When it comes to succeeding at challenges—from leading a complex senior capstone project to raising funds for the Corsairs and Relay for Life—David M. Ferranti ’18 has proven that he can get the job done.
A civil engineering major, Ferranti graduated on May 12 with cum laude honors. He also leaves UMass Dartmouth with a job at CDM Smith, an engineering consulting firm in Providence, RI, and a wedding to plan. Ferranti is engaged to his middle school sweetheart, psychology major Olivia Covino '18.
Ferranti distinguished himself academically at UMass Dartmouth, especially through his leadership during his senior capstone project, required of all undergraduate engineering and computer science majors.
Capstone project involved cleaning a Superfund site in Kentucky
Ferranti’s project, Superfund Groundwater Containment System Design, was based in Calvert City, KY, a BF Goodrich Superfund site. Since the tire manufacturing chemical facility opened in the 1950s, wastewater was pumped into small ponds along the Tennessee River. Chemicals seeped into the soil and spread outward.
While the ponds were closed and cleaned up in the 1970s, the area was named a Top Ten EPA site because chemicals were affecting nearby drinking water, explained Ferranti. His team’s capstone project was to figure out how to stop the contamination from spreading and remove the existing contamination.
“It was contained,” Ferranti said, “but we needed to get rid of it because the contamination was already in the soil. Motor oil is denser than water and it sinks down past the groundwater table until it reaches bedrock. We had to figure out how to clean up the soil 17–22 feet beneath the water. Meanwhile, the site had to remain fully operational with a dock that provided propane and barge access.”
Ferranti and his team developed a circle of steel panels that were inserted 27 feet into the water to sit on the bedrock to contain the contaminants. Next, they designed a system of pumping wells to remove the contaminants from the subsurface. Each well was pumped for one hour every two weeks to remove the oil and water mixture. The water was directed through an oil-water separator and then through an air stripper to remove further contaminants. Once cleaned, the water was returned to the river.
While the team worked under the direction of Albert Riciardelli at GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc. based in Norwood, MA, the project was largely designed long distance without ever visiting the site. Other senior team members included Abdulla Waleed Alhussaini, Taylor Joubert, Kyle Ryan Taylor, and Alec Wilson.
“David has been a fantastic student,” said Dr. Dan McDonald, professor of civil and environmental engineering. “He’s very eager to dive into any challenge.
“When I was explaining to the seniors the changes we had made to the capstone project, that it would be a real-world project, with more deadlines and contact with an outside company, you could see the excitement on his face. He couldn’t wait to get to work.”
McDonald assigned Ferranti to be the project manager for the most complicated site of any group in the class with a project report of 15,000 pages. “He did a great job leading the project. Nobody knew what to make of it, but he wanted to take it on. He succeeded because of his attitude and the rest of the team stepped up and did a great job.”
Internship at CDM Smith leads to job for Ferranti
Ferranti is the recipient of the Sean D. Duarte Memorial Scholarship, established in memory of the UMass Dartmouth alumnus and civil engineering major who worked for CDM Smith. The scholarship included an internship at the company, where Ferranti served as a civil/environmental engineering intern during the summer of 2017.
He led field teams in New Bedford, MA, Brockton, MA and Providence, RI for a project with the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System Permit. The goal was to reduce the amount of water entering the sewer and drainage systems. Integral to the project was creating maps of each sewer line and conducting house and property inspections. Ferranti estimates that his team visited as many as 400 houses to inspect their sewer systems.
His work led to a job offer with the company, and Ferranti began on May 29 as an environmental engineer. He also plans to begin work on his master’s degree.
Raised $20,000 for UMass Dartmouth and $17,000 for Relay for Life
In addition to his academic pursuits, Ferranti was a strong fundraiser for UMass Dartmouth and Relay for Life. As supervisor of the Corsair Callers, he trained and supervised up to 25 student callers and managers to raise funds for the university. He worked five nights each week to motivate his team to contact alumni, parents, and friends of UMass Dartmouth. After a two-year hiatus, the program was relaunched this year under Ferranti’s direction and raised $20,000.
Ferranti was also a team captain, committee member, and chairman of logistics for Relay for Life of UMass Dartmouth, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Held on campus on April 21 from noon to midnight, the event raised $17,000 as students volunteered to walk the track continuously for 12 hours.
Ferranti is happy he chose to attend UMass Dartmouth. “It’s small, close-knit, and has a great engineering program. I loved the school,” he said. “I love how the faculty is so involved. They’re always in their offices, always available to help you out with anything.
“We have small class sizes here so there’s more one-on-one attention,” he said. “Any issues you have, the faculty is here to help you.”