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Students design John Gray Center pond makeover

Lamar University’s pond at the John Gray Center will undergo aesthetic improvements as the result of a Senior Design Project. “Lamar Beautification Project: Evaluation and Enhancement of Pond Water Quality, Sustainability, and Aesthetics at the John Gray Center,” is an effort by four civil engineering seniors for their Civil Engineering Systems Design courses.

Four students at the pond

The students tackled the multi-phase project under the guidance Jerry Lin, University Professor and Ann Die-Hasselmo Faculty Scholar. Lin is also director of Lamar’s Center for Advances in Water and Air Quality.

When the Student Government Association (SGA) proposed the project concept as part of their campus beautification efforts, students Cory Bobbitt from Nederland, Adriana Salazar of Friendswood, Alan Gruenstein of Crosby, and Billy Wilson, Houston, accepted, excited by the opportunity to see their work put to real use.

The team formed four basic steps to correct the pond’s issues such as haziness and excessive algae growth: a site assessment, a water quality test, formulation of feasible solutions, and once approved by SGA, implementation of the selected solution.

Bobbitt and Wilson performed the initial site evaluation, and then turned to Gruenstein for water quality solutions.

“There was no universally effective fix. We first considered dredging and adding chemicals before we decided to just increase oxygen running through the water with bubblers and fountains,” said Gruenstein.

Bobbitt and Gruenstein said they spent hours running lab tests on the water samples before they reached a solution. When the decision was made, Salazar followed with pump system calculations to determine how much oxygen to put into the pond.

The team’s approach also meets LU’s goal of sustainability. The new design means more efficient power usage as well as 50 percent less expense than with the previous system. The results will be fewer potentially harmful chemicals, a more scenic pond and affordable upkeep — and the benefits are expected to last at least three decades.

Students say that working as a group has taught them how to apply their technical skills and improve in areas such as communication and time management.

SGA, under the leadership of President Robert Ehrlich, studied the proposal and voted to support it with funding as a legacy gift to the university. Lamar University’s Construction Management will put the student engineering team’s plan into action. The project will be installed in coordination with Facilities Management.