Sunday, May 7, 2017

McMillen Jacobs Associates names regional manager and construction management practice lead



J
ohn Kaplin, CCM, has stepped into the position of California regional manager. The region includes offices in San Francisco, Walnut Creek, Pasadena, and San Diego. Kaplin has been with McMillen Jacobs for three years, most recently serving as the firm’s construction management (CM) practice lead. He has 30 years of experience in geotechnical investigations, design management, and construction management of underground and heavy civil projects. He has worked in leadership positions on projects with a wide variety of delivery methods including design-build and CM at Risk. Kaplin holds an M.S. in Engineering Geology and a B.S. in Geology from Colorado State University.
Sarah Wilson, PE, CCM has assumed the construction management practice lead position. She currently serves as resident engineer on the Central Subway project in San Francisco. Wilson is a senior associate and has been with McMillen Jacobs Associates for 17 years. She has served in project management roles on a wide variety of underground construction projects from planning through design and construction. She has focused on construction management roles for the last 12 years. In her new role, she will provide day-to-day support for CM staff, overall leadership to the CM practice on operational matters for existing projects, and collaboration with senior management on development of new business and talent for our construction management projects. Wilson received an M.S. in Geotechnical Engineering from UC Berkeley and a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Drexel University.
Based in Seattle, WA, McMillen Jacobs Associates is an employee-owned environmental, engineering, and construction company providing an array of technical services to the heavy civil, underground, and water resources markets. The firm has offices on the U.S. west and east coasts as well as in New Zealand, Australia, and British Columbia, Canada. For more information, visit www.mcmjac.com.


Friday, April 28, 2017

NC State and UNC biomedical engineers develop paper pumps

A hydraulic battery pumping fluid through a simple microchannel

Biomedical engineering researchers from North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have developed inexpensive paper pumps that use capillary action to power portable microfluidic devices, opening the door to a range of biomedical tools. Microfluidic devices manipulate fluids that have a volume of one microliter or less – substantially smaller than a single teardrop. These devices hold promise for use in applications ranging from biomedical diagnostic tools to drug testing technologies.
“One longstanding challenge to the development of portable, real-world microfluidic device technologies has been the need to find a cost-effective way to pump fluids through the device when outside the lab,” says Glenn Walker, co-corresponding author of a journal article on the work and an associate professor in the joint biomedical engineering program at NC State and UNC. “Portability is important because it makes new applications possible, such as diagnostic tools that can be used in the field. Electric pumps, and tubing to connect them, are fine for a laboratory environment, but those aren’t easy to take with you.”
Now Walker and his collaborators have developed a new way to not only pump fluids through microfluidic devices, but to exert substantial control over that flow. They can stop and re-start the flow, control the rate of the flow, and control how long the flow lasts. “And, because our approach is a new twist on an age-old technology, our pumps are extremely cost effective,” Walker says.
The age-old technology he’s referring to is paper. The researchers call their pumping system a hydraulic battery, but it doesn’t involve electricity in any way. Instead, the battery draws its pumping power from capillary action.
If you’ve ever seen a paper towel soak up a spill, you’ve seen capillary action at work. Broadly speaking, capillary action is the tendency of liquids to be drawn into small spaces by surface tension. In the context of the hydraulic battery, it is the tendency of water – and aqueous liquids, such as blood – to be drawn into the pores found in a piece of paper.
“Our system uses pieces of paper 125 microns thick, little more than the width of a single hair,” Walker says. “Capillary action pulls a liquid into the paper. And by changing the shape of the paper, we are able to control how much liquid is pulled through an attached device – and how quickly that happens.” The shape can be changed in two dimensions by simply cutting out the paper. But it can also be manipulated in three dimensions by stacking multiple pumps on top of each other. “By stacking the paper we are able to create more complex flow profiles, depending on the needs for any given application,” Walker says. “And any one of these hydraulic battery pumps costs less than a dime.”
There are other portable means for pumping liquid through a microfluidic device, but Walker feels that the paper pumps his team has developed hold several significant advantages. “Our hydraulic battery is small, lightweight, very inexpensive, easy to connect to a device and disposable,” Walker says. “In addition, our paper pumps could be saved for later evaluation, such as to run secondary, lab-based tests to confirm on-site diagnoses.”
The researchers have filed a patent application on the paper pump technology and are currently looking for industry partners to help bring it to the marketplace. “We’re optimistic that it could make a difference in both public health and advancing fundamental research,” Walker says.
The paper, “Modular pumps as programmable hydraulic batteries for microfluidic devices,” is published in the journal Technology. Lead author of the paper is Brian Cummins, a former postdoctoral researcher in the joint biomedical engineering program. Co-corresponding author of the paper is Frances Ligler, Lampe Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering at NC State and UNC. The paper was co-authored by Rukesh Chinthapatla and Balaji Lenin, both of whom are undergraduates at NC State. The work was done with support from the NC State University Chancellor’s Innovation Fund.

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.