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Engineering students design composting toilet facility for Kopernik Science Park

The observatory, in partnership with the Junior League of Binghamton, challenged P-TECH students to design a high-functioning single-building facility that will be inexpensive to maintain, meet state building code, be handicap accessible, provide family-friendly changing stations, and use building materials that fall within the project budget of $30,000. One major restriction: New sewer and water lines will not be run to the building, so the facility must use waterless, high-volume composting toilets.


The students conducted research, received guidance from the science park project manager at Delta Engineers, and visited an existing public restroom composting facility at Port Dickinson Community Park. While at the park, students observed elements that they altered in their own design, including a metal roof with a larger pitch to prohibit mold/moss growth, designing a basement with bilco doors for easy access for collection chamber maintenance, building larger stalls to allow for a full five-foot diameter of moveable space, and adding hand sanitizing gel dispensers.
Students presented their facility design to a panel using floor plan and elevation drawings from CAD, a 3-D wood/metal model and 3-D printed models, maintenance requirements of the chosen composting toilet, and a detailed budget. The panel was very impressed with their design and detailed knowledge of successful composing facilities. Delta and the science park planning committee are now working to get the design certified for construction.
The students are invited to give a second presentation to the membership of the Junior League of Binghamton in January, as they prepare to apply for additional green-energy funding. The ground-breaking of the composting toilet facility is expected to take place in the spring. The engineering class will be on site at Kopernik Observatory for the occasion.