CEE's Patrick Wittbold Earns Chancellor's Citation
Research Fellow Patrick Wittbold of the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department has received a Chancellor’s Citation for his “extraordinary talents” and “outstanding contributions” to UMass Amherst. See video about Wittbold’s remarkable work in the CEE department
The Chancellor’s Citation recognizes employees who have demonstrated outstanding performance in helping the university achieve its goals and objectives through original contributions to the university, attainment of high-priority university objectives, performance “beyond the call of duty,” and/or achievement of significant improvements in productivity or savings in university operations. See https://www.umass.edu/news/article/2022-chancellors-citation-awards-and-gerald-f-scanlon-student-employees-year-announced.
Wittbold does extraordinary work at the UMass Amherst Water and Energy Technology (WET) Center, a multi-purpose resource that is available for use by UMass and non-UMass researchers. It is located on the western edge of the Amherst campus, immediately adjacent to the Town of Amherst's Wastewater Treatment Plant. It includes the UMass Water and Wastewater Pilot Plant and Mill River Monitoring Facility. The WET Center is also the home of the UMass Mobile Water Innovation Laboratory.
Wittbold came to the CEE department originally as a master’s student and spent two years here while earning his M.S. degree.
In an informative video (see link above) about Wittbold’s work, CEE Professor David A. Reckhow explained that “We recognized pretty quickly that he had some extraordinary talents. And so we wanted to keep him here. The opportunity came, back around 2015, to hire him as a research engineer for a new EPA center that we had just acquired.”
Despite recognizing Wittbold’s talents, Reckhow and other colleagues would continue to be astounded by his creative technological accomplishments for the WET Facility.
“One of the things that Patrick did was he created almost single-handedly a Mobile Water Innovation Laboratory,” said Reckhow. “We bought a shell, a 36-foot trailer shell, and he went to work and outfitted it and turned it into an operating water treatment plant. It’s something that probably would have cost as much as a million dollars, and he managed to do it on a shoestring budget.”
But that was just one of Wittbold’s achievements.
According to Reckhow, “We’ve got this existing [Water and Waste Water] Pilot Plant that had been on the books as belonging to Civil Engineering since 1970 but hadn’t been used in recent years. And so one day I gave the keys to Patrick and said, ‘Let’s see what you can do with this.”
So Wittbold went to work and took a facility that had fallen into disrepair for several decades and turned it into an operating research center, now known as the WET Center.
As Reckhow recalled, “He did some amazing things…which required some really extraordinary skills. These were skills not just in terms of mechanics and knowledge of water and water treatment and wastewater treatment, but also he convinced the town of Amherst to repair the conduits, the pipes, that bring wastewater from the Town of Amherst onto our site. Which the town did at more or less its own expense.”
Reckhow noted that Wittbold has also become a great role model for UMass students. As Reckhow said, “We suddenly find that we have undergraduates from across the campus who are requesting to work here at the WET Center with Patrick because they know they’d learn so much.”
Wittbold was among 10 staff members, two teams of employees, and 10 student employees who were recognized with the Chancellor’s Citation for their outstanding contributions to the university this year.