Elizabeth Crafton

I had the pleasure of holding a stewardship liaison position for the Urban Watershed Igniting Streams of Learning in Science (UWISLS) program in the Summer of 2012. During my internship I had the opportunity to grow significantly as an Environmental Engineer. Prior to this internship, I only saw watersheds through the eyes of a civil engineer, concrete and steel. However, since the completion of my internship, I see watersheds in a completely different way. Being exposed to the environmental science aspects of watersheds has, I believe, made me a better civil/environmental engineer.     In my undergraduate classes we learn about sewer and piping systems, more specifically Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO). A CSO is a system that combines the storm water runoff and sanitary lines. During a rain event if the combined pipe backs up it by-passes treatment and goes directly into the Cuyahoga River, sewage and all. Obviously, this is not an effective way of managing the storm water runoff. This is a great example of why it is so important for civil engineers to have an environmental science background of some kind. CSOs are incredibly harmful to the aquatic life in tributaries and rivers. Pollution hazards aside, CSOs cause major physical damage to the river. However, if we use green infrastructure practices we can retain the extra storm water runoff.     During my internship, I learned how to assess streams,tributaries , primary headwaters, and rivers with multiple protocols.  Some of the protocols I worked with include Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index (QHEI), Bank Erosion Hazard Index (BEHI),  and  Primary Headwater Habitat (PHWH). We assessed wetlands  using the  Ohio  Rapid  Assessment Method (ORAM) in the Parma and Hiram areas.  Wet lands are a  good example of  green infrastructure to retain storm water runoff and stop an overflow event from happening.  Wet lands are  extremely important to the environment and we should utilize them  in engineering practices instead of gray infrastructure.  As well as utilizing rain barrels and rain gardens.     We also got the chance to act as peer mentors in an educational institute at Camp Corde in Parma, Ohio. We each had our own learning communities which consisted of one teacher and five high school students. I had the pleasure of working with Parma  Senior High School.We completed the aforementioned assessments along with other educational activities  with our learning communities.This gave us the chance to raise awareness in the community about current issues in their own communities.  It also gave us a chance to raise the student’s interest in science and potential future careers in science. After completing the institute we met with out learning communities  to plan out a watershed curriculum for the students to take back to their high school. Our curriculum consists of  four one hour classes, every Friday for a month. During these classes the students will get to experience fun and educational activities that are designed to raise the student’s knowledge  about watersheds. The students also want to start a environmental club for their high school.     I also will be taking a curriculum back to the University of Akron . During fall semester  we will be completing field and lab work with the Chemistry for Environmental Engineers class. We will also be completing a lecture section for the freshman civil engineering majors about green infrastructure.  Then in the spring we will be completing a design project with the Civil Engineering Design.

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