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Awards Presented at PNWIS Conference Hosted by Montana Technological University


Montana Technological University hosted the 59th Annual Pacific Northwest International Section of the Air & Waste Management Association (PNWIS) Conference at Fairmont Hot Springs on October 23-25, 2019. There were over 200 environmental professionals in attendance. Montana Lieutenant Governor Mike Cooney provided the welcome address along with Butte Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Stephanie Sorini.

At the awards ceremony on Friday afternoon, several individuals and businesses associated with Montana Tech received awards:

Montana Tech Environmental Engineering Department Head Kumar Ganesan received the first-ever Educator Award. The award is presented to an educator in recognition of an outstanding contribution to air and waste management in the PNWIS region and for a long-standing contribution to PNWIS.

Water & Environmental Technology (WET), a local full-service civil engineering and environmental consulting firm, received the prestigious Environmental Achievement Award. The award recognizes organizations that have used innovative techniques to reduce or prevent air pollution or waste. The award was presented to Montana Tech alumni Josh Vincent, Principal Engineer/Marketing Director at WET; Steven Coe, Senior Engineer; and Bill Henne, Senior Hydrogeological Engineer.

Montana Tech’s Susie Anderson received a Certificate of Appreciation for her significant contribution to the volunteer work of PNWIS. Karen Helfrich, Montana Tech alumnus and Senior Engineer with Pioneer Technical Services, also received a Certificate of Appreciation for her significant contribution to the fields of air pollution, waste management, and her volunteer work of PNWIS.

Three Montana Tech graduate students, Evan Norman, Lauren Brooks, and Jesse Bunker, received the Best Student Paper Award. Norman and Brooks tied for first and Bunker placed third. The awardees received prize money and a certificate.

Whitney Jurenic, Montana Tech Environmental Engineering alumnus and Environmental Engineer with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, received the Young Professional Excellence in Presentation Award.

Montana Tech’s Public Relations and Marketing Department received the Media Award, which recognizes groups performing extraordinary media work. Montana Tech’s team consists of Amanda Badovinac, Director, Lisa Sullivan, Graphic Arts Manager, and Diane Warthen, Web and Social Media Developer. Kali Cummings, the Marketing Specialist with Water & Environmental Technologies, also received a Media Award for her work developing an app for the PNWIS Conference.

Two teams from the Environmental Engineering Department competed in the Environmental Challenge Competition during the conference. The teams were given a real-world problem to solve in waste management and general environmental issues. The student teams submit their report and have the opportunity to “tweak” their initial problem statement the day before the conference. In general, it includes changes in political views, public outcry, or support for the project and voice of underrepresented communities. Therefore, the teams have to quickly adjust their original plan of action to comply with the tweaks before their presentation to the judges and other environmental professionals. PNWIS has been doing this competition for over 20 years. This competition makes the students think about community and social factors in their solutions. Montana Tech’s Environmental Engineering Department team won second and third places and won prize monies for their effort. The second-place team consisted of Kris Bosch, Laurel Bitterman, Raychel Hoerner, and Carter Morley. The third-place team consisted of Kori Reilly, Grace Mulholland, and George Sidles. They all received cash awards.

The 60th PNWIS conference will be held in Washington State in the Puget Sound area in November 2020.