NMB Students Explore H2O Careers at a STEM Workshop

By Beverly Perkins

North Miami Beach (NMB) High School students had the opportunity to explore engineering jobs at a CH2M and NMB Water workshop. The focus of the community event was on STEM (Science, Technology. Engineering, and Math) skills and principles. Students were taught the purpose of these important subjects and how they relate and are needed to pursue their future careers.

The workshop was held at the Administration Building of the Norwood Water Treatment Plant (WTP) as part of a NMB Water/CH2M Enlace community outreach partnership. CH2M delivers an integrated program for engineering, operations and maintenance, and progressive design-build to achieve a best-in-class water/wastewater utility for NMB Water.

Carlos Carrazana, Plant Operator; Paula Silva, current Enlace chair; and Juan F. Aceituno and Pilar Doran with CH2M welcomed the thirteen 9th, 10th, and 11th grade students who were joined with Vania Boeva, NMB High School Head of the Science Department, and Joshua Montalvan, NMB High School Advanced Placement Chemistry Teacher.

The workshop included presentations about the different engineering disciplines and how it takes a team to design and construct projects such as the Norwood WTP. Cristina Ortega-Castineiras shared with the students in an interactive discussion the science and engineering behind their drinking water and how it is treated and delivered to the city’s homes and businesses.

After learning that their water comes from the Biscayne and Floridan aquifers, Ortega-Castineiras introduced the students to membrane treatment technology while seeing a sample membrane element. The students’ curiosity was reflected in their questions wanting to learn more about sea level rise and impact to coastal communities such a North Miami Beach.

“This first STEM event provided students with the chance to interact with the plant operator and participate in one-on-one mentoring with CH2M’s engineers,” said CH2M Senior Project Manager Juan F. Aceituno, P.E. “Students were very interested in talking about their careers and future in engineering. To me, this was the best part of the event, because I could see their interest and excitement grow as they learned more about how to become an engineer.”

Carlos Carrazana then led a tour of the plant’s main control room where students could see the main control screens while interacting with Enlace members. The workshop concluded with a fun speed-mentoring session with the Enlace team to discuss career opportunities and the importance of a college education in their future. All students received community service hours for their active participation in the 3-hour STEM workshop.  

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