High School Interns Build Emergency Water Response Trailer

June 25, 2023: McMINNVILLE, OR — Seven McMinnville High School students spent the first part of this year working at McMinnville Water and Light on a project that they are very proud to have created for their community.

The students worked as paid interns at MW&L to custom design a prototype Emergency Response Drinking Water trailer that could be used in any number of emergency situations if residents needed access to potable water.

“The portable water purification system is a trailer that can be deployed to any area that may be unable at any point in time to get clean or potable water,” said student August Wegner. “So this will allow us to take from almost any water source and purify it to get drinking water out to people.”

The student team included five engineering students (Mason Smark, Logan Haisch, Jacob Levanger, Wyatt Kuchta and August Wegner) and two fabrication students (Caden Huber and Nathanael Porter). They started the project by working with MW&L staff using a computer-aided design (CAD) program to design the trailer and determine the equipment that was needed.

MW&L employees mentored and supervised the students. Ryan Sticka, MW&L assistant water superintendent, was the site supervisor and project manager who worked with the students to order parts and supplies for the trailer.

“The kids created a 3D model of what the trailer is actually going to look like, and then once we got all of our supplies in hand, they actually took those supplies and put them in the trailer,” Sticka said. “That’s the same process that we use here at McMinnville Water and Light.”

MWL employees consulted with and supervised the students’ work on installing the equipment. Fabrication students assembled and welded components to the CAD program specifications. Students made sure to securely affix cabinets, shelves and hooks with the assumption that the trailer might have to navigate rough terrain in various types of emergency scenarios. Students also created the design for the trailer, which is wrapped with a water image all the way around the exterior.

The purpose of the trailer is simple but important: A hose extracts water from a lake, river or stream into the water filtration system inside the trailer. One trailer is able to output about 80,000 gallons of drinking water daily.

Haisch was able to apply what he learned at school to this project.

“We had several lessons on water conservation and energy and how it’s produced and it really gave me a broader scope of what Mac Water and Light is really doing for our community,” Haisch said.

Student Wyatt Kuchta, who was the project manager, said he learned a lot about communicating with supervisors and colleagues and collaborating in a workplace.

“It’s allowed me to be more professional, take work more seriously, and I believe that it’s helped me further my professional career and is giving me experience that I couldn’t get in the classroom,” Kuchta said.

Based on the students’ prototype design, MWL plans to build two more Emergency Response Drinking Water trailers.

“I hate to say I hope we get to see it in use because that implies something bad has happened,” Wegner said, “but it would be nice to see if something like that did happen, to actually see it get used.”