environmental engineers in the water industry. My professor, Dr. Song, works during the day in the industry, and his understanding of the field is echoed in the realistic requirements for our water treatment project. Submitting our project involved sectioned 60% and 100% submittals, which all of the real-world projects I’ve worked on have required as well. The project also required us to look at practical permitting and regulatory requirements for the City, and address the real world issue of population growth and increased wastewater outflow.

Aside from the realistic nature of the project, my group and I worked hard these past few weeks to apply the knowledge we’ve learned over the semester to the rehabilitation of this theoretical wastewater treatment facility. All of this effort and brainpower culminated in a 26 page report, complete with a memorandum of understanding for the tasks at hand, process flow diagrams, design calculations and criteria, site layout maps, and more.

Working on this design project has given me many practical skills that I’m excited to take back to my internship and future jobs. Interning is always a great way to gain insight into the field you’re going to enter, but taking this course and completing this design project has given me a deeper understanding of many job elements I encounter in my work. Beyond that, as all group projects do, working on this project has helped me grow in soft skills, including organization, teamwork, and time management. It doesn’t hurt, too, that I now have a 26 page report that I can show to future employers that displays some of the knowledge I’ve learned during my time at USC.

Design projects during senior year are a classic example of the link between hands-on and theoretical learning at Viterbi. It was so satisfying to put everything I’ve learned together in a tangible product, and I can’t wait to do it again next semester in the capstone class for environmental engineers!

Christina Najm

Christina Najm

MAJOR: Environmental Engineering YEAR: Class of 2021 HOMETOWN: Los Angeles, California PRONOUNS: she/her/hers INSTA: @cnajm5 On campus I conducted undergraduate research in wastewater treatment technology through the environmental engineering department and am involved in Alpha Omega Epsilon (a social and professional sorority for women in STEM), the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists, and the Society of Women Engineers.