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Let’s raise a glass (of water) to our water engineering technologists
Okanagan College Media Release

Turning on the tap this morning to brush your teeth, you probably didn’t think twice about the process of how that clean, fresh waterOC WET Grads Feb 2015 made its way into the comfort of your home. Who are those that we trust so immensely with the job of ensuring our water is controlled, treated, monitored, and ultimately safe?

Engineering Week (March 1 to 7) might just be the time to give thought to the vital and universal role of the water engineering technologists we depend on.

“We all want to drink water from the tap that is safe, and likewise to ensure our waste is taken care of properly,” says Professor Eric Jackson, Chair of Okanagan College’s Water Engineering Technology (WET) program. “Our graduates are the water quality monitoring technologists, environmental engineering technologists, and water and wastewater treatment plant operators who work diligently behind the scenes in our communities to ensure public health is protected when it comes to water and wastewater.”

Water treatment is a complex field that is rapidly evolving to constantly improve procedures and to protect the environment.  Engineering technologists monitor the various steps of water management and conduct preventative maintenance.  For the job, candidates need to have a strong foundational knowledge in biology, chemistry, technology, and have good analytical skills. As with all engineers, it’s about the desire to know how something works, and making it work. 

Nicole Moggey graduated from the College’s WET program 10 years ago. Since then she has worked with the City of Kelowna at the Wastewater Treatment Facility and manages the laboratory. 

“Each day I get to come to work in an advanced facility that is cutting edge from a design, technology and science perspective,” notes Moggey. “When I first graduated, I felt prepared to jump right in and put my skills to work. Now, I see new graduates joining our team who are knowledgeable about the latest technologies and methods. That speaks volumes about the quality of education the program provides and how it evolves to keep pace with the innovation we see in the field.”

Helping treat up to 45 million litres a day of wastewater from Kelowna, a total of seven College WET graduates work at the Kelowna Wastewater Treatment Facility.  An additional four graduates work to ensure that the City Water Utility provides safe drinking water.

The two-year WET program at the College offers students hands-on learning that includes traditional chemical and civil engineering technology combined with innovative water-focused environmental studies. The curriculum of the Water and Wastewater Technology specialty of the diploma focuses on domestic water treatment, municipal and industrial wastewater treatment, hydraulics, and industrial computer control.

For each hour of lecture, students have one hour of practical lab skills time. There is the appeal of small class sizes (an intake of 40 students per year) that allows students increased time with the instructors to train for a successful career, many of which are municipal positions offering pensions and job-security. 

“Training is a big expense for employers,” explains Jackson. “The combination of instruction by industry experts, the applied learning model, and co-op job placements mean our graduates are well-equipped to jump right into a job upon completing the program. In fact, most seamlessly transition into a permanent job with their co-op employer.”