Saturday, April 22, 2017

POWER Engineers works to bring more reliable power to southern Kansas

Construction of new transmission lines and substations by Wheatland Electric Cooperative will allow the delivery of more reliable power to southern Kansas homes and businesses. POWER Engineers (POWER) is providing Wheatland Electric the engineering design and other services to seamlessly coordinate work on two transmission and four substation projects needed to significantly improve system reliability.

The work at Wheatland Electric is being done in conjunction with major transmission upgrades by Mid-Kansas Electric Company in the same area and includes new 138-kilovolt (kV) lines in the areas of Caldwell and Conway Springs. It also includes construction of new substations at Caldwell, Conway Springs, and Rago. A fourth substation at Bluff City will get upgrades to accommodate the new 138-kV line.

“The new 138-kV lines will provide a much more reliable source than the existing lines and will better support present and future power demands,” says Brian Tomlinson, POWER’s project manager for the work at Wheatland Electric. “The new lines, along with Mid-Kansas transmission additions, will give local distribution substations two paths to deliver electricity, providing Wheatland Electric more flexibility for restoring power during an outage, such as during a storm, thereby improving reliability.” The higher voltage lines also allow industry to consider building in areas that previously could not support their needs for electricity.

Besides engineering design, POWER’s services for the projects include support for procuring materials, putting together construction contracts, issuing construction documents to contractors, evaluating bids, recommending contract awards, holding pre-construction meetings, and more. The majority of the power projects are expected to be completed by the end of 2017.

POWER Engineers is a global consulting engineering firm specializing in the delivery of integrated solutions for energy, food and beverage facilities, communications, environmental, and federal markets. POWER Engineers offers complete multidisciplinary engineering and program management services. Founded in 1976, it is an employee-owned company with more than 2,100 employees and over 45 offices throughout the United States and abroad.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Missouri S&T researchers develop ways to improve machining processes


Fixing flaws introduced during the machining of large components used in the aircraft and heavy equipment industries can be time-consuming for manufacturers and costly if they must scrap the flawed parts after they’ve been fabricated. A new approach developed by researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology is helping manufacturers eliminate those flaws before the parts are created.

Writing in the February 2017 issue of the Journal of Manufacturing Science and Engineering (JSME), the Missouri S&T researchers describe an approach that can greatly improve the accuracy of five-axis machine tools used to fabricate large parts. Five-axis machine tools are computer-numerically controlled (CNC) machines that can move, cut, or mill a part on five different axes at the same time. This allows manufacturers to create complex contours or curves when creating a large part such as an aircraft wing.

“Five-axis machine tools are known to have 41 basic geometric errors,” says Jennifer Creamer, a Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering at Missouri S&T and the lead author of the JMSE paper. As Dr. Robert Landers, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and a co-author of the paper, puts it, “The way you want the machine to move when making a large part is different than the way it actually moves due to inherent geometric errors.” Because of these errors, manufacturers must make adjustments in calibrating their CNC machines.

Several different approaches exist to help compensate for those errors, but none of them provides a complete picture, Creamer says. Manufacturers must combine various methods to get the best sense of a milling problem. The result, she says, is “a piecemeal approach that makes calibration a time-consuming and expensive process." In her research, Creamer set out to find a way to eliminate that piecemeal approach and develop a new model for capturing complicated geometric errors while also automatically generating compensation tables for those errors. A compensation table is a kind of map of errors that can be programmed into a CNC machine to reduce errors.

Flaws in the fabrication of large parts may seem insignificant given the large size of the parts, but they can cause problems. Parts for airplanes, for example, can be 120 feet long, and their size can make holding tight tolerances problematic, Landers says. In Creamer’s research on five-axis machine tools, “She’s trying to hold errors to five thousandths of an inch over 120 feet,” he says.

In collaboration with colleagues at Boeing Research and Technology in St. Louis, where she works as an engineer, Creamer used a laser tracker to quickly measure the motion of all axes over the entire workspace of an industrial five-axis machine. Based on these measurements, she generated a set of compensating tables that could be used to improve the accuracy on a variety of machine tools and related platforms.

Creamer’s paper, titled “Table-Based Volumetric Error Compensation of Large Five-Axis Machine Tools," was originally published online in September 2016 (https://manufacturingscience.asmedigitalcollection.asme.org/article.aspx?articleID=2543543). Co-authors with Creamer are Landers; Dr. Patrick Sammons, who earned his Ph.D. from Missouri S&T in 2016 and is now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Michigan; Dr. Douglas Bristow, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Missouri S&T; Dr. Philip Freeman, senior technical fellow at Boeing; and Samuel Easley, an engineer at Boeing. The research is supported by Missouri S&T, the Boeing Company, and Missouri S&T’s Center for Aerospace Manufacturing Technologies.

Creamer is also supported through a GAANN Fellowship at Missouri S&T. GAANN (Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need) is a U.S. Department of Education program designed to encourage more graduate-level education in areas of national need.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Thornton Tomasetti acquires Swallow Acoustic Consultants

Thornton Tomasetti, an international engineering firm, has acquired Swallow Acoustic Consultants Limited (SACL), a specialist in acoustics, noise, and vibration control engineering based in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. The addition of Swallow bolsters Thornton Tomasetti's Structural Engineering and Forensics practices as well as its Canadian presence.

Founded in the early 1990s by John Swallow, SACL offers a broad range of services in acoustics design and forensics and noise and vibration analysis and control. These include architectural acoustics; environmental, industrial and mechanical noise control; acoustic and vibration testing; expert witness testimony; technical writing and standards; construction vibration assessment; and vibration control.

In addition to its Mississauga headquarters, the 13-person firm has an office in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. John Swallow will become a principal at Thornton Tomasetti, while Ramin Behboudi and Michael Wesolowsky will join as associate principals.

SACL is one of a small number of firms worldwide that designs tuned mass dampers (TMD), a device used to help stabilize buildings against wind sway and other kinds of motion. Its TMD work includes tall buildings and long-span structures such as sports facilities and bridges. SACL's TMD capabilities will dovetail with Thornton Tomasetti's efforts in the field, which includes the development of a fluid harmonic disruptor based on NASA technology.

Starting with Manhattan's LaGuardia School for the Arts in 1988, Thornton Tomasetti has collaborated on many projects with SACL as well as strategic partner Tacet Engineering, whose staff SACL acquired in 2012. These include Chifley Tower in Sydney, Australia; Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois; Qatar National Convention Centre in Doha; and most recently, T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, which opened last April. SACL has worked in some 20 countries and has a considerable presence in central and eastern Canada. This will give Thornton Tomasetti a larger footprint in Canada, having opened its first office in the country in Toronto earlier this year.

According to Thomas Scarangello, chairman and CEO of Thornton Tomasetti, "For nearly 30 years, Swallow has been our go-to partner for vibration issues. Through our close collaboration on many diverse projects, we have built a strong working relationship." John Swallow, president and founder of Swallow Acoustic Consultants, adds, "Teaming with Thornton Tomasetti will allow us to serve current and future clients in new and innovative ways. We look forward to sharing our considerable experience in the acoustics, noise, and vibration control fields with Thornton Tomasetti's professionals."

Thornton Tomasetti is involved in engineering design, investigation, and analysis, serving clients worldwide on projects of all sizes and complexity. Through its 10 complementary practices, Thornton Tomasetti addresses the full life cycle of a structure. They have supported clients working in more than 50 countries, with projects that include the tallest buildings and longest spans to the restoration of prized historic properties. Thornton Tomasetti consists of more than 1,200 engineering, architecture, sustainability, and support professionals that collaborate from offices across North America, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Katharine Morgan becomes president of ASTM International

Katharine “Kathie” Morgan recently began serving as president of ASTM International, one of the world’s largest standards development organizations. Morgan will lead a team that supports thousands of members, customers, partners, and other stakeholders worldwide. She succeeds James Thomas, who served in the role for 25 years.

“I am thrilled and humbled to serve as president of an organization that has played such a foundational role in meeting societal needs for over a century,” Morgan said at the organization’s first major meeting of 2017 in Norfolk, VA.  “We will build on the legacy of Jim Thomas, attracting even more of the world’s top technical experts to our committees while also serving people and organizations that rely on our standards and services.”

Morgan was joined at the event by Thomas Marsh, CEO of Centrotrade and ASTM International’s 2017 chairman of the board. “Kathie brings proven leadership skills, a deep understanding of the global standards community, a passion for ASTM International’s mission, and much more,” Marsh said. “ASTM International will continue to grow and thrive under her leadership.”

Also, Morgan visited the Virginia Beach Fire Department Training Facility to see demonstrations of emergency response robots and drones.  Manufacturers, first responders, and others tested robot capabilities and operator proficiency using 50 test methods, many of which have been developed through ASTM International’s Committee on Homeland Security Applications (E54).

Morgan is a 33-year veteran of ASTM International. She served as executive vice president for the past two years. Prior to that, she was vice president of Technical Committee Operations, leading a 50-member team that supports the volunteer work of ASTM International’s 30,000 members worldwide.

Morgan is one of the world’s most prominent voices on standardization-related issues. She is a board member of the American National Standards Institute’s Board of Directors, the Council of Engineering and Scientific Executives, the International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization, the Society for Standards Professionals (SES), the American Society of Association Executives, and a former member of the Standards Council of Canada’s Standards Development Organization Advisory Committee.

Morgan holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Lafayette College in Easton, PA and a master’s degree in business administration from Widener University in Chester, PA. Follow her on Twitter at @ASTMpres.

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 wsp-pb.com/usa.