About the Scholarship

Named in honor of former Commissioners Joyce Starks and Gene W. Counihan – the goal of the Commissioners’ Engineering Scholarship Program is to provide financial assistance to students from WSSC Water’s service district in furtherance of their engineering studies and to encourage applicants/winners to consider careers in the water, wastewater/water resource recovery industry; and preferably, at WSSC Water.

Up to two new scholarships in the amount of $2000 each may be awarded; one to a Prince George's County resident and one to a Montgomery County resident. Winners are eligible for additional awards of $2000 each year for up to four consecutive years as long as residency and grade point average (GPA) requirements are met. Winners also receive priority consideration for paid summer internship opportunities at WSSC Water.


To qualify, students must:

  • provide proof of permanent residency in WSSC Water’s service district;
  • be enrolled full-time in a degree program at an accredited college or university that leads to an engineering degree in one of the following areas: Civil Engineering (i.e., Environmental, Sanitary, Structural, Geotechnical, Water Resources, Fire Protection, Transportation, Project Management, Construction Management); Electrical Engineering; Material Science and Engineering; Chemical Engineering; Mechanical Engineering or Computer Science/Engineering. High school seniors who have been accepted into such a program are eligible; proof of acceptance/enrollment must accompany application materials; and,
  • complete an application and have it received by the WSSC Corporate Secretary by Thursday, April 15, 2021.

2021 Application Process

Students are required to submit a written essay (see topics below) between 500 to 1,000 words, along with the following application materials:

  1. Video Introduction/Infomercial. Tell us who you are and why you’re the best candidate for the scholarship. Video should be no longer than five minutes;
  2. Official Transcript;
  3. Proof of Permanent Residency in WSSC Service District. Acceptable forms of documentation: Copy of driver’s license, voter registration card or other government-issued ID, reflecting your permanent residency in either Prince George’s or Montgomery County, Maryland; and
  4. Two Reference Letters.

2021 Essay Topics:

This year we are offering three essay topics.  Students are to pick one of the three following topics for a 500 - 1,000 word essay:

  1. WSSC Water’s strategic vision is to be the world-class provider of safe, reliable water and wastewater services that protect the health, safety and quality of life of its customers. Climate change presents several challenges to water and wastewater utilities such as WSSC Water. These challenges – increased frequency of droughts and floods, extreme precipitation events, heat waves, and degraded water quality – all change the demand for services. Discuss some of the initiatives WSSC Water can undertake to address climate change’s challenges and to ensure a sustainable water supply. Your response must include discussions from the perspectives of the water utilities and the communities that must now adapt to the new realities of climate change.
  2. Around the country, water systems are in crisis. From rural Appalachia to Flint, Michigan, many communities do not have access to clean, reliable, drinking water. At the heart of this national problem is an aging water system with a crumbling infrastructure and a lack of funds to pay to upgrade it. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, it will cost approximately $400 billion to fix the problem, which is far beyond the affordability levels of most communities. Discuss some approaches these communities, or the water and wastewater utilities that serve them, could employ to address the situation.
  3. WSSC Water maintains more than 5,800 miles of sewer pipe. Inflow and infiltration in WSSC Water’s Piscataway Basin often overload the nearby water resource recovery facility and is a growing concern for WSSC Water. Describe the impacts of inflow and infiltration and the measures you would take to reduce the load in the collection system and at the water resource recovery facilities.

Submission Deadline: Thursday, April 15, 2021

Online application will open on March 8, 2021. You may also submit your application package by U.S. mail to: Julianne Montes de Oca, Corporate Secretary, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, 14501 Sweitzer Lane, Laurel, MD 20707. Mailed applications must be postmarked by Thursday, April 15, 2021. For mailed applications, please submit video on a flash drive.

Apply online

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Last Modified: April 6, 2021, 4:02 pm EDT