Robert L. Nichols Professional Service Award: Melissa Brunger

Congratulations to Melissa Brunger, Water/Wastewater Master Planning, Dallas, for receiving this year’s Robert L. Nichols Professional Service Award.

Melissa has been an active member of the American Water Works Association (AWWA) since 2010. Within AWWA, Melissa has held various roles on the Engineering Modeling Applications Committee (EMAC). The committee includes members from all major contributors to advances in water modeling and master planning, including municipalities, software developers/vendors and consulting firms.

As committee chair, Melissa has developed and organized relevant speakers for special topics sessions, presentations and workshops at annual conferences. She is notable for framing the discussion for the advancement of water modeling and master planning. During her leadership tenure, Melissa also developed multiple AWWA webinars to bring awareness of water modeling and master planning to a broader audience.

Melissa also oversees three subcommittees that contribute to advancements in the water modeling field, including surge/transient modeling, water model calibration textbook (which will be published in 2023 and is the basis for water model calibration in the field), and communication outreach.

Geneva Caponi, Water/Wastewater Master Planning, Dallas, nominated Melissa for this year’s award. Here’s part of what she said:

“The water modeling and master planning profession have benefitted greatly from Melissa’s time as chair of EMAC, but Freese and Nichols has also benefitted greatly. In the last year, the Water/Wastewater Planning Practice hired two EIV/EV engineers directly through the EMAC committee, which is a difficult position to fill and greatly benefits the practice. This is due to Melissa’s leadership and example as EMAC chair.

“Melissa’s long-term involvement in EMAC and success in EMAC leadership also encourage younger staff to present at conferences and get involved in professional organizations and committees. Her involvement in the abstract review process over the last five years in EMAC leadership has also helped to improve the quality of FNI abstracts.

“Melissa’s role as chair of EMAC has helped Freese and Nichols stay up to speed with trends in water modeling and master planning, most notably advancements in digital twins, which is changing rapidly. As a young engineer, Melissa’s leadership has inspired my future goals in EMAC and the AWWA organization.”

Freese and Nichols established the Robert L. Nichols Professional Service Award to an employee who demonstrates dedication and commitment to professional development. Nominees are evaluated according to their involvement and leadership with professional organizations; their contributions to the profession, including technical presentations and papers; their long-term impact on colleagues and students; and their efforts that go above and beyond normal duties.