by Carlos Dvid Mogollón
A Lebanon native but U.S. resident for over 20 years, Jamal Shamas has a vision for an industrial water and wastewater market full of trained professional engineers learning about new technologies and applications, as well as networking, at conferences tailored to their needs.
As chairman of the Water Environment Federation’s Industrial Waste Committee for the past year, a post he took over from long-time chairman PBSJ’s Fred Gaines, he hosted the inaugural Industrial Water Quality Conference, held July 29-Aug. 1, in Providence, RI. It revives a standalone event for WEF, which merged the prior Industrial Wastewater Conference into WEFTEC in 2005. The new event was co-located with WEF’s Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CEC) Conference and drew some 350 attendees - about 50 fewer than in 2005. It’s expected to be every other year now, with webcasts and workshops filling the gap in off years.
Shamas was encouraged at the enthusiasm shown, particularly during a luncheon talk by the namesake winner of the first Dr. W. Wesley Eckenfelder Jr. Award on “Fifty Years of Industrial Wastewater Treatment.” Eckenfelder, a professor emeritus of civil & environmental engineering at Vanderbilt University and author of numerous texts on industrial water and wastewater treatment, earned a standing ovation. Shamas, a principal engineer and Gulf Coast practice leader for industrial water & wastewater services at URS Corp., jokes that he “studied under Eckenfelder by proxy” since his professor at Tulane University, where Shamas earned his doctorate, was an Eckenfelder student. Based in Baton Rouge, LA, Shamas now focuses largely on needs of the petrochemical/refining industry.
Today, Shamas said, there’s a shortage of people pursuing careers in water and wastewater engineering while the industry faces a brain drain due to retiring baby boomers. He feels colleges can do better at training “the next generation of water and wastewater industry professionals.”
This underscores the role associations and quality conferences play in developing current professionals and broadening their understanding of key issues, such as EDCs, nanomaterials and TMDLs, as well as heavy metals. As such, he credits Providence event chairs, Mike Curtis and Joe Bleary, for a well received program.
Click here to read "An Interview with URS Corp.'s Jamal Shamas" in full in Q&A format.