Make Tomorrow Greener!

Real-world tasks proposed, designed, and sponsored by industry and government agencies

General FAQs

Watch here for general (non task-specific) questions.

What will be the COVID-19 Policy at the Design Contest? (Posted 1/20/22)
We hope to have an official policy posted by January 24, 2022. If it is not posted by then, we will extend the regular registration deadline accordingly.

The policy will be established based on NMSU, CDC, and the State of New Mexico guidelines. Your university’s policy concerning travel and contest attendance is also of paramount importance as we arrange for your team to attend.

We are prepared to transition to a virtual contest, should the need arise. We have two years’ experience holding the contest via Zoom, and one year of experience hosting virtual bench-scale demonstrations.

Registration says 'Gender for Style.' What does that mean? (Posted 10/15/21)
Faculty and judges receive a gift of a jacket or vest. The Ladies versions are narrower in the waist and larger in chest and hips than the men’s versions. If you prefer it larger in the waist, select “Male.” If you prefer it narrower in the waist, select “Female.”
What should be in the Preliminary Report? (Posted 8/4/2021)
Your Preliminary Report is your way of communicating your design plans to the judges. You will not be judged on the preliminary report. It is solely intended to help your team improve your approach. The emphasis is content, not flowery prose. Make it brief and to the point to allow judges to scan your plans, and use bulleted lists when possible. You may submit the report prior to the due date, if you wish.
What computer connections will be available for presentations at the Farm & Ranch? (Posted 9/29/21)
Please contact us to let us know your needs and we will be sure to have the connection devices you need.


Task 1 – Monitoring Virus Removal in MBRs

Task 1 – Monitoring Virus Removal by MBRsClick to download problem statement

Silver Task Sponsor: EPA Office of Research and Development

Iron Task Sponsor: CDM Smith

Task Overview: Teams are challenged to determine a log removal value for viruses from membrane bioreactors, and then develop a way to monitor virus removal in near-real time during wastewater treatment.

Task 1 FAQs

Can you tell us more about obtaining operational data?
The operational data offered at the competition is associated with the competition sample that is distributed at the contest. It can be made available in Las Cruces in case your solution utilizes operational data that cannot be determined from the sample itself (e.g. pressures).

During your own development, you should source this data from the same plant you are getting MBR samples from, such that the operational data aligns with tested performance.

Contact us in late February if you think you will need the operational data from the WWTP that we use to source the samples.


Task 2 – Carbon Conversion for the Energy Transition

Task 2 – Carbon Conversion for the Energy TransitionClick to download task problem statement.

Platinum Task Sponsor: El Paso Electric Company

Task Overview: Why just capture and store CO2 from a power plant? This task challenges teams to make something useful from the CO2 emissions.

Task 2 FAQs
No questions have been asked yet.


Task 3 – Value-added  Use of Copper Mining Smelter Slag

Task 3 – Value-added Use for Copper Smelter SlagClick to download task problem statement.


Task Sponsor: Freeport-McMoRan

Task Overview:
Task will ask teams to use copper smelter slag for economically viable applications that make use of the slag’s advantageous properties, such as its high iron silicate content, electromagnetic interference shielding properties, and its potential as a pozzolanic material (when specially processed). Pozzolans are particularly important in the concrete industry.

Task 3 FAQs

View Copper Processing Operations
View Freeport-McMoRan’s copper processing operations, including smelting. YouTube video:


Task 4 – NASA Task – Lunar Regolith Dust Cleaning for Spacesuits

Task 4 – Lunar Regolith Cleaning For SpacesuitsClick to download pdf of task problem statement

Diamond Task Sponsor: New Mexico Space Grant Consortium

Task Development by: NASATask Overview: Upcoming at NASA are Extra Vehicular Activities (EVAs) (walking on the moon or Mars) to help space crews better understand how humans can live beyond Earth. An extremely challenging issue is how to clean the very fine dust that accumulates on spacesuits when the crew returns to their vehicle. Dust on the suits can cause serious problems in the cabin environment. NASA needs a cleaning system that will remove the dust from the suits before the crew enters the cabin. This task would be good for students in CHME, Materials, ME, and EE.Grants available: Teams from New Mexico are eligible to apply for a grant from the NM Space Grant Consortium for up to $5000 to cover laboratory and travel expenses. Don’t live in New Mexico? Space Grant organizations in your state may have a similar grant for you.Task 4 FAQs
No questions have been asked yet.


Task 5 – Controlling VOC Emissions from Produced Water Recycling

Task 5 – Controlling VOC Emissions in Produced Water RecyclingClick to download problem statement


Silver Task Sponsor: NGL Water Solutions

Iron Task Sponsor: New Mexico Oil and Gas Association

Task Overview: Produced Water (PW) recycling efforts are being threatened by proposed government regulations that will dramatically limit VOCs (based on a “potential to emit VOCs”, not what actually gets emitted). Even though VOCs are very low in recycled PW, recycling operations require storage of such large volumes of water that, on paper, potential to emit VOCs looks large. Reducing VOCs in PW will ensure that oil companies can keep recycling water instead of pumping fresh ground water for their operations.

Task 5 FAQs

Our team could use a couple of the chemicals listed in the task problem statement. How do we get them?
Please email us at and tell us what you need. After you have registered, we will ship them to you (no additional cost for the chemicals or shipping them) at the address the faculty advisor listed during registration.


Task 6 – Open Task

Task 6 – Open TaskClick to download task problem statement.

Silver Task Sponsor: Arrowhead Center

Task Overview: Teams propose their own environmental challenge. Teams are urged to review other tasks offered at the design contest to ensure the level of rigor expected of an engineering design. Consider that the bench-scale demonstration showing proof of concept is an integral part of the contest.Task 6 FAQs
No questions have been submitted yet.


Flash Talks: Optional Event


Silver Task Sponsor: Arrowhead Center

Monday, 11 April, 2022

Helping schools meet new ABET Student Outcome 3–Teams will give a 3-minute Flash Talk to members of the local community, engineering professionals, faculty, and other students.

See 2022 TEAM Manual (Guidelines) for details.

Archives of the WERC Environmental Design Contests

Here you can find tasks for previous years, as well as the teams that won them.