CEE graduate students win Intelligent Water Systems Challenge

6/2/2022 8:11:47 AM

Left to right: Sammy Aguiar, Aryan Emaminejad and Erin Emme
Left to right: Sammy Aguiar, Aryan Emaminejad and Erin Emme

A trio of civil and environmental engineering graduate students from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign recently won first place in the 1st Annual Illinois Water Environment Association (IWEA) Intelligent Water Systems Challenge. The team consisted of Aryan Emaminejad, a Ph.D. candidate in Energy-Water-Environment Sustainability (EWES), Sammy Aguiar, a Ph.D. candidate in Environmental Engineering and Science, and Erin Emme, a Ph.D. student in EWES.

Teams were challenged to develop solutions for real-world environmental problems with the use of advanced data analytics, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning. The winning team’s project was a real-time automatic framework for anomaly and fault detection for bioelectrode sensors, titled “Using an Artificial Intelligence Architecture for Automatic Bio-electrochemical Sensor Signal Fault/Anomaly Detection in Water Resource Recovery Facilities.”

“We developed an artificial intelligence model that focused on monitoring the dynamic behavior of a bio-electrochemical sensor installed at the Stickney Water Reclamation Plant in Chicago,” said Emaminejad, who led the team. “The bio-electrochemical sensor was used to track the real-time carbon dynamics of the plant, and our artificial intelligence model was able to monitor and predict the bio-electrochemical sensor's recorded signals to automatically detect sudden changes in signal intensity which could help notify the plant operators when an organic loading shock event is happening at their facility. This would lead to increased process resiliency and potential energy savings.”

CEE at Illinois graduate students Saipraneeth Devnunuri and Sundar Niroula, along with Priyanka Ampili from Illinois State University, won third place in the competition. For their project, the team developed a machine learning model for predicting wastewater influence characteristics.

Students from the University of Chicago, Illinois State University, UIUC, Southern Illinois University, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and Washington University in St. Louis took place in the competition, which was scored by judges from different professional backgrounds including academia, vendors, consultants and utilities. Winners were honored at the Illinois Wastewater Professionals Conference held in April 2022.