Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Beaudin Ganze Consulting Engineers Completes Ownership TransitionBeaudinGanze

Beaudin Ganze Consulting Engineers (BGCE) has finalized its ownership transition, with Dan Koelliker, P.E., in place as president. He is joined by Debbie Eachus, finance manager; Eric Rubottom, P.E., hospitality and technology services leader; Morgan Royce, P.E., New Mexico business unit leader; and Wes Ploof, P.E., metro Denver business unit leader. Co-founder Denis Beaudin, former president and majority owner of the firm, completed the transition to members of the senior leadership team, all of whom are previous shareholders of the firm and together have an average tenure of more than 15 years with BGCE.

“With BGCE in excellent shape and new opportunities emerging for myself, now is the time to complete our long-awaited, much anticipated succession plan,” says Beaudin. “Each of the owners has held key leadership positions, and has the skills, energy and outlook necessary to steer the course of BGCE into its next chapter of continued success.”

Beaudin’s plans for the future include developing NRG Design Build, a separate entity from BGCE with several shareholders in common. Beaudin completed purchase of NRG on March 23 . “Denis is an entrepreneur,” says Koelliker. “After nearly a quarter of a century at the helm of BGCE, he has the opportunity once again to focus his energies on NRG and see it grow. We are all excited about the opportunities ahead.”

Koelliker noted that most clients of BGCE will likely not see much change in daily contacts and ongoing project work. “The senior leadership team and project staff have been in place for some time,” he remarks. 

BGCE is involved in mechanical, electrical, plumbing (MEP), lighting and technology design as well as commissioning, energy modeling and management, and LEED consulting. The firm specializes in high-end homes, hospitality, healthcare, education, civic, cultural, commercial and mixed-use sectors and has offices in Vail, Denver, and Fort Collins, CO; Jackson, WY; and Albuquerque, NM. For more information, visit www.bgce.com. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Louis Berger sweeps Engineering Excellence Grand Awards from ACEC Metro Washington

Louis Berger took top honors in both the design and non-design categories from the American Council of Engineering Companies of Metropolitan Washington (ACEC/MW) at its annual Engineering Excellence Awards dinner. The industry organization honored the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool reconstruction as the top design project and the Washington Monument earthquake repair project, which Louis Berger managed jointly with Hill International, as the top non-design project.

The Washington Monument was damaged on Aug. 23, 2011 by a magnitude-5.8 earthquake. Cracks formed in the century-old stone and water damage was discovered inside the monument after Hurricane Irene hit days later. A joint venture of Louis Berger and Hill International was selected to provide comprehensive construction management services for the $15 million restoration. In total, the project repointed 2.5 miles of mortar joints, repaired 1,200 linear feet of cracks, and installed 150 square feet of Dutchman repairs. More than 75,000 man-hours of work were recorded on the project.

ACEC/MW also honored the $34 million Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool reconstruction. Constructed in 1923, the original pool was not supported by structural piles and had settled unevenly for decades, causing cracks and substantial leaking. Prior to the reconstruction, the pool used 30 million gallons of potable city water annually. The National Park Service selected Louis Berger to provide planning, design, and construction management services for the reconstruction. The project involved a full structural rehabilitation of the pool, supported by piles driven into bedrock for the first time in its history. Louis Berger conceived and successfully implemented a new pool design that draws water from the nearby Tidal Basin, minimizing the impact on the city's potable water supply by tens of millions of gallons per year. Circulation systems and a water treatment facility ensure that the water in the pool gets reused and remains clear and reflective.

"The Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool are two of the most iconic destinations in the country," says Tom Lewis, president of Louis Berger's U.S.-based operating company. "To be selected to work on these national icons and to have our work and emphasis on sustainable solutions honored by ACEC is humbling."

The Engineering Excellence Awards celebrate the most outstanding project achievements in the field of engineering around the world. Projects are judged based on originality, innovation, value to the public and the engineering profession, complexity, social and economic considerations, sustainability, and exceeding client needs.

Louis Berger is a $1 billion global professional services corporation that helps infrastructure and development clients solve their challenges. They partner with national, state and local government agencies; multilateral institutions; and commercial industry clients worldwide. Louis Berger operates on every habitable continent and has a presence in more than 50 nations, represented by the multidisciplinary expertise of nearly 6,000 engineers, economists, scientists, managers and planners.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Making smart materials smarter earns Virginia Tech engineer prestigious Air Force award

Virginia Tech researcher Pablo Tarazaga speaks of solid structures such as aluminum beams as if they were living organisms. From his mechanical engineering perspective, Tarazaga, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering, wants to grow mechanical waves in solid one- and two-dimensional materials to manipulate their performances, much like puppets on strings. By influencing the wave propagation in a solid structure, Tarazaga says, "the host can interact in a number of novel ways with its surroundings, including propelling itself through a medium" similar to a fish swimming and flapping.

This characteristic has numerous advantages. For example, if a structure is capable of retaining its integrity, yet has the ability to change its shape, like morphing aircraft wings, then a single aircraft could have diverse capabilities, better fuel efficiency, and increased aerodynamics performance, Tarazaga explains. The results also can be used to create novel and controlled fluid-structure interactions, such as mixing of fluids through a pipe or pumps, without the need of mixers or centrifuge mechanisms.

His efforts in this field of adapting structural vibrations garnered Tarazaga a prestigious 2015 Air Force Young Investigator Award, valued at $449,600 over a three-year period. He is one of only 57 scientists and engineers in the United States to receive the honor this year. With the award, Tarazaga says he hopes to create a new approach in how researchers conceptualize the traveling waves in solid materials. "By manipulating the wave propagation in a solid structure, several activities can occur. Materials inside the structure might move much like a conveyer belt. Or the host structure could flip this effect and propel itself through a medium like the fish. Or the material might manipulate incoming external disturbances, analogous to vibro-acoustic camouflage."

Before receiving the Air Force honor, the mechanical engineer led a team in the development of a pilot project to create a solid-state vehicle. However, the prototype did not resemble a conventional vehicle, as it was made of an aluminum plate cable with no additional parts except strategically placed electronics and piezoceramics. The vehicle's motion was "due to the highly controlled wave propagation in the desired direction of travel, thus creating a vehicle with a highly precise maneuverability," Tarazaga says. The team of undergraduate and graduate students later received the American Society of Mechanical Engineers' Student Best Hardware Competition Finalist Award at its 2014 Smart Materials, Adaptive Structures, and Intelligent Systems Conference.

Because this "vehicle," as Tarazaga called it, could rotate in place and travel in a perpendicular fashion to the direction it was facing, it represented a "paradigm shift, as the three main components of a vehicle were merged into one. The structural housing or the chassis, the maneuverability component or the steering wheel, and the propulsion system, the engine, were all consolidated.

"Our whole design approach represents a more holistic process," he adds. It helps that Tarazaga directs Virginia Tech's Smart Infrastructure Laboratory, the most instrumented building in the world for vibrations. This living laboratory, where sensing devices were inserted as it was being built, under the direction of Tarazaga, along with his colleague Mary Kasarda, allows researchers and students to be constantly aware of its structural health. For instance, during an earthquake an interior beam might suffer a movement not visible to the naked eye. The sensors would alert Tarazaga.

Similarly, the Smart Infrastructure Laboratory researchers use its sensing information to improve all types of civil and mechanical infrastructure design and monitoring. They also can investigate how humans interact with the environment. Tarazaga also directs the Vibrations, Adaptive Structures and Testing Laboratory in the mechanical engineering department.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Merrick Designs facility for converting algae to renewable biofuels

Merrick & Company has been engaged by Genifuel Corporation to provide the design and commissioning of a hydrothermal processing pilot system for Reliance Industries. Merrick was responsible for the design of the facility, from front-end engineering through detailed design and testing. The system uses heat, pressure, and catalysts to chemically and physically convert wet feedstocks to natural gas or oil that can then be further refined into aviation fuel, gasoline, and diesel. The system is skid-mounted with electrical, instrumentation, and controls components that are compatible with the standards of India, where it will be expanded to a larger scale after testing is finalized on the current system. Springs Fabrication fabricated the skids, installed all the equipment on them, and provided space and utilities for commissioning. 

The technology originated at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, WA. The Federal Laboratory Consortium just awarded PNNL the 2015 Excellence in Technology Transfer for its work on the project. The current system will process algae, and unlike traditional extraction methods, which separate lipids out of algae to make biodiesel, PNNL's process converts whole algae into biocrude, fuel gas, and usable byproducts. This doubles the yield of biofuel from algae and cuts the cost of production by 86 percent.

According to Jim Oyler, president of Genifuel Corporation, “This award demonstrates how effectively the Federal Laboratory System can work with private industry to convert taxpayer-funded R&D into economic growth for the country. Typically, successful R&D contributes many times over when it leads to a practical product, and this award recognizes the kind of collaboration that makes this possible.”

Merrick & Company (www.merrick.com), an engineering, architecture, design-build, surveying, planning, and geospatial solutions firm, has been engaged in the energy industry since 1955 as an advisor and provider of solutions. From traditional energy sources to sustainable renewables and bioprocessing, Merrick specializes in difficult challenges. Based in Colorado, the employee-owned company maintains offices in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the United Kingdom.