photo WSSC headquarter building in Laurel

WSSC Accepting Applications for Scholarships

The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) is asking the region’s future engineers for innovative ways to protect our source water. The authors of the top two solutions will earn the annual Counihan/Starks Engineering Scholarships and priority consideration in WSSC’s paid summer internship program. The deadline to submit an application is May 30.

Utilities, environmental groups and government agencies alike agree that protecting source water and maintaining superior water quality is a shared responsibility of critical importance. Students are asked to identify the biggest threat to our water and provide perspectives on how best to resolve that threat.

Named in honor of current Commissioner Gene W. Counihan and former Commissioner Joyce Starks, the scholarships are awarded annually to college students who reside in WSSC’s service district and are enrolled in an accredited program at a college or university that leads to an engineering degree. Students can be enrolled in a school outside of the sanitary district, but must permanently reside in either Prince George’s or Montgomery County, Maryland. Up to two new scholarships in the amount of $1,000 each may be awarded and winners are eligible for additional awards of $1,000 each year for up to four consecutive years.

“The Counihan/Starks Engineering Scholarship Program seeks to support area students’ academic endeavors in the field of engineering and at the same time allows WSSC to build a pipeline of talent,” explains Counihan. “This is an opportunity to encourage [our] future engineers to consider the water and sewer industry and to remind everyone that WSSC employs a range of attractive positions from civil and structural engineers to inspectors… We hope these students will want to come back and make their careers at WSSC. ”

Each year, applicants must write an essay examining an engineering-related issue.

2014 Essay Topic:

In 1500 words or less, describe the biggest threat to this region’s source water and what you think should be done about it.

“I am very interested in reading what our future engineers think about the complexities of protecting our water,” says Gary Gumm, WSSC’s chief engineer. “I expect to find new perspectives within the minds of today’s youth.”

To qualify, students must:

  • Provide proof of permanent residency in WSSC’s service district (e.g., copy of Maryland driver’s license, voter registration card or other documentation that shows student resides permanently in the sanitary district); and,
  • Be enrolled full time in a degree program at an accredited college or university in the following areas: Civil Engineering; Electrical Engineering; Material Science and Engineering; Chemical Engineering; Mechanical Engineering or Computer Science.

Along with the required essay and proof of residency, students must submit a cover letter, official transcript and two references.

Students may apply online via the WSSC website: – Go to Hot Topics. Submission deadline is Friday, May 30.

Mailed applications must be postmarked by the deadline date and should be sent to: Sheila Finlayson, Esq., Corporate Secretary, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, 14501 Sweitzer Lane, Laurel, Maryland 20707. Winners will be notified by June 30 and the scholarships will be awarded at the July 16 Commission Meeting.


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