Classroom on wheels gives students hands-on laboratory experience

3/18/2002 12:00 AM

TEEX has found a new way to take the training—and the classroom—to the students.

A new, one-of-a-kind mobile training lab will take the latest in hands-on water and wastewater testing procedures to municipalities, agencies and companies around the state. The 41-foot mobile water and wastewater testing lab is fully equipped and can accommodate up to 14 students per class.

“This lets us provide the student with more technical information and gives them the opportunity to get hands-on experience performing routine lab analyses,” said Paul Muraca, manager of the TEEX Water and Wastewater Training Program. “This is something our customers had requested.”

The $250,000 rig will also serve as an emergency response lab. In the event of a hurricane, flood or other disaster that overpowers local water and water treatment facilities, the self-contained lab can move to the disaster area—possibly traveling with the Texas Task Force 1 urban search and rescue team—and make sure the city’s water is safe to drink and the wastewater is safe to discharge.

The new mobile lab can be set up anywhere, thanks to an automatic leveling system. It is pulled by a modified F650 diesel truck, and has three power sources: an 18,000-watt generator, a solar panel and a 110-volt power cable. The climate-controlled laboratory has 8-foot ceilings and is equipped with the latest technology and equipment. Built-in features include a refrigerator, incubator, fume hood, vacuum system, sinks with running hot and cold water, and safety equipment including an eyewash station. Other equipment includes a spectrophotometer, pH meters, centrifuges, a computer, glassware, and lab reagents and chemicals.

The mobile laboratory was designed by Muraca and Richard Harbuck of the TEEX Water and Wastewater Training Program, a part of the Engineering, Utilities and Public Works Training Institute. The lab was custom-built by Champion Trailer Co. in Lewisville, and is believed to be the only mobile lab of its type designed for training.

“We try to make our training as realistic as possible,” says Harbuck. “Lab personnel will get the hands-on training they need to assure the quality of potable water or to meet the regulatory requirements for wastewater discharge.”

In conjunction with the new mobile lab, four new courses have been developed and are pending approval by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). The courses include two 40-hour classes in Intermediate Water Lab and Intermediate Wastewater Lab, and two 16-hour classes in Advanced Water Lab and Advanced Wastewater Lab.

The first laboratory course taught in the new mobile lab facility is scheduled for summer 2002.

Contact Information

Kathy Fraser

Associate Director of Marketing and Communications

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