Sunday, December 29, 2013

GAI Consultants awarded Sanford, FL drainage contract

Engineering and environmental consulting firm GAI Consultants (GAI) has been awarded the City of Sanford, Florida’s Cloud Branch project for area-wide drainage improvements. The project includes approximately $650,000 in design fees. “This is GAI’s first opportunity to serve the City of Sanford in this capacity, and we are thrilled to provide them with our services,” offers Director of Engineering Robert Schanck, P.E. 
GAI’s Community Development Business Unit will provide survey, civil engineering design, permitting and coordination, and assistance securing grants and funds associated with larger storm sewer infrastructure projects such as flood mitigation assistance program grants and state revolving funds (SFR). GAI is currently assisting the cities of Daytona Beach and Eustis in Florida with a flood mitigation study and city-wide drainage review, respectively.
Operating for over 50 years, GAI is a 900-person, employee-owned, multidisciplined engineering and environmental consulting firm serving clients worldwide in the energy, transportation, real estate, water, municipal, government, and industrial markets from U.S. offices throughout the Northeast, Midwest, and Southeast. For more information, visit

Monday, December 23, 2013

Manhard Consulting welcomes principals and associates of Accurate EngiSurv

Manhard Consulting, a civil engineering and surveying firm with offices nationwide, announces that the principals and associates of Accurate EngiSurv have joined the Manhard Consulting staff. Accurate EngiSurv will operate as Accurate EngiSurv, a division of Manhard Consulting, with Thomas Cave serving as senior project manager out of Accurate EngiSurv's current office in Westminster, Colorado beginning immediately.

The formation of Accurate EngiSurv, a division of Manhard Consulting, brings clients in the region an enhanced scope of civil engineering and surveying services, including increased access to construction layout, boundary surveys, global position surveys (GPS), and automated computer mapping. The new Accurate EngiSurv division represents a projected 35 percent increase in revenue and personnel for Manhard's Colorado operations over the next year and expands the company's presence north of the Denver metro area. Overall, it represents between four and five percent of Manhard's 2014 planned revenue and staff on a national basis.

Manhard Consulting opened its first satellite office in Colorado in 1998 in response to a client's request to follow them as they expanded to the Rocky Mountain region. This decision to grow the firm and expand geographically based on clients' needs set the groundwork for a pattern of sustained growth across the United States.
"Sometimes the right decision for our clients is also the best decision for our company," said Michael Unger, P.E., area manager of Manhard Consulting. "Forming this new division with Accurate EngiSurv allows Manhard to better serve our clients along the Front Range and the expanding northern Colorado markets." Cave, senior project manager for Accurate EngiSurv, adds, "With our local knowledge and access to Manhard's national network, we feel we can more adequately respond to the needs of our clients."

Manhard Consulting provides civil engineering, surveying, water resources management, water and wastewater engineering, environmental sciences, construction management, land planning, landscape architecture, supply chain logistics, and other services to over 6,000 public- and private-sector clients from its offices in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, and Nevada. The firm's corporate headquarters are in Vernon Hills, Illinois. To learn more, visit  or

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Progressive Engineer publisher Tom Gibson appears in article on influential engineering achievements

IET Labs, a company that markets electrical measuring instruments, has published an article entitled Influential Engineering Advancements in History. They asked several engineers and technical journalists what they considered the most influential engineering achievements, and this included Tom Gibson, publisher and editor of Progressive Engineer, the online magazine. Gibson's response: Henry Ford's development of the automobile and methods of manufacturing it in mass quantities at affordable prices. To see the entire story, visit

New profile posted on Progressive Engineer: John Ebbinghaus invented electrically conductive paste and now markets it through a family business

John Ebbinghaus

With his family, he has started a company to develop and market electrically conductive pastes he invented to improve connections in electrical equipment.

John Ebbinghaus with his daughter Lisa Rinaldo

In 1973, John Ebbinghaus found himself working at Litton Guidance & Control Systems near Los Angeles, and he was given the assignment to create electrically conductive paste for the Navy to use on aircraft carrier electronics test equipment. “They tried it, and it worked,” he recalls. But when he submitted it to Litton’s patent department, they declined to pursue patenting because the company was not in that kind of business. “They released it to me. But because I had a heavy workload, I didn’t really pursue it.”

Actually, though, Ebbinghaus would occasionally dabble with his invention, as he worked on the side to package and sell it, developing half a dozen paste formulas between 1973 and 2010. The effort picked up after he retired from Litton in 1989. “Only over the past eight or nine years have I been successful in developing and marketing new products,” he reveals.

With his daughter Lisa Rinaldo, Ebbinghaus has started a company called Prohm-tect USA in Sioux Falls, South Dakota to manufacture and sell electrically conductive pastes. In a unique family-business arrangement, Lisa and her brother John, Jr. own the company, Lisa handles marketing and other duties, and John, Sr. serves as their engineering consultant. Call it an ideal situation for a retired engineer, a new chapter after a long and fruitful career in the corporate world. Ebbinghaus lives in Mission Viejo, CA and at 87 enjoys good health. He finds the venture fun and rewarding. “It has worked out pretty well. It’s been good to us. She’s doing a wonderful job.”

So just what is electrically conductive paste? It’s designed to improve the conductivity of bolted, clamped, or crimped electrical connections and protect them in corrosive environments, saving equipment from costly repairs or down time. Their primary application is currently in fuel cells and other power generation equipment, but they have the potential for use on a host of other electrical equipment, both consumer and industrial.

Originally dubbed Ohm Killer, the pastes consist of minute micro-sharp metal particles suspended in oil, providing multiple pathways for electrical current in a connection. Ebbinghaus says, “Ours is a special very-high-temperature non-hydrocarbon oil manufactured for use on military aircraft. And that’s about as much as I can tell you because it’s proprietary material.” His selection of materials and development of the processes has proven key to the success of Prohm-tect products. All the formulas come in a variety of sizes ranging from 1-cc syringes to 300-cc caulking tubes, and custom blends can be formulated.

The pastes fall into two broad categories, one using silver particles and the other using a special stainless steel alloy. The silver formula reduces resistance and heat in the electrical interface, an important factor in fuel cells, which typically function as part of an electric-generating power plant for a hospital, university, or other large facility. Ebbinghaus developed a formula for a fuel cell company that resulted in the conductive efficiency going from 21 to 94 percent. “They started retrofitting their units all over the world. That’s when the orders went up,” he recalls.

Prohm-tect is also drawing interest from the wind power and solar energy industries. “I hope that one day Prohm-tect will be the go-to name for electrically conductive paste used on thousands of fuel cells, wind turbines, and solar installations,” Lisa says. “I’d be pleased to know our products are helping the alternative fuel industries maximize their electrical production for the world, and I think my dad would too.”

An early technical start
Having grown up in New Rochelle, New York, Ebbinghaus graduated from a technical school, where he majored in aircraft mechanics and sheet metal work. He was drafted after that and spent a couple of years in the Army. When he got out, he attended Clarkson College of Technology in Potsdam, New York on the GI Bill. It later became Clarkson University, and he graduated from there in 1955 with a 4.5-year Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering (BME) degree.

His first job actually came before he went to college, at Litton Adler Electronics in New Rochelle, where they manufactured electronics for the military and commercial TV stations and also built a transportable 50KW transmitter/studio for Radio Free Europe. He worked as a supervisor of the mechanical manufacturing portion.
Electrical paste comes in syringes so it can be applied accurately.

After college, Ebbinghaus’ first engineering job came with American Bosch Arma in Mineola, New York, where he worked on the Atlas ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile). The inertial guidance system developed there became the first to guide a missile down-range. “My career was based on aerospace and flying, and I worked on gyros and accelerometers for the Atlas missile guidance system,” he relates.

That helps explain how a mechanical engineer like Ebbinghaus ends up working in the realm of electronics. “Every electronics device requires a mechanical engineer,” he states. “I consider myself an electromechanical engineer because I’ve worked on a lot of electronics -- heat exchange, connections, and materials.” As Lisa puts it, “My father has had a very colorful career in mechanical and materials engineering.”

While at American Bosch Arma, Ebbinghaus worked on a job at Vandenburg Air Force Base near Santa Maria, CA. The company was slowing down and about to lay him off. He had a friend that had already joined Litton and had previously worked for American Bosch Arma, and the friend called him saying they had a job for him with Litton Guidance & Control Systems in Woodland Hills near Los Angeles. When he flew back to New York, he remembers landing in a blizzard. “I said, “I don’t care what kind of an offer they make me, I’m going to take it and get out to California’” to escape the winter weather.

At Litton Guidance & Control Systems, Ebbinghaus did design and analysis on aircraft, missiles, re-entry vehicles, submarines, helicopters, tanks, and surveying-equipped Humvees and served as manager of mechanical engineering for factory and customer test equipment. He was also assigned as a reliability project engineer for tracking and improving the reliability of inertial navigation systems used by Navy aircraft such as the F-14 fighter jet and cruise missiles.

Competition out there
Many competitors also produce electrically conductive paste, including companies in the United States and about 150 chemical companies in China. However, Prohm-tect says they use inferior ingredients such as silicone, and this is especially important in fuel cells because the high temperatures can cause a residue to remain when the paste evaporates. Competitors also use a hydrocarbon lubricant, which is also bad for high-temperature applications.

Besides fuel cells, wind turbines, and solar energy systems, Prohm-tect’s electrically conductive pastes have applications in a variety of more mainstream industries. They make formulas for computer connections, USB ports, and other electronic applications; auto and marine applications such as wiring, batteries, and lights; and communications equipment such as antennas, CB equipment, and batteries. It works well on generator connections exposed to the weather, such as those in construction. Ebbinghaus reports, “I’m going out to the various boat repair places and hand out samples and get the business built out here. I think it will do very well.”

Looking down the road, Prohm-tect plans to set up a production facility at the South Dakota Technology Business Center by June 2014. And they are having discussions with nearby South Dakota State University about the use of their testing lab and getting advice from their Electrical Engineering Department.

All this leads Ebbinghaus to proclaim, “The business overall looks very good.” They see the silver paste business doubling in the next year and quadrupling over the next three or four years. “These fuel cells have not really been recognized as green power yet, but they’re getting there now.” As evidence, he sees them used on floating barges in the Port of Los Angeles to power the unloading of ships.

From another angle, Ebbinghaus says, “We’re well positioned to get into the European market. My son lives in Denmark, and they’re part of the European Union, so he could manufacture the products and sell them there.”
This drives home the family nature of the business and how they work together despite being separated by huge distances. “Though we have always been close, I feel this is a special bonding time we have together, working on the business and sharing the joy of watching it take off,” Lisa reflects. “I feel honored to carry it forward in the coming years and build on the effort he’s put into developing the formulas over the years.”

For more information on Prohm-tect, visit

Monday, December 9, 2013

Baxter & Woodman welcomes new employees and opens a new office

Baxter & Woodman Consulting Engineers announces the hiring of new staff members to serve the firm’s growing client base.
Douglas Swanson joined B&W Control Systems Integration, LLC as Systems Integrator. Swanson will design, install, and test supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems and will work out of the firm’s Mokena office. Swanson earned a Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree from Olivet Nazarene University. Most recently with Enercon Engineering, he has 7 years of experience in PLC programming and electrical engineering.
Emily Grimm joined the firm’s water/wastewater design group after completing her Master of Science in Civil Engineering degree from Purdue University, focusing in hydraulics and hydrology. She serves as an environmental project engineer responsible for the study and design of water and wastewater systems.  Grimm recently relocated from Bloomington, IN to Wicker Park in Chicago.
Baxter & Woodman has also added a new office located in the U.S. Cellular Plaza in Chicago, IL. The 7,380-square-foot space supports 25-30 personnel operating across the firm’s civil engineering and technology service lines. The new office is led by Vice President John Ambrose, P.E. and supported by a staff of professional engineers with expertise in transportation, water, wastewater, GIS, Control Systems, and related municipal engineering services.

Baxter & Woodman is an employee-owned engineering firm that provides planning, design, construction and technology services for water, wastewater, stormwater, and transportation facilities for municipalities, counties, and state agencies. Environmental, geographic information systems (GIS), water and wastewater operations, and advanced technology needs complement the firm’s civil engineering expertise. Clients are served from seven regional offices in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. For more information, visit

Monday, December 2, 2013

GEI consultant participates in launch of International Levee Handbook

GEI Consultants, a geotechnical, environmental, water resources, and ecological science and engineering firm, announces its contribution as a member of the United States team to the International Levee Handbook, a new global guide to best practices on the design, construction, maintenance, and improvement of levees. The handbook was released to the public and celebrated by world leaders at a recent launch event  in Aix-en-Provence, France.
In the last decade, flooding events including Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy in the United States, monsoons in Pakistan, and deluged rivers in Germany have placed an increased focus on the vital role of levees and other structures in mitigating flood risk and damage. The ongoing effects of climate change and socio-economic changes will only continue to have an impact on these structures in years to come. The 1,350-page International Levee Handbook is the culmination of more than four years of work between governments, institutes, businesses, and internationally-renowned levee experts in Great Britain, Ireland, France, The Netherlands, Germany, and the United States to offer levee guidance and a framework for international support on engineering decisions.
GEI’s Steve Verigin, P.E., G.E., the firm’s west region manager, served on the executive steering board for the United States during the development of the handbook. Under the project’s formal structure, members of the executive steering board, comprised of three representatives from each participating nation, were consulted as main decision makers on the handbook. The panel worked to ensure information was integrated into the handbook to meet stated objectives; all technical disputes reported by the editorial teams were resolved; and all technical material was approved and agreed upon before publication. In 2012, Verigin and GEI hosted the handbook’s technical editors for a weeklong working session in Sacramento, Calif.
“Individual governments are beginning to recognize the importance of national levee safety programs, and this consortium’s view on protecting lives, property, and infrastructure is a successful example of how we can all learn from our global engineering partners,” said Ray Hart, P.E., G.E., GEI’s president and CEO.  “The lessons offered through this new handbook will help us to elevate our industry’s work as a whole.”
To read more about the International Levee Handbook, visit

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Merrick announces design contract with Denver for multi-use path

Merrick & Company  has been selected to provide professional design services for a 12-foot wide hard-surface, multi-use path along the east side of Inca Street between 38th Avenue and 45th Avenue in Denver, CO and to improve the existing conditions of the 38th Avenue Underpass at Inca Street. The underpass improvements will provide safety and aesthetic enhancements at the 38th Avenue Underpass such as lighting, refurbishment of the underpass walls and railings, and sidewalk repair. The multi-use path will provide pedestrian and bicycle access to the planned commuter rail station located at 41st Avenue and Fox Street and to the Platte River Regional bike trail. The project will include close coordination with the City and County of Denver, RTD, and local and adjacent landowners.  Merrick anticipates the project will complete final design in mid 2014.  

Additionally, Merrick was recently selected by the Castlewood Water and Sanitation District to provide district engineering/program management services for the district. Other current and ongoing civil infrastructure projects for Merrick includes significant work along the Front Range.

Merrick & Company, a $116 million employee-owned firm founded in 1955, provides comprehensive civil engineering and surveying services to private and public sector clients. Merrick focuses on civil infrastructure for public works, municipal, district, federal, and private development clients, including services for street and roadway design, drainage engineering, water resources, wastewater systems, land development, and federal base infrastructure. The company maintains 16 offices in the U.S. as well as offices in Canada, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. For more information, visit

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Stat-X fire suppression systems protect Eurostar trains

Eurostar trains in Europe were designed with channel tunnel safety in mind and consist of two independent half-sets, each with its own power car. In line with Eurostar policy, continuous research is carried out to establish the best means of protecting both rolling stock and passengers while at the same time complying with all current safety and environmental issues. This includes the Kyoto Protocol, which forbids the use of Halon as a fire suppression agent.

On behalf of Eurostar, and responding to the Kyoto requirement for legally binding commitments for the reduction of greenhouse gases, Brush Traction engineers researched available fire-extinguishing systems such as water mist, FM200, Novec 1230, inert gases and condensed aerosol systems as possible alternatives to the current Halon system installed. Their research concluded that the technical leader was Stat-X.  

Stat-X fire suppression systems are distributed throughout Europe by Nobel Fire Systems, a trained and certified Stat-X distributor. Over the last two years Brush, Eurostar, and Nobel have been working together to prove the effectiveness of the system to the Channel Tunnel Safety Authority (CTSA) and the Channel Tunnel Intergovernmental Commission (ICG), including a series of full-scale mockup fire tests at the French fire systems approvals and testing authority CNPP based in Vernon France. On successful conclusion and with final signoff from both the CTSA and the ICG, Eurostar awarded Nobel the contract in July 2012, due for completion in 2015. Nobel has started the removal of the Halon and installation of Stat-X systems, and work on the first two of the 28 trains is now complete. 

The Stat-X system, which also includes a custom interface control panel, is designed to protect the power car, including transformer, common block, and motor block, using both localized and total flood protection methods. In the event of an onboard fire, Stat-X generators can be activated either manually or automatically via the integrated dash-mounted control panel. On activation, the generators produce an ultra fine, potassium-based aerosol.

Unlike gaseous systems, Stat-X aerosol generators are cost-effective to install and maintain as they do not require the pressure vessels, piping, or expensive installation costs associated with other extinguishing systems. Space and weight requirements are minimal and, in many applications, the compact size of the Stat-X aerosol generators makes them the only viable option. Stat-X aerosol generators are virtually maintenance free and have a shelf life of over ten years.

Stat-X fixed systems and Stat-X First Responders are automatic condensed aerosol fire suppression solutions that are eco-friendly (zero ozone depletion, zero atmospheric life, and insignificant global warming potential) and non-toxic. They save lives and protect property for facilities, machinery, vehicles, and industrial sites such as surface and underground mines, military vehicles, long-haul buses, rolling stock, remote telecom sites, wind turbines, power substations, electrical cabinets, and various marine and off-shore settings. They can be manually, thermally, or electrically activated by industry-standard control panels. Stat-X is manufactured by Fireaway, a company with production facilities in Minnetonka, Minnesota and Minden, Louisiana.  Visit for further information.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Engineering students help design award-winning WPI Sports and Recreation Center

Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s (WPI) new Sports and Recreation Center has garnered accolades, with its natatorium structural design acknowledged with an award by the Precast Concrete Institute (PCI) and the U.S. Green Building Certification Institute awarding LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Gold certification. 

PCI named the Sports and Recreation Center its 2013 Best Higher Education Building award winner. The 145,000-square-foot Sports and Recreation Center opened last year. In addition to providing WPI students, faculty, and staff with state-of-the art sports and fitness facilities, the center provides the university space for hosting regional and national robotics competitions as well as other non-sporting events such as admissions open houses, career fairs, and national academic conferences.

Development of the new center was part of WPI's seven-year capital plan. In February 2007 the WPI Board of Trustees adopted a policy calling for all future buildings on campus to be environmentally friendly and designed to meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification. The center is WPI’s third LEED-certified building, after the Bartlett Center—home to the Admissions Office and the first LEED-certified building in Worcester—and East Hall, a residence hall built in 2008 that boasts Worcester’s first living green roof and that received LEED Gold certification. 

Sustainability is a major focus for the university. Faculty members have incorporated sustainability into many student projects and focused on various aspects of sustainability around the world. In the year 2012 alone, some 51 energy-related projects were completed at WPI. Topics of these projects range from those with a social focus to highly technical investigations. Other recent highlights include the Solar Decathlon China 2013 and the Electric Power Industry Symposium.  

During the construction of this the center, WPI also capitalized on the opportunity to provide teaching and learning opportunities for engineering faculty and students. Civil and mechanical engineering students worked with the architects Cannon Design of Boston and the construction managers, Gilbane Building Co. of Providence, to enhance 3D building information modeling (BIM) software, creating a system that integrates all design and construction data. The enhanced system enabled the designers and builders to make changes in HVAC plans and increase the height in the new robotics area, greatly improving its effectiveness and value.

A major feature of the Sports and Recreation Center is the precast concrete natatorium structure housing a 25-meter competition swimming pool with spectator seating. The structure features five-piece precast concrete components spanning 110 feet across the pool. The five pieces include two column pieces, two corner pieces, and one center beam piece.  Precast concrete double-tees span between the bents and support the four-court gymnasium above. The steel-frame structure of the third-floor gymnasium is supported on the precast concrete natatorium structure. The natatorium structure is also integrated into other surrounding steel structures.  

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Plastic Pipes Conference call for papers

An official call for papers has been announced for Plastic Pipes XVII. This international Plastic Pipes Conference and exhibition will be hosted in Chicago 22 – 24 September 2014. Organizers have requested authors to submit paper abstracts in English before 15 November 2013 with final deadline for completed work to be posted by 16 May 2014.

Whereas key subject areas will be market issues, pipeline solutions, application areas, material testing, and performance, special consideration will be given to relevant contributions outside of these criteria. At least 100 individual presentations are scheduled for this event that continues to provide a major technical and commercial window and platform for the industry.

Stephen Boros, VP of engineering at Pipeline Plastics and chairman of the PPXVII conference, explains that Chicago will be one of the most important events for our industry to share new developments in the field of plastic pipe technology and use. “Low cost, ease of installation, sustainability, and long-term performance advantages of plastic pipes continue to propel the industry towards greater global demand in all application sectors. Worldwide expectations for a six-percent annual growth in their use over the next few years are now viewed as conservative given the overwhelming trend for replacement of antiquated competing pipe materials. Increasing demand in energy sectors such as oil and gas gathering and gas distribution, as well as replacement of older failing water and sewer systems is driving much of this growth. This demand is also promoting further development of plastic-based composite piping systems for very high pressures, and new materials such as high performance polyethylene compounds and manufacturing techniques such as bi-oriented PVC technology.”

Conference audiences are typically drawn from a wide spectrum of industry stakeholders that include pipe and fitting manufacturers; gas, water, and sewer utility providers; raw material and additive suppliers; pipeline design engineers; pipeline installers; technical institutes; and industry associations from all over the world. Plastics Pipes XVII is organized in collaboration with The Plastics Pipe Institute, TEPPFA, PE100+ Association and PVC4Pipes.

Paper topics, how to submit an abstract, conference registration, and other information is available from Eva Balassa at or by visiting

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Psomas names Sean Vargas director of sustainability

Reinforcing its long-term commitment to promoting sustainable initiatives, Psomas has announced the appointment of Sean Vargas as the director of sustainability. Vargas’ role is to guide project executives firm-wide in making sustainable project delivery decisions. He will act as a resource to Psomas projects, from design through delivery, promoting sustainable approaches and progressive design and ensuring that the firm’s projects are achieving measurable sustainable goals.
Another of Vargas’ key responsibilities will be guiding internal training efforts for all technical staff to bring them up to speed on Envision. This sustainability planning and rating tool was recently launched by the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure. Vargas will also coordinate the firm’s efforts to manage and improve its internal systems in terms of use of resources.
Vargas is an Envision-credentialed sustainability professional and verifier, and a LEED accredited professional. Most recently, he was in charge of program management for all Psomas contracts under City of Los Angeles Proposition O, a $500 million stormwater quality bond measure.  He has directed similar efforts for Psomas under Proposition A/AA and Measure J, a $5.4 billion Los Angeles Community College District LEED redevelopment program.
Vargas is a licensed civil engineer in California and Florida and holds a degree in environmental engineering. A past director of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Vargas is a member of the American Public Works Association, the American Society of Civil Engineers, and the Southern California Water Committee Stormwater Task Force.
Psomas is a consulting engineering firm serving public and private-sector clients in the transportation, water, site development, federal, and energy markets. Psomas’ 400-plus employees provide services across the western United States in planning, surveying, engineering design, construction management, and environmental consulting. The firm has offices throughout California, Arizona, and Utah. For more information, visit 

Monday, October 14, 2013

FIU to develop technology to fix and build bridges

The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded Florida International University (FIU) a $1.4 million grant to work on one of the nation’s leading challenges: deteriorating bridges. The Accelerated Bridge Construction University Transportation Center (ABC-UTC) at FIU is the first federally funded entity focused on developing technology and methods to improve and accelerate the construction of bridges. The center, led by bridge engineer Atorod Azizinamini, will tackle an urgent transportation need; most of the nation’s roadway system was designed more than 50 years ago to carry much less traffic. Approximately 25 percent of U.S. bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete and need to be retrofitted or replaced, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.
The grant, by the DOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Administrationmakes FIU one of 20 Tier One University Transportation Centers in the U.S. Funding is eligible to be renewed in 2014. Matching funds could bring the total impact of the project to more than $5.6 million over two years. Earlier this month, FIU won an $11.4 million TIGER grant from DOT to improve connectivity between the university’s west Miami-Dade campus, the neighboring city of Sweetwater and other parts of Greater Miami. The public-private UniversityCity project will include a pedestrian bridge over Southwest Eighth Street and a transportation hub at FIU.
Azizinamini, also chair of FIU's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, says the center will focus on faster construction methods that are more cost-effective and result in more durable bridges while minimizing interruptions to traffic. “Our objective is to make accelerated bridge construction the new way of building bridges. To do that, we have to develop new technology, we have to transfer that technology to the profession, and we have to develop the workforce.” Azizinamini is also the principal investigator on another multi-million dollar national project that resulted in the development of the first comprehensive document dedicated to enhance the service life of bridges titled Design Guide for Bridges For Service Life.
The ABC-UTC, which includes researchers from Iowa State University and the University of Nevada, Reno, will hold its first steering committee meeting in December. FIU is also home to the Lehman Center for Transportation Research, which has served South Florida and the nation for 20 years in transportation.

Monday, October 7, 2013

McLaughlin Water Engineers selected for infrastructure development at New Mexico ski area

McLaughlin Water Engineers (MWE), a division of Merrick & Company, was selected as the engineer to provide master planning, design, construction management, and development reviews for the high-mountain village of Taos Ski Valley, NM.  The village is home to a large ski resort in the mountains of northern New Mexico with an elevation above 10,000 feet.  With an annual average snowfall of over 300 inches, the snow creates optimal conditions for winter sports but presents challenges in providing the necessary infrastructure to support the population, specifically at the height of the ski season. 

The original water infrastructure of the village had utilities that leaked, occasionally froze, and required constant maintenance.  Given these conditions, the village was recently awarded a $2 million financing program to upgrade its water system from the New Mexico Water Trust Fund.  Program elements include a 250,000 gallon underground tank beneath a ski run to protect the base village, seven replacement pressure control stations, approximately 5,000 feet of key pipelines, and a water disinfection/control station.  This program is to be completed by the 2013/2014 ski season.

An employee-owned firm, Merrick & Company ( provides comprehensive civil engineering and surveying services to private and public sector clients.  Merrick focuses on civil infrastructure for public works, municipal, district, federal, and private development clients, including services for street and roadway design, drainage engineering, water resources and systems, wastewater systems, land development, and federal base infrastructure.  The company maintains 16 offices in the United States and offices in Canada, Mexico, and the United Kingdom.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Energy Systems Integration Facility dedicated at NREL

Recently, the design and construction team of SmithGroupJJR and JE Dunn Construction celebrated the dedication of the new $135 million Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) at the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) campus in Golden, Colorado. A model in sustainable design and energy efficient performance, the ESIF creates a new home for scientists and engineers to collaborate on the development and delivery of renewable energy technologiesHousing the most powerful and energy efficient data center in the world dedicated solely to renewable energy and energy efficiency research, this advanced research complex will transform the nation’s energy infrastructure.

SmithGroupJJR, an architecture, engineering, and planning firm, designed the three-story, 182,500-square-foot research complex, and JE Dunn Construction performed as general contractor for the design-build venture.

Located southeast of the existing SmithGroupJJR-designed Science & Technology Facility, the ESIF is the nation's only facility that can conduct integrated megawatt-scale testing of the components and strategies needed to safely move clean energy technologies onto the electrical grid "in-flight" at the speed and scale required to meet federal policy.

The ESIF incorporates the best in energy efficiency, environmental performance, and advanced controls using a “whole building” integrated design approach that complies with Energy Star standards. SmithGroupJJR and JE Dunn worked together to support the Department of Energy’s goal to develop an energy efficient building that imparts minimal impact on the environment. The ESIF is designed to earn a LEED Platinum rating from the U.S. Green Building Council and is anticipated to become the highest certified facility of its type to include a high-performance computing data center as a major building component.

Consisting of 14 laboratories, a high-bay control room, outdoor testing pads, an office building, and a computing data center, the facility houses 200 researchers dedicated to delivering emerging solar, hydrogen, biofuel and wind technologies to the mainstream marketplace. Central to the laboratories is the Research Electrical Distribution Bus (REDB), the nation’s first integrated, megawatt-scale hardware-in-the-loop real-time simulation system. The REDB allows researchers and manufacturers to conduct integration tests at full power and actual load levels in real-time simulation and evaluate component and system performance before going to market. A petascale computing data and visualization center extends the ESIF’s research capabilities and enables large-scale modeling and simulation of material properties, processes, and fully integrated systems that would be cost-prohibitive to study by direct experimentation. The visualization center offers the ability to experience these complex systems simulations in a three-dimensional, immersive virtual environment.

Targeting stringently low-energy consumption rates, the team employed a range of advanced technologies and best practices to balance the building’s energy and performance goals:
- Operable windows enable natural cooling and ventilation throughout the building
- Solar-powered fans aid in extracting heat load from office environments
- Vertical and horizontal exterior shading devices control daylight entering the building and mitigate solar heat gain
- Large expanses of diffuse clerestory glazing combined with 15-foot long skylights deliver daylight deep into the middle of the floor plates
- Electrical lights are shut off from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm daily in the office and laboratory buildings
- Process and electrical energy from experiments is managed, harvested, and transferred to other laboratories for simultaneous use/reuse
- Waste heat from the data center is captured and reused to heat the facility during winter months and is also exported to other parts of the campus

The ESIF office building has achieved an energy consumption rate (EUI) of 23.0 kBTU per square foot annually, 74% better than the national average. Power usage effectiveness (PUE) rate for the data center is 1.04; the national average data center PUE ranges between 1.5 and 2.0.

JE Dunn Construction has 20 offices in 14 states ( and maintains local offices in Denver and Colorado Springs, providing construction throughout the Rocky Mountains. SmithGroupJJR’s ( Science & Technology Practice has completed the planning and design of over 18 million square feet of academic, corporate, and government research laboratories across the United States, ranging from small laboratory renovations to large research campuses.