Monday, December 31, 2018

Daikin announces first U.S. supermarket retrofit of R-22 to Creard R-407H refrigerant

Daikin America has partnered with TOPS Friendly Markets to complete the first refrigeration conversion of a U.S. supermarket from R-22 to Creard R-407H refrigerant. At the TOPS store in Alden, NY, 1200 pounds of Creard R-407H has been used to provide more than 25 cooling tons in medium-temperature refrigerated cases and displays

Daikin's new Creard R-407H refrigerant is a low global-warming-potential (GWP) blend designed for new refrigeration systems and as a replacement for R-22, R-404A and R-507 in existing systems. Creard R-407H has a GWP of 1380, one of the lowest GWP options for refrigeration systems, providing a combination of performance while being economical relative to the products it is replacing. This comes in response to regulations to phase out ozone-depleting substances resulting from the Montreal Protocol.

Daikin engineers worked closely with TOPS to address key requirements:
  • A GWP of less than 1500 to position TOPS with a sustainable solution for the useful life of the equipment in the event of any future climate related regulatory policies.
  • Equivalent or better energy efficiency and refrigeration capacity across the entire operating range.
  • A close match in temperature, pressure, and volumetric flow rate properties to R-22, to use the same expansion devices, distribution system, and piping.
  • Traditional chemistry, with proven material compatibility with legacy R-22 equipment.
  • Cost-effectiveness in long-term operation.
After the conversion from R-22 to Creard R-407H, the system was monitored for three months. Throughout the test, data was collected on operating pressures, temperatures, and energy consumption of the system. The power consumption during the test months when compared to R-22 was 2 percent higher after the first fill and system shakedown and then improved to 0.5 percent lower after the controller was tuned. The cooling capacity remained the same between R-22 and R-407H.

Tim Bowen, TOPS Markets maintenance manager, states, "Creard R-407H is a great help to TOPS Markets' bottom line due to its energy efficiency, cost, and requiring minimal changes to our equipment. Since Creard R-407H has demonstrated to be a low-GWP match with R-22, this really becomes a great solution for TOPS Markets as we move forward with our conversion program this year."

Daikin America provides refrigerant gases, fluoroplastic and fluoroelastomer polymers, and coating materials designed to support a diverse set of industries. It is a subsidiary of Daikin Industries of Osaka, Japan, a manufacturer of air conditioning and refrigeration equipment and fluorochemical products.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Sarah Wilson elected board chair at McMillen Jacobs

The McMillen Jacobs Associates board of directors has elected Sarah Wilson as board chair. Wilson is a vice president at McMillen Jacobs, where she has worked in tunnel design and construction management for more than 19 years, and she has spent the past five years in board service for the firm.
According to a recent study by Heidrick & Struggles, the appointment of women to board-of-director positions is hitting an all-time high in 2018. But a recent ENR study found that to be strategic on current and emerging issues, engineering and construction boards must better embrace a diversity of experience and perspectives. When asked to comment on her appointment, Wilson said, “I’m proud that McMillen Jacobs is on the cutting edge of the industry with a woman board chair. My 8-year-old daughter is so aware of girls and women as powerful forces in the world, and I hope to set a good example for my 1-year-old son. We also have two outside directors that enrich our collective experience on a very active board. I see the board chair’s responsibility as driving communication between the board and company management, and I’m lucky to be working with some extremely talented people.”

Wilson’s leadership experience and technical expertise stem from final design roles on transit, dam and water conveyance facilities, and construction management experience on numerous underground contracts in both soft ground and rock. Wilson received her B.S. in Civil Engineering from Drexel University in Philadelphia and was featured on the school’s “40 under 40” list in 2015.  She earned her M.S. in Geotechnical Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. She has authored numerous professional papers and articles on geotechnical and construction management topics and is a past president of the American Rock Mechanics Association. She is a CMAA certified construction manager and a registered professional civil engineer in California.
Based in Seattle, Washington, McMillen Jacobs Associates is an employee-owned environmental, engineering, and construction company providing technical services to the heavy civil, underground, and water resources markets. The firm has offices around the country and in Canada, Australia, and New England. For more information, visit

Monday, December 17, 2018

Three ways to boost STEM education to prepare the workforce of the future

By Brad Anderson
Editor-in-chief of ReadWrite

It’s obvious: Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are integral parts of everyone’s life. Since 2009, STEM has accounted for more than 
800,000 new jobs in the United States, more than double the number of new jobs in non-STEM sectors.
That growth should be exciting, especially considering the boom of innovation that’s sure to follow. However, for companies that operate in STEM fields, the unprecedented growth is a little staggering. According to the Smithsonian Science Education Center, nearly 2.4 million STEM jobs will go unfilled by the end of this year.
Traditionally, a shortage of employees in a certain field most likely indicates a general lack of interest in that field, but that isn’t the case this time. The shortage is the result of the demand for STEM jobs growing at three times the rate of non-STEM jobs for about a decade, according to the SSEC.
The scope of STEM is so broad that there’s bound to be a related career path, no matter what students are interested in. Developing a workforce of more STEM-qualified individuals is a matter of introducing people to the possibilities and providing opportunities for training.
New Ways to Teach STEM
In the most recent Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) test, conducted in 2015, U.S. students ranked 38th and 24th out of 71 countries in math and science, respectively. The National Math & Science Initiative reports that only 36 percent of U.S. high school graduates are ready to take college-level STEM courses.
Knowing that STEM will soon dominate major aspects of virtually every industry, many stakeholders are aiding in efforts to focus on STEM education and encourage students to get excited about developing these skills. Here are just a few key things being done to boost STEM education to ensure that tomorrow’s workers will have the skills they need.
1. Programs are taking learning outside the classroom.
While schools at all levels are making their STEM curricula more robust, there are also learning opportunities happening outside the classroom that are aiding in skill development, including after-school programs, summer camps, and tutoring. And the demand for STEM jobs nationwide is increasing interest in local programs to address the need.
A STEM growth report by Varsity Tutors, which provides concierge-level STEM tutoring and support, shows that STEM tutoring has boomed in the Midwest, especially in cities like St. Louis, Milwaukee, and Cincinnati. The organization credits this increase in STEM learning to the number of companies offering flexible working conditions that allow employees to work remotely, which means Midwesterners can refine their skill sets to be competitive for these jobs wherever they’re located.
2. Business leaders and educators are building bridges. 
Students aren’t the only ones with STEM skills learning on their minds. The educational institutions responsible for teaching them and the companies that will soon need to hire them are also expanding their reach by partnering. The Business-Higher Education Forum was created specifically for building such bridges, and in the face of the STEM skills shortage, those bridges are an even more vital resource.
Through BHEF, universities that offer undergraduate STEM programs can share their curricula with the local business community. Businesses can offer feedback and potentially chip in to expand the programs. For instance, Northrup Grumman Corporation and the University of Maryland, College Park joined forces to establish the first undergraduate residential honors program in cybersecurity in an effort to better meet the demand for cybersecurity professionals in the state.
3. Resources help parents and teachers make STEM relatable to their kids.
While businesses, universities, and community organizations work to connect STEM students with their futures, there are plenty of resources available for parents and teachers to make STEM more relatable and appealing to upcoming generations. Younger children may not fully realize the importance of STEM, but they can enjoy it when it’s fun.
Through informal educational activities, they can also prepare themselves to pursue an education that focuses on the STEM skills they’ll likely need. Programs such as Engineering for Kids and STEM Minds offer a wide range of resources for parents and educators to make STEM learning exciting for children. These and other programs are designed to empower young minds by connecting the principles of science, technology, engineering, and math to fun projects and team exercises.
It’s worrisome that current figures predict a potentially devastating shortage of STEM-related innovators in the U.S. economy very soon. However, it’s encouraging to see schools, companies, organizations, and parents working together to help students gain interest and knowledge in STEM fields.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Engineering capstone project saves MSU researchers time and money

Countless hours spent hunched over petri dishes, using needles to pluck tiny samples from bacteria colonies and place them in test tubes, are not the most exciting experiences for researchers in Seth Walk's lab at Montana State University. Walk, who studies the complex microbial communities in the human gut, had considered paying $70,000 for a robot to perform the time-intensive routine. But then he learned that MSU engineering students could make one for him.
His satisfaction with the MSU-made device was evident as he took a close look during the biannual Design Fair recently, when roughly 30 teams of engineering students displayed their senior capstone projects in the Strand Union Building ballroom. "They did a great job," said Walk, an associate professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology in MSU's College of Agriculture and College of Letters and Science.
The desk-sized research apparatus came to life with a few computer commands, its needle sliding into place above a petri dish. An optical sensor stood ready to scan the petri dish's contents, detecting dots that represented distinct bacteria colonies ready to be sampled. "With this, we'll grow the bacteria and then let the machine do the work, which frees up time to focus on our research," Walk said, noting that the device also sterilizes the needle in between each sampling.
Over the course of two semesters, the four-person capstone team — likely the first-ever all-female team in mechanical engineering — took Walk's request and created a product that needs only some software tweaks to be fully operational. "The students came up with the entire design," says team adviser Ron June, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering.
"It was a lot of work, but I enjoyed it," recalls team member Tayler Fortner, a mechanical engineering major from Winnett, MT. Along with teammates Katelyn Kalberer and Anna Teintze, Fortner focused on designing the complex mechanical system that precisely moves the needle to sample the bacteria. "It was a very involved project," Fortner said. "It was an application of everything we've been doing in school."
"There was a big learning curve," said fourth team member Sandra Zmeu, who focused on the electrical and computer parts of the machine. To program the code that guides the machine's motions and controls the optical sensor, she had to learn two computer languages, she says. "It was a real learning experience," says Zmeu, who is heading to a job at Boeing in Seattle following graduation.
Mechanical engineering technology major Teintze, from Bozeman, MT, said she enjoyed the collaboration on the project. "Working with an enthusiastic team was really cool," she remarks. Kalberer agreed: "An important part of being an engineer is being able to work with other engineers," she says.
All seniors in MSU’s Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering complete capstone projects as a requirement for earning their degrees. Working in teams and advised by MSU faculty — and sometimes sponsors from private industry — the students find solutions to engineering problems. Other projects at the Design Fair included solar-powered car components, a snowplow radar system, and self-activated ergonomic seating. "Several faculty members have had research equipment built by capstone teams," June says. "The teams are a major contributor to our research at MSU."
According to capstone coordinator David Miller, associate professor of mechanical and industrial engineering, there is always a need for capstone sponsors. That presents an opportunity for MSU faculty who need any manner of customized equipment. He states, "The capstone projects solve real problems while providing an opportunity for students to learn."

Monday, November 26, 2018

USGBC announces LEED initiatives and updates at Greenbuild

The Greenbuild International Conference & Expo, presented by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), concluded recently in Chicago, where thousands of members of the global green building community gathered. The theme for this year’s Greenbuild was Human X Nature, representing how the green building movement embraces all of humanity by making sustainable buildings and environments accessible to everyone while benefitting the natural environment all around us.

During the opening plenary, human rights lawyer and humanitarian Amal Clooney delivered a keynote that discussed her work and reminded attendees the role the green building community plays in addressing today’s challenges: “Despite challenges, I am optimistic. Because all around the world I see that even where governments fall behind, individuals and companies can make a difference,” said Clooney.

USGBC President and CEO Mahesh Ramanujam also gave remarks highlighting plans for the future and USGBC’s role in creating a new living standard for all people: “In the past, we have delivered on our promises of certifications, signifying high quality spaces in which we can live and work,” said Ramanujam. “Now, by harnessing the power of our partnerships with companies and organizations the world over, we will explore creating a new campaign – a Living Standard that indicates that an environment is healthy and safe for all who inhabit it – from buildings, to communities, to cities, to entire nations. Because a higher Living Standard is what every person on the planet deserves.”

Several programmatic updates to the LEED green building rating system were announced throughout the week including:

LEED Transit Rating System – USGBC released LEED green building certification standards for new transit stations, which were also announced during Greenbuild India, taking place simultaneously. LEED Transit was developed with input from the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation in India (DMRC), Shanghai Shentong Metro Group Co. Ltd. for China (Shentong), and Shanghai Green City Architectural Technology Co., Ltd. With LEED Transit, transit owners can reduce their environmental footprint while engaging riders on the importance of sustainability and the opportunity the public transportation sector has in minimizing greenhouse gas emissions.

LEED Zero Certification – USGBC officially introduced a new LEED Zero certification offering. The new program recognizes buildings or spaces operating with net zero carbon emissions from energy consumption and occupant transportation to carbon emissions avoided or offset over a period of 12 months. LEED projects can achieve LEED Zero certification when they demonstrate net zero carbon emissions, energy use, water use, or waste.

Integration of STAR and LEED for Cities and LEED for Communities – It was announced that the STAR Community Rating System, which offers certification for sustainable communities, has been fully integrated into USGBC’s LEED for Cities and LEED for Communities programs to help advance sustainable cities and communities worldwide. Some 75 cities and communities have achieved STAR certification, and 20 additional cities and communities are seeking STAR certification. All of these localities will transfer into the family of LEED for Cities and LEED for Communities.

LEED Recertification – All LEED projects – past, present, and future – are now eligible for recertification by providing 12 months of data, powered by Arc, that shows consistent or improved performance, using the most recent version of the LEED rating system. This recertification will be valid for three years and is an important step in ensuring that a green building is operating the way it was intended.

The week of Greenbuild also included green building tours around Chicago; three day-long immersive summits; the sold-out Women in Green luncheon; recognition of sustainability all-stars at the Leadership Awards Reception, including the announcement of 25 new LEED Fellows and this year’s USGBC Leadership Award recipients; a 600-vendor expo hall that featured a Net Zero Zone; and dozens of inspiring signature events and education sessions. Greenbuild concluded with San Juan, Puerto Rico Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz and Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel, who was recognized by USGBC for the City of Chicago’s LEED Platinum certification.

Monday, October 29, 2018

TKDA names Andy Wagstrom vice president of its Rail Division

TKDA, an employee-owned provider of engineering, architecture, and planning services, has named Andy Wagstrom, PE, as vice president of the firm’s Rail Division. A TKDA employee for several years, he has extensive experience serving the rail industry across the United States and Canada.

Wagstrom has worked on a wide variety of projects, including mainline, bridge, automotive, yard and industrial track. He has experience with the design and construction of fueling facilities, bulk storage containment, yard air, industrial waste systems, and other railroad support facilities. He also has been involved with intermodal and automotive facility expansion projects, helping railroads increase capacity to meet growing business needs.

“Andy has a strong background of rail projects that have spanned the country, and that experience will serve him well as he heads up our growing and diverse Rail Division,” says Tom Stoneburner, TKDA president and CEO. “He is a natural leader, and he knows the rail industry and our clients well.”

Wagstrom has a civil and environmental engineering degree from South Dakota State University at Brookings. He is a member of American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association and is registered in several states and Canadian provinces.

TKDA serves the rail industry from offices in St. Paul and Duluth, MN and Chicago, Los Angeles, and Seattle. “TKDA has been serving rail clients for our entire 108-year history. I am honored to have this opportunity,” Wagstrom says.

Headquartered in St. Paul, TKDA serves a broad range of public and private markets. For more information, visit

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Matt Cole starts new electrical engineering firm in Chattanooga, TN

Matt Cole, an electrical engineer with nearly 23 years of engineering experience, has turned entrepreneur by launching 3 Phase Associates, a new electrical engineering consulting firm in Chattanooga, TN. Cole finally said “life was too short” in leaving a high-salary gig and starting his own consulting business.
Cole has a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Tennessee Technological University and an M.S. degree in engineering management from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He is a licensed engineer in eight states in the Southeast. Cole’s background in the utility industry includes design, engineering, construction, and implementation of electric power and telecommunications systems.

Cole’s new electrical engineering consulting business serves utilities in substation modifications or architecture-engineering firms for electric facility modifications. The company offers substation design, construction, testing, commissioning, and project management. They focus on turnkey projects for power utilities serving the world of transmission and distribution.

3 Phase’s areas of expertise include power substation modifications for protection and controls, relaying, SCADA, telecommunications, cybersecurity, and more. The firm is licensed to perform services in multiple states across the Southeast. 3 Phase also performs professional engineering services for commercial and industrial electrical facilities.

Cole says, “It’s more than just another engineering and design company. 3 Phase focuses on performing the design and engineering drawing packages required for construction and then helps with the install, implementation and commissioning.” It has always been a dream of Cole’s to own his own firm. 

“I am very proud and excited to be using my engineering background along with my 22-plus years of experience to grow 3 Phase Associates into a solid, reputable, and sustainable company while striving to keep engineering consultant rates low and competitive," Cole says.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

GAI Consultants tells how green infrastructure meets Pittsburgh stormwater challenges

Green infrastructure solutions are both functional and attractive and are coming into use more and more in Pittsburgh, PA and beyond. The water staff at GAI Consultants describe how these innovative strategies work to manage stormwater—naturally. GAI Consultants is an engineering firm headquarterd in Pittsburgh with offices throughout the mid-Atlantic, midwestern, and southern regions of the United States.

Green Infrastructure solutions are providing an effective first line of defense for meeting the substantial stormwater management challenges of the Pittsburgh, PA area. Surrounded and crisscrossed by rivers and streams, peppered with former industrial sites, and currently experiencing some of the heaviest rainfall on record, much of Pittsburgh and the surrounding region is serviced by aging stormwater-management infrastructure.

Slowing the flow
“The Pittsburgh area has a very old combined sewer system that has to convey stormwater in addition to wastewater from homes and businesses,” says GAI’s Patrick Gallagher, MBA, vice president, NE Community Development. “The system is not truly adequate for today’s demands, and as little as a tenth of an inch of rain can overload some systems with stormwater.”

North Shore Riverfront Park incorporates bioswales, reductions in impervious pavements, and vegetative water quality improvements.
Much of the quick overload of Pittsburgh’s combined sewer is due to the city’s high prevalence of impervious surfaces like concrete, which swiftly channel stormwater into the over-taxed sewers. This is where Green Infrastructure comes in.

Green Infrastructure solutions help slow the flow of stormwater by offering permeable surfaces that allow water to move below ground level, and they often provide temporary on-site storage for stormwater rather than allowing water to flow freely to the sewers. Working as a complement to traditional “gray” infrastructure—sewer pipes, tunnels, etc.—Green Infrastructure acts to ease the burden on the combined sewer, help mitigate overflow, and provide initial stormwater infiltration and filtration of sediments and contaminants.

Beauty above, business below
Green Infrastructure mimics natural processes that capture and slow stormwater. Many are marked by vegetation and other landscaping features that make them attractive to look at while they perform a valuable water-management function. A bioswale is a natural-looking Green Infrastructure solution that one might walk right by without even noticing.

 UPMC East incorporates bioswales, rain gardens, and stormwater detention ponds.
“Bioswales are engineered trenches filled with layers of soil and rock and topped by grasses or native plants—they’re often used in parking lots, public spaces, or positioned to catch roof and sidewalk runoff in housing developments,” said GAI Engineering Director David Troianos, PE. Bioswales have sloped sides that channel water downward—while the bioswale slows water flow, the plant roots and soil help filter out pollutants. “The gravel, sand, or stones at the bottom of the bioswale provide more filtration and temporary storage for the water, which can then slowly drain into the aquifer or be conveyed to local waterways through an installed drainage system,” Troianos explains.

Other Green Infrastructure solutions like rain gardens, permeable concrete and pavers, bioretention facilities, and more help reduce, slow, and filter stormwater, while solutions like green roofs—which top buildings with vegetation and other natural elements—have the added benefit of helping reduce power consumption by keeping rooftops cool.

Maintenance challenges
While effective and pleasing to eye, Green Infrastructure’s relative newness may present challenges to owners who are not staffed or skilled to perform the maintenance necessary to ensure that the solutions function properly.

“Green Infrastructure is quite different from installing a pipe in the ground, which may need only minimal attention for the next several years,” says GAI Assistant Engineering Manager Shannon Killion, PE, ENV SP. “There are landscaping considerations in many cases, and even small trash like candy wrappers can affect the functionality of Green Infrastructure. So site owners may need to assess and retool their maintenance programs to properly provide the service and attention that Green Infrastructure requires.”

Combined expertise creates effective Green Infrastructure
Effective Green Infrastructure solutions represent the collaboration of a range of disciplines. “We have hydrogeologists, civil engineers, landscape architects, GIS mapping technicians, biologists, and others working together for the various projects large and small that we work on at GAI,” says Gallagher. “We draw on more than 500 local specialists, and each Green Infrastructure collaboration is focused on creating solutions that meet PA DEP requirements, yet are also cost effective and minimize maintenance for our clients while working to provide clean water and sustainable stormwater management well into the future.”

Patrick Gallagher, MBA, specializes in residential, commercial, healthcare, institutional, industrial, and brownfield infrastructure projects including designing roadways, earthworks, sanitary and storm sewers, waterlines, and utilities, public presentations, and local, state, and federal permits.

David Troianos, PE has extensive experience in all phases of project management, construction management, and design engineering-related responsibilities for a wide range of civil engineering projects. His primary experience is in managing water, wastewater, and sewer system investigations, studies, designs, and capital improvement projects.

Shannon Killion, PE, ENV SP has wide experience in wastewater collection systems, wastewater treatment plant design, and combined sewer overflow (CSO) mitigation. She focuses on how each project fits into the client’s long-term goals, and takes projects from design conception and alternative analysis to permitting and through construction.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Chemical engineer documents drop in plastics recycling

According to a post in WasteAdvantage magazine, the Plastic Pollution Coalition has published a new engineering estimate showing plummeting recycling rates for plastic in United States. Author Jan Dell, a consulting chemical engineer, used U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data and industry data to estimate the U.S. plastic recycling rate will sink from 9.1% in 2015 to 4.4% in 2018. Dell estimated the recycling rate could drop as low as 2.9% in 2019 if plastic waste import bans are adopted by more countries in Asia.
The engineering estimate shows four factors contributing to the drop in recycling rates: 1. Plastic waste generation is increasing in the U.S. 2. Exports counted as recycled have cratered due to China’s ban. 3. Costs of recycling are increasing since many trucks are needed to collect the widely dispersed waste. 4. Plastic production expansion is keeping the prices of new plastics comparatively low. These factors work against the key premise that waste plastic will someday have sufficient value to drive reclaiming it rather than disposing of it.
“Einstein famously said that a definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome,” says Dell. “We’ve seen promises, goals, ambitions, and aims from companies for nearly 30 years to increase recycled content and reduce the number of plastic bags they hand out. During that time, plastic use and pollution has increased as well-documented by Jenna Jambeck, Roland Geyer, and other researchers. The projected less-than-5% U.S. plastic recycling rate in 2018 should be a wake-up call to the false promise that the existing voluntary, economic-driven U.S. recycling system is a credible solution to plastic pollution.”
The United States ranks 20th on the list of countries contributing to plastic pollution in the ocean with an estimated 88 to 242 million pounds/year of plastic marine debris. The annual International Coastal Cleanup confirmed the evidence of plastic pollution on U.S. coasts in 2017 when more than 3.7 million pounds of trash, the majority of it plastic, was collected by 209,643 people on a single day. The global movement Break Free From Plastic provides aBrand Audit Toolkit for people participating in cleanups to audit and identify the brands and corporations responsible for plastic pollution.
“Recycling as the solution to plastic pollution is a myth,” said Dianna Cohen, co-founder and CEO of Plastic Pollution Coalition. “Recycling is the end point of the production chain, and it does not work without infrastructure and operational systems, which many places in the U.S. and world, simply do not have. In the U.S., industry looks to recycling as a catch-all, when really we must stop using plastic as a material for single-use. Corporations must step up to change their packaging because they are responsible for 100 percent of the damage it does. It’s time for all of us to work together and demand a systems shift away from ‘disposable’ toward nontoxic reusables.”
For more information, visit
Jan Dell, PE,  is a registered chemical engineer and author of The Last Beach Cleanup (to be published in 2019). She has worked with companies in diverse industries to implement sustainable business and climate resiliency practices in their operations, communities, and supply chains in more than 40 countries. Appointed by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, she was a member of the U.S. Federal Committee that led the 3rd National Climate Assessment from 2010 to 2014 and the Vice Chair of the U.S. Federal Advisory Committee on the Sustained National Climate Assessment in 2016-2017.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Searching for new bridge forms that can span further

Newly identified bridge forms could enable significantly longer bridge spans to be achieved in the future, potentially making a crossing over the Strait of Gibraltar, from the Iberian Peninsula to Morocco, feasible. The new bridge forms – identified by a team of researchers from the University of Sheffield and Brunel University London, working with long-span bridge expert Ian Firth of engineering consultants COWI – use a new mathematical modeling technique to identify optimal forms for very long-span bridges. The research was published recently in the Proceedings of the Royal Society.

A bridge’s span is the distance of suspended roadway between towers, with the current world record standing at just under 2km. The most popular form for long spans is the suspension bridge form, as used for the Humber Bridge, though the cable-stayed bridge form, where cables directly connect the tower to the roadway – such as used in the recently constructed Queensferry Crossing in Scotland – is becoming increasingly popular.

As bridge spans become longer, a rapidly growing proportion of the structure is needed just to carry the bridge’s own weight, rather than the traffic crossing it. This can create a vicious cycle: a relatively small increase in span requires significantly more material, leading to a heavier structure that requires yet more material to support it. This also sets a limit on how long a bridge span can be; beyond this limit a bridge simply cannot carry its own weight.

One option is to use stronger, lighter materials. However, steel remains the preferred choice because it is tough, readily available, and relatively cheap. So the only other way to increase span is change the bridge’s design.

Professor Matthew Gilbert from the University of Sheffield, who led the research, says, “The suspension bridge has been around for hundreds of years and while we’ve been able to build longer spans through incremental improvements, we’ve never stopped to lsee if it’s actually the best form to use. Our research has shown that more structurally efficient forms do exist, which might open the door to significantly longer bridge spans in the future.”

The technique devised by the team draws on theory developed by Professor Gilbert’s namesake, Davies Gilbert, who in the early 19th Century used mathematical theory to persuade Thomas Telford that the suspension cables in his original design for the Menai Strait bridge in North Wales followed too shallow a curve. He also proposed a "catenary of equal stress" showing the optimal shape of a cable accounting for the presence of gravity loads.

By incorporating this early 19th century theory into a modern mathematical optimization model, the team has identified bridge concepts that require the minimum possible volume of material, potentially making significantly longer spans feasible. The mathematically optimal designs contain regions which resemble a bicycle wheel, with multiple "spokes" in place of a single tower. But these would be very difficult to build in practice at large scale. The team therefore replaced these with split towers consisting of just two or three "spokes" as a compromise that retains most of the benefit of the optimal designs,while being a little easier to construct.

For a 5km span, which is likely to be required to build the 14km Strait of Gibraltar crossing, a traditional suspension bridge design would require far more material, making it at least 73 percent heavier than the optimal design. In contrast, the proposed two- and three-spoke designs would be just 12 and 6 percent heavier, making them potentially much more economical to build.

The new bridge forms require less material principally because the forces from the deck are transmitted more efficiently through the bridge superstructure to the foundations. This is achieved by keeping the load paths short and avoiding sharp corners between tensile and compressive elements.

The team emphasises that their research is just the first step and that the ideas cannot be developed immediately for construction of a mega-span bridge. The current model considers only gravity loads and does not yet consider dynamic forces arising from traffic or wind loading. Further work is also required to address construction and maintenance issues.

Co-author Ian Firth from COWI says, "This is an interesting development in the search for greater material efficiency in the design of super-long span bridges. There is much more work to do, notably in devising effective and economic construction methods, but maybe one day we will see these new forms taking shape across some wide estuary or sea crossing."

The research, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), was also presented at "Tomorrow’s Megastructures," a symposium organized by the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Water and wastewater experts Nogaj and Kabouris join Cardno’s Clearwater office

Cardno has announced that Thomas Nogaj, PhD, PE and John Kabouris, PhD, PE have joined the firm as water and wastewater infrastructure practice group manager and wastewater technology specialist respectively.

Nogaj brings more than 30 years of experience in the civil and environmental engineering fields. He provides consulting and project management on a broad range of water/wastewater treatment and conveyance projects for facilities of all sizes. He holds a PhD in Environmental Engineering from the University of Central Florida and is a licensed Professional Engineer in Florida and Illinois.

Kabouris has more than 30 years of experience in environmental engineering, offering expertise in modeling, plant controls, and optimization of nutrient removal, sidestream and mainstream anammox process development and optimization, and advanced digestion and biogas utilization. He holds a PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and is a licensed Professional Engineer in Florida. He is actively involved at the national level with the Water Environment Federation and is Associate Editor of the environmental journal Water Environment Research.

“Thomas and John have provided their wealth of expertise and research to numerous water and sewer departments in the United States and abroad, and that knowledge has resulted in significant financial savings and more effective systems for clients,” says Doug Stoker, Cardno Southeast Business Unit manager. “We are excited to have them on our team.”

Headquartered in Australia, Cardno is an international professional infrastructure and environmental services company with specialist expertise in the development and improvement of physical and social infrastructure for communities around the world. Cardno’s team includes professionals who plan, design, manage and deliver sustainable projects and community programs. For more information, visit

Saturday, September 8, 2018

StormwateRx introduces Purus Nitrate for stormwater treatment

StormwateRx, a stormwater treatment and filtration company based in Portland, Oregon, has announced the development and release of a new product in its line of Purus advanced polishers, Purus Nitrate targets soluble nitrate in industrial stormwater runoff. This system is ideal for industries where nitrogen compounds or petroleum products are used or where organic materials are processed, including fabricated metal products, food processing, and chemical manufacturing.

Purus Nitrate is normally installed and flow-matched in a "treatment train" configuration with StormwateRx's Aquip stormwater filtration technology, an upstream pre-filtration system. The typical removal efficiency of this technology falls in the range of 80 to 90 percent, usually to below the required numeric action levels (NALs) or benchmarks.

Purus Nitrate has a dissolved nitrate capacity exceeding 40 pounds (as nitrogen) for a typical 100 to 300 gallon-per-minute treatment flow rate. Slipstream treatment configurations are available to extend run-time when less nitrate needs to be removed from the stormwater.

StormwateRx designs, manufactures, installs, and maintains stormwater treatment systems for industrial customers throughout North America. For more information, visit

Note: Progressive Engineer ran a company profile on StormwateRx in 2010. See it at

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Nancy Lyon-Stadler to lead WSP Cleveland office

Nancy Lyon-Stadler has been appointed by WSP USA, an engineering and professional services consultancy, to lead its Cleveland, Ohio office. In her new position, Lyon-Stadler will be responsible for office management and expansion, product delivery, client engagement, and new business development.
Since Lyon-Stadler joined WSP as a senior principal engineer in 2015, she has been part of several transformational projects in northeast Ohio, including traffic-related aspects of the reconstruction of the George V. Voinovich Bridge, which opened in September 2016 and greatly improved traffic in downtown Cleveland. She also conducted traffic analysis and developed congestion mitigation strategies for the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, supporting the event organizers, the U.S. Secret Service, and the Cleveland Police. “Nancy has led multiple projects to improve livability in northeast Ohio communities through the integration of bicycle and pedestrian facilities and transit enhancements within the transportation network, including developing the design concept and implementation plan for Cleveland’s innovative Midway Cycle Track Plan,” says Jerry Jannetti, senior vice president and northeast regional manager at WSP.
Lyon-Stadler has over 30 years of engineering experience in the private and public sector with expertise in planning, design, and construction. She has been employed as a consulting engineer for more than 20 years and prior to that, she served as a civil engineering officer in the U.S. Air Force.
Lyon-Stadler has a B.S. in civil engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and an M.S. in civil engineering from The Ohio State University. She is a registered professional engineer in Colorado, North Carolina, Ohio and South Carolina, as well as a licensed professional traffic operations engineer
            WSP USA, formerly WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, is the U.S. operating company of the engineering and professional services firms WSP. Dedicated to serving local communities, the firm consists of engineers, planners, technical experts, strategic advisors, and construction management professionals. WSP USA designs solutions in the buildings, transportation, energy, water, and environment sectors. With more than 7,000 people in 100 offices across the United States, they partner with clients to help communities prosper. For more information, visit

Saturday, August 25, 2018

New ASTM International standard helps in construction of geosynthetic clay liners

A new ASTM International standard will help those who construct and install geosynthetic clay liners (GCLs), which are used to help with containment for landfills, coal combustion residual storage cells,
mining operations, and remediation and environmental protection projects. The new standard (D8204) focuses on evaluating both best practices as well as possible negative impacts of installing and constructing GCLs. ASTM’s committee on geosynthetics developed the standard.

According to ASTM International member Kent von Maubeuge, the new standard is meant to be used with full-scale GCL installation test pads, not laboratory evaluations. “The practices outlined in the standard provide for project-specific parameters and thus can provide real project insight into how GCL materials should be installed on a specific site to achieve optimal engineered barrier performance,” says von Maubeuge, director, corporate identity and corporate communication and senior product manager, NAUE GmbH & Co. KG.

According to von Maubeuge, who chairs the GCL subcommittee, insights from using the new standard will help design engineers, facility and project owners, specification writers, certified quality auditors, and geosynthetic installers. Also, manufacturers will benefit from the variations in data from different test pads, which may support the development of future GCL products.

To purchase standards, contact ASTM International customer relations at 877-909-ASTM or

Saturday, August 11, 2018

ACAA selects architectural and engineering firms to design new terminal at Pittsburgh International Airport

Following months of research, technical and creative presentations, interviews and evaluations, the Allegheny County Airport Authority recently announced the architectural and engineering firms selected to design a new terminal that will transform Pittsburgh International Airport for a modern travel experience. Gensler, headquartered in San Francisco, CA, and HDR, headquartered in Omaha, NE, have entered into a joint-venture agreement to design and deliver the Terminal Modernization Program.

The joint venture team has formed an association with luis vidal + architects, headquartered in Madrid, Spain, to develop the architectural design vision for the new terminal that consolidates check-in, ticketing, security and baggage operations into one connected facility. HDR will handle engineering implementation of the design.

Airport Authority Board members approved a $15 million contract with the joint venture team for initial design concepts to be drafted over the next few months, as the Authority also works to engage key stakeholders and gather input into final design of the new terminal. The initial design concept is expected to be unveiled early next year.

“We are confident that we have assembled a world-class team with the vision, knowledge and experience necessary to work with all of our partners in building Pittsburgh’s airport – an airport that will transform the travel experience now and into the future and continue advancing our region,” says Allegheny County Airport Authority CEO Christina Cassotis. “Our selection team has carefully researched best airport design and modernization practices and worked to review qualifications of the firms, their proposals and references.”

Eleven firms responded to the initial request for qualifications in January. Of those, four were invited to submit full proposals, make creative and technical presentations and be interviewed by a selection committee. The firms were evaluated on criteria including experience, team composition and responsibilities, design and management approach, quality assurance and cost control, and DBE/local participation.

Gensler, which has offices in 46 cities around the world including in Pennsylvania, designed the 32-story Tower at PNC Plaza in Downtown Pittsburgh, along with Incheon International Airport in Korea. From facilities serving executive or regional aircraft to those at the largest, most prestigious international hubs, Gensler provides experience-focused design. “Gensler is thrilled to be part of this transformational project,” says Ty Osbaugh, Aviation Leader and Principal at Gensler. “At our core, we seek to enhance the passenger experience through design. Meshing our team with the ambition of the ACAA, we look forward to jointly creating a world-class experience for Western Pennsylvania.”

The portfolio of HDR, which has 10,000 employees and more than 200 offices worldwide, including an office on Stanwix Street downtown, includes universities, hospitals, modernization of the Honolulu International Airport, and locally, the Greenfield Bridge replacement project. The firm is also noted for innovations in green building design and sustainability. “HDR is committed to leveraging our technical, multidisciplinary expertise to help create Pittsburgh’s next world class airport,” says Bill Peduzzi, HDR Aviation Director. “As a lifelong resident, I am thrilled to apply what I have learned from a career spent in airport development and hope to inspire the next generation of aviation leaders to continue to innovate and enhance the role great airports can play in a community.”

luis vidal + architects, which has offices across Spain, the UK, Dominican Republic, Chile, and the United States, cites Terminal 2 at Heathrow Airport among its impressive list of projects. In the United States, the practice is currently working at the international airports of Denver, Boston Logan and Dallas Fort Worth. Vidal himself also was a leader of the design team of the Terminal 4 project at Madrid-Barajas Airport in Spain. “The Pittsburgh International Airport project will reflect its community; a design that is bold, unique and competitive and that will provide the first and last impression that people will carry with them of the Pittsburgh region,” Luis Vidal remarks.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Uplift Data Partners integrates with PlanGrid to give builders immediate access to drone imagery

Uplift Data Partners, the data capture pilot platform for enterprise businesses, recently announced it has integrated with PlanGrid, which specializes in construction productivity software. Uplift's 2D and 3D aerial drone imagery is now accessible directly into PlanGrid, giving construction teams a real-time view of job sites and improving their ability to detect costly errors and reduce rework.

Previously, Uplift's drone-captured images were housed within its portal and PlanGrid users had to log in to both platforms to access these images. Now, project team members in the field, trailer, and office can easily access drone imagery directly from PlanGrid, improving team communications, reducing change orders, and providing real-time updates to current project status.

Since 2015, Uplift Data Partners has delivered aerial insights for the AEC industry. Uplift's solution combines an extensive network of skilled and highly trained pilots, broad knowledge of FAA airspace rules, and a proactive approach to compliance and regulatory guidelines. Using Uplift's drone service, builders can accurately survey a project and detect mistakes by overlaying site designs and line work onto the drone imagery.

"The integration of drone imagery into PlanGrid is a huge accomplishment for us," says Suzanne El-Moursi, president of Uplift Data Partners. "Uplift Data Partners provides drone service for the AEC industry. We are passionate about enabling the free flow of drone data to further augment and support other data sources, increasing the value of the overall insight to the end user, in this case, the project engineer."

"Our goal at PlanGrid is to increase productivity through innovative and impactful technology," says James Cook, head of strategic alliances and partnerships at PlanGrid. "Drone technology provides immeasurable insights into the progress and accuracy of a construction site, and Uplift Data Partners has established itself as a cutting-edge platform with its expertise of compliance and airspace regulations. The integration of Uplift's drone imagery into PlanGrid will give our customers a real-time view of jobsites and further improve their productivity."

The integration of two companies will benefit enterprise customers who use both PlanGrid and Uplift, as seen recently with Clayco, a full-service real estate, architecture, engineering, design-build and construction firm. For the past three years, Clayco has used Uplift Data Partners as their drone provider, leveraging the company's drone expertise across their portfolio of projects. Now, Clayco will migrate all their projects onto PlanGrid's platform, using both companies' capabilities and taking advantage of a seamless experience.

Uplift Data Partners was founded in 2015 in Chicago. Its network covers the United States, and its network-wide night waiver allows for completing night missions. For more information, visit and