Dr. Joel Ducoste, CCEE professor and interim associate dean for Faculty Advancement, won the Water Environment Federation’s Fair Distinguished Engineering Educator Medal, which recognizes accomplishments in the education and development of future engineers. Each year, the WEF recognizes members who have made significant strides toward promoting awareness of water environment issues through academic research, curricula and public education programs.
“Education is key to advancing the understanding and protection of the water environment,” says Jackie Jarrell, WEF past president. “The Water Environment Federation is extremely proud to honor these individuals and organizations for their work to educate and inform the general public about one of the world’s most valuable resources.”
Before he became a professor at NC State, Ducoste worked as a senior process engineer at CH2M HILL’s Water Business Group. His transition from consulting to academia was motivated by a desire to influence the next generation of engineers that will solve global environmental problems.
“Frankly, I always felt that I had a lot of experience to share,” Ducoste says. “In a journal paper, I cannot show how excited I am about being in the field that allows me to use technology to solve problems that lead to public health and environmental health protection. I tell young people that I am as important to human health improvements as medical doctors. I would say that the goal of environmental engineers is to reduce the exposure of humans to contaminants so that they are not stressed to a point where they need to see a medical doctor. We are about prevention. And I get to use engineering technologies to help with that protection. I get to satisfy the sharing of knowledge, developing engineering solutions and protection of public and environmental health. How cool is that!”
With more than 20 years of engineering education experience, Ducoste advised WEF Student Design Competition teams from 2014-17, advised more than 70 undergraduate researchers, and mentored more than 50 graduate students. Five of his former students are faculty members at research institutions and several are leaders in engineering practice, according to WEF. Ducoste serves as president of the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors.
“Joel has been a colleague at NC State since 1998 and has mentored dozens of undergraduate researchers and graduate students in addition to individual student advising and teaching,” says Dr. Morton Barlaz, department head of CCEE. “He is most deserving, and I am thrilled by this recognition of his broad contributions to environmental engineering education.”