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Dracut Resident Sarah Boermeester Returns Following Intensive Research Project

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Sarah Boermeester of Dracut, Mass., a member of the class of 2021 majoring in biomedical engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), was a member of a student team that recently completed an intense, hands-on research project through the WPI project center in Albania. The project was titled Assessing Opportunities to Reduce the Environmental Impact of Brewery Waste in Albania. In their project summary, the students wrote, " Breweries produce tons of organic solid waste and millions of liters of wastewater. When discharged into the environment without treatment, these waste streams degrade aquatic ecosystems and can pose risks to human health. Working with SHUKALB, our team investigatedAlbanian brewery practices and identified process improvements to reduce operating costs and breweries’ environmental impact. Our interviews with industry professionals, extensive on-site assessment, and surveys demonstrate that Albanian brewery processes compare favorably to global breweries except for a higher environmental impact due to no available industrial wastewater treatment. As costs influence brewery changes, we generated high-level recommendations for breweries to improve their environment impact."

At WPI, all undergraduates are required to complete a research-driven, professional-level project that applies science and technology to addresses an important societal need or issue. About two-thirds of students complete a project at one of the university's 50-plus off-campus project centers, which are located around the world. A signature element of the innovative undergraduate experience at WPI, the project-based curriculum offers students the opportunity to apply their scientific and technical knowledge to develop thoughtful solutions to real problems that affect the quality of people's lives-and make a difference before they graduate.

"The WPI project-based curriculum's focus on global studies brings students out of the classroom and their comfort zones and into the global community to apply their knowledge and to solve problems," said Professor Kent Rissmiller, interim dean of the WPI Interdisciplinary and Global Studies Division. "Students are immersed in all aspects of a different culture, from the way people live and work to the values they hold to the foods they eat - all valuable perspectives for surviving and thriving in today's global marketplace. They also learn the meaning and magic of teamwork; make a real and meaningful difference in their host community; and gain a competitive edge for any resume, or graduate or professional school application."

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