Monday, September 29, 2014

Mary Erchul of Ghirardelli Associates installed as new president of ACEC California

The American Council of Engineering Companies of California (ACEC California) announces Mary Erchul, a professional registered engineer and project manager/resident engineer of Ghirardelli Associates, as president of the organization. Her term runs through June 30, 2015.  ACEC California’s core purpose is to strengthen California’s engineering and land surveying businesses to build a better California.

“California is at a crossroads in its ability to finance and deliver vital infrastructure such as highways, roads, bridges, railways, airports, energy, water, wastewater and communications.  My goal is to focus on positive engagement with the public sector to build lasting partnerships that will strengthen our member firms, our organization, and our state,” Erchul says. 

Erchul also says she hopes to use the visibility created by her appointment to encourage more women to pursue careers in engineering and land surveying.  According to a 2013 study by the National Science Foundation, the percentage of women employed in the engineering field is the lowest of any technical occupation and at just 13 percent is significantly lower than engineering as a whole in the U.S. workforce.  Meanwhile, a 2012 study conducted by the Girl Scout Research Institute showed that almost two thirds of U.S. teenage girls were interested in careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).   

Erchul is the first woman to serve as president of the organization since 2005 and only the second to serve in the role since the formation of the organization in the early 1950s.  She has more than 25 years of experience in the management and design of municipal projects throughout California, from initial planning through final design and construction management. She is considered a national expert in pavement engineering and has worked both locally and nationally on major roadway and highway projects.

Some of her recent projects include being part of the project management team working with the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) Rail Division on the Metrolink Service Expansion Program (MSEP).  She is currently working with the towns of Ross and Moraga and the Alameda County Transportation Commission as a construction manager on infrastructure improvement projects. 
Erchul is a registered professional engineer in California. She has a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley and a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

With offices throughout California, Ghirardelli Associates is an engineering firm that specializes in construction inspection and management on public works projects in the state. For more information, visit

Monday, September 22, 2014

GZA GeoEnvironmental promotes Matthew Taylor to associate principal

GZA GeoEnvironmental, an environmental and geotechnical consulting firm, announces that Matthew Taylor of Norfolk, MA has been promoted to associate principal, operating from the company’s Norwood office. Taylor is a registered professional engineer in MA, RI, ME, CT and NJ has served as a consulting geotechnical engineer on an array of projects ranging from dam rehabilitation to forensic evaluations to construction administration.
With GZA for seven years, Taylor currently serves as the technical service area lead for the firm’s Dams Group. His areas of specialization include dam and levee safety engineering, project management, seepage and slope stability analyses, subsurface investigations, development on contract drawings and specifications, environmental permitting, construction oversight, and grant applications.
Taylor earned a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Rhode Island and his Master of Science in Geotechnical Engineering from Northeastern University.  He is currently working towards a Professional Certificate in Strategic Management from the Harvard University Extension School.

Founded in 1964, GZA GeoEnvironmental is a multi-disciplinary firm providing environmental, geotechnical, ecological, water, and construction management services.  GZA maintains corporate offices in Norwood, MA 02062 and has over 500 employees and operates 25 offices in the New England, Mid-Atlantic, Great Lakes, and Appalachian regions of the United States. For more information, visit

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ohio University electrochemical engineering research center receives $379,000 NIST grant

Ohio University’s Center for Electrochemical Engineering Research (CEER) has been granted $379,000 by the U.S. Department of Commerce and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The award will be used to establish  a consortium to support, sustain, and enhance U.S. manufacturing capacity in the nation's chemical industry and allied sectors through innovative electrochemical processes. Under the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia (AMTech) Program, the award will specifically support a roadmapping activity that could lead to funding for implementation of identified solutions.

“With this award, NIST has recognized electrochemical engineering research as a primary path to foster U.S. manufacturing growth,” said CEER Director and Russ Professor Gerri Botte. Botte, who is known internationally for developing the “pee-to-power” process in which hydrogen can be created from human and animal wastewater for use in fuel cells, is also director of the Center for Electrochemical Processes and Technology (CEProTECH), a National Science Foundation (NSF) industry university cooperative research center.

According to Botte, electrochemical engineering provides transformative solutions that can benefit the entire U.S. chemical industry, from major producers to lower-tier suppliers. For example, environmentally friendly electrochemical methods can be used to convert alternative feedstock into useful chemicals and materials such as alcohols, hydrogen, polymers, and graphene, she said. Botte notes that the nation's $1.5 trillion chemical industry employs 800,000 workers and indirectly supports 5.5 million additional jobs. The industry also confronts technology challenges, including uncertain energy supplies, energy-intensive manufacturing processes and the need to reduce waste and conserve water.

The team – named the Electrochemical Pathway for Sustainable Manufacturing Consortium (EPSuM) - will consist of industry and science leaders from the electrochemical engineering field as well as industry, academic, and association leaders. They will develop a roadmap that engages the chemical industry and its supply chain in identifying critical manufacturing needs, assessing technology options to meet these needs, setting technology research priorities, and devising a sustainable plan for developing and implementing new or improved process technologies.

As part of the process, chemical industry experts will provide input to identify critical needs and select technology alternatives. The group will then generate and implement a sustainable plan to develop and deploy them for the NIST’s next phase of funding: implementation.

EPSuM will capitalize on the infrastructure of CEER and CEProTECH, with PolymerOhio, a NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership and experienced leader in conducting roadmapping and strategic planning, leading the roadmapping process. The Electrochemical Society, an international educational association concerned with a broad range of phenomena relating to electrochemical and solid-state science and technology, will expand the participation of electrochemical science and technology experts in the process with its network of more than 9,000 industry and academic scientists in the field of electrochemical science and engineering.

“As the work of the Center for Electrochemical Engineering Center, and that of Director Botte, are increasingly recognized, it is clear that their vision of the role of electrochemical engineering in responsible and sustainable solutions to environmental, energy, and materials processing technology problems is one of the most promising avenues for the Russ College’s investment in energy and environmental strategies,” says Russ College Dean Dennis Irwin.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Steven Miller promoted to assistant vice president at GAI Consultants

Engineering and environmental consulting firm GAI Consultants (GAI) has announced the promotion of Senior Director Steven Miller, P.E., MBA to assistant vice president. As an officer, Miller will be integral in formulating and administering organizational policies and long-range goals.  

Miller directs and coordinates GAI’s electric transmission, substation, and structural rehabilitation business lines and will be responsible for setting growth objectives for these markets. With 26 years of experience at GAI and 30 years of experience in the industry, he has helped develop and grow the Electric Transmission and Substation Department from just three employees in 2007 to more than 45 employees today. He has managed over 100 transmission line projects valued at over $20 million since he began managing the Transmission Line Engineering Department in 2005. Miller received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Civil Engineering from Washington State University and his Master of Business Administration from Point Park University.

In business since 1958, GAI is an employee-owned planning, engineering, and environmental consulting firm providing local expertise to worldwide clients in the energy, transportation, development, government, and industrial markets. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA, GAI has offices throughout several eastern and midwestern states. For more information, visit

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Jacksonville University selected for National Science Foundation grant

Jacksonville University has been awarded a $625,273 grant from the National Science Foundation that will cement the university’s status as an institution of higher education offering science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) degree programs. The NSF is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; and to secure the national defense.” It accounts for about 20 percent of federal support to academic institutions for research. JU’s award period is July 15, 2014, to June 30, 2019. 

“NSF grants are prestigious and highly competitive,” says JU Provost/Chief Academic Officer Dr. Wenying Xu. “Our faculty’s success in obtaining an NSF STEM grant thrusts JU into the national scene of STEM education.” A portion of the grant creates 14 annual scholarships of up to $10,000 each for qualified students and also will be used to build a comprehensive support system that sets them up for lifelong success as leaders in the community and beyond. In addition to the annual scholarships, Jacksonville University students will be aided by development of a Residential Learning Community, faculty mentors, tutoring, peer study groups, skills training and career development. Students also take part in an annual national mathematical modeling competition, undergraduate research and internships with local government and industry partners. 

The NSF grant also supports ASPIRE, JU’s $120 million comprehensive campaign designed to enhance the JU student experience with academic, programmatic, and facilities upgrades, Dr. Xu says. It also complements the University’s recently announced Florida Entrepreneurial, Policy and Innovation Center (EPIC), which is expected to boost economic development in Florida through a collaborative, cross-disciplinary approach among universities, business interests, governmental organizations, venture capitalists, and the military. 

JU biology Prof. Lee Ann Clements, Ph.D., chair of the university’s Division of Science and Mathematics, says the NSF was impressed by the university’s innovative, multi-pronged, and integrated support approach to its program. “This is about building a robust learning community structure, with students benefitting from taking overlapping courses as a group and receiving social and academic support,” she says. “We know there’s a high demand for students trained in these areas, so it’s an opportunity to help Northeast Florida, our students, and JU, all in one project.”