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CEE department to host environmental engineering conference

Paul M. Berthouex

Paul M. Berthouex (large image)

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering will host a unique conference in August aimed at linking up many of the department's environmental engineering students who have graduated over the years.

The conference is the brainchild of Emeritus Professor Paul “Mac” Berthouex, who retired in 1999 after 28 years on the College of Engineering faculty, specializing in water quality and wastewater treatment. Berthouex lives in Madison and maintains on active schedule, and thought a conference might be worth organizing after perusing his Christmas cards last year from former students.

"They always say how much they liked Madison and miss Madison and want to come back," he said. "I believed them, so I thought I'd give them a professional excuse to come back."

His idea: Organize a conference dubbed "International Issues in Environmental Engineering and Education." Working with the department's data base of alumni, Berthouex combed records for home, business and e-mail addresses to contact alumni throughout the world. He's contacted more than 500 graduates, and has heard from former students that word of mouth has spread it even further.

For Berthouex, it's appropriate that the department host such a conference. UW-Madison developed one of the first environmental engineering programs in the country, dating back to the development of hydraulic engineering programs in the early 1900s. Along with Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, UW-Madison pioneered environmental engineering, and its graduates dot the professional and academic landscape.

"We have a lot of people who have been around for a long time," he said.

Berthouex has kept the conference topics open-ended, deliberately encouraging "anyone what wants to talk" to lead a seminar or give a speech. Topics will likely include the impact of technology on water quality, environmental issues confronting developing countries, and sustainable development. In particular, Berthouex said he is interested to hear "how you do it" stories from those involved in environmental engineering projects.

"It's turned out to be a terrific program," he said. "It's amazing the range of work (our former students) are doing. Most of these people who have been out there for at least five years are doing things they didn't learn in school."

The conference will be held Aug. 10-12 at the UW-Madison Pyle Center. Contact Berthouex at for additional information or visit for details.