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College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology

CIVE Senior Design project receives NCEES award

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Media Contact: Kristi Wheeler | Manager, CEAT Marketing and Communications | 405-744-5831 |

A civil and environmental engineering senior design project for a new water tower and system in Samburg, Tennessee, won a $10,000 National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) Award.

The senior design project was completed with the Community Engineering Corps, which is a part of Engineers Without Borders USA, whose mission is to work toward a better world through engineering projects.

The students worked toward developing preliminary engineering designs for a water storage solution in a rural community in Samburg. Dr. Norb Delatte and Dr. Gregory Wilber are the advisors for the project.

Delatte is the department head and Wilber is an associate professor for civil and environmental engineering.

“Receiving this award validates the hard work of our students as well as their dedication to public service,” Delatte said.

CIVE Fall 2021 team
Fall 2021 Senior Design team from left: Joshua Pierce Caldwell Sr., Lukas T. Evans and Dawson L. Wiseman.

The Samburg Utility District currently serves 325 customers. There are three commissioners who were appointed by the mayor, two administrative support staff, one meter reading specialist and the general manager.

The town is a customer of the Hornbeak Water Utility, which is a consecutive public water system. Therefore, water is delivered to a steel storage tank residing on a hillside on the southeast border of the town.

Due to several factors, the storage tank being used is approaching a point of critical failure. The foundation’s improper placement and location on the hillside has resulted in an increasing loss of stability.

“Emergency repairs were conducted a few years ago during a period where the tank was in the midst of an active failure, and these repairs were intended to be temporary while an alternative storage solution was designed,” Delatte said. “No other issues of water quality, quantity and pressure have been noted within the system.”

Two groups of students worked on the senior design project over the course of the fall 2021 and spring 2022 semesters.

“It needed to be something in our time frame,” Wilber said. “The fall team worked more toward looking into the background information and making a trip to the site. After it was decided that we would be working on the water tower, the spring group worked more on the design details.”

The project also gave students firsthand experience working with people in the community and helping accommodate their wants and needs.

“It was also important to get a chance to help the community,” Wilber said. “They were in a good position regarding writing grants, however they just needed preliminary engineer design work. Once we helped with that, it became easier for them to go into grant requests.”

Spring 2022 Team
Spring 2022 Senior Design team from left to right: Aedan C. Cottle, Adam P. Monaghan, Emmy R. Ooten and Cale R. SWawatzky

Engineers and students involved in the senior design project worked together on conducting a solution for the community. Kipp Martin is one of the few water engineers in Garver that is licensed in Tennessee. He discussed the project with the fall and spring teams and helped them produce the reports that would be looked over by a few of Garver’s volunteer water engineers.

“Once it was explained to me how the Community Engineering Corp through the American Waterworks Association used student volunteers, guided by professional engineers, to produce reports that small towns, cities and water utilities needed to help get funded for improvement projects, I was excited to join,” Martin said.

A majority of the project was completed virtually, however the fall team was able to visit the site and meet some of the engineers they had been working with. Working with the engineers at Garver gave students more insight into the technical side of the report.

“Water is vital to communities,” Martin said. “And a project that enables a small community to keep the water flowing to their people really gives me satisfaction. Also, the future water engineers are learning the trade at the same time, which is fantastic. I know that the future of water supply will have the engineers it needs to keep the water flowing.”

Story By: Bailey Sisk |

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