Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Daniel DePra, PE, BCEE joins GAI Consultants as project management director

GAI Consultants (GAI) welcomes Daniel DePra, PE, BCEE as the firm’s director of project management. DePra comes to GAI with more than 23 years of diverse experience managing large civil and environmental projects and leading companywide initiatives to improve project delivery and empower project managers.

As director of project management, Dan will lead the ongoing development, implementation, and execution of GAI’s Project Management Excellence program. He is a Board Certified Environmental Engineer (BCEE) and a registered Professional Engineer in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. DePra holds a master’s degree in civil engineering and bachelor’s degrees in both mechanical engineering and chemistry, all from the University of Pittsburgh. Dan will lead GAI’s project management initiatives from the firm’s Pittsburgh office.

Jeffrey Hill, vice president and chief administrative officer at GAI, says, “As a client-focused, project-based company, GAI puts significant emphasis and importance on sustaining the skills and capabilities of our project managers. The addition of Dan as GAI’s director of project management consolidates the leadership of our Project Management Excellence Program with a professional who has abundant experience and a passion for augmenting the skills and capabilities of project managers.”

In operation since 1958, GAI Consultants is an employee-owned engineering, planning, and environmental consulting firm providing local expertise to worldwide clients in the energy, transportation, development, government, and industrial markets. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA, the firm has 800 employees in offices throughout the southern and midwestern United States.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

AT&T endows virtualization research center at SMU

Communications company AT&T and Southern Methodist University (SMU) are collaborating in a unique new research center that will deliver solutions to critical industry needs, educate the next generation of virtualized network technology experts, and support Dallas’ emergence as a global information technology hub. A $2.5-million contribution from AT&T will endow the AT&T Center for Virtualization at SMU and fund its research to support the fast, reliable, cloud-based telecommunications necessary for global connectivity.

Virtualization is a concept most people are familiar with, even if they don’t realize it.  Through virtualization, functions that once required specialized hardware devices are now performed with software running on general purpose hardware. Streaming music and video as well as communicating via social media depend on virtualization. The world is making the transition from hardware to software for connections that enable things like telemedicine and even autonomous cars, and that requires reliable transmission of huge amounts of data through virtualization.

“SMU students will see tremendous advantage from participating in the interdisciplinary research of the AT&T Center for Virtualization at SMU,” says SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Employers are looking for graduates who understand the technical, business, and consumer environment.  We are very pleased that this Dallas-based, global company has chosen SMU as its partner to advance research on cutting edge technology.”

The telecommunications industry is racing to prepare for a connected future, but industry experts know that cranking up connection speeds isn’t enough if the underlying network isn’t flexible, responsive, and resilient enough to handle the traffic. In the old days, telecommunications companies built networks by sending out trucks every few months or years loaded with new switches, routers, and other gear. It was cumbersome and slow but reliable.

“We don’t have that luxury anymore,” says Andre Fuetsch, president and chief technology officer, AT&T Labs. “We’re virtualizing those specialized network appliances and turning them into software running on servers and other standard hardware. You can add, shift, and upgrade capabilities at Internet speed. It’s the future, and this new AT&T Center for Virtualization at SMU will help us get there faster.”

The Center also offers an opportunity to draw and encourage more women to engage in technology.  While women’s participation in STEM fields continues to decline nationally, SMU has been a leader in successfully enrolling women in engineering studies. Within the Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering, women have averaged more than 30 percent of incoming undergraduates since 2005, exceeding the national average of about 20 percent.

“We believe innovation increases when there is diversity in the workforce. This new research center not only helps advance the latest technology solutions, but it also presents a way to tap a critical segment of tech leaders: women,” says Brooks McCorcle, president, AT&T Partner Exchange. “Like AT&T, SMU is committed to building and expanding the base of technology talent. AT&T’s endowment is a call to mobilize and activate the next generation of female technology leaders through educational opportunities, innovative research and mentorship.”

“The AT&T Center for Virtualization at SMU will take on interdisciplinary topics related to scalability, security, performance and reliability, so that the virtualization infrastructure can enable everything from big-data analytics to the network connectivity of everyday objects ranging from cell phones to coffeemakers,” says Steven Currall, SMU provost and vice president for academic affairs. “The center will engage academic disciplines across SMU to address social, educational, and scientific issues associated with virtualization.”

The AT&T Center for Virtualization at SMU will be directed by longtime SMU faculty member Suku Nair, professor of computer science and engineering in the Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering. Nair is an internationally recognized authority on cyber security and reliable computing and communication and founding director of the HACNet (High Assurance Computing and Networking) Lab at SMU.

“AT&T is a leader in providing connectivity for a wide variety of resources, both on and off the cloud, requiring deployment of hundreds of thousands of complex, expensive routers,” Nair says. “The cost comes down and the system becomes more agile and efficient if the routers can be simplified by putting the intelligence that makes them work on the cloud.”

Monday, January 16, 2017

WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff designing framework for connected and automated vehicle test facility

The American Center for Mobility (ACM) has awarded a contract to WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff to develop a concept of operations, system requirements, and procurement strategy for the technology elements of a major new connected and automated vehicle test site facility planned at a state-owned site in southeast Michigan.

The ACM will be built on more than 335 acres adjacent to Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti, where B-24 bombers were made during World War II in a factory built by Henry Ford. It will become a national-scale advanced automotive testing and product development center that can accommodate the broad needs of industry and government, test various weather conditions including ice and snow, and provide room to grow and adapt as technology dictates. The testing, education, and product development center will serve as a site for precautionary testing before vehicles are deployed on the road and a proving ground for collaborative safety technology demonstrations. The ACM will also serve as a convening center to accelerate the development of voluntary standards.

The concept of operations will define requirements for the test facility, including connected vehicle infrastructure, traditional intelligent transportation systems (ITS) technologies, data collection, monitoring, and test simulation needs associated with the site. The final document will include a user-oriented system description, definition of operational needs, and system overview. It will also establish a proposed operational and support environment for the facility as well as potential operational scenarios. The report will establish high-level system requirements and lay out a phased procurement strategy.

As the prime consultant, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff will coordinate with staff and contractors to develop a complete baseline understanding of the project, identify all user needs, establish a proposed phasing for the site development, and coordinate all third party agreements that could impact the design concept. The firm will conduct outreach meetings in Southeast Michigan with key stakeholders and customers to identify system needs. Completion of the concept of operations is expected in early 2017.

As an engineering and professional services consulting firm, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff provides services designed to transform the built environment and restore the natural one. The firm’s expertise ranges from environmental remediation and urban planning to engineering iconic buildings and designing sustainable transport networks to developing the energy sources of the future and enabling new ways of extracting essential resources. Approximately 36,500 employees, including engineers, technicians, scientists, planners, surveyors, program and construction management professionals, and various environmental experts work in more than 500 offices across 40 countries worldwide. For more information, visit

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Manufacturers highlight engineering careers to support student STEM education

Across the nation, we see concerning statistics regarding the number of students interested in science-, technology-, engineering-, and mathematics-related (STEM) careers. This growing shortage of science-based talent will present a serious problem in our workplaces and universities, as STEM-based expertise forms the heart of our high-technology society and economy.

By understanding the science and math behind various life situations, students gain an appreciation for engineering and become more invested in their classroom lessons. Applying engineering, science, math, and technology knowledge and skills to solve complex open-ended problems in a real-world context is the goal of Saucon Valley High School's (SVHS) Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Engineering program in Pennsylvania. Recently, 50 SVHS students enrolled in this curriculum will visit three Easton manufacturers – Victaulic, Crayola, and Follett – to see engineers in action.

"The fastest growing careers require science, technology, engineering and math knowledge at the core," says Eric Luftig, Victaulic vice president. "Together with our colleagues at Crayola and Follett, we are committed to inspiring young people to consider STEM disciplines and help prepare them for the future." Monica McHale-Small, Saucon Valley School District superintendent, adds, "A critical step in making science and math engaging and relevant to students is providing them with authentic, real-life experiences."

All three manufacturers are no stranger to promoting their science, technology, engineering and mathematics opportunities, with involvement in the Dream It. Do It. PA's "What's So Cool About Manufacturing?" video contest. They join 27 other regional manufacturers in the 2017 initiative, which invites students inside manufacturing facilities to discover STEM jobs and help change perceptions and attitudes in the Keystone State about advanced manufacturing careers.

Recently, Victaulic, Crayola and Follett also partnered for "Stuff the Bus," a community initiative to collect school supplies for students at Cheston Elementary in Easton. A total of 600 backpacks were assembled and distributed during the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley's annual Day of Caring event.

Since 1919, Victaulic has designed and produced mechanical pipe-joining solutions. The company has 13 manufacturing facilities and 30 branches worldwide with 3,600 employees. With over 1900 patents, Victaulic solutions are at work in more than 120 countries across diverse business lines including oil, gas and chemical, mining, power generation, water and wastewater treatment, military and marine, as well as commercial building and fire protection. For more information visit

Crayola, based in Easton since 1903 and a subsidiary of Hallmark Cards, manufactures children's creative expression products such as Crayons.

Founded in 1948, Follett designs and manufactures equipment for the foodservice and healthcare markets, including ice machines, ice and water dispensers, ice storage and transport equipment, and medical-grade refrigerators and freezers.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Baxter & Woodman staff member earns Certified Energy Manager designation

Baxter & Woodman Consulting Engineers announces Kenneth Koch, P.E. has attained the status of Certified Energy Manager (CEM). Koch lives in DeKalb, IL and works out of the firm’s DeKalb office.
The accreditation recognizes individuals who have demonstrated high levels of experience, competence, proficiency, and ethical fitness in the energy management profession. Administered by the Association of Energy Engineers, the CEM certification program is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) based on the International Standard ANSI/ISO/IEC 17024.
Koch is a recognized technical leader in water system modeling, energy improvements, and sustainability research. In his current role as energy management coordinator, Koch provides technical guidance and promotes innovative approaches for managing and reducing energy consumption. Working collaboratively with Baxter & Woodman engineers and technology specialists, Koch identifies forward-thinking, sustainable energy management solutions that minimize energy costs and mitigate environmental effects for clients.

“Ken’s enthusiasm for efficient energy management and his ongoing research and development of new technologies make him the perfect champion to promote smart energy management practices to the communities and government entities we serve,” says Lou Haussmann, executive vice president/chief operations officer of Baxter & Woodman. 
Baxter & Woodman is an employee-owned design firm that provides planning, design, construction, and technology services for water, wastewater, stormwater, and transportation facilities. Environmental, geographic information systems (GIS), water and wastewater operations, and advanced technology needs complement the firm’s civil engineering expertise. Municipalities, county and state agencies are served from six regional offices in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. Baxter & Woodman is dedicated to identifying sustainable solutions for clients, including energy efficiency incentives, loan programs, and grant funding by using the expertise of on-staff LEED-accredited and Envision Sustainability professionals.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Virginia Tech names Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering in recognition of $15 million gift

Virginia Tech has named its Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering in honor of alumnus Kevin Crofton (left above), president and chief executive officer of SPTS Technologies, in recognition of his philanthropy. Crofton, a native of Fincastle, Virginia, has committed $14 million to the department that will bear his name and $1 million to the university’s Division of Student Affairs. “Kevin’s generosity is both humbling and inspiring,” says Virginia Tech President Tim Sands. “It opens up tremendous new possibilities for one of our academic departments and will benefit all our students by funding experiential learning programs.”

Crofton aspired to be an astronaut — following in the footsteps of his heroes, Neil Armstrong, Chuck Yeager, and Chris Kraft, who is also a Hokie — leading him to study to become an aerospace engineer. He earned his bachelor’s in aerospace and ocean engineering in 1982, holds an MBA in international business from American University, and heads a global semiconductor and microelectronic device manufacturing company headquartered in the United Kingdom. “I chose Virginia Tech because it has one of the best aerospace programs in the country,” says Crofton, reflecting on his decision to attend the university. “The education I received is one that taught me to be inquisitive, data-driven, and respectful of science. The social environment exposed me to different people, cultures, and views of life.”

The 55-year-old aerospace engineer further describes his collegiate experience at Virginia Tech as providing him with the foundation to have a successful professional and personal life, in addition to a platform from which to make a positive impact on the world. During the first decade of his career, Crofton worked on U.S. Department of Defense and commercial programs in propulsion for United Technologies, including Boeing’s Inertial Upper Stage Program, which positioned satellites in geosynchronous orbit from the space shuttle.

“Kevin’s gift will heighten the aerospace and ocean engineering department’s role at the university,” says Don Taylor, interim dean of the College of Engineering. “With a gift of this size, we can enhance learning for our engineering students and allow faculty, students, and staff to collaborate on cross-cutting, complex research projects.” The Rolls-Royce Commonwealth Professor of Marine Propulsion and Department Head Eric Paterson added that “to be one of the few named aerospace and ocean engineering departments will increase our stature on a national and global level.”

The Kevin Crofton Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering has more than 550 undergraduate students and 160 graduate students enrolled. Its faculty and students are engaged in numerous areas of research, with annual expenditures of more than $8 million. Departmental facilities include wind tunnels, a flight-test runway and hangar, and an advanced power and propulsion laboratory.

The $1 million Crofton directed to Student Affairs is the largest cash gift ever made to that division and will benefit initiatives through VT Engage, Virginia Tech’s service-learning and civic-engagement center.

“Kevin is an extraordinary leader, alumnus, and human being, with a profound commitment to and modeling of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve),” Vice President for Student Affairs Patty Perillo said, referring to the Virginia Tech motto. “His gift will make an extraordinary difference, allowing more students to serve and understand what it means to serve.”

“In many ways Ut Prosim is an extension of the values I live by and a humble expression of my desire to make a difference," Crofton remarks. “I have always wanted to give back to Virginia Tech in a meaningful way – one that makes a significant contribution and will impact future generations.”

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Dan Parent, P.E. joins Cold Craft's HVACR engineering and design team

Dan Parent, P.E. and Cold Craft have similar philosophies regarding the design, planning, and installation of HVACR equipment; they keep many factors in mind to create a building environment that is comfortable, practical, and as energy efficient as the customer desires. Cold Craft, a heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration firm in the San Francisco Bay area, sought an engineer to add to the team to hit specific targets such as improving the customer experience. They would do this by bridging the engineering and fulfillment experience to achieve even more predictable project's timelines, increased budgetary control, and clarity on the project.

While most engineers lack field experience and field professionals often lack the engineering component, it is unusual to find an individual such as Dan Parent experience in both. Cold Craft sought individuals that share their firm belief that control during the design process can eliminate cost over-runs that sometimes develop as a project moves from conception to design. Parent has worked with firms such as H-Square Mechanical, Therma, and Polyaire Mechanical. Coupled with his education from California Polytechnic University, this makes him a great fit for Cold Craft.

Customers opting for the design-build concept benefit from knowing that the complete responsibility for the entire system rests solely with one company. Susan Nichol, CEO of Cold Craft, adds, "Dan joining our firm can only be good for our clients, as they will get the whole package with just one responsible party. Dan's project management, engineering, and field fulfillment knowledge means that he has the knowledge of several positions.  This means one party - no finger pointing at other parties like you see with the splintered engineering and mechanical contractor jobs."  In the past, Cold Craft, hired outside talent for the engineering, and that worked well, but the firm is looking for a more seamless process for the clients.

Cold Craft specializes in green build construction, focusing on geothermal, for example, and grocery store construction and renovation. So whether the application is design or design-build, Cold Craft is positioned to assist the client with its experienced Engineering and Design Department. With Parent on board, Cold Craft says it can provide even better all-in-one services for prompt, precise, and well-defined proposals for negotiated projects in the initial stages of planning and development. The firm realizes the significance and importance of being able to provide true scopes and dependable pricing for these projects, and Parent's experience will help them meet those customer care goals.

Established in 1991, Cold Craft, based in Campbell, CA has established itself as an HVACR subcontractor in the Northern California area. The firm offers a diverse portfolio in both commercial and residential sectors. For more information, visit