Westminster College students in the second cohort of the Environmental Project Management Academy (EPMA) presented their interdisciplinary project work combining business and science to professionals in the Western Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation (WPCAMR) during their quarterly meeting in May.

The quarterly meeting, which can be held at various locations throughout western Pennsylvania, was held at Westminster College to accommodate the students’ participation in the meeting.

Students in this year’s cohort collaborated with members of the nonprofit Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition (SRWC), which works to restore watersheds that have been impacted by abandoned mine drainage by implementing passive treatment to clean up the polluted water. The passive treatment process in our region creates a sludge byproduct that is high in iron or manganese minerals.

For their project work, the Westminster EPMA students investigated the marketability of the recovered iron and manganese minerals from five different SRWC’s passive treatment sites.

The project was completed as part of the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded EPMA program. Through the program, students collaborate with community stakeholders as they integrate knowledge of environmental science, project management, and soft skills with project work on environmental issues relevant to the region.

“We were thrilled to hold our quarterly meeting at Westminster College. It’s a top-notch facility and we were especially fortunate to be able to have the students present their results from their feasibility study of recovered minerals in Abandoned Mine Drainage (AMD) sludge,” said Andy McAllister, WPCAMR executive director. “WPCAMR continues to encourage out-of-the-box thinking when it comes to dealing with AMD and we’re encouraged by the work done by the students at Westminster College.”

The EPMA program is funded by the NSF for three years. Project in year one focused on solar energy for the New Wilmington Borough and the upcoming year three project of the grant will focus on storm water treatment through raingardens. The program is a collaborative effort among Dr. Helen Boylan, professor of chemistry; Dr. Alison DuBois, associate professor of education; and Brian Petrus, assistant professor of business.

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