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