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Pittsburgh's Civil Engineering News Blog

  • 03 May 2016 8:22 AM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Tom Batroney, PE, ENV SP, M.ASCE – ASCE Pittsburgh Sustainability Committee Chair, Mott MacDonald

    Greg Scott, PE, M.ASCE – Environmental and Water Resources Institute – Pittsburgh Chapter Chair, Buchart Horn

    On Thursday, May 19th at 8:00 AM at the August Wilson Center in downtown Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the Pittsburgh Chapter of Environmental and Water Resources Institute (EWRI), and Sustainable Pittsburgh/Champions for Sustainability (C4S) will be hosting its annual day-long Sustainability Conference. Now in its 8th year, the Sustainability Conference has presented cutting edge themes and topics associated with the ever changing topic of sustainability in civil engineering. The very first ASCE-PGH/EWRI/C4S Sustainability Conference in 2008 explored the potential impacts of climate change on regional infrastructure. Since the inaugural conference in 2008, the overall landscape and dialogue relating to climate change has greatly changed. No longer is the dialogue about whether or not climate change may exist or potentially pose a threat to critical infrastructure. The dialogue has now shifted to developing real and tangible infrastructure protection strategies against the impacts climate change while at the same time finding new and innovative ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

    According to scientists from many reputable government agencies, including the National Air and Space Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there is a weight of evidence indicating that the Earth’s climate is undergoing a change that may have serious future consequences on our lives and infrastructure. In response to these growing concerns, the ASCE national headquarters adopted Policy Statement 360 in 2015 on the impact of climate change on the civil engineering profession. The policy statement reads:

    “Civil engineers are responsible for the planning, design, construction, operations and maintenance of physical infrastructures, including buildings, communication facilities, energy generation and distribution facilities, industrial facilities, transportation networks, water resources facilities and urban water systems. These physical infrastructures have long service lives (50 to 100 years) and are expected to remain functional, durable and safe during that time. These facilities are exposed to and are vulnerable to the effects of extreme climate and weather events. Engineering practices and standards associated with these facilities must be revised and enhanced to address climate change to ensure they continue to provide acceptably low risks of failures in functionality, durability and safety over their service lives.”

    The above policy statement is definitive in stating that the civil engineer practice and its practitioners have a duty to consider the impacts of climate change. As we go forward with new critical infrastructure projects and upgrades to existing infrastructure, we as civil engineers must consider if climate change may pose a substantial risk to the “functionality, durability, and safety” on the project.

    The following is a brief outline of the speakers and topics for 8th Annual Sustainability Conference. To see the full agenda and to register visit the ASCE-PGH website.

    •  Grant Ervin, Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Pittsburgh and the City’s Resilience office will provide an update for how the city is progressing in their on-going (and near complete) city-wide resilience assessments, transportation via complete streets initiative, and resilient stormwater management.
    • Duane Verner from Argonne National Laboratory’s Global Security Sciences Division will provide insights on conducting site-level vulnerability assessments and developing climate change adaptation strategies for cities and critical infrastructure.
    • National ASCE’s Committee on Adaption to a Changing Climate released a free publication in 2015 titled “Adapting Infrastructure and Civil Engineering Practice to a Changing Climate”. Carnegie Mellon University Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor, Costa Samaras, served as one of the lead authors in the publication. Costa Samaras will be in attendance at the conference and will present on the publication and the overall impacts of climate change on regional infrastructure.
    • The afternoon will include an international case study from Amsterdam, Netherlands. Andre Struker from Waternet will provide groundbreaking waste to energy strategies that are transforming the way cities think about climate impacts and infrastructure.
    • Lively audience breakout sessions and panel discussions will be conducted with speakers.
    • Poster sessions from area university students along with the first ever Scholarship Award for Best Student Poster.
    We look forward to your attendance on Thursday, May 19th regarding an important topic for the future of the Pittsburgh 

  • 28 Apr 2016 10:30 AM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    By Alex Potter-Weight

    ASCE members and guests gathered at the Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania on Thursday, March 17th for a joint dinner meeting of the Geo-Institute and the Environmental and Water Resources Institute.  As part of the meeting, Doug Clark, P.E., and Brianne Jacoby, P.G., of Civil and Environmental Consultants presented the lecture “Groundwater Modeling and Settlement Analysis for Closure for of the Little Blue Run CCP Disposal Area.” The presentation covered various aspects of the rigorous design and analysis required to facilitate the closure of a large disposal area for coal combustion products (CCP).

    The Little Blue Run (LBR) disposal area is a 900+acre impoundment located in both Beaver County, PA and Hancock County, WV that has been used since 1975 for the disposal of CCP from FirstEnergy’s nearby Bruce Mansfield Generating Station.  In 2012, FirstEnergy and PADEP agreed to a cessation of all disposal operations by the end of 2016, along with the development of a closure plan to be completed by 2031.   The closure will eliminate disposal pumping and greatly reduce infiltration into the CCP, resulting in a significant drop in the water table.  This change in effective stress would likely result in very large settlements that could impact the surface drainage and final cover system both during and following closure.  In order to analyze this potential, a detailed groundwater modeling and settlement analysis program was undertaken.

    Ms. Jacoby presented the groundwater flow modeling portion of the project, which was performed using MODFLOW-2000, a three-dimensional finite-difference model developed by the USGS.  After calibration to the observed groundwater levels, the model was constructed to perform a 250-year analysis of the water table draw-down.  It encompassed an area of 27,000 ft by 27,000 ft and extended approximately 400 feet deep.  The resulting predicted drop in the groundwater table exceeded 100 feet in some locations, with the greatest amount of draw-down occurring in the areas of the thickest CCP deposits.

    Mr. Clark presented the analysis of the ensuring settlement that would occur as a result of the expected drop of the groundwater table.  Between 2002 and 2012, CEC undertook five separate subsurface investigations and four laboratory testing programs.  The subsurface investigation programs included 38 cone penetration test soundings and 34 borings for undisturbed sampling.  The laboratory testing programs included 77 consolidation tests on CCP sample and numerous other tests.  The scale and sophistication of the groundwater model allowed for a detailed settlement calculations with over 2,600 discrete points of analysis.  The resulting prediction included a maximum settlement of over 30 feet at the location of the thickest CCP deposit, where the draw-down was the highest.  The significant grade change as a result of this predicted settlement necessitated major modifications to the post-closure surface drainage system and the final geosynthetic liner cover materials.

    The presentation was based on a paper first published for the 2015 World of Coal Ash Conference in Nashville, TN. The Geo-Institute and Environmental and Water Resource Institute Chapters of the ASCE Pittsburgh Section were happy to be able to provide 1.0 PDH for the presentation.  This annual joint technical dinner meeting between the two societies also included a social hour and a sit-down dinner. 

  • 25 Apr 2016 8:54 PM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Article by ASCE Awards Committee and ASCE Blog Editor

    Thomas Leech, P.E., S.E. is the 2015 ASCE Distinguished Engineer.  “This is a humbling experience,” says Tom.  “The award could not be possible without the assistance of many dedicated mentors and colleagues, clients who challenge, and the benefit of a superior university education.”

    Tom is the (retired) Chief Bridge Engineer of Gannett Fleming, Inc., Adjunct Professor of Civil Engineering of Carnegie Mellon University, and a part of the continuing education faculty of the Pennsylvania State University. During his 48 years at Gannett Fleming, he designed major bridges, tunnels, and highways and conducted forensic studies prior to his retirement.  “[I enjoy] the satisfaction of seeing what is visualized and expressed only in pen and paper realized in the form of physical construction, which many can view, but few can appreciate,” Tom says.

    “I was fortunate enough to work closely with Tom over the past 5 years,” says colleague, Linda Kaplan.  “He is an excellent teacher and mentor, continually breaking complex problems down into simple concepts and basic principles so that they could be easily understood.”  

    “Tom was not just an engineer,” adds Gannett Fleming Vice President and National Highway Practice Manager, Eric Veydt. “He is creative, always trying something new, always looking for a better way to convey a thought or idea.  Simply put, Tom always challenged us and made us better.”

    Tom has led various infrastructure design projects throughout Western Pennsylvania, including the Bloomfield Bridge, the Joe Montana Bridges, the Hulton Bridge, the Toll 43 Monongahela River Crossing, the North Shore LRT Viaduct at Allegheny Station, the Fort Pitt and Squirrel Hill Tunnel Rehabilitations, and the forensic evaluation of the collapse of the Kinzua Viaduct. He has published over 50 articles in national and international journals, conference proceedings and magazines, and has delivered numerous presentations at national and international conferences. Tom was also the lead technical author of the Bridges of Pittsburgh Art Mural that is presently displayed at the Greater Pittsburgh International Airport. He recently was the editor of the book Reflections...of the Greatest Engineers and Architects of the 20th and 21st Centuries as well as a contributing author to the Geology of Pittsburgh.

    “Tom has instilled in every engineer a wonderment for the science of bridge engineering, an eye for the beauty of bridge aesthetics, and a passion and determination for the problem solving,” says Senior Structural Engineer for Gannett Fleming, Jonathan McHugh.

    For the past ten years, Tom has been a magazine editor for ESWP’s Summer Magazine, with each edition focusing on separate and unique topics related to the bridge industry. “Engineers have a story to tell,” he explains.  “Writing to peers, the language of precision is necessary, and the nuance of detail is important.  Writing to the lay reader interested in science and technology, visualization of concept, human interaction, and conciseness true to the endeavor become the overarching challenges.” 

    Tom has actively served the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Engineers Society of Western Pennsylvania. “Tom’s leadership through the ESWP – IBC enabled that organization to develop into an internationally recognized association,” says Mr. Veydt.  Tom has also been active in the International Bridge Conference Committee, the Association for Bridge Construction and Design, and the Association of Highway Engineers.

    “Tom’s influence on the Engineering Profession in the Pittsburgh Area will live on through future generations and his contribution through projects will provide lasting improvements to the region.” Mr. Veydt asserts. “I count it a great privilege to have work under Tom at the start of my career and alongside Tom throughout my career.”

  • 21 Apr 2016 11:30 AM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    By Greg Holbrook & Linda Kaplan, P.E.

    In February 2016, several Pittsburgh ASCE Section members attended the first ever Geotechnical and Structural Engineering Congress, held in Phoenix, AZ.  This conference was unique in that it was a joint conference between ASCE’s Structural Engineering Institute and Geotechnical Institutes, marking the 20th anniversary of the founding of each.  This combination provided the opportunity for topics and discussions on how the two civil engineering disciplines interact and what can be done professionally to increase collaboration between the fields.

    The conference opened with a lively panel discussion about the interaction between the two disciplines, titled: “Soil is Not a Spring, Buildings are Not a Load.”  Three representatives from each Institute discussed issues with collaboration in design.  Discussions included degrees of uncertainty in geotechnical capacities vs. structural loads and how to ensure we’re not unknowingly over-designing, and questions of responsibility for the final product including a debate about whose professional seal should stamp foundation drawings or that they should be jointly sealed.  The differences in work flow between private (primarily buildings) projects where the structural and geotechnical engineer are often hired separately by the client, and public (primarily transportation) projects where the geotechnical and structural engineer are likely to be working for the same firm, or one as a sub of the other, was also a major point of discussion.

    The conference included 15 technical tracks with presentations on a variety of technical and professional issues in the structural and geotechnical fields.  One discussion stood out, related to professional licensure and the attempt by some states to remove the requirement for Professional Engineering licensure for structural design. This debate lead to comments as to how the profession could protect itself from lawsuits due to incompetent individuals designing projects, and the public image of losing the expectation of structures to not fail.  Additionally, another discussion spurred from the occurrence in some states that require an S.E. license for certain structures and how that doesn’t allow a geotechnical engineer with a P.E. to design foundations and retaining wall systems in that state, yet they have the ability to design those same structures in other states.

    Nine members of the Pittsburgh Section attended.  Two members, Greg Holbrook, P.E. of CDM Smith, and Don Cunningham, P.E., of HDR, were able to attend the conference courtesy of SEI Young Professionals Scholarships.  This competitive scholarship program is offered annually by the SEI Young Professionals Committee to allow 10 younger members who would otherwise not have the opportunity, to attend.  Additionally, Don Splitstone, P.E. and Bruce Roth, P.E., both of GAI, attended to present their paper “Micropiles Ease Historic Bridge Replacement”; Linda Kaplan, P.E., of TRC, and Greg Braun, P.E. of Gannett Fleming, attended and presented “Geotechnical and Structural Engineering Collaboration on a Large Scale Bridge Project: A Case Study of the Hulton Bridge”; Jonathan McHugh, P.E., of Gannett Fleming presented “PHX Sky Train Phase 1 – The Interaction of Structural and Geotechnical Design Considerations”; Dick Gray, P.E., and Robert Hanna, P.E., of DiGioia Gray and Associates, attended as well. 

    Highlighting the conference was a series of special events and receptions. 

    • The exhibit hall reception on the first night included a Champagne toast by ASCE National President Mark Woodson, PE to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the institutes and this landmark joint Congress. 
    • On the second evening, at a reception at Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, colleagues from around the country networked. 
    • The final night of the conference featured the SEI Futures Fund Reception, hosted by Ashraf Habibullah, President of Computers and Structures, Inc.  The event was held in the Phoenix Art Museum and included live music, dancing, and door prizes. 

    Following the conclusion of the conference, some of the Pittsburgh Section members got a chance to take advantage of the warm Phoenix weather prior to heading back to Pittsburgh.  Greg H., Greg B., Jon, and Linda decided to hike Piestewa Peak (formerly Squaw Peak) to take in the view.

  • 11 Apr 2016 7:44 PM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    From ASCE National, edited by Gregory Scott

    Rep. Garret Graces address Fly-In attendees. On March 16th more than 200 ASCE members from 49 states descended on Capitol Hill to advocate for infrastructure and the civil engineering community. Armed with their everyday civil engineering experiences, issues briefings from the ASCE Government Relations team, and insight from two keynote speakers. Joining them were three members from the Pittsburgh Section, Nat Hayes, Gabby Briffa and Greg Scott. Fly-InPA’s State Advocacy Captain Gabby Briffa on Capitol Hill attendees spent Wednesday afternoon advocating for a new Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), water infrastructure funding, and the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization (FAA).  In her presentation on Tuesday night, Marion McFadden, deputy assistant secretary for grants programs in the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Office of Community Planning and Development highlighted Rebuild by Design and HUD’s $1 billion nationwide design competition for infrastructure projects and community programs open to areas affected by natural disaster from 2011-2014. ASCE assisted HUD in the competition this past summer by providing cutting edge engineering expertise in designing resilient infrastructure.  

     On Wednesday morning, Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA) a member the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and a former congressional staffer provided not only insight on the current political climate of infrastructure policy in the House but he also offered tips on how to improve the outcomes of Congressional meetings. ASCE members meet with roughly 230 congressional offices this week, including a visit to every congressional in PA. Don’t forget to add your voice to theirs by sending an email to Congress in support of infrastructure investment. 

     PA Fly-in participants take a break on the Capitol steps before their next meeting.

  • 04 Apr 2016 8:35 PM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    By the ASCE-Pittsburgh Awards Committee and the ASCE Blog Editor

    Tom Batroney, PE, ENV SP, is the ASCE-PGH 2015 Young Engineer of the Year.  “The Pittsburgh region has so many impressive civil engineering professionals,” says Tom. “To be recognized amongst a great group of professionals feels good.”  Tom is currently a Project Engineer with Hatch Mott MacDonald in Pittsburgh where he works on a variety of environmental and water resources related projects. He received his B.S. in Environmental Engineering from Wilkes University in 2001 and his M.S. in Water Resources Engineering from the University of Villanova in 2007. He obtained his P.E. license in 2012. Tom has demonstrated technical, organizational, and managerial skills that have been recognized by his employer and his clients as outstanding.

    “Tom has been an exemplar of a civil engineer ever since he came to Pittsburgh,” says colleague, Gregory Scott.  “Besides his professional competency, he has demonstrated his leadership with the EWRI Pittsburgh Chapter and then on a National level with EWRI.” 

    As a member of ASCE, Tom currently serves as a Director for the Pittsburgh Section’s Board and is the Past Chair of the Pittsburgh Section’s Environmental and Water Resources Institute (EWRI). Tom was a key person in expanding the EWRI’s reach through organizing numerous technical and industry-relevant seminars and conferences. He was instrumental in creating the first EWRI graduate student chapter at Carnegie Mellon University. “Fresh and new ideas are needed in all organizations and businesses,” he explains. “Contributions from EWRI student chapters at Carnegie Mellon and University of Pittsburgh are perfect examples. Motivated and active new members often will stimulate the entire group and spur new ideas that eventually improve ASCE as a whole.”

    He continues to provide unselfish contributions to ASCE and EWRI activities, collaborate with other technical groups and institutes, mentor new members, and provide valuable guidance to the Pittsburgh EWRI Student Chapter. More recently, Tom has risen to the challenge of forming and leading the Pittsburgh Section’s Sustainability Committee, addressing one of the Society’s strategic initiatives. “There are tools out there that civil engineers can use to evaluate the sustainability of their projects,” Tom says.  “My goal is turn the somewhat nebulous word 'sustainability' into something more clear for engineers to understand how it relates to their projects.”  

    In addition to these professional achievements, Tom has shown a very strong commitment to various community activities, most notable of which are the Regent Square Gateway Project Team, and the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association.“It was no surprise to me to volunteer for a stream clean up last fall and run into Tom there volunteering along with many local community members,” says Mr. Scott. “He is a terrific person who deeply cares about the environment.”

  • 31 Mar 2016 10:32 AM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    By Linda Kaplan.P.E., Gregory Holbrook, P.E., and Karen Mueser, P.E.

    On February 12 & 13, 2016 the Pittsburgh Younger Member Forum hosted the 2016 Eastern Regional Younger Member Council (ERYMC) at the Multi-Region Leadership Conference (MRLC) for Regions 1, 2, 4, & 5.

    The MRLC also included the Workshop for Section and Branch Leaders (WSBL) and Workshop for Student Chapter Leaders (WSCL).

    The entire conference brought over 450 leaders from across the nation to the Omni William Penn Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh to attend business meetings, leadership training, and networking events.  We also had the pleasure of hosting ASCE Executive Director Tom Smith, 2016 ASCE President Mark Woodson, P.E., 2016 ASCE President-Elect Norma Jean Mattei, P.E., and two ASCE 2017 President-Elect nominees, Kristina Swallow, P.E., and Robin Kemper, P.E.

    Highlights of the conference included a Presentation on Professional Ethics by ASCE Legal Counsel Tara Hoke, who used case studies to illustrate multiple ways in which conflicts of interest can come up and best practices to address them.  Following Tara’s presentation an Order of the Engineer Induction Ceremony was held.  Seven Pittsburgh Section members, including 3 students, participated in the ceremony, vowing to maintain the highest of ethical standards in all engineering pursuits.  Other presentations included “Digital Etiquette,” discussing proper e-mail and cell phone usage in the workplace, and “What Makes a Leader?” which discussed how ability and motivation must be used together to successfully lead.  Roundtable sessions and Best Practice breakouts rounded out the technical program. 

    The Conference also included the Annual ERYMC Business Meeting,  a time when the Council  comes together to make proposals to ASCE National, discuss industry issues, and make recommendations for future conferences, including location.  This year’s meeting included a lively discussion on ASCE’s “Raise the Bar” initiative to require 30 credit hours past the Bachelor’s Degree before obtaining a Professional License.  Younger Members were split on their support of the initiative, with some feeling strongly that more education is required and would bring us in line with other respected professions, while others felt that the cost was prohibitive and working experience applying the sciences was more important towards licensure.  The meeting also included a vote to add a new award next year to recognize a younger member who has done outstanding work in government relations and advocacy.  Finally, the council was charged with deciding the location of the 2018 conference - in a vote between Orlando, FL and Buffalo, NY -  Buffalo was selected.

    Two off-site networking events were included with the conference.  The largest event, the joint social, was held at the Jerome Bettis’ Grille 36,, on the North Shore and was attended by over half of the conference attendees – nearly 250 people!  Food and drinks were included, and attendees as they were able to mix and mingle in a less formal setting that also included a photobooth by which to remember the conference!  The more formal ERYMC Awards dinner took place on Saturday night at the LeMont Restaurant on Mt. Washington.  The evening began with a cocktail hour, followed by dinner and the presentations of six awards.  The award winners were:

    • Outstanding Practitioner Advisor: Mr. Alex Hinkle, E.I., Florida Section, East Central Branch
    • Outstanding Young Civil Engineer in the Private Sector: Mr. Brett Manzie, P.E., Florida Section, Jacksonville Branch
    • Outstanding Young Civil Engineer in the Public Sector: Ms. Sarah Missenda, P.E., Pittsburgh Section
    • Outstanding Younger Member in Community Activities: Mr. Jesse Gormley, P.E., Philadelphia Section
    • Outstanding Younger Member Group Project: Nashville Younger Member Group, The Salvation Army Angel Tree Activity
    • Younger Member Peers Group Award: Pittsburgh Younger Member Forum

    Section member Lauren Dziagwa, EIT attended the conference and said, “Overall, the ERYMC conference was a great networking and leadership event.  I had the opportunity to meet and reconnect with younger engineers from across the eastern U.S., learn more about ASCE and its operations, and develop professional and leadership skills that will help me throughout my career.”

    Conference feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and the YMF is proud to say it was a resounding success!  It was possible with the hard work of the planning committee and the generous support of our sponsors including:

    Thanks to the support of the Pittsburgh engineering community we had a fantastic and memorable conference!

  • 29 Mar 2016 8:26 AM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Press Release from Gannett Fleming

    March 22, 2016 (Pittsburgh, Pa.) The Pittsburgh Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers has awarded the Hulton Bridge Replacement Project the 2015 Civil Engineering Achievement Award. Gannett Fleming served as the prime consultant on the replacement bridge.

    The Hulton Bridge is a vital connection between the communities of Oakmont Borough and Harmar Township across the Allegheny River. It provides efficient access to the regional transportation connections, as well as the PA Turnpike. However, the condition and functionality of the existing Hulton Bridge, built in 1908, did not meet the traffic demands of the growing communities, was structurally deficient and continued to deteriorate at a costly rate.

    Located in PennDOT District 11-0, the new Hulton Bridge, a 1,633-foot-long multi-span, steel, haunched girder structure, represents a close collaboration between the owner and community resulting in a structure which is both elegant and efficient. The new structure improves safety, traffic level-of-service, and functionality. The bridge aesthetics are unique, resulting in a structure which will become both a gathering point and an icon to the community.

    The design and construction timing for this high-profile project was critical, as Oakmont Country Club will host the United States Golf Association U.S. Open tournament in June 2016. When Oakmont hosted the tournament in 2007, more than 250,000 spectators, as well as golfers, staff, and media members, flocked to the community for six days. The original two-lane Hulton Bridge contributed to heavy congestion and traffic problems throughout the week. In anticipation of the 2016 tournament, the final design was accelerated for a 2013 completion, allowing two-and-a-half years for construction to finish before the U.S. Open.

    “The Hulton Bridge Replacement Project demonstrated sensitivity to the community needs, safety, and aesthetics and will provide a vital link as it replaces the over 100-year-old Jonathan Hulton Bridge,” said N. Catherine Bazán-Arias, Ph.D., PE, F.ASCE, president of the Pittsburgh Section of ASCE.

    The Civil Engineering Achievement Award is presented to a civil engineering project that contributes to the well-being of people and community, utilizes resourcefulness in planning and solutions of design problems, pioneers the use of materials and methods, uses innovations in construction, take impact on the environment into consideration and has unusual aspects and aesthetic values.

    Gannett Fleming has served as an engineering consulting partner in global infrastructure for 100 years. We improve communities through transportation, environmental, water, power, and facility-related projects in more than 65 countries. Our 2,000 employees deliver innovation and excellence in planning, design, technology, and construction management services for a diverse range of markets and disciplines. From more than 60 offices around the world, we embrace sustainability and innovation, finding the best solutions and the most efficient processes to meet our clients’ complex challenges. Founded in 1915, Gannett Fleming had $352 million in revenues in 2015. We are proud to be ISO 9001:2008 Certified. For more information, visit

  • 24 Mar 2016 11:50 AM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    By Louis Gualtieri, P.E.

    The Pittsburgh Section American Society of Civil Engineers Younger Member Forum (YMF) hosted their 10th Annual Dodgeball Tournament on Saturday February 20th, 2016 held on CMU’s campus.  

    This year 6 teams partook in the tournament.  The tournament began with a round robin to seed the teams going into the playoffs, similar to what you would see in FIFA’s World Cup.  The eventual winner was Slumdodgeball Millionaires (seen left with their championship trophy) defeating Off Constantly, and yes those were the team names.

    In the Mass Dodgeball tournament in between the round robin round and the playoff bracket, it was every man (and woman) for themselves.  The last man standing was Sam North, a student from the University of Pittsburgh team (The Dodgefathers).  

    The prize, in addition to the medal and bragging rights, was tickets to the Mattress Factory contemporary art museum and experimental lab.

    The YMF’s annual Pittsburgh Penguins Hockey Ticket Raffle (tickets donated by HDR, Inc.) was pulled at the dodgeball tournament with two winners selected, each winning a pair of tickets.  The winners were Shirley Clapperton (ticket sold by YMF President Elect, Lou Gualtieri) and Mark Burkhart (ticket sold by YMF Treasurer & Dodgeball Committee Chair, Jeff Argyros.)  

    The YMF also thanks Papa John’s Pizza who donated pizzas for the event; the pizzas were sold as a fundraiser.

    All participants had inspired fun exercising mind and body, and making new friends and colleagues among the next generation of Pittsburgh Civil Engineers.  

    Follow YMF to see what they will do next year!

  • 22 Mar 2016 6:36 PM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    From CE News, by Cathy Bazxn-Arias

    After dusk, we were limited to sparkling conversation and viewing what flashlight illumination allowed. It was probably for the best: Every day, as soon as daylight broke, the roosters and oxen would greet one another from one end of the village to the other, and thus, most mornings began early.

    Welcome to Makili, Mali. Located a few hundred kilometers southwest from the fabled city of Timbuktu, Makili is an agricultural village with approximately 1,400 people. The seasons fluctuate between dry and rainy and cool and hot. Because of its relatively flat topography, there is limited storage of water in the form of lakes or ponds for fishing, one of the main sources of protein for the community. Thus, in 2007, through a contact from the Peace Corps, the University of Pittsburgh Student Chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB-Pitt) endeavored to aid Makilians in addressing their nutritional needs by providing technical, educational, and financial assistance.

    During my stay as mentor, the EWB-Pitt team conducted a detailed survey for a future permanent fish pond site; held meetings with community leaders and members; interviewed health officials; and integrated into village life, which included getting used to well water and ground latrines. These conditions quickly become part of the daily routine alongside sleeping under the stars and working around the hottest hours of the day, which easily reached well above 110° F. But what I’ll remember most is the warmth and courtesy that everyone from the village chief to the Peace Corps volunteers to the smallest toddler extended to us—the spirit of hospitality is alive and active in Makili.

    All aspiring and experienced engineers should work at least once during their careers in a project that challenges their comfort zone. Whether it is on a greater-than-life project or addressing the fundamental infrastructure needs of a village community, it is not until you are charged with effectively understanding and communicating with contractors, regulators, community members, scientists, and engineers in another part of the country or the world that one appreciates what civil engineers do and the impact our work makes. How often do you think that your work is not significant or just "routine," or that people don’t understand what you do? It is because of this lack of understanding and low sense of appreciation that I think we contend with several issues in our profession ranging from bidding procedures and commodity-versus-professional services to outsourcing and professional licensing.

    The main challenge for engineers to gain this experience is the willingness to step outside our comfort zone. "Why do I need to work elsewhere (even temporarily)?" "What can I do/learn in another state/country?" "My language/writing skills will limit my experience/contribution in the project." These are expressions of apprehension rather than lack of ability. The saying, "Where there’s a will there’s a way," is applicable now more than ever for engineers willing to experience unique projects—from EWB to the Peace Corps to Habitat for Humanity and disaster-relief volunteer opportunities. It really is a matter of mind over matter.

    If you can step outside your comfort zone, then perhaps, as you watch the brightly lit stars lying on your yoga mat (memo to self: invest in an air mattress) through mosquito netting and ponder, "What am I doing here?", you will likely recall something throughout the day that will provide the answer. Remember the neighbors’ questions as they watch you take survey readings, or the children’s laughter as they curiously eye your calculator and notes. You will remember being extra careful with tools and machinery so that no one is hurt (OSHA would be proud) and the sense of responsibility on your shoulders because the best hope for the community’s needs is your work. And you will more than likely enjoy a good night’s rest. Until the oxen and roosters rouse you.


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