MSU students receive honorable mention (3rd place) in 2019 Campus RainWorks Challenge Competition

A MSU interdisciplinary student team led by Amanda Wakefield received Honorable Mention (3rd place) in the Master Plan category of the 2019 EPA Campus RainWorks Challenge student design competition.

A map of the buildings and flood plan near the Red Cedar River at Michigan State University
A map of the buildings and flood plan in the project area near the Red Cedar River at Michigan State University.

A Michigan State University (MSU) interdisciplinary student team led by Amanda Wakefield received Honorable Mention (3rd place) in the Master Plan category of the 2019 EPA Campus RainWorks Challenge student design competition.                                                                                

The annual competition allows students to come together to solve a problem that is present within their community.  

This year, the interdisciplinary team included students from the School of Planning, Design and Construction; the Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Management; and the Department of Community Sustainability: 

They decided to devote their focus to restoring the Red Cedar River as part of this project. 

In past years, MSU’s campus has experienced hundreds of thousands of dollars of flood damage from the Red Cedar River. This is the problem that Wakefield and her team recognized and sought to solve. 

“While working on the Red Cedar River Restoration project we were able to learn about landscape performance. Being able to take prospective designs, and test how they would affect flooding on campus, was in large part how we decided what elements (such as green roofs, bioswales, bioretention areas, and other green infrastructure) could be integrated into the existing campus landscape,” said Wakefield. 

Not only was working on the project a valuable experience but receiving an honorable mention is a big accomplishment for the team.  

“This is a huge honor for us. Moreover, we felt passionate about coming up with real-world solutions to flooding and water pollution that was achieved by going through this thought experiment,” stated Wakefield. 

The Red Cedar River Restoration project studied 117 acres of MSU’s Red Cedar River floodplain. Within these parameters, there are 19 buildings, several parking lots and a total of 40 acres of impervious area.  

The teams design removed impervious surfaces and an existing weir while adding bioswales, green roofs, bank stabilization, and recreational amenities. According to Wakfield, the result of the design decreased the impervious area by 70%, increased infiltration by 159%, and increased evaporation by 136% (EPA National Stormwater Calculator). 

The team was also advised by: 

  • Jun-Hyun Kim, Ph.D., lead advisor and associate professor of landscape architecture;  
  • Wonmin Sohn, assistant professor of landscape architecture; and  
  • Ruth Kline-Robach, academic specialist at the Institute of Water Research. 

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