Team USA defeated Team Australia at the Water Innovation Challenge held June 3-5 during International Water Week in Singapore. The team developed innovative solutions for water and sanitation issues in Nepal and Bangladesh.

The multi-disciplined Team USA consisted of professionals and students under the age of 26 and was led by William N. Erickson, an ASPE member and a vice president of ASPE’s Research Foundation. Other team members included:

  • Judith Torres, GE, and an associate member of ASPE who works as a graduate mechanical engineer for Progressive AE in Grand Rapids, Mich.
  • Douglas Nelson, P.E., and instructor at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, served as a team advisor.
  • Nicholas Michalenko, licensed journeyman plumber with Rida Plumbing in Worthington, Mass.;
  • Sarah Parker, an advertising and design student at Appalachian State University; and
  • Tim Murphy, an apprentice plumber at Boulanger’s Plumbing & Heating in Easthampton, Mass.

The challenge had three main components. The first challenge required the teams to design and document new water solutions to meet community problems in a village in northern Bangladesh. The second was to design and document solutions to community problems in Nepal.

The final challenge was a hands-on practical task assigned each day, including assembling a hand-bore pump, a rainwater collection system and a solar pump installation. Using their assembled pumps, the teams raced against each other each day to be the first to fill a 100-liter water tank. The teams also were required to construct user-friendly installation and maintenance manuals that presented no language barriers.

“It was an intense and stressful experience,” Torres said. “But having so many tasks to complete gave us the energy to get through each day. The members of Team USA complemented each other so well. As we gave our final presentations of our designs, it seemed like we had worked together for years.”