Be a part of the Solution in 2021.

  • Competition April 11-14, 2021 in Las Cruces, NM
  • Team registration opens October 2020
  • Plan: In-person contest in Las Cruces.
  • Contingency Plan—Online competition, complete with bench-scale demonstrations conducted at each team’s home labs, if COVID-19 restrictions require.
WERC Environmental Design Contest Bench scale

2021 Tasks (Learn More)

Task 1–PFAS Destruction
Task 2–TransPac Yacht Race Ocean/Atmospheric Sensor
Task 3–Agricultural By-products to Sorb Metals in Mine Waters
Task 4–Mine Tailings Reuse
Task 5–Produced Water Treatment Train
Task 6–Open–Teams identfy their own real-world challenge

About the Contest

Each year since 1991, students competing in the WERC Environmental Design Contest are awarded over $30k in cash prizes for their solutions to engineering tasks posed by industry partners and government agencies. The contest is now an IEEE conference and select teams publish their results in IEEE Xplore.

Students hone their teamwork skills while solving challenging real-world problems. Their solutions are judged by engineering professionals through research papers, oral presentations, and bench-scale demonstrations. At the contest, students network with experts from academia, government, and industry. The rigorous requirements of the contest helps develop an entrepreneurial mindset in the students. and helps engineering departments meet all 7 ABET benchmarks.

 Students experience the engineer’s Request for Proposals (RFP) as they:

  • Select among the requests for proposal (the tasks)
  • Prepare a technical report and oral presentation
  • Build a working bench-scale model
  • Consider scale-up, CAPEX, OPEX, environmental impact, etc.

Winning a prize is comparable to winning the engineering contract.

The contest is ideal for a senior capstone project or educational enrichment for any level.

Get Involved in 2021!

• Join a team of students:  Ask a faculty member at your college/university to gather/sponsor a team.

• Become a Sponsor:  Sponsor environmental engineering education, with the option to submit your company’s idea for a task.

• Become a Judge:  Mentor the next generation of professionals and meet top students to recruit to your company.

• Become a Faculty Advisor: Form teams of your students to compete in challenging real-world capstone projects that satisfy ABET outcomes and are judged by impartial engineering professionals.

• Become an informed citizen: The Las Cruces Community is invited to tour the Bench Scale demonstrations and attend oral presentations–Learn more about how today’s environmental challenges are being solved!

2020 Waste-management Education Research (WERC) papers published

Four teams earned the honor of publishing their contest results in IEEE Xplore.

Find IEEE Xplore papers here.

Your team can qualify to publish your contest results from the 2021 contest. Invitation to publish is based on the judges’ recommendations, based on the team’s written report. Publication in the conference proceedings is competitive.

IEEE is the world’s largest technical professional organization dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit of humanity. IEEE and its members inspire a global community through its highly cited publications, conferences, technology standards, and professional and educational activities. If you thought you knew IEEE, look again. They have expanded their focus to include environmental engineering, and many other fields of engineering.


WERC History

The WERC program originally began as the Waste-management Education Research Consortium and partnered with NM research universities, Sandia National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Dine College.

Administratively located at New Mexico State University, the program focused on the development of comprehensive and innovative solutions to world-wide environmental challenges.

In 2016, the WERC Design Contest became part of the College’s official outreach division where it continues to address multidisciplinary water, energy, and environmental outreach services to the nation and the world through dynamic leadership, technology advancement, industrial/academic/governmental partnerships, and workforce readiness.

WERC Success Story

College senior, Gina Lombardi was discouraged by both the lack of environmental engineering jobs in her area and from the feeling that she couldn’t keep up with some engineering students who pulled a 4.0 average and scored 100% on every test.

Her outlook changed significantly after participating in NMSU’s WERC Design Contest. “There are many ways to be successful aside from, or in addition to a GPA. Those student engineers with work ethic, social and communication skills, organization, and drive to succeed–they will succeed,” Gina says. “WERC saved me in engineering and kept me in the field. I realized I have a spectrum of other strengths that make me a successful environmental engineer and colleague.”

Thank you! To the Sponsors who make this happen!


2021 Gold Sponsor

2020 Platinum Sponsors

2020 Silver Sponsors


Social Media: Click here.

Your WERC account is where to go for registration, report submissions, scoring results.

The 30th WERC Environmental Design Contest
–The Ultimate Engineering Capstone Event–
April 13-15, 2020