Francieli Thums wins 2017 IWSN-UWE Student Prize

Francieli Thums has been awarded the 2017 IWSN-UWE Student Prize for her assessment of two different methods of testing the structural and visual integrity of large diameter sewers.

Francieli, a BEng Civil and Environmental Engineering student at the University of the West of England, won the £500 prize for producing the best water-related final year project/dissertation by a UWE undergraduate.

The prize is judged by members of the IWSN External Advisory Board. They said the project was: “a well-executed study reviewing two innovative methods for inspecting underground water assets which could lead to reductions in water loss through improved asset management. There is a potential for real impact here.”

Francieli said she was “speechless” on hearing she had been awarded the prize. She added: “I am flattered and honoured to receive the International Water Security Network Student Prize for my dissertation. This wouldn’t have been achieved without the partnership between a great university – UWE – and a great water company – Wessex Water.”

She joined Wessex Water as a Placement Student in July 2015, working in the department that is responsible for investigating flooding in the sewerage network. She would review the hydraulic performance and produce high level assessments (HLAs), detailing any problems and suggesting viable solutions. When performing the assessments, she would take into consideration factors such as environmental constraints, operational contact reports, structural analysis, hydraulic capacity and the serviceability of the sewerage assets.

She said: “The placement provided me with a great opportunity to develop my personal and social skills within the workplace, as well as enriching me with new perspectives, and enabling me to critically reflect on my work and future development plan. During the first year, I was given the opportunity to be seconded to a different part of the business, which led to my Final Year Project topic. I received support from the entire team at Wessex during my dissertation process and I truly believe that cooperation and team work are the most valuable keys for delivering a successful project.”

In her work, she explains: “Sewer deterioration has become one of the biggest capital expenditures for water companies because of the risk of major infrastructure failure. In order to ensure the serviceability of the sewage system and reduce maintenance costs while keeping the risk of failures at an acceptable level, more accurate data to estimate the actual state of the asset is needed, which traditional technologies and reactive management approaches have been unable to provide.”

Francieli assessed two methods of tunnel survey – the Mechanical Assessment of Conduits (MAC) for structural integrity and Multi-Sensor Inspection (MSI) – by “using information from two case studies carried out by Wessex Water.” Analysing the application, performance, limitation and effectiveness of each testing device, she concluded: “both surveys have delivered what they claimed to and the results have enabled Wessex Water to effectively design rehabilitation works for the areas affected.”

Her (part-time) employment at Wessex continued throughout her third year and she has now been offered a Graduate Engineer position starting in August 2017. In conjunction with the new role, she will do an MSc in Civil and Structural Engineering at South Wales University.