On October 24, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) hosted thought leaders from academia, industry, and the government for a day-long workshop focused on issues of water supply abundance, access, and safety. This innovative workshop, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, featured over 200 registrants and was conducted in partnership with SENCER, the New England Water Innovation Network, and the Campus Compact organizations from Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. Also in attendance were the U.S. Water Partnership, the UMass Water Resources Research Center, and the United States Geological Survey. Karen Kashmanian Oates, co-founder of SENCER and NCSCE, hosted the event and was joined in leading the program by Robert Sanford and Winnie Yu, both co-directors of the New England SENCER Center for Innovation.Worcester Polytechnic Institute (@WPI) Convenes Over 200 for Water Innovation Workshop Click To Tweet
Dr. Winston Soboyejo, Dean of Engineering at WPI, provided a powerful opening to the workshop when he delivered his keynote entitled “Water Innovation for Global Development” in which he presented point-of-use water filters for developing countries as a lens to view sustainable solutions for water safety. Experts from the academic, industry, and government sectors then facilitated concurrent panel sessions, which focused on the role of water innovation clusters, the role of academic research and education, and international and domestic commerce opportunities. Breakout sessions, led by innovators from the water sector, addressed market driven needs and solutions for municipal wastewater, storm water, infrastructure and data analysis, drinking water contaminants, industrial water needs across food and energy, and water sustainability management. A lunchtime “fireside chat” featured Watts Water Technologies and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and yielded thought-provoking dialogue on water innovation and the role of industry and government with leadership. The role of academia and civically-minded organizations was further explored through an afternoon program facilitated by SENCER on how to engage universities in water innovation. The workshop concluded with a poster session that featured research by 17 undergraduate and graduate students from St. Joseph’s University, Northeastern University, Southern Connecticut State University, UMASS, University of Southern Maine, and WPI, and a networking dinner reception that featured closing remarks and poster awards.