Engineering students are not chemists. But at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, engineering majors participate in an analytical experience normally reserved for chemists – conducting research on water contaminants.
The engineers of tomorrow collect and analyze sensitive data using the latest in high performance technology and equipment. A bit overwhelming, perhaps? Not really. Because the instruments in the laboratories at UMass Amherst are Waters instruments. So easy to use even wide-eyed underclassmen quickly grow comfortable operating the most sophisticated pieces of technology, like the ACQUITY UPLC System.
And with Waters equipment comes Waters professionals. When the students were recently faced with a challenging study, a team from Waters came on campus to help. Patiently, they walked the students through the methodologies, even suggesting alternatives in case of problems. In the end, an analytical perplexity that would have been a brain-bender for a laboratory full of highly trained chemists was completed by a classroom of student engineers.
The hope of UMass Amherst and Waters is that by involving students in this unique experience they become more attuned to the importance of water quality as both an environmental and public health issue. And armed with that knowledge, the projects they develop in the future, be they civil or environmental engineers, reflect what they learned in the classroom normally reserved for chemists.
David A. Reckhow, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UMass Amherst, focuses on drinking water and water quality. Learn how he translates analytical chemistry laboratory research into real engineering impact that can be immediately implemented to support public health.