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Benedict’s inaugural environmental engineering grads get hands-on experience

ELGIN, SC (WACH) — Graduates of Benedict College’s newly accredited Environmental Engineering Program walked away last weekend with much more than just a degree, they were taken out of the classroom and gained hands-on training to prepare them for the future.

It was a collaboration between South Carolina Water Utilities (SCWU) and Benedict where students were asked to design a conceptual wastewater treatment plant.

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Dr. Lesley Joseph is a Professor of Practice at Benedict College and says he wanted to give his students a real-world opportunity to actually see what engineering is, and what it looks like in the field.

SCWU has six wastewater utilities across the Midlands serving about two hundred thousand people.

“With this partnership, we had access to several different treatment plants that our partner owned and operated,” says Dr. Joseph. “We got to visit them, we got to tour them, we got to see them in action.”

President of SCWU, Craig Sorensen says he wanted to encourage the next generation of engineers and help a department that was recently accredited and growing.

“The fact that they’ve been in this type of class where they look back at the past three years’ worth of technical growth, and then combine that with real life,” says Sorensen. “Doing interviews, talking with operators and utility owners, that is such a great experience for them, and it’ll be something that they always remember.”

Only 3.5% of Environmental Engineers are African American, Benedict College and SCWU want to help change that.

“We’re hoping that with each opportunity we get to show these different partners there is a program that is right around the corner that is producing high-quality African-American Environmental Engineers,” says Dr. Joseph. “That will be launched out into the world doing great work, all across the state and all across the country all across the world.”

Benedict College has just one of two accredited Environmental Engineering Programs in the state.

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