OCI’s own engineers, Rebekah Weston and Alma Rettinger, led their workshop, “Experience Water Resources Engineering with an Interactive Rain Garden” at last week’s “Expanding Your Horizons” event at Bellevue College. Last fall, Rebekah constructed a fully-functioning scale model of the Venema Natural Drainage System Project, located in Seattle, for which OCI designed multiple bioretention cells to treat and cool stormwater runoff from a Seattle neighborhood before it enters the fish-bearing Piper’s Creek. The model includes real bioretention media, water pump, model bioretention weirs, and even some decorative foliage. When running, the model pipes water into the bioretention area and the treated water can be seen coming out of the pipe at the bottom of the system. For their workshop, Rebekah and Alma demonstrated how the turbidity (the cloudiness or haziness of a liquid) of the water going through the bioretention rain garden model improved after being treated.
The “Expanding Your Horizons” event is an annual event for high school girls interested in pursuing careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), where there were over 50 workshops to choose from presenting various STEM careers. Rebekah and Alma’s workshop included an introduction to what it is to be a Water Resources Engineer, a demonstration of the rain garden model, and a hands-on activity in which the students could create and test their own bioretention media by mixing various sand, dirt, and other materials.
As a primarily woman-owned firm, OCI was honored to have the opportunity to teach young women, who will be future engineers, the value of water resources engineering and very much looks forward to all the things these bright female students will accomplish in their careers.