University of Vermont wins solid waste design competition

The University of Vermont was selected as the first-place winner and won the best presentation award in this year’s International Solid Waste Design Competition (SWDC).

Second place in The Solid Waste Association of North America’s (SWANA) annual contest went to the University of Texas Arlington, and third place was given to Wayne State University. Lizzie Torres from the University of British Columbia received the Emerging Leader/Rising Star award.

The SWDC is a student team competition hosted by SWANA’s Young Professionals Group (YP) to solve “real world” problems faced by solid waste professionals. The competition aims to provide design experience to students interested in pursuing an education and/or career in solid waste management and real world experience solving complex solid waste management issues. It is also a networking event for students to connect with potential employers and others in the industry.

This year’s project challenged teams to find solutions for closing the Bakoteh Dumpsite and supporting changes to modern solid waste management in Kanifing, The Gambia. The dumpsite is one of the largest disposal facilities in The Gambia and the only one in the Kanifing Municipality.

“Our team of judges was so impressed with how this group of student design teams engaged to best understand this solid waste challenge plaguing The Gambia,” said judge and project manager at SCS Engineers, Chris Jimieson.

“The students came up with a diverse range of designs that we truly believe will be part of the eventual solution to closing the Bakoteh Dumpsite and constructing The Gambia’s first engineered, sanitary landfill.”

The judging panel also included John Welch, director of the Dane County Department of Waste & Renewables; Kaba Bah, principal manager at the Midwest GOOH Group in Madison, WI; and Lamin Sanyang, director of services at Kanifing Municipal Council in The Gambia.

Seven universities participated in the competition: Arizona State University, Wayne State University, University of Southern California, University of Vermont, University of Texas at Arlington, University of British Columbia, and National University of Engineering in Peru.

The Awards Ceremony featured two guest speakers including David Biderman, CEO and executive director of SWANA, and Mayor Talib Ahmed Bensouda, lord mayor of the Kanifing Municipality.

Mayor Bensouda explained how the Bakoteh Dumpsite has become a significant problem for the growing community and solutions they are using to fix it.

“The SWANA student design competition offers an excellent opportunity for the Council to gather innovative ideas towards achieving our long-term goals of closing the Bakoteh Dumpsite and opening a sanitary landfill to serve our residents,” Bensouda said.

“The posters and reports presented by several student groups are impressive, creative, and insightful. My team and I will study the ideas presented by each group and integrate feasible ideas into our plans.”

SWANA thanked all of the student participants, the judges, SWANA’s YP Planning Committee, and all of those that attended. The awards were sponsored this year by Lanny and Kay Hickman, stewards of the Hickman Endowment Fund.