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.