Volume 37, No. 2 -- February 2021
AAEES President’s Report
Lilia A. Abron
Overview of Activities
The months of January and February 2021 have been spent trying to familiarize myself with the administrative duties and responsibilities of the president. In working with the Academy staff, I have spent a tremendous amount of time reaching out to the membership for volunteers to accept requests to serve on our numerous administrative and management committees and as state representatives. I try to go to the academy office every Friday, and spend the day working with the staff and trying to determine how best to deal with the business of the Academy and the vast number of materials, documents, and other items in the office. We have all our treasures and history just sitting around with little knowledge of what is there, what we can discard, and what needs to be kept. It is a bit overwhelming to say the least. We have made contact with the State of Maryland Archives and with the Library of Congress to see which the more appropriate facility is to accept our material, catalogue it, and preserve it, but have it available for future use and research. We found out in our research, that in the past we had been sending annual copies of the newsletter, magazine and Who’s Who to the Library of Congress, but that action stopped some time ago. We will find out when we ceased sending those documents to the library and hope that we have all the missing back copies. However, regardless, we intend to resume that action, and send the copies of those documents that we have available to that repository. We will also get guidance from the Library as to what steps we must take for them to accept and preserve the rest of our valuable documents – letters, papers, photographs, etc. We will report back to the Executive Committee and then to the Board of Trustees for approval for final actions.
I am required to prepare an annual plan and intend to work on that the Month of March 2021. However, I will also continue to work with the membership committee to help improve and stabilize our membership, the webinars team to identify, attract and convene informative and profitable webinars, and to increase the visibility of the Academy in the wider world to help all understand the value of board certification.
Goals for 2021
Increased Interaction with the Membership
Due to the pandemic, all Academy activities will be virtual this year, as they have been for most of 2020 as well. It is my intention to utilize this fact to its fullest. Via accessible digital platforms, I am now able to meet and visit members all over the world and spend time with our student chapters, introducing them to the Academy and obtaining information on ways in which we can help them expand their careers and endeavors in environmental engineering and science. This format is an excellent way to energize our entry-level professionals and engage them in the world of environmental engineering and science. You are always invited to attend some of these meetings with me. I would enjoy meeting you, and I know the students would enjoy getting to know you, too. I am dedicated to forging a more collegial and professional working relationship within our membership, with our students and young professionals and with the world community. We need and must increase visibility to the skills we offer in addressing the physical environmental issues and concerns, and the current and future environmental health issues.
Nurturing and Leveraging AEESP Relationship
I am dedicated to forging a more collegial and professional working relationship with the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (AEESP). We should embrace the fact that our two organizations are “connected at the hip.” AAEES is a Member Society of ABET, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology; as the name implies, ABET accredits over 4,000 engineering and technology programs at universities in the United States and increasingly around the world. As an ABET Member Society, AAEES leads the work to define environmental engineering and science education and to evaluate programs that request accreditation and re-accreditation, which is one of the principal components of the mission of AAEES. In collaboration with one another, AEESP trains the future environmental engineers and scientists’ workforce, and members of the Academy hire the trained workforce in some form. Within this workforce group, “the Academy identifies and credentials those persons with special capabilities to excel in the environmental engineering and environmental science fields”. (Who’s Who 2020)
Joel Ducoste, AEESP President, and I have already embarked on a series of conversations that we hope will bring visibility to the world of environmental engineering and science. These conversations between the two of us and others serve to demonstrate that the reach of environmental engineers and scientists is wide, and that everything that happens on this planet requires contributions by environmental engineers and scientists. Additionally, it is our intent to showcase the contributions of women and underrepresented minority environmental engineers and scientists, and how their labor and skills have contributed this vast environmental body of knowledge that is used daily to solve environmental issues and concerns.
Expanding Webinar Program
In addition to membership fees, the Academy gets additional funding for operating expenses through the Major Partners Committee, and the Excellence in Environmental Engineering and Science (E3S) Awards Luncheon and Workshop. This year, since we are not able to convene at the National Press Club for the celebration of the E3S event (as we have done for many years), so we held the event virtually and it was very successful. The Academy is planning to host 12 webinars this year, with at least 4 of those events dedicated to the E3S Awards program. There is a nominal cost for the webinars (discounted to our members) , and we are asking a variety of organizations and people to sponsor these events. The sponsor will have the opportunity to highlight their activities, and we will display their logos and information on the respective promotional material, social media pages and our website. Last month we had our first webinar of 2021. The webinar’s title is Climate Change Impacts on Water Resources in TX. It was a very informative and educational session led by Dr. Jay Banner of UT-Austin, who allowed time for discussion and an exchange of ideas. He surely set the bar high for the quality that we want to maintain in our webinars. This webinar will be available for viewing on the Academy’s platform starting in March 2021. We will keep you posted on the details and how to access the event.
There are important initiatives that must be accomplished within the next 3 months. Working groups have been established and dormant committees have been revived to provide the necessary outcomes, expediently. These high-priority activities include:
- Preparing the Academy’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Statement, and Code of Ethics.
- Determining the structure and management leadership format for the Academy.
- Increasing and stabilizing our membership and providing additional services to our members.
- Activating the International Relations Committee responsible for reaching out to prospective international members and increasing the Academy’s visibility and reach worldwide.
- E3S Awards Program is aggressively seeking outstanding submittals. The “Call for Submittals” has been made. Please contact Joseph Cotruvo to help and spread the word for submittals among your colleagues.
The Collection and Treatment of Food Wastes to Reduce Methane Emissions
Please join us for a webinar on Wednesday March 3, 2021 at NOON EST
Mark McDannel from Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts will be discussing “The Collection and Treatment of Food Wastes to Reduce Methane Emissions”
The LACSD have developed a food waste recycling program in which food waste is co-digested with sludge at a wastewater treatment plant. The Districts program has included initial bench scale lab work, feasibility studies, full scale technology demonstration, commercialization of the program, and energy recovery. The Districts currently receive approximately 300 tons per day of food waste slurry, and have just started up a biogas conditioning system that is generating compressed natural gas to fuel low-emission vehicles. The webinar will provide an overview of the program, a review of how key decisions were made, and the current status of the program.
This webinar is supported by Daniel B. Oerther, PE, BCEE, BCES, President-elect AAEES
“The best education includes examples from exceptional practice. My students are re-designing our regional food system for Phelps County, Missouri, and Mark’s presentation is exactly the information they need.” – Dr. Daniel B. Oerther, PE, BCEE, BCES, President-elect AAEES
Professor Oerther is an award winning teacher of environmental engineering and science including: the 2014 Excellence in Environmental Engineering and Science Education Award from AAEES; the 2017 Frederick George Pohland Medal from the EES Foundation; and the 2019 Engineering Education Excellence Award from NSPE.
If you would like to sponsor an upcoming webinar, please email Marisa Waterman at MWaterman@aaees.org.