2021 Highlights Video

2021 Teams

2021 Winners–See 2021 Teams

We are a Part of the Solution in 2021.

Contest:   April 11-14, 2021
Registration opens: November 2020

WERC Environmental Design Contest Bench scale


2021 Tasks and Virtual OptionsClick to get the list of 2021 tasks.

Regulation & Safety Short CourseOptional Zoom course held in December and January. Zoom recording available.

Register for the April 2021 contest now! You will be directed to our WERC Contest Site.

Join our mailing listThinking about competing? Contact us and we'll send breaking news.


Can you get into your labs? We have two options for competing in 2021

  1. Complete the bench-scale demonstration
    1. For teams that are able to work in their school’s labs
    2. onduct presentations and bench-scale demo via Zoom
  2. Complete a desktop-only study

    1. The desktop study is based on the WERC published tasks. Tasks 3, 4, and 5 have this option.
    2. For teams that are not able to work in their school’s labs
    3. Conduct presentations via  Zoom.
    4. This is a one-time only option due to COVID-19 restrictions

About the Contest

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. We are COVID-19 friendly in 2021: Reduced rates, Zoom presentations, bench-scale demos at your campus, and desktop-only options for teams who cannot get into their labs.

Engineering project with mentoring. Students hone their teamwork skills while solving challenging real-world problems. Students serve as consulting engineers as they hone teamwork skills and solve challenging real-world problems. Engineering professionals judge the competition and serve as mentors through each contest stage: Technical Report, Oral Presentation, and Bench-scale Demonstration.

Networking and ABET. Students can network with experts from academia, government, and industry. The rigorous requirements develop an entrepreneurial mindset in the students and help 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 (with paper-study option in 2021)
  • 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 IEEE Conference proceedings

View the 2020 Conference ProceedingsThis will take you to the IEEE Xplore website

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 CDM Smith

2021 Heavy Metal Removal Sponsor: Brown & Caldwell

2020 Platinum Sponsors: Freeport-McMoRan • El Paso Electric Company

2020 Silver Sponsors: Arrowhead Center • NGL Water Resources


Social Media: Click here.

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

The 31st WERC Environmental Design Contest
–The Ultimate Engineering Capstone Event–
April 11-14, 2021