MWRD staff share personal journeys, experience with Olive-Harvey College students

Three MWRD staff members addressed Olive-Harvey College students as part of the Speaker Series.


The journey to becoming a wastewater treatment plant operator takes education and ambition.  Three Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) staff members addressed Process Technology Program students at Olive-Harvey College yesterday as part of the Speaker Series. The Speaker Series is designed to motivate and excite students about their futures and the variety of career paths that are available to them.

Anthony Quintanilla is the MWRD’s Assistant Director of Maintenance and Operations. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Northwestern University and a Master of Science degree in Environmental Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Quintanilla is responsible for the management of four waste water reclamation plants, North Side (Skokie), Kirie (Des Plaines), Egan (Schaumburg), and Hanover Park.

“In college I became interested in water resources and this interest fit well with the mission of the MWRD,” said Quintanilla. “My advice for students interested in a career as a treatment plant operator is to learn the technical material well in college, and then to look for opportunities in water or wastewater treatment, either in the municipal or industrial fields, to gain experience. The water and wastewater industry is fundamental to our society and will always be needed. The need for clean water is increasing. The technical demands of the job are also increasing.”

Andre Dannard graduated from Wilbur Wright Junior College with an associate degree in general studies and has worked for the MWRD for 19 years. He began his career as a Pollution Control Technician and has been a Treatment Plant Operator for the last 14 years. He has held a Class 1 Wastewater license from the Illinois EPA since 2006.  As a vacation relief TPO, Dannard is responsible for the day to day operations on three shifts at the North Side plant in Skokie, including writing monthly reports, monitoring equipment and monitoring and control of the wastewater process in the plant.

“I’m always learning new ways to control the process,” said Dannard. “My advice to students is to try to get a good background in wastewater treatment and try to get as much hands on practice as possible.”

Sandra Matual has served as a Treatment Plant Operator (TPO) for the last 14 years and is responsible for the day to day operation of the Calumet plant on the south side of Chicago. She is involved with making process control decisions, monitoring equipment, scheduling and recording maintenance activities. She graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in animal science and from Western Illinois University with a degree in biology and a minor in chemistry. She has worked 16 years for the MWRD, beginning her career as a lab technician.  She has held a Class 1 Wastewater Treatment license from the Illinois EPA since 2001.

"Here at City Colleges of Chicago, we understand the importance to Chicagoans that a solid education and training background can lead to better career opportunities,” said Kevin G. Smith, Associate Dean of Instruction. “Olive-Harvey College is glad to partner with Metropolitan Water Reclamation District to inspire our students and our community.”

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