Rocks Roads Ripples N'At:
Pittsburgh's Civil Engineering News Blog
Article by Greg Holbrook
The YMF hosted their annual Pirates Tailgate on October 2, 2015. This year’s later date was a great way to close out the season in what was an important series for the Pirates to clinch home-field advantage for the playoff wild card game. Additionally, it helped kickoff the YMF’s social events for the fall (you can find what other events are coming up on the Pittsburgh Section’s Calendar). The Pirates won the game in a thrilling extra innings affair, winning 6-4 in the 12th inning.
There were approximately 30 attendees for the tailgate who braved the cold weather to come out to socialize with friends and colleagues. Additionally, some students from the local universities attended, which is great to see as one of the Pittsburgh YMF’s main long-term goals is to increase student interaction and make students aware of all the benefits of being a Pittsburgh ASCE member.
More pictures from the tailgate can be seen on the YMF’s Facebook page. For more information on future sporting events, contact Greg Holbrook, Pittsburgh ASCE YMF Sports Chair.
Article by Jeff Argyros and Louis Gualtieri
Jeff Argyros (YMF treasurer) and Louis Gualtieri (YMF President-Elect) represented ASCE-Pittsburgh at the annual Younger Member Leadership Symposium (YMLS) hosted by The Committee on Younger Members (CYM). This year, YMLS was held at ASCE Headquarters in Reston, VA from September 19th through September 21st. YMLS educates ASCE younger members from across the country on how to develop and utilize leadership skills at a professional and personal level. Additionally, younger members network with civil engineers from different regions of the country, giving our representatives an opportunity to promote the upcoming ERYMC in Pittsburgh this February.
An important lesson that was learned at the YMLS was that a leader must understand the personalities of those with whom he or she works. In order to understand the personality of those around you, you must first understand your own personality traits. Take the survey at this link to get an idea of your Myers-Briggs personality classification.
Once you understand your own personality and become knowledgeable of the personalities of those around you at work, progress will ensue. You will understand how you approach different coworkers with problems and also how and when to congratulate them when they do a good job. But remember, a leader does not always have to be a manager, and a manager does not always have to be a leader.
Other topics discussed at the YMLS were how to be a leader, how to work as a team, how to utilize effective presentation and public speaking skills and healing “sick” projects that young engineers may encounter/inherit as the advance in their careers.
YMLS is a two-day event held every year at the ASCE Headquarters in Reston, VA. You can read about last year’s event here.
Article by Alex Potter-Weight
On September 24th, 2015, Michael J. Marasa, P.E., Business Development Manager at Hayward Baker Inc., presented the fascinating case study of the National Corvette Museum sinkhole remediation in Bowling Green, KY. More than 50 ASCE and DFI members and guests gathered at the Engineer’s Society of Western Pennsylvania for his lecture titled “Investigation and Treatment of a ‘Swallvette’”, which cleverly combined the term “swallet” (meaning sinkhole) and “corvette”.
The project gained significant national attention in 2014 when eight valuable Chevrolet Corvettes were swallowed by a large sinkhole. The collapse of a large portion of museum floor slab was captured by security cameras and the video quickly went viral, shining a spotlight on the remediation efforts. The ensuing investigation discovered that the surface rock and soil supporting the museum was underlain by a large cave of karstic subsidence. The surface rock eventually gave way and broke structurally, collapsing into the cave, bringing the building with it.
Mr. Marasa and Hayward Baker joined the project team shortly after the collapse. A plan to isolate and support the remainder of the building with micropiles was quickly put in place, preventing additional collapse during reconstruction. After further investigation of the cave by geologists at Western Kentucky University, the next phase of the remediation involved the careful removal of the famous Corvettes. Of the eight cars, some had only limited damage while others were completely wrecked with a few salvageable parts. Once these vehicles were retrieved, the sinkhole was closed off by custom-made horizontal sheeting to allow for backfill, additional micropile installation, and foundation reconstruction.
The remediation project was completed earlier this year and the Corvette Museum was re-opened for business. The floor of the museum now features painted lines outlining the cave location and where the slab collapsed. Donning gold chains and a hawaiian shirt as a steoretypical ‘Vette owner, Mr. Marasa’s high-energy presentation also included background history on each of the eight damaged cars and highlighted some of the challenges caused by the significant media attention. Mr. Marasa has presented on the ‘Swallvette’ over 40 times to various organizations around the country and has been featured on the History Channel for his work on this high-profile remediation project.
This joint technical meeting was hosted by the Deep Foundations Institute (DFI) and the Geo-Institute Chapter of the ASCE Pittsburgh Section and included a social hour and a dinner. The organizations were happy to be able to provide 1.0 PDH hours for this lecture. Before the presentation, Mary Ellen Large, Technical Activities Director of DFI, welcomed the attendees and encouraged participation in DFI’s technical and social events in the upcoming program year. Brian Heinzl, Chair of the Geo-Institute of the Pittsburgh Section of ASCE, introduced the new Geo-Institute Board and gave a preview of the upcoming technical program for 2015-2016.
September 25, 2015 marked SteelDay, presented jointly to the Pittsburgh region by the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) and the Pittsburgh Structural Engineering Institute (SEI) Chapter. SteelDay provides the opportunity for professionals and experts to appreciate how the structural steel industry contributes to building America. And this year we did just that, hosting not one, but two events!
The first event of the day was at the Sippel Fabrication Shop in Ambridge, PA. This plant is an AISC certified structural steel fabrication plant and detailing facility. Approximately 40 to 50 participants, ranging from students to retirees, and including architects, engineers and drafters, toured the Sippel Fabrication plant. The event began with opening remarks from Bill Pascoli, an AISC representative for the region, and a short presentation by Sippel representatives.
Next, Girder-Slab delegates presented on their company history and their new structural floor system. Girder-Slab’s innovate floor system is, from a designer’s standpoint, very simple and intuitive. It entails cutting a standard steel beam in half and welding a steel bar to the web of the beam. This new beam is called a D-Beam. The reduced capacity of the beam requires smaller spans between columns, making it ideal for use in residential and mixed-use buildings. These D-Beams support the longer perpendicular spans that are designed with precast concrete planks, allowing the precast panels to sit right on the bottom flange. This reduces overhead clearance and overall building floor-to-floor heights.
After the presentations the attendees took tours around the Sippel Fabrication Plant and Facility where they saw the actual D-Beams being produced, among plenty more structural steel members being fabricated and detailed.
The second event of SteelDay took place at the SkyVue Complex in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh, PA, where the new D-Beams were utilized in the structural floor system. Approximately 30 to 40 attendees arrived at this afternoon site visit, with a few more students attending due to the proximity to local universities. The tour began with a few remarks by representatives of Massaro Construction Group, the General Contractor on the SkyVue project. Participants visited Floor Levels 1 through 4 of the Skyvue complex; levels 5 through 7 were being erected and not open to the public. This tour showcased the D-beams and other structures prior to placement and installation of the concrete planks. Floors 1 through 4 will consist mainly of parking and commercial/retail spaces while the above floors will primarily be apartments.
This year’s SteelDay succeeded in its mission to bring together individuals from various industries to learn how the Steel Industry contributes to building America. This is all thanks to our generous hosts, Sippel Fabrication and the Massaro Construction Group. SEI appreciates AISC for their help with the event and for providing PDHs for both tours!
Article by Djuna Gulliver
Dr. Peter Walker pointed to a grassy hillside, where he plans to keep the goats with a protective llama. “It acts as kind of a guard dog against the coyotes,” he explains. The backdrop of the grassy hillside is woodlands, where oyster mushrooms are cultivated. A neat garden sits alongside, with crops such as perennials, hops, even rye for Wigle Whiskey.
“We’ve had many students interested in the Wigle project,” comments Dr. Walker.
In addition to the goats and llama, the property will one day be capable of hosting 1,500 students, with 64 residents in the first dorm. The campus is Eden Hall, home to the Chatham University Falk School of Sustainability, of which Dr. Walker is Dean. Located just 30 minutes north of Pittsburgh, Eden Hall is a fully sustainable, almost off-the-grid campus, where students spend more time experimenting in the nearby woodlands and meadows than in the classroom. “I really don’t want people in classrooms too much,” says Dr. Walker. “You learn by doing. You learn by experiments.”
For future students that dream to learn about sustainability by “doing,” Eden Hall is a rare campus that is built from the bottom up with sustainability in mind. A simple walk through the campus demonstrates that full sustainability takes more than the occasional solar panel and heat-efficient windows. Eden Hall incorporates a remarkable array of technologies that unite to make a self-sufficient campus. What went into consideration when designing a campus completely around sustainability?
System 1: Energy
Dr. Walker points at a white pipe sticking out of the ground. “I’ve never seen a sexy picture of a geothermal well,” he shrugs. While the exposed pipe’s charms are debatable, it accesses an impressive underground piping system that helps to maintain indoor climate control. In the summer, the fluid within the pipes extract heat from the buildings, and runs that heat deep into the ground, where the temperature stays at a constant 50 - 60°F. After the pipes are cooled to this below-surface temperature, the fluid is routed back to the buildings to extract more heat.
In winter, the system works in reverse, extracting the heat from deep underground and pumping warmed fluid back through the pipes to the chilly buildings. As the fluid is cooled, it is routed underground again to warm back up. Thus, to achieve the desired 72 °F indoors, the climate control system doesn’t need to heat up the building from frigid winter temperatures; it needs only to raise the temperature from the 50-60 °F baseline.
Solar panels cover nearly every south-facing roof, generating the electricity that drives the heat pumps (for those last few degrees of winter climate control), the geothermal pumps, the lights and any electrical equipment. On sunny days, excess energy is sold to the grid, while on cloudy days and at night, energy is pulled back. This system currently has a net positive energy balance: more energy is generated than is used.
System 2: Water
Water recycling undergoes an equally sophisticated process. Stormwater runoff and grey water first enters an underground holding tank. Next, the water trickles through a charcoal filter and then through a biofilm membrane. The water is then piped to marsh plants, where the roots absorb excess nutrients. Finally, the water is piped through a sand filter and blasted with UV radiation.
Unfortunately, while this water is safe to drink, regulation added a snag. “Even though we can produce water that is clean enough to drink on campus, regulations would require us to chlorinate it,” Dr. Walker explains. In other words, Eden Hall would have to be regulated as a city municipal water treatment establishment before water could be consumed. “That seemed like overkill.” Instead, the water treated on-site is recycled in the toilets and irrigation systems, and the drinking water is taken from the city supply. While this regulatory catch is the only thing keeping Eden Hall from being entirely off the grid, Dr. Walker is not discouraged. “I guess it goes with the territory of being pioneers,” he says. “We are out ahead of the regulations!”
System 3: Building
“If you think in a place with big views, you think big ideas,” Dr. Walker declares. Wooden, asymmetric frames are all built below the tree line and incorporated with large windows to let in plenty of natural light. A dairy barn has been repurposed as a small coffee shop, which Dr. Walker is hoping will quickly become the neighborhood hot spot. And in the center of the campus sits a large outdoor amphitheater, which currently hosts performances ranging from bluegrass concerts to opera shows.
The campus is both aesthetically pleasing as well as practical. The pavements are permeable to reduce stormwater runoff. Buildings are certified at the highest standard of the US Green Building Council, LEED Platinum. The campus is not surrounded by traditional lawns, but with naturally growing meadows and wildflowers (to be kept trim by those goats). “I don’t really believe in lawns,” says Dr. Walker, referring to the constant need for watering, fertilizing, and mowing of the favored suburban turf.
System 4: Food
A central part of the Eden Hall campus is the Food Studies program, which combines classroom learning with hands-on experimentation. “The Food Studies program has been operating out of Eden Hall campus part-time since its inception in 2010,” says Dr. Alice Julier, program director of Chatham Food Studies program. “It is integrally tied to Eden Hall because we get to practice what we preach.”
Students can take courses on grains, specializing in everything from crop science to culinary processes to fermentation. There are courses on sustainable meats that take you from pasturing to butchering. Students can practice from start to finish the process of making cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products. “Most recently, we developed a course on coffee,” Dr. Julier adds. “Students look at both production and consumption with La Prima and other coffee roasters. Our cafe will likely feature our Eden Hall blend, but we will also do outreach workshops on small batch roasting and tasting.”
A happy result of the prominence of the Food Studies program is a campus food system that offers a farm-to-table experience that would make even noted local chef Kevin Sousa green with envy. The goats on the grassy hillside will serve to both naturally keep the meadowland trim, and provide milk for cheese. Trout will be caught from the aquaponics tanks set adjacent to the classrooms. Seasonal fruits and vegetables will come straight from the students’ experimental garden, equipped with movable greenhouses to prevent overuse of the land. One large greenhouse, the “solar tunnel,” is heated with solar panels and vegetables are grown year-round.
System 5: Social
“That’s the easy bit,” says Dr. Walker about the first four sustainable systems. “What we’re dealing with now is moving this project we’ve built into a social program.” While designing and building a completely sustainable campus was an accomplished feat, perhaps the more important aspect of sustainability is changing people’s behavior. The Falk School of Sustainability aims to go further than just encourage students to recycle. Student dorm rooms are equipped with sensors to warn students if they leave the windows open too long, allowing heating or cooling to escape the building. And all kitchen spaces are communal. This offers a chance for community bonding, but also saves on energy costs associated with individual hotplates and mini fridges. “The first group of students are really going to be pioneers,” says Dr. Walker.
Forging the fully sustainable campus was no easy task, and the project was initially estimated to cost $40 million. This fall, the new Eden Hall campus is finally open for business.
But perhaps the largest challenge is getting the word out to the targeted students that will appreciate the unique experience Eden Hall has to offer. The Eden Hall campus is not for the average student, as it does not yet have the social clubs and community that a larger campus can offer. Students looking for the college experience promised in movies like “Animal House”or “Rudy” may be better off taking classes elsewhere. However, for students that want complete immersion in sustainability, and want to learn in the pastures and woodlands as well as the classroom, Eden Hall may be a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Article by Sam Shamsi
Definitely made! On October 15th, ASCE-PGH is proud to host the Dale Carnegie Leadership training. It is specifically designed for new managers or those who will soon be a manager. They will learn how to develop high performance teams that get more efficiency and effectiveness by becoming better leaders. The training is interactive and engaging. It includes both lectures and group activities. More information and registration can be found at www.asce-pgh.org/event-2016647
Most graduates of Dale Carnegie leadership training believe that this training was a life changing event. Dale Carnegie training ignites workplace enthusiasm by developing employees into more confident, empowered, inspired, and enthusiastic individuals. Dale Carnegie research indicates that employee engagement can unlock an organizations full potential. Learn more at www.dalecarnegie.com
Dale Carnegie Training is generally expensive and extensive. Many small businesses cannot afford to offer this training in-house. Dale Carnegie is offering a condensed version of their leadership training to Pittsburgh Section members at a significant discount. This training is an 8-hour “Step Up to Leadership” module which would normally cost around $600 per person. ASCE-Pittsburgh is offering it at $200 for members and $400 for non-members on a first-come basis (60 attendees maximum). Breakfast, lunch, and parking is included.
The training will be held at Regional Learning Alliance (RLA), a non-profit organization with a beautiful campus with state-of-the-art and well equipped learning facility minutes from Pittsburgh.
Registration deadline is September 29, 2015. At this time, we have low registration, and need your help to prevent cancellation of this section-subsidized training by encouraging your organization to register 5 or to sponsor the event.
From Romualdi, Davidson & Associates
Romualdi, Davidson & Associates, Inc. is pleased to announce that Mr. Robert Kimmick has joined our staff as a full time Senior Staff Engineer. Mr. Kimmick has a master’s degree in electrical engineering and over 25 years of work experience in commercial, industrial, and electric power generating facilities. His areas of expertise include electrical systems for commercial and industrial buildings, fire alarm systems, building automation and control systems, communication systems, electrical power distribution systems, machine controls and guarding, electrocution accidents, and equipment and appliances involved in fires of electrical origin. Mr. Kimmick’s expertise will expand our capabilities and enable us to better serve our clients.
The staff and associated consultants of Romualdi, Davidson & Associates, Inc. provide professional civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering expertise and comprehensive testing services in failure analysis, accident reconstruction and fire investigations. We have completed over 11,000 engineering evaluations associated with personal injury or property loss.
Harrisburg, PA – PennDOT today announced that it has scheduled three open houses for the public and stakeholders to review the draft for the update of the Pennsylvania State Rail plan.
The plan allows the commonwealth to identify a clear vision for the future of rail transportation, to set objectives for achieving that vision, and to document and evaluate passenger and freight rail needs over the course of the next twenty five years to guide investments.
“Pennsylvania is a railroad state with a long history being in the forefront of this mode of transportation,” said PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards. “Our dynamic and ever evolving long-range rail plan is intended to maintain that legacy and help direct our investments to keep both freight and passenger rail as vibrant components of our transportation network. We look to our residents and stakeholders to use these open houses to help us shape the plan.”
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) works with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) on the update.
Scheduled meetings are:
All sessions run from 6 to 8 p.m.
The updated plan is to be submitted to FRA in November.
The draft 2015 Pennsylvania State Rail Plan can also be reviewed and comments provided at http://www.planthekeystone.com/staterailplan.html. Comments will be accepted at the Open House Public Meetings and online from August 31, 2015 to October 2, 2015.
“The vision for Pennsylvania’s rail system is to provide safe, convenient, reliable, cost-effective connections for people and goods,” Richards said. “As a viable alternative to other transportation modes, the rail system will support economic competitiveness, smart growth, and environmental sustainability, thereby strengthening Pennsylvania’s communities.”
9 state legislatures are currently in session and ASCE is monitoring 1249 bills and 239 pending regulatory proposals. ASCE’s state legislative and regulatory tracking service is available to all members with their normal ASCE login information at: www.asce.org/multistate
Council of State Governments: As part of ASCE’s ongoing outreach to state legislators, ASCE participated this week in the Council of State Governments (CSG) Southern Legislative Conference in Savannah, GA. Legislators and other state government officials toured the Port of Savannah, talked about net metering energy policies, how to put together P3s in their state, and even helped pack food for Second Harvest. The SLC is the largest of four regional legislative groups that operate under the Council of State Governments. It’s 15 member states stretch from West Virginia to Texas and includes Kentucky, Missouri and Oklahoma.
In July, ASCE sponsored a Transportation Policy Academy for state legislative leaders from around the country in Denver, CO during the CSG West meeting. Lawmakers heard from various speakers, including ASCE staff about the need for infrastructure investment at the state level.
National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL): ASCE participated in the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) annual Legislative Summit held in Seattle from Aug 3-6. Approximately 5,000 state legislators, legislative staffers, federal officials and others attended this week’s meeting to gain invaluable knowledge from experts and fellow legislators to take back to their respective states. Attendees participated in an array of policy-producing committee meetings, issue forums and deep-dive sessions. ASCE exhibited at the meeting, and several members of the Seattle Section also attended and interacted with lawmakers from 41 states, 1 U.S. territory and 8 countries.
Also of note, the conference featured a “deep-dive” session entitled “Filling Up the Tank: Funding Transportation,” which provided legislators a forum to discuss developing sound transportation plans in their states that creates sustainable revenue, prepares for the future and meets immediate transportation needs. ASCE also sponsored the annual Bipartisan Bike Ride again this year.
See more on ASCE’s policy on Transportation Funding here: http://www.asce.org/issues-and-advocacy/public-policy/policy-statement-382---transportation-funding/
National Lt. Governors Association: In July, ASCE government relations staff attended the National Lieutenant Governors Association Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana. Lieutenant Governors from 23 states came together at the conference to discuss important policy challenges facing their states. Among the highlights of the meeting, former U.S. Representative Lee Hamilton and former U.S. Senator Richard Lugar took part in a panel to discuss their experience working with members of the opposing party and the need to react civilly to each other in elected positions. Infrastructure was also emphasized in a session entitled “Roads, Rivers, and Rail” with panelists from the Soy Transportation Coalition and the Waterways Council making the case for increased investment. Of particular note was an emphasis on the need for infrastructure investment in rural areas and the economic impact on agriculture industry.
National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES): During the annual meeting of the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying in Williamsburg, VA, delegates voted to adopt a position statement that reiterates the NCEES stance on increased educational requirements for engineering licensure.
The position statement identifies several future pathways by which a candidate for licensure as a professional engineer might obtain the body of knowledge needed to safeguard the health, safety, and welfare of the public. Among those pathways to be eligible for professional licensure in the future are earning an accredited bachelor’s degree in engineering followed by an engineering master’s degree, or earning an accredited bachelor’s degree and then at least 30 semester hours of appropriate upper-level undergraduate or graduate-level coursework in engineering inside or outside the university environment.
The concept of increased-education requirements for future licensure is in line with a key goal of the ASCE-backed Raise the Bar initiative, intended to better prepare civil engineers of the 21st century for a changing world.
See ASCE’s policy in increased educational requirements for engineering licensure: http://www.asce.org/issues-and-advocacy/public-policy/policy-statement-465---academic-prerequisites-for-licensure-and-professional-practice/
Article from ASCE Pipelines Conference
ASCE Pipelines 2015 provides a forum for pipeline pioneers and practitioners from all around the world to share their experiences in meeting the challenges of today’s pipeline infrastructure. The theme of this year’s conference is “Recent Advances in Underground Pipeline Engineering and Construction.”
The conference takes place August 23-26 at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel in historic downtown Baltimore, Maryland. It will provide a dynamic and inspiring venue for attendees to share and gain valuable knowledge and experience through 200 papers and poster presentations within seven tracks covering topics such as: Trenchless Installations; Design & Construction; Analysis & Design; Assessment & Rehabilitation; Operation, Maintenance, Risk & Safety; and Asset Management.
In addition to the presentation tracks, Pipelines 2015 is offering three panel discussions, which is new to the technical program. The panel discussions cover “Energy Generation in Pipelines” and “Fiber Optics in Pipelines,” as well as the always important “ASCE Ethics.”
A new feature at this year’s conference is a one-day Large Diameter Pipeline Forum that will replace the PCCP Forum. Additionally, attendees will have the opportunity to attend several informative pre-conference workshops on pressure pipelines design, asbestos cement pipe bursting, AWWA manuals, corrugated HDPE, CIPP and manhole rehabilitation.
The Opening Plenary session will feature ASCE President Dr. Robert D. Stevens, Ph.D., P.E., F.ASCE and DC Water General Manager George Hawkins. The Tuesday luncheon will feature Charles Cook, Political Analyst, “the man who knows more about everything political than anyone else.” The Bechtel Award will be presented at the Tuesday Awards Luncheon and the winner will speak immediately following. The Closing Keynote will feature Ed Croteau, Business Excellence Specialist, Black & Veatch Corp., who will speak on “Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FEMA)”.
There are many networking opportunities during receptions, dinner, breaks and exhibit hours. The exhibition hall – featuring more than 80 companies – will showcase the latest innovations in pipelines technology. The Tuesday Special Event will be an exciting evening on the waterfront. On Wednesday afternoon - after the conference adjourns – there is a golf tournament, to be held at the Mountain Branch, and a technical tour to the Structural Technologies facility.
Baltimore is also an attractive destination for companions and families. The city’s waterfront and Inner Harbor are home to the best crab cakes you’ll ever have, hundreds of restaurants, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the world-class National Aquarium, Little Italy, Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum, American Visionary Art Museum, Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum, and so much more. Take a cruise around the harbor in a water taxi as you visit various neighborhoods. For the history enthusiast, tour the USS Constellation or nearby Fort McHenry, which, during the Battle of Baltimore in 1814, inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Visit the conference website at www.pipelinesconference.org to register, get the most up-to-date program information, and learn about the networking and social events.
ASCE Pipelines 2015 Planning Committee