Nov 1 Student Summit Lab photo (3)

Pictured above: Students working on microscopy and lab skills at the Water Tower Global Innovation Hub


Student attendees showing off their “TWT Student Water Innovation & Leadership Summit” reusable water bottles during the opening session.

On Wednesday, Nov. 1 over 150 students representing Lanier High School, Shiloh High School, North Gwinnett High School, Discovery High School, Mountain View High School, Paul Duke STEM High School, and Grayson High School attended a special Student Summit at the Water Tower Campus in Buford.

Students and teachers had the opportunity to engage with water industry organizations and companies to learn about the work they do and why they chose to pursue a career in water.

The half-day event hosted by The Water Tower Global Innovation Hub catered to students in grades ninth through 12th and focused on how they can “Make a Splash” by entering a water industry career.

Participants were able to explore various industry roles related to processes, technology and innovations.

Students engaged directly with industry leaders during the career fair which focused on leadership, communication, strategic thinking, team building and networking skills.

“The Water Tower is committed to assisting utilities in meeting their personnel and training needs with our various hands-on workforce development initiatives,” said Melissa Meeker, CEO of The Water Tower. “The Student Summit gives local high school students the opportunity to connect with industry professionals who are poised to recruit, train and place them in a variety of open positions, while showing students that a career in water can be fun.”

Students working on microscopy and lab skills at the Water Tower Global Innovation Hub

The up and comers gained hands-on, introductory experience in diverse areas such as:

  •   Plant operations
  •   Microscopy
  •   Lab skills
  •   GIS
  •   Smart technology
  •   Pipeline design
  •   Filtration
  •   Stream restoration
  •   Underwater robotics
  •   Assessment
  •   Artwork
  •   Crisis communications
  •   Robots in water pipeline systems

The Summit was part of The Water Tower’s ongoing mission to attract new talent into the industry and train – and eventually place – the next generation of water utility workers in Georgia. 

An estimated 1,200 jobs are currently open in this field throughout the Atlanta Metro area. 

Makenna Reilly, a senior at Lanier High School and former CEO of the SeaCow Robotics team, presented the keynote presentation at the Summit. During her presentation, Makenna talked about her experience with showcasing the SeaCow Robotics ROV at The Water Tower 2022 summit, as well as other events at TWT, and provided advice to fellow students on the importance of finding your passion when considering future career options.

Nationally, water utility operations are projected to lose almost half of their operations staff in the next five to 10 years, leaving a huge vacuum of opportunity for rising graduates.

According to Kristan VandenHeuvel, Director of Impact and Engagement at The Water Tower:

“The Student Water Innovation & Leadership Summit provides the opportunity for local high school students to explore career paths in water through hands-on activities, inspirational keynote presentations, and an interactive career fair. Our goal is to show students there are a wide array of opportunities in water related to any interest, including art, environmental science, engineering, operations, robotics, research, communications, and math. We hope the Summit inspires students to keep water in mind when making future career decisions, whether they choose to go to college or pursue a skilled trade and train with us at The Water Tower.” 

Summit sponsors included:

Sustaining partners:

  • Carollo
  • Garver
  • Gwinnett County Water
  • Kamstrup
  • Siemens
  • Wade Trim

Transformative partner:

  • Safekrit

Event sponsors included:

  • Jackson Electric Membership Corporation
  • Georgia Rural Water Association
  • Ardurra Group 
  • Georgia Banking Company
Students from Mountain View High School engineering custom designs program created a plaque as a thank you to The Water Tower for the opportunity to participate in the Summit.

The Water Tower Global Innovation Hub is based in Buford and its mission embraces advancing the water industry through bridging innovative water solutions and opportunities for promising new water industry professionals. By working together with both the public and private sectors in the industry, and advancing this work in partnership with academia and nonprofits, they are tackling the most crucial challenges in today’s water systems.

‘Students and Teachers from the North Gwinnett High School Charge North program at the Summit.’

For more information on events and programs at The Water Tower, visit their website at

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