Engineering Students see Future Selves in action at Las Cruces Utilities

Dec 7, 2018

The sun is setting, but New Mexico State University (NMSU) engineering students learn that the need for water flowing to customers continues through the night. For those students, a trip to Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) demonstrates clearly that the water system must be up and running 24-hours a day, and in case of a utility emergency, emergency response must be available all hours of the day and night.

This collaboration between NMSU and LCU allows students of the professor Zohrab Samani, Ph.D., P.E., to get a working understanding of what they learn in their senior-level course Hydraulic and Hydrologic System Design.

Professor Samani explains, “This is the relationship I want them to see, that water design is not just engineering, it’s also the business of utilities and how that interacts with the local economy. These students have a role in building that with their skills.”

Water Administrator Adrienne L. Widmer, P.E., explained to the class that there is never a dull moment, and that many people will never get the chance to actually see the responsibilities water section staff carry out 24-hours a day. Standing outside Well 59B, the students, along with Widmer and Pascual Rodriguez, water production supervisor, discuss the mechanics of the well, as well as how involved LCU is when new roads are constructed. New roads require new underground utilities, so that the expensive pavement is not at risk of being dug up to replace a leaking or failed water line.

“We get to see the entire process in action,” said senior Luis Gracia. “It’s an exciting experience to see how everything in the city works together.”

Back indoors, the class watches a live feed of the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system. SCADA constantly monitors the status of all utilities buildings, wells, water tanks and booster stations - which manage the water pressure between areas in the city – as well as  gas and sewer facilities. All the utilities systems continue to be watched over when the class leaves into the night; LCU employees are on call 24/7 to make sure that utilities in Las Cruces are always ready and available.

Submitted by Las Cruces Utilities at 528-3500 from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Las Cruces Utilities provides GAS – WATER – WASTEWATER – SOLID WASTE services to approximately 100,000 Las Cruces residents and businesses.