MOBILE, Ala. – Andrew Patch, an environmental engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District, has accomplished an historic feat by becoming the first person to receive a Certificate in Water Reclamation from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Patch began taking courses at the university back in 2015 as a Department of the Army intern and completed his final prerequisites for the certificate this past March.
Water reclamation is a rapidly becoming a critical area of study as the world’s population continues to grow and it becomes increasingly necessary to find innovative ways to improve wastewater treatment processes to recover valuable resources such as bio-solids, nutrients, energy and clean water.
For those same reasons, the University of Wisconsin-Madison established the Certification in Water Reclamation to help individuals and their organizations prepare for challenges and opportunities in the future. The focus of the training is to teach water and wastewater professionals to evaluate the latest technologies and processes to improve individual systems and facilities.
“There are numerous facets to this critical industry including planning, design, cost analysis, environmental protection, regulations, operations, and management,” said University of Wisconsin-Madison Program Director and Honorary Adjunct Professor Ned W. Paschke. This is especially important for “Andrew and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers [because they]… are involved with water-related projects and facilities across the U.S. and throughout the world.”
As the Water and Wastewater Technical Center of Expertise for the entire U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Mobile District is always looking for ways to expand upon its already expansive institutional knowledge of water and wastewater treatment.
“It’s great for our section,” said Patch. “It gives us a quantifiable edge… over engineers in a similar discipline or with similar experience.”
In addition to bolstering the district’s in-house capabilities, Patch’s achievement will also strengthen the Corps of Engineers' global wastewater mission as he leverages his newfound knowledge to support units around the world.
“It strengthens our ability to support those units (and) I try to share as much as I can,” said Patch. “It also helps us to perform our job in a more efficient and accurate manner.”
While Patch remains humble and focused on the benefits the training brings to the Corps of Engineers, there is no doubt it is also an impressive individual accomplishment. Being the first to do anything of academic significance at a premier academic institution like the University of Wisconsin is extremely rare.
“It is meaningful for me to be the first to do anything at the University of Wisconsin being that they’ve been around for [more than] 168 years,” Patch explained. “That is quite a long time to be the first to do something. “