Skills and challenges at the IFAT

DWA promotes environmental professions

Hennef. Sewage treatment plants and sewers only work smoothly if they are planned, operated and maintained by well-trained specialists. The technical standards have risen in recent years, engineers and professionals need to know and master the requirements. Just how good they are at this is shown by the German Association for Water, Wastewater and Waste (DWA) with its competitions World Water Skills, Water Skills Germany and World University Challenge during the world’s leading trade fair for environmental technologies, the IFAT from 14 to 18 May 2018 in Munich.

The Water Skills, previously known as the Open German Championship in Wastewater Technology, is already entering the fourth round, though for the first time under a new name due to the increased international interest. It was launched by the DWA in 2010. The competition for the operating staff shows the diversity of the work of a wastewater engineering technician. On four days of the fair, the trade fair visitors can see first-hand how drainage companies work and what knowledge and skills are expected of the operating staff of wastewater engineering plants. The World University Challenge is back at the starting block for the second time after 2016. The competition for young academics is intended to promote aspiring engineers in the water sector.

The live shows demonstrate the safety standards to be observed by wastewater engineering technicians, but also illustrate the management requirements that young talents in leadership positions have to master. Both competitions are open to German and international teams.

Water Skills: operating staff of sewer operations and sewage treatment plants show the spectrum of their tasks

In the Water Skills, trainees and young professionals as well as long-term wastewater engineering technicians contend for the best place. The trainees compete in Water Skills Germany, the professionals match their skills in World Water Skills.

The new competition concept was created to also anchor professional competitions for operating staff abroad. The preliminaries of the World Water Skills are usually held at the foreign locations of the IFAT, but other countries can also take part. This year, the winners of the Water Skills Jordan and the Water Skills Egypt are heading for Munich, but two teams from the USA have also announced their participation. The German championship for the trainees, the Water Skills Germany, is the entry ticket for the World Skills International, the world championship of the professions. The best teams from Munich qualify for the global professional fairs 2019 in Kazan (Russia). The DWA has already worked with World Skills Germany and other partners such as the companies Festo and Adiro since 2013 to establish the skill Water Technology at the world championship of the professions. Water Technology first qualified as a demonstration competition last year at the venue Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates).

For the Munich competitions, 26 teams from four countries have signed up to show the spectators how they master everyday situations in the sewer and in the sewage treatment plant. Four disciplines have to be mastered: occupational health and safety, repair and maintenance, measuring, controlling, regulating and operational monitoring, and process control. The participants have to demonstrate the perfect entry of a sewer and provide for the necessary safety. An agitator is to be serviced and repaired. A system malfunction has to be detected and eliminated through the correct use of the measuring, controlling, regulating devices. The flow diagram of a sewage treatment plant has to be simulated on a whiteboard using magnetic cards. In addition, each team can secure an extra point at a 3-D station where a tour of a wastewater treatment plant is simulated with the aid of virtual reality glasses.

University Challenge: university teams develop strategies for the sustainable use of water resources

The University Challenge is a competition that is also not only held in Munich but at all IFAT locations. The respective winning teams from abroad are invited to compete against participants from the German-speaking or European area at the next IFAT in Munich. The preliminaries are only one way to qualify for participation though. University teams can also apply directly until 20 April 2018 at

Teams of German and international students – also including the winning teams of the IFAT preliminaries in Shanghai (China), Istanbul (Turkey), Mumbai (India), Johannesburg (South Africa) and during the Arab Water Week in Jordan - compete against each other in the international university competition and show their skills in four disciplines:

1. Integrated water resources management (IWRM) I. With the aid of the simulation game Aqua Republica from the company DHI, the correlation between water use, social and economic development and ecological sustainability is to be simulated and processed.

2. Integrated water resources management (IWRM) II. A landscape is to be developed using the DWA environmental maps. Infrastructure measures from the water, waste and the energy industries are to be combined.

3. Measuring, controlling, regulating. The control and measuring in drains and sewage treatment plants has to be shown on the basis of a model from the company Festo.

4. Virtual reality. With the aid of VR glasses, errors in a virtual treatment plant have to be detected and named.

So far, 13 teams from Germany, Austria and non-European countries have registered to put their knowledge to the test in the development of strategies for the sustainable use of resource water.

DWA takes on the role of mediator on the job market

The competitions are intended to introduce wastewater engineering professions and make them attractive to young people, and, at the same time, to draw the attention of urban water management companies to qualified and motivated young employees. “For many companies, competitions are a tool for personnel selection”, said Rüdiger Heidebrecht, Head of the Department Training and International Cooperation at the DWA, on the concept of the offer. At the same time, he explained, they offer them the opportunity to present themselves as an attractive employer. Therefore, they are also willing to donate prizes or financially support the events. In turn, he said, through the competitions, the DWA fulfils its task of promoting the education in this sector. “We take on the role of mediator on the job market, thus also making trade fairs like the IFAT interesting for a young audience”, Heidebrecht went on.

The fact that the DWA’s initiative is not only well received by companies but also by educational institutions is shown by the willingness of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) to support the World University Challenge. The DAAD has taken over the patronage. The German Technical and Scientific Association for Gas and Water (DVGW), the Kunststoffröhrenverband e. V., Mitsubishi Electric Europe B. V., the Wilo-Foundation and the Munich Trade Fair Company are among the other larger promoters. The Water Skills is made possible by the following companies and institutions: Mitsubishi Electric Europe B. V., KSB, GFU, REID LIFTING D-A-CH Ecolistec AG, Feltes GmbH, MACHEREY-NAGEL GmbH & Co. KG, Beck GmbH, the Bayerische Verwaltungsschule, DAR, Festo and Adiro. The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Construction and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) has again taken on the patronage.

Juries made up of experts from the DWA sub-committee Professional Competitions and other specialists assess the speed of the teams, but also the observance of regulations.

Times and places

The World Water Skills and the Water Skills Germany can be viewed in the outdoor area (atrium) of the IFAT (trade fair grounds, 81823 Munich) between halls A 1 and B 1. The competitions start at 12.00 a.m. on Monday, 14 May, and at 9.15 am on the following days. They always end at around 5.30 p.m.

The opening ceremony starts on the competition area on Monday, 14 May at 11.00 a.m.

The 2nd World University Challenge is to be held in the West Entrance Hall. The teams compete on 16 and 17 May between 9.30 a.m. and 5.00 p.m.

The opening is on Wednesday, 16 May 2018 at 10.00 a.m., also in the West Entrance Hall.

Certificates and medals

The best teams from all the competitions will return home at the end of the week with certificates and medals which are presented to them at the DWA association stand in the West Entrance Hall.

The winners of the Water Skills Germany (trainees) are to be honoured on Tuesday, 15 May, the best of the World Water Skills (professionals) receive their medals on Thursday, 17 May. The celebration starts at 5.30 p.m.

The winning team from World University Challenge receive their certificates on Thursday, 17 May at 5.00 p.m. The respective winners of the day are to be honoured on 16 and 17 May at 5.00 p.m. and at 4.30 p.m. at the venue.

Information and weblinks

The programme of the competitions will be available soon at and at Impressions and information can also be found on the Facebook page ( and on the DWA Youtube-channel (

An overview of the entire DWA trade fair presence can be found at

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