More than 150 north Georgia high school students attended a summit at The Water Tower campus in Buford on Friday, Sept. 23 to learn how they can “Make a Splash” with a career in the water industry. Students from Lanier High School, Shiloh High School, Mountain View High School, Mill Creek High School and McEachern High School participated in the half-day event.
The inaugural summit is part of The Water Tower’s broader mission to attract, train and place the next generation of water workers in positions to support Georgia water utilities. Currently, there are an estimated 1,200 open water jobs in the Atlanta Metro Area alone. Water utilities across the U.S. are projected to lose up to 50 percent of operations staff in the next five to 10 years.
Students (grades 9-12) engaged with the summit speakers from water-related businesses and organizations and experienced hands-on learning about water career opportunities, including treatment plant operations, water sampling and lab analysis, pipe system design and engineering, stream restoration, wildlife assessment, robotics in water and more. Students also had the opportunity to strengthen their skills in leadership, communication, strategic thinking, team building, and networking.
“The summit gave us in the water industry a chance to inspire and connect with the next generation of employees and leaders in this vital industry,” said Melissa Meeker, CEO of The Water Tower. “The students learned about water career paths, education requirements, and the exciting role that technology plays in providing clean water for our daily lives,” Meeker added.
Jahn Khan, CEO and founder of 4Earth—an Atlanta-based water technology start-up—spoke to the students about the next generation of treatment technologies available to support water operators today.
“Our new water technology is easy to operate and enhances water workers’ skills to effectively manage treatment processes,” Khan said. “This smart technology provides today’s operators with more information in a visual and modular format to improve efficiency and make better real-time decisions.”
Summit sponsors included The Water Tower’s sustaining partners: Carollo, Garver, Gwinnett County Water, Kamstrup, Siemens, and Wade Trim; transformative partner Olea Edge Analytics; and event partners: Jackson Electric Membership Corporation, Ardurra, Georgia Banking Company, Georgia Rural Water Association and Target.
The Water Tower consists of two nonprofit organizations: The Water Tower at Gwinnett, a 501(c)4 – responsible for the development and operations of the campus, and The Water Tower Institute, a 501c3 – responsible for solutions, instruction, and engagement programming. Together, these entities are cultivating an ecosystem of water innovation fueled by imagination, informed by research, and powered by pioneers. The Water Tower brings together public and private sectors of the water industry, side by side with academia and nonprofits, to tackle the industry’s greatest challenges. Learn more at: www.h2otower.org.