“Smooth Operators” at National Competition

“Smooth Operators” at National Competition

October 31, 2020

They call themselves the “Smooth Operators” and things went smoothly for them at their first national competition. This group of Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) employees competed at the virtual Water Environment Federation (WEF) Operations Challenge and earned hardware for their hard work! 

GUC had two teams of two employees which included Operators Julius Phillips, Bryon Orr, Kyle Meeks, and Travis Lancaster. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, teams from across the nation competed remotely throughout the week of October 5th to earn the highest scores in three categories: process control, laboratory, and collections.  

Each event is designed to test the diverse skills required for the operation and maintenance of wastewater facilities, collection systems, and laboratories. Judges scored each team in real-time during their scheduled virtual sessions, and the winners in each category were announced at the Operations Challenge awards ceremony on October 8th 

Our teams competed in Division 3 which is for teams, like ours, who have never competed in the national event. There were a total of eight teams in Division 3, and 27 teams total across all Divisions.  

Team 2, Bryon and Travis, placed second in Division 3 and 5th overall! This breaks down to placing second in Division 3 Collections, second in Division 3 Lab, and third in Division 3 Process Control. 

Team 1, Julius and Kyle, placed third in Division 3 and seventh overall! This breaks down to placing first in Division 3 Collections, third in Division 3 Lab, and fourth in Division 3 Process Control. 

We have a highly-skilled staff that we are proud of,” said Chris Hill, WWTP Operations Coordinator and team coach, “and giving them this chance to showcase their skills and also see how other teams operate is important. On behalf of the teams I also want to thank other employees across GUC who helped us prepare and compete. Whether it was providing better network connections, lab supplies and guidance, cameras, shirts and hats, software installs, or saw blades – everyone quickly responded to all our requests and made it happen.” 

Although there were four employees competing, there was a much bigger team at the WWTP supporting and encouraging the effort, from management to coworkers. “I am proud not only of the team, but how co-workers supported them and adjusted shift coverage so the team could practice,” said Jason Manning, WWTP Superintendent. “At the Plant, we preach leadership, safety, and accountability. I saw all these attributes grow among our team leading up to both this competition as well as last year’s state competition they were a part of.”  

On October 23rd, the team found out they have already been invited to compete in next year’s WEF national competition. Big congratulations to these two teams for their hard work and dedication!