Saturday, August 27, 2016

WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff to add over 100 technical staff in NYC

WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, a global engineering and professional services consulting organization, is looking to add 120 technical professionals to its New York City staff. The firm’s New York City office provides a wide range of services in such areas as transportation design and construction, structural and mechanical/electrical/plumbing engineering for buildings, and environmental and energy services.

“Our firm’s continued growth across several markets has necessitated an expansion of the professional staff in our New York City office,” says Gregory Kelly, president and CEO of the U.S., Central and South America region of WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff. “We expect to expand our technical staff considerably over the next few months to be able to meet project demands.”
Among the technical specialties sought are civil engineering, construction inspection, transportation planning, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and surveying. “We are experiencing organic growth in all our service areas but especially in transportation as well as comprehensive buildings services,” Kelly adds.

WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff provides services designed to transform the built environment and restore the natural one. The firm’s expertise ranges from environmental remediation and urban planning, to engineering iconic buildings and designing sustainable transport networks, to developing the energy sources of the future and enabling new ways of extracting essential resources. Approximately 34,000 employees, including engineers, technicians, scientists, architects, planners, surveyors, program and construction management professionals, and various environmental experts, work for the organization in more than 500 offices across 40 countries worldwide. For more information, visit

Friday, August 19, 2016

Thomson Industries provides motion control products for student tractor design competition

Thomson Industries, a manufacturer of mechanical motion control solutions, served as a silver sponsor of this year’s International Quarter Scale (IQS) tractor design competition of the American Society of Agricultural & Biological Engineers (ASABE). In this annual event, engineering students design and build garden-sized tractors and then compete in a variety of performance events. Thomson provided students with motion control technology such as actuators as well as financial support for the competition.

“The ASABE tractor competition is unique in that it fosters leadership, management, and marketing skills as well as engineering design innovation,” says Sheena Byrnes, sales director, global key accounts at Thomson. “This is a great opportunity to showcase the performance and versatility of electromechanical motion control solutions to enhance the design and performance of the tractors. We made our full catalog of motion control products available at no cost to the students’ teams, so there was no limit on their creativity."

Each competing team was given a 31-horsepower Briggs & Stratton engine, a set of Titan tires and the knowledge that industry experts would judge them based on innovation, manufacturability, serviceability, maneuverability, safety, sound level, and ergonomics. Each team submitted a written design report in advance and sold their design at the competition in a formal presentation to industry experts playing the role of a corporate product evaluation team. Lastly, they put their entry to the test in three tractor pulls and a durability course.

The following are among the Thomson products that students incorporated in their designs:
·  Thomson Elektrak throttle actuators are used in throttle control, steering, ergonomic steering wheel, adjustments, mirror adjustments, etc.
·  The Thomson Max Jac linear actuator is built to perform in harsh environments and materials such as fertilizers, mud, sand, high pressure water, slush, salt water, snow, heat, or heavy vibrations and requires little or no maintenance and service.
·  The Electrak 10 actuators incorporate a screw drive system for applications requiring maximum load capacity.
·  The Electrak HD actuator, built with an integrated control system that includes J1939 bus communication, allows for enhanced controllability, condition monitoring, and advanced diagnostics.

“Motion control opens many avenues for design innovation, and we are pleased to have a company of Thomson’s stature participating in the competition,” says Kent Thoreson, IQS vice chair II. “I am sure we will see innovations that are new to the competition and the industry.”

This year’s competition took place on June 2-5, 2016 at the Expo Gardens Fairgrounds in Peoria, Illinois and saw the University of Nebraska claim victory. More information on the event can be found at

With more than 70 years of motion control innovation and quality, Thomson produces linear ball bushing bearings and profile rail bearings, 60 case shafting, ground and rolled ball screws, linear actuators, gearheads, clutches, brakes, linear systems, and related accessories. Thomson invented the linear ball bushing bearing in 1945. Serving global commercial and aerospace and defense markets, the firm is based in Radford, Virginia and has other facilities in North America, Europe, and Asia with over 2000 distributor locations around the world. For more information, visit

Saturday, August 13, 2016

POWER Engineers helps AEP win top industry honor

POWER Engineers (POWER) helped American Electric Power (AEP) successfully complete the longest replacement of energized conductor in the United States and bring more reliable power to the residents of South Texas. The project has earned AEP the electric power industry’s most prestigious honor, the Edison Award. The Edison Electric Institute award recognizes AEP’s leadership and innovation in replacing conductor on two 345 kV transmission lines. The lines begin in Corpus Christi and supply the majority of power to the Lower Rio Grande Valley, 120 miles to the south.

“Completion of the project helps guarantee reliable electricity in South Texas for years to come,” says Erik Ruggeri, senior project engineer with POWER. As the engineer of record, POWER worked closely with AEP’s contractor to design a temporary single-phase line that allowed the entire 240 circuit-miles to be replaced with aluminum conductor composite core while energized. It involved installing more than 1,440 miles of advanced conductor on the 240 circuit-miles.

Keeping the line energized meant that AEP’s customers could run their air conditioners, charge their cell phones, or watch TV without interruption while AEP improved the reliability of the electric grid to meet a huge growth in demand. Lower Rio Grande Valley population has grown about 30 percent since 2000 and continues to expand.

“Because the lines were being replaced while energized, substation construction became the determining factor in terms of outage duration,” reports Joel Lankutis, the substation project engineer for POWER.” Coming up with a design that could actually be constructed under these outage constraints was the biggest challenge.”

POWER’s services included outage planning as well as scheduling and coordinating work on the stations and replacing the conductor. Engineering and construction had to be carefully placed in sequence and coordinated to make the most of the limited planned outages. POWER also expedited the protection and control center design to meet the construction schedule for a prefabricated control building. AEP focused on the transmission system upgrade after extremely cold temperatures in February 2011 in the Lower Rio Grande Valley triggered record peak electricity demand. POWER also provided engineering design services for the complete overhaul of the Lon Hill substation at Corpus Christi, where both 345 kV lines originate, and for work at four other 345 kV substations south of the city.

POWER Engineers is a global consulting engineering firm specializing in the delivery of integrated solutions for energy, food and beverage, facilities, communications, environmental, and federal markets. POWER offers multidiscipline engineering, architectural, and program management services. Founded in 1976, it is an employee-owned company with more than 2,100 employees and 45 offices throughout the United States and abroad. For more information, visit

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Virginia Tech faculty awarded $2.5 million from NSF to advance future wireless technologies

The White House recently announced its Advanced Wireless Research Initiative to be led by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to pursue innovative spectrum policy and research efforts that will accelerate the deployment of a new generation of wireless networks up to 100 times faster than today.

NSF has awarded Wireless @ Virginia Tech, a cognition and communication center funded by the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science (ICTAS), several research projects in support of the initiative. The funding, totaling more than $2.5 million, will seek to address critical issues concerning emerging wireless communication networks and technology, which are vital to economic growth and development in the United States.

"The five research projects awarded to Virginia Tech are intended to propel the technological revolution of wireless for decades ahead, from spectrum management to the Internet of Things,” says NSF program director Thyaga Nandagopal. “The White House initiative aims to deploy and use four city-scale testing platforms for advanced wireless research over the next decade with Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research, a program designed to develop wireless research platforms conceived by the U.S. academic and industrial wireless research community."

Multiple faculty members from the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering and Wireless @ Virginia Tech will serve as academic research partners to create solutions fundamental to the nation's progress. “Virginia Tech is a world leader in radio spectrum and cognitive radio research, “says Michael Buehrer, professor of electrical and computer engineering (ECE) and director of Wireless @ Virginia Tech. “We are pleased NSF has invested in our efforts to drive research to the next level in support of the White House’s initiative.”

The first and the largest of the five awards, totaling $830,356, “Implications of Receiver Front End Nonlinearity on Network Performance: Fundamentals, Limitations, and Management Strategies,” focuses on overcoming limitations of low-quality radio receivers that cause interference or are susceptible to interference. The principal investigator on this project is Jeffrey Reed, the Willis G. Professor of ECE, and co-principal investigators are Allan MacKenzie, associate director of Wireless @ Virginia Tech and associate professor of ECE, and Vuk Marojevic, research associate of ECE.

The second award, for $600,000, will fund an upgrade to Virginia Tech’s Cognitive Radio Network Testbed (CORNET), a collection of 48 software-defined radio nodes deployed within Kelly Hall, a four-story building on Virginia Tech's main campus. This facility will be used to test new concepts in wireless access, including techniques that will use artificial intelligence to control the radios. The grant will also support educational and outreach efforts to reach students and STEM professionals through demonstrations, conferences, and an annual international student design contest. The principal investigator on this award is Carl Dietrich, associate research professor of ECE, and co-principal investigators are Jerry Park, professor of ECE; Vuk Marojevic, research associate of ECE; and Reed.

The third award, for $400,000, will fund research for “Joint Backhaul and Radio Access Design for Heterogeneous Wireless Networks,” specifically working to enable tomorrow’s cellular systems to support bandwidth-intensive wireless applications, such as mobile high-definition video streaming, though modeling based on microeconomic principles and geometric-based coverage estimates. The NSF award will also support educational activities for underrepresented student groups in research via hands-on projects and outreach events. Harpreet Dhillon, assistant professor of ECE, will lead the research with co-principal investigator Walid Saad, assistant professor of ECE.

The fourth award, for $400,000, for “Smart Interference Management for Wireless Internet of Things,” will study how to cope with the potential interference in the coming Wireless Internet-of-Things (W-IoT), consisting of billions of wireless devices creating enormous amounts of data traffic over the airwaves. Tom Hou, the Bradley Distinguished Professor of ECE and principal investigator, will work to create and demonstrate a new approach for W-IoT devices to automatically invoke and configure interference management techniques to ensure smooth wireless communications.

The fifth award, totaling approximately $1 million, with Virginia Tech’s share coming to $375,000, is a collaborative project with Temple University and the University of Arizona called “Coexistence of Heterogeneous Wireless Access Technologies in the 5 GHz Band.” It seeks to create solutions for enabling the harmonious coexistence between unlicensed-LTE, Wi-Fi, and Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC) operating in the same band. Jerry Park, professor of ECE and principal investigator, will work to develop solutions for new emerging technologies beyond today’s LTE, Wi-Fi, and DSRC systems.

Monday, August 1, 2016

FAA grants RETTEW exemption for drones

Engineering firm RETTEW has announced that the FAA has granted an exemption for the use of the firm’s drone (unmanned aircraft system) for surveying and mapping purposes. Although RETTEW has owned a drone for about a year, the firm was not authorized to use the system commercially until the FAA granted the exemption.

Drones have been hotly debated over the last few years. Those against drones see them as a violation of their privacy, while those in favor feel their rights are jeopardized by the government restricting their use. The U.S. government is selective when it comes to who it allows to use drones for commercial and recreational purposes. One must register with the FAA to get an exemption for commercial use, like in RETTEW’s case. The FAA has granted only 5,114 UAS exemptions to date.

With the FAA exemption, RETTEW can now use the drone for rooftop surveys, mapping of land areas, and inspections of bridges and pipelines. Safety is a priority at RETTEW, and using drones will allow the firm to provide reliable data to clients while keeping employees out of harm’s way. “Keeping up with the latest surveying technology allows RETTEW to build on the services we offer and pass further cost savings onto our clients,” says Mark Lauriello, RETTEW’s president and CEO.

RETTEW began providing civil engineering and surveying services in 1969, and today it has more than 350 employees at nine offices in Lancaster, Lehigh Valley, Mechanicsburg, and Pittsburgh, PA; Canton, OH; Delhi, NY; Bridgeport, WV, and Denver, CO. For more information, visit