New to the contest? Here is what you need to know.

  1. This year, there are 5 tasks offered, plus the Open Task. The five specific tasks are fully designed, freeing faculty members from the need to identify a problem and outline the details for a capstone project. This allows them to enjoy working as mentors and advocates for their team(s).
  2. Teams select from real-world tasks designed by engineering professionals to meet an immediate environmental need. Alternatively, teams may identify their own topic and compete in the Open Task division.
  3. The projects are student-run–entirely organized, designed, and built by students, with faculty serving as mentors for the teams.
  4. Projects consist of (See Guidelines):
    1. Before arrival at the contest:
      1. A fully researched written report that is submitted 2 weeks prior to the contest in April. It includes economic analyses, addresses regulations, safety, and sustainability, in addition to specific requirements for each task.
    2. At the contest:
      1. An oral report (no more than 15 minutes) presented to environmental professionals (the judges) and members of the Las Cruces Community
      2. A conference-style poster presentation. This is posted on a display board (provided by WERC) in the bench-scale area.
      3. A working bench-scale model that can perform the required task (if the task is to filter a chemical out of water, the team will be handed a sample of impure water, they run it through their bench-scale apparatus, and hand the judges their cleaned water sample. This sample is tested in our labs to determine the effectiveness of their apparatus.
  5.  Safety: To ensure safety for all in attendance, our safety officer will guide each team through the safety protocols and benchmarks, including requiring an Experimental Safety Plan (ESP) be submitted in February.
  6. Teams usually start their research in the Fall semester and build their bench-scale models in early Spring. Many start early in Fall before registering, just to make sure they are able to tackle the project.
  7. Tasks have benchmark deadlines, usually in January and February, to ensure that teams are heading on a path to success, and that they have considered the safe operation of equipment (an Experimental Safety Plan is due in February for all teams).
  8. Registration:
    1. Registration opens in early November and is handled online through the werc.nmsu.edu portal.
    2. Faculty and students register as teams.
    3. There is a registration fee per team (up to 5 students per team). Additional team members require an additional fee to help us cover our costs. The registration fee covers less than 1/4 of our costs, but it helps us out.
    4. One faculty member can sponsor multiple teams from their university. There is a substantial discount for bringing more than one team to the contest.
  9. werc.nmsu.edu portal. This portal, separate from our website, is your connection to the contest for:

    1. Registration (you may wish to prepare a photo and a bio beforehand)
    2. Payment
    3. Report submissions
    4. Survey submissions
    5. Scores and judges’ comments
  10. Judging:
    1. Teams are judged by experienced engineering professionals who ask tough questions, but also encourage teams. They introduce teams to new ideas and approaches, and also appreciate teams’ innovations and forward thinking.
    2. Each judge is assigned to specific tasks. The same judges (usually a team of 4-5) evaluate all teams within a given task.
    3. Judges individually grade the written report before the team arrives at the contest. Scores are tabulated on the WERC portal.
    4. Judges listen to the 15-minute oral presentations and are given 10 minutes after the presentation to ask questions.They apply final scoring to the oral reports immediately following the presentation of all reports that cover the same task.
    5. Judges visit the bench-scale presentations, in groups of ~2 judges at a time, for all teams in their assigned tasks. There, they take the time to discuss the team’s poster and delve more deeply into each team’s design.
    6. On day 4, judges who are assigned to the same task convene and determine the awards in each category (see below).
  11. Team logistics
    1. Teams provide their own transportation to/from the event, as well as their own lodging.
    2. Some teams bring their bench-scale models with them, others ship them to us about one week prior to the contest.
  12. Order of events:
    1. Day 1: Check-in, Welcome dinner, Orientation, Safety meeting, Bench-scale setup
    2. Day 2: Oral presentations, bench-scale testing
    3. Day 3: Bench-scale testing and poster presentations
    4. Day 4: Teams off in morning while judges tally scores, Awards Banquet and Ceremony
  13. Awards: Each year, the WERC Environmental Design Contest and its sponsors award more than $30,000 in cash prizes. Successful completion of every stage of the design project qualifies teams for the following awards.
    1. Task awards (First Place $2500, Second Place $1000, Third Place $500; minimum amounts).
    2. Freeport-McMoRan Innovation in Sustainability Award ($2500)
    3. The Open Mic Award ($TBA) Students present an “Elevator Speech” geared toward public audiences.
    4. WERC Resources Center Pollution Prevention/Energy Efficiency Award ($500)
    5. Judges’ Choice Award ($500)
    6. Peer Award ($250)
    7. Terry McManus Outstanding Student Award. (Minimum: $500, according to funding).

       Award amounts listed are minimum amounts and may increase with available funding.
       Detailed criteria for each award.