Rocks Roads Ripples N'At: 

Pittsburgh's Civil Engineering News Blog

  • 10 Sep 2020 12:54 PM | Anonymous

    Jack A. Raudenbush, P.E., F.ASCE, your Region 2 Director is a member of the Central Pennsylvania Section.  Jack will be representing you at the next Board meeting on October 27 and 28, 2020.

    Visit an ASCE designed historic site!  These sites illustrate the creativity and innovative spirit of civil engineers.  Visit to find sites near you.  Share photos of your travels with me and I will post in Region 2 correspondence and on our Region’s social media pages.

    The Mason Dixon Line

    The Mason Dixon line, commonly referenced as the boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland, also includes a portion of the northern boundary of West Virginia and the western boundary of Delaware.  It was surveyed between 1763 and 1767 by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon.  The Mason–Dixon line was marked by stones every mile 1 mile and "crownstones" every 5 miles, using stone shipped from England. The Maryland side says "M" and the Delaware and Pennsylvania sides say "P". The parallel (latitude line) was established as 15 miles south of the then southernmost point in Philadelphia.


    Mason and Dixon started off with a crew of five, but by the time they got towards the end of the survey the party had grown to about 115. They thought at the end of the survey that the stones were accurate within 50ft. But what is realized today is that some of them are as much as 900ft off. The reason is not because Mason and Dixon were inaccurate in their execution nor because the equipment was faulty. It was actually gravity. Gravity had an impact on the plumb bob they were using. They had a 6ft telescope and it used a plumb bob on a fine wire. But gravity varied from location to location because of the influence of mountains.

  • 05 Mar 2020 1:09 PM | Anonymous

    Jack A. Raudenbush, P.E., F.ASCE, your Region 2 Director is a member of the Central Pennsylvania Section.  Jack will be representing you at the next Board meeting in Washington, DC on March 14 and 15, 2020.

    Leadership and Management Training Opportunity for Young Civil Engineers

    Region 2 is offering to reimburse Sections and Branches for the cost of purchasing ASCE’s Professional Skills Series in Leadership and Management training modules.  Please contact me if interested in learning about this limited time reimbursement offer.

    Module = $249/Each    Reimbursement from Region 2 = $249/Each  

    Your Final Amount = $0!!

    Pittsburgh Section Shout-Out

    The Pittsburgh Section was awarded the Outstanding Section and Branch Award for Large Sections and Branches.  The award, presented in January at the MRLC in Philadelphia, recognized the Pittsburgh Section for its exceptional activities and engaged Board Members, Student Chapters and various Committees as presented in their Annual Report. 

    The Pittsburgh Section of ASCE has nearly 1,700 members and hosts over 50 events per year including the Annual Kick-off Dinner, the Life Member Recognition Banquet, and the Engineers Week Awards Banquet.  It has five technical institutes and a very active Younger Member Forum as well as very supportive activities for the local Student Chapters.

    Visit an ASCE designed historic site!

    These sites illustrate the creativity and innovative spirit of civil engineers.  Visit to find sites near you.  Share photos of your travels with me and I will post in Region 2 correspondence and on our Region’s social media pages.

    In February, I visited the historic Rockville Bridge. This railroad bridge was built in 1900-02 and continues to carry rail freight across the Susquehanna River near Harrisburg, PA.  It is the longest stone masonry arch railroad viaduct in the world.  Constructed by the Pennsylvania Railroad, it has forty-eight 70-foot spans, for a total length of 3,820 feet.

    I look forward to seeing you at ASCE events. 

    Jack A. Raudenbush, P.E., F.ASCE

    Director, Region 2


  • 26 Feb 2020 4:30 PM | Anonymous

    Thanks to all of our ASCE volunteers, we had a great Engineers Week with regional students! This annual two-day activity took place at the Carnegie Science Center from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm on Thursday and Friday (Feb 20-21).  Over 20 Pittsburgh Section members came out to donating a few hours of their day by encouraging middle and high school students with a potential interest in becoming a Civil Engineer.  

    The watershed model was once again popular with the students!  For those not familiar with it, the students interact during the watershed model demonstration by simulating rain while Section volunteers discuss how Civil Engineers develop methods to control storm runoff pollution and help keep our drinking water sources as clean as possible. Dousing the volunteers in water is always an added bonus for most enthusiastic students!  

    This year we also brought back the wind tunnel to simulate wind effects on structures. This model presents the need for Civil Engineers to consider wind loads during the design process and demonstrates how the shape of the structure might influence the effects of wind forces. Students had a great time with this display, assembling their own ‘masterpieces’ from various geometrically-shaped foam panels and testing them in the wind tunnel. As with any scientists, students were not deterred by failure.  Instead they observed the consequences and went back to the drawing board time and again until they constructed a structure that outlasted those of their classmates.  

    We also had a handful of volunteers participated in small group speed networking sessions with students, where engineers of various backgrounds and levels of experience shared their day-to-day roles as a Civil Engineer in hopes of sparking interest and answering questions that students may be curious about. Five rounds of speed networking were performed, each in one hour sessions.

    Overall it was a great two days. Thank you to all that participated! For those of you that missed this opportunity and would like to participate in future ASCE Educational Outreach programs, please continue to check out our Outreach webpage and Section calendar as there are sure to be other opportunities on the horizon that may be a fit for you.


    Brian Heinzl, P.E.

    ASCE Pittsburgh Section

    Educational Outreach Chair

  • 05 Feb 2020 4:50 PM | Anonymous

    The Pittsburgh Section EWRI has been recognized by national with the 2020 Outstanding Institute Chapter Award!  The award will be presented to the Chapter Institute during the World Environmental & Water Resources Congress 2020 in Henderson, Nevada, held on May 18, 2020.  The Pittsburgh EWRI chapter has completed several outstanding events during 2019 which earned them this recognition.  One such recent successful event brought together students and working professionals on the topic of orthophosphate in drinking water.

    Undergraduate, graduate students and faculty members from local universities and professional engineers, more than 45 people in total, enjoyed a fructiferous evening at the Roland’s Seafood Grill on November 20th, 2019. The evening featured a keynote presentation from Dr. Sarah Haig, assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, and Ronal Bargiel, Chief of Water Quality at the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, who are collaboratively working on a project to understand the impacts on urban stream health of controlling lead in drinking water with orthophosphate.

    The joint presentation delved into the history of orthophosphates in water treatment, as well as the chemistry behind orthophosphate treatment. Orthophosphate is a common corrosion inhibitor used by water suppliers to prevent lead pipes from leaching. When orthophosphate is added to a water source, it reacts with lead to create a mineral-like crust inside of the lead pipe. This crust acts as a coating which prevents further lead corrosion.  Ron Bargiel provided an in depth summary of PWSA’s efforts to reduce lead levels in tap water via their orthophosphate program that started in 2019.  Dr. Haig provided a summary of her current research into assessing the ecosystem impacts of drinking water orthophosphate addition. She provided her preliminary research results. You can learn more about Dr. Haig’s research at

    The event also provided networking opportunities among the attendees in a casual environment, not only between students and working local professionals, but students from different universities also had a chance to connect.  These types of networking opportunities strengthen the engineering community in our region and is one of the many benefits that ASCE Institute membership offers.

    During the presentation, there were multiple questions from the audience and engaged discussions that brought the audience even closer and enhanced the experience of students and engineers likewise.

    By Tania Lopez-Cantu

  • 02 Dec 2019 4:39 PM | Anonymous

    According to a new poll from Build Together, a nonpartisan organization, 91% of voters in Pennsylvania support a plan to invest trillions of dollars over the next decade to rebuild and modernize infrastructure (1). Last year, the 2018 Report Card for Pennsylvania’s Infrastructure gave the state an overall GPA of C-, with infrastructure categories Stormwater, Wastewater, Drinking Water, and Inland Waterways highlighted as opportunities for improvement. The Report Card intends to serve the public by “educating Pennsylvanians about the status of the Commonwealth’s infrastructure so they can, in conjunction with elected officials, make educated decisions on how to prioritize funds to meet current and future needs. The Report Card also makes recommendations to owners and civil engineers on how improve the state’s infrastructure” (2). Although a comprehensive federal infrastructure package has not been passed in the year since the release of the Report Card, as had been expected, efforts to improve continue in Pennsylvania.

    The following accomplishments have been completed since the release of the 2018 Report Card for Pennsylvania’s Infrastructure last November:

    • Bucks and Montgomery County residents, along with Horsham officials, have nearly completed their ambitious project to build six water filtration systems to remove PFAS contamination (3) related to the Willow Grove Naval Air Station, now closed.
    • Aqua Pennsylvania completed an $8 million wastewater plant rehabilitation in Treasure Lake (4). Additionally, Aqua plans to invest $550 million in 2019 for the communities it serves [Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, Illinois, Texas, New Jersey, Indiana and Virginia] with infrastructure investments of roughly $1.4 billion through 2021 in existing operations that will rehabilitate and strengthen systems (5).

    In our legislature:

    • Around the time the Report Card was released, the America’s Water Infrastructure Act (S. 3021 (155)) was passed into law (6).
    • April 2019, Gov. Tom Wolf proposed Restore Pennsylvania, a comprehensive $4.5 billion infrastructure plan (7).
    • May 2019, PA House Bill 1392 was introduced to, “amend Title 75 (Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in size, weight and load, further providing for maximum gross weight of vehicles; in liquid fuels and fuels tax, further providing for definitions and providing for electric vehicle road use fee; and making editorial changes” (8).
    • More recently, Representative Mike Kelly was a lead co-sponsor on the Full Utilization of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Act (H.R. 2440) which was passed by the U.S House of Representatives (9).
    • On October 29, 2019 the U.S House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed the Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act (H.R. 1497) by voice vote. The bill would reauthorize and increase funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) program, an essential tool for communities to provide safe water for residents and businesses. The bill would also extend the authorization of sewer overflow control grants and enable communities to better manage their wet weather flows and invest in green infrastructure, stormwater diversion/infiltration, water and energy efficiency projects (10).
    • In the November election, Philadelphia voters approved a local ballot question authorizing the city to borrow $185 million in capital funding for infrastructure projects (11).

    Although much work remains to be done, ASCE is encouraged by the progress made in 2019 and looks forward to advancing the efforts in the next year.

    To read the full Report Card, learn more, and take action - visit:

    Also, follow the ASCE Philadelphia Section on any of our platforms for the featured Category of the Month and use #ASCEPAReportCard and #InfrastructureMatters when sharing.


    1. Israel, Steve, and Ryan Costello. “Infrastructure Is the One Issue Washington Needs to Focus On.” TheHill, The Hill, 31 Oct. 2019,
    2. “Report Card for Pennsylvania's Infrastructure.” Pennsylvania Council, American Society of Civil Engineers, 14 Nov. 2018,
    3. McDaniel, Justine, and Laura McCrystal. “How Three Towns Outside Philly Became 'Trailblazers' on Clean Drinking Water.” Https://, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 30 Aug. 2019,
    4. Haskins, Elaine. “Aqua Pa. Cuts Ribbon on Newly Rehabilitated Treasure Lake West Wastewater Treatment Plant.”, 8 Nov. 2019,
    5. “Aqua America Reports Financial Results for Q3 2019.” Business Wire, 4 Nov. 2019,
    6. Klobuchar, and Amy. “S.3021 - 115th Congress (2017-2018): America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2018.”, 23 Oct. 2018,
    7. Hughes, Sarah Anne, et al. “Restore Pennsylvania, Explained: Everything You Need to Know about Gov. Tom Wolf's Infrastructure Plan: Pennsylvania Capital.” Star, 14 June 2019,
    8. Legislativate Data Processing Center. “Bill Information (History) - House Bill 1392; Regular Session 2019-2020.” The Official Website for the Pennsylvania General Assembly.,
    9. “Investing in America: Full Utilization of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Act: The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.” Issues | Committee Activity | The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure,
    10. “Water Infrastructure Bills Advance in House.” CitiesSpeak, 5 Nov. 2019,
    11. Madej, Patricia, and Anna Orso. “Marsy's Law Got Wide Support in Pa., Even Though It Won't Count Yet.” Https://, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 6 Nov. 2019,

  • 14 Nov 2019 7:00 AM | Anonymous
    On September, September 26rd, 2019, the ASCE Pittsburgh Section Geo-Institute and Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists (AEG) – Greater Pittsburgh Chapter held a joint kickoff dinner meeting at the Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania. An outstanding 98 ASCE and AEG members gathered for a presentation regarding the S.R. 0030 Emergency Landslide Repair from Brian Heinzl, P.E..  Mr. Heinzl, a Geotechnical Project Manager for Gannett Fleming Inc. The exceptional attendance marked one of the largest kickoff dinners for both organizations. Mr. Heinzl recounted the events that led to the April 2018 landslide event which left damaged homes and the closure of a principal artery to Pittsburgh.

    The presentation focused on the geotechnical aspects of the project and the expedited schedule of the repair design. The initial work included engineering evaluation while the slope was actively accelerating vertically and laterally, leading to a road closure of S.R. 0030 and an evacuation of surrounding dwellings. Just one day after the evacuation and closure, a major landslide occurred, ultimately resulting in total movement of the slope 300 feet laterally and 50 feet in depth. Mr. Heinzl discussed the work that Gannett Fleming did which allowed them to prepare a comprehensive design package in just ten days, in turn allowing PennDOT to quickly bid and construct the landslide repair. He also described the construction of the repair itself, which took place over the course of only 62 days. The roughly two month repair included the excavation of over 35,000 CY of existing material, over 30,000 CY of rock embankment, and construction of a 400-foot long anchored solder pile and lagging retaining wall.

    Mr. Heinzl also acknowledged the significant cooperation between Gannett Fleming Inc., Golden Triangle Construction, Inc., PennDOT District 11-0, and dozens of subcontractors, vendors, and organizations. The collaboration between all involved in the project limited the impacts of the landslide and reduced the out of service time of S.R. 0030 to 80 days. Aside from re-opening the road an importance was also placed on the well-being of the individuals displaced from their homes and business because of the landslide. Many local organizations were essential in recovering items for displaced residents, providing relocation assistance, and keeping local residents informed.   

    The event concluded with a discussion with the attendees on slope monitoring and landslide mitigation methodologies that could be utilized for similar events moving forward. A timely topic of discussion was the use of drone technology in the surveying and monitoring of the landslide. Both the presentation and discussion allowed attendees to gain insight on the expedited design and construction process and the integration of advanced technologies to assist in the monitoring and repair of landslides. With the number of landslide events that have occurred in the Greater Pittsburgh Area, the Pittsburgh ASCE Geo-Institute and AEG are pleased to provide membership with presentations such as Mr. Heinzl’s for the continued education and awareness of relevant topics happening in the region.

    Prepared by:  Shirley Tang, E.I.T. – ASCE Pittsburgh Geo-Institute Vice Chair

    Edited by:  Taylor DaCanal, E.I.T. – ASCE Pittsburgh Geo-Institute Member-At-Large

  • 18 Oct 2019 9:01 AM | Anonymous

    By Jonathan Shimko

    While there were many takeaways from each session, one particular topic stuck out to me as beneficial to everyone.  Gerald Galloway, P.E., Ph.D., Dist.M.ASCE presented the 11 Principles of Leadership that were first published in an Army Field Manual on Leadership in 1951.  These principles are still used, essentially in their original form, by all of our Armed Forces in basic training and officer training.  These Principles are:

    1.       Know yourself and seek self-improvement.

    2.       Be technically and tactically proficient.

    3.       Develop a sense of responsibility among your subordinates.

    4.       Make sound and timely decisions.

    5.       Set an example.

    6.       Know your people and look out for their welfare.

    7.       Keep your people informed.

    8.       Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions.

    9.       Ensure assigned tasks are understood, supervised, and accomplished.

    10.   Train your people as a team.

    11.   Employ your team in accordance with its capabilities.

    These 11 Principles are relevant to the work we do every day. As engineers and project managers, our day-to-day often involves working on teams that include a diverse blend of personalities, competencies and disciplines. Our projects are often complex with specialized technical and logistical considerations.  Success is often dependent upon our ability to effectively and efficiently manage, communicate, delegate and mentor our colleagues.

    I challenge everyone reading this to post these principles in your workspace as a constant reminder. An expanded summary of the 11 Principles of Leadership can be found in an article published by Tom Deierlein on the Academy Leadership website:


  • 09 Oct 2019 11:07 AM | Anonymous

    By: American Society of Civil Engineers & Jonathan Shimko

    On September 22-23, 2019, 107 Section and Branch Presidents, Region Governors and Society Directors from across the country and abroad attended the annual Presidents and Governors Forum (PGF) in Reston, VA at ASCE Headquarters. This Leader Training Committee sponsored event provided opportunities for attendees to learn about ASCE resources, network with other ASCE leaders, and develop skills that would benefit their Sections and Branches. 

    This year’s PGF was well attended by branch, section and regional leadership from across the country and even a few attendees from Region 10 (International Sections outside of North America).  Pennsylvania is divided into four Sections: Pittsburgh, Central Pennsylvania, Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia.

     The photo above is of the attendees representing the sections and branches of Pennsylvania in front of ASCE Headquarters. Starting from the left, John Caperilla from Lehigh Valley; Jack Raudenbush from Central Pennsylvania; myself from Pittsburgh; Greg Kuklinski from Lehigh Valley; Kazi Hassan from Philadelphia; and Tim Carre from Central Pennsylvania.     

    The program began on Sunday, with an icebreaker followed by  several sessions including an “Introduction to your Presidency,” “How to Utilize your Governors,” “An Introduction to Region 10,” “Leadership in the Century of Disruption” by ASCE Distinguished Member Gerald Galloway, Ph.D., P.E., Hon.D.WRE, Dist.M.ASCE; “Legal Issues for Sections and Branches” and the “Philadelphia Section Mentoring Program.” President-Elect Kancheepuram Gunalan, Ph.D., P.E., D.GE, F.ASCE and Executive Director Tom Smith, CAE, ENV SP, F.ASCE shared their thoughts and experiences on Society activities.  On Sunday evening, the attendees attended a networking social and dinner in Reston Town Center.

    Monday continued with additional Best Practice sessions on Struggling Sections and Branches; Developing a State Infrastructure Report Card; Student Transition Strategies; Running a Successful Section/Branch; and Creating a Successful Website and the Effective Use of Social Media.  Some of the attendees also attended breakout sessions on becoming a Region Governor and learning about ASCE Institutes. The program continued with a Roundtable Discussion sharing measurable goals for their Section/Branch and Resource Breakouts from Society Staff members, followed by a competitive game of JeopardASCE. Closing remarks were made by President-Elect Elect Jean-Louis Briaud, Ph.D., P.E., D.GE, Dist.M.ASCE.

    After two solid days spent with ASCE, attendees left with new knowledge that will be useful in their upcoming year as a Section or Branch leader.

    For more information about the PGF, please visit LTC’s website at: and if you are interested in leadership opportunities within the Pittsburgh Section please email 

  • 02 Jul 2019 3:32 PM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    By Kaitie DeOre

     Sketch of Original Cabin Hugh Henry Brackenridge was granted a charter by state legislature to start the Pittsburgh Academy in 1787. It was originally housed in a log cabin downtown and moved to a two-story brick building in 1790. A recreation of the original log cabin stands on Forbes Avenue next to the Cathedral of Learning, which serves as a reminder of the university’s roots. The charter was amended in 1819 to transform the Pittsburgh Academy into the Western University of Pennsylvania, a sister institution to the University of Pennsylvania.

    The Great Fire of 1845 destroyed 20 blocks in downtown Pittsburgh, including all the university buildings, during which time Trinity Cathedral served as a temporary home for studies. In 1846, the first two engineering students graduated from the university, J.B. Stilley and Isaac Morley. After this, there was much debate as to the purpose of the university, if it were meant to be for classics or technical education. The debate was interrupted by another fire, until classes resumed in 1855.

    Site adjacent to Observatory A four-year engineering degree was created in 1867 after Congress passed an act to install military officers at major universities to “maintain readiness in the event of another war.”  After the installment, the university moved to a site adjacent to the Allegheny Observatory which it had taken over in 1865. There were 11 graduates including Stilley and Morley, and the first credited graduate in 1883 with a civil engineering degree was William Carey Coffin Jr.

    The Western University of Pennsylvania became the University of Pittsburgh in 1908, after moving to Oakland the previous year. That year the student body consisted of 34 students in the School of Mines, 102 in Engineering, 99 in Arts and Sciences, and 863 in the four professional schools (Law, Medicine, Dentistry, and Pharmacy). The Co-Op program started in 1910, which was the second in the country, was a program that allowed students to gain a year’s worth of industry experience prior to graduation. The program was suspended in the 1930s but was reinstated in 1987 and has prospered since as a university staple.

    During World War I, the university lead a training camp, Camp Hamilton, which provided ten weeks of military and engineering training for civil, sanitary, mechanical, electrical, and railway mechanical engineering students. Classes were also modified to include military training. As of October 1,1918, there were 1,351 students who completed training as a member of the Students’ Army Training Corps (SATC).

    The Student Chapter of ASCE was initiated in 1918, concurrent with the organization of the Pittsburgh Section of the Society. The program was first accredited in 1936 by the Engineers Council for Professional Development as part of the first cohort of accredited programs. Other University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) programs accredited were Mechanical, Aeronautical, Electrical, Chemical, and Industrial Engineering.

    During World War II, Pitt hosted a program that was designed to prepare civilians for technical assignments anticipated for war. They were non-credit courses that were offered in the evening, tuition free, and were on topics such as engineering drawing, surveying, and structural design. By the time the program concluded in 1944 nearly 25,000 men and women had been trained at Pitt. After the war, tuition skyrocketed with GI Bill recipients. In 1945, there were 592 engineering students; in 1948 there were 2,682 engineering students.

    Construction of Benedum Hall After the GI Boom leveled off, and enrollment leveled off to graduate 30 students a year on average, the university elected to become a “state-related” institution. This provided the school with annual, non-preferred financial appropriations in exchange for offering tuition discounts to in-state students. The effects were immediately obvious, as graduates of Civil Engineering more than doubled in the 1970s. Graduate school enrollment at Pitt also soared during this time, as it ranked 12th nationally for the number of Master’s Degrees awarded as well as 21st in Ph.D. degrees conferred. Benedum Hall was built in 1971, which is still home to the school today.

    The Civil Engineering Department established a Construction Management Program in the early 1990s, led by Alumnus Jack Mascaro and Dr. John Richards, at the urging of local construction firms. Today the program is led by John Sebastian. The Environmental Engineering program became a separate major recently, being accredited in 2016 as part of the push led by current Civil and Environmental Chair Dr. Radisav Vidic. The Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation was established in 2003 and has been a research power-house ever since, supporting both student summer research endeavors and year-round innovative research. Its faculty developed a University-wide certificate in sustainability and a MS degree in sustainable engineering.

    The introduction of the concrete canoe competition took place in 1990, resulting in the start of their team for the 1991 races, a competition that still has strong roots at Pitt. Some recent awards that the Pitt Chapter has received include Distinguished Region II Chapter Award in 2013 and a Letter of Honorable Mention in 2014. Pitt took home Second Place Overall at the Ohio Valley Student Conference in 2015, and a Third Place Overall in 2016. During 2016, Pitt was also selected as one of two finalists for the Richard J. Scranton Outstanding Service Award.

    They have also continued to progress their community outreach, partnering heavily with Pitt’s Chapter of the Society of Women Engineers. In March of 2019, Pitt’s Student Chapter hosted their first large-scale outreach event for high school students interested in Civil Engineering, an event sponsored by the Pittsburgh Section, Region II, and CEC. The University of Pittsburgh’s Student Chapter received Distinguished Region II Awards in 2016, 2017, and 2018. In addition, the chapter has been a Top Five Finalist for the Robert Ridgeway Award in both 2016 and 2017, an award given to the single most outstanding student chapter in the world.  Pitt also received an Honorable Mention Chapter in 2019, as well as First Place Overall at OVSC, and also the Spirit Award.

    Additionally, Pitt ASCE’s current president, Kaitie DeOre, was recently awarded the 2019 Region II Most Outstanding Student Member Award for her involvement with the chapter. To date, there have been 4,130 Civil Engineering Bachelor’s graduates, 1,449 Master’s graduates, and 234 Ph. D. graduates.


  • 04 Jun 2019 2:00 PM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    By Thomas Batroney

    On March 6, 2019, ASCE Pittsburgh along with Sustainable Pittsburgh, the City of Pittsburgh, and Carnegie Mellon University's Metro21 held the 10th Annual Sustainability Conference, Smart Cities: Transforming Cities to a New Era. Over 120 registrants ranging from all disciplines from private practitioners and engineers, academia, public sector and non-profit employees were in attendance. To me, it’s a good sign when we attract such a diverse audience to a civil engineering conference. I don’t think I’m being presumptuous in stating that most of us engineers aren’t the coolest people to mingle with for an entire day.

    It’s been a couple months since we held the conference but the subject matter discussed still reverberate in my mind. Before I share those rattling thoughts, if you are just first hearing about the conference, or you were unable to attend, feel free to read up on what you missed. Here’s a link to my pre-conference blog post explaining the importance of smart cities technologies and the greater role they are playing across the planet. Also, terrific post wrap-up articles detailing some of the conference highlights were also published by Sustainable Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Business Times (subscription required), and Fourth Economy

    One the primary reasons I find Pittsburgh such a great city is the immense density of super talented, passionate and smart people. This was on fully display at the conference not only in our lineup of speakers but also in the highly engaged audience. I was really amazed by the collective brain power in the room. I’m pretty sure several people in the room could have powered the USS Requin Submarine that sits on the river by the Carnegie Science Center. 

    Upon reflection, one common theme throughout the day from just about everyone is the critical importance of the human element as we continue to implement smart technologies as part of our infrastructure projects. Smart technologies, if not implemented in an equitable, transparent and fair manner for all people, no matter how great the technology, will run the risk of resulting in a failed outcome. We are seeing the warning signs of this now in Toronto as Don Carter described in his keynote address. 

    So how do we ensure that the appropriate steps are taken in the implementation of fair and just smart technologies? 

    Several of the conference speakers including Grant Ervin, City of Pittsburgh Chief Resilience Officer, and the panel discussion led by Karen Lightman, Executive Director at Carnegie Mellon Metro21, discussed the potential road map to get us there in the Pittsburgh's OnePGH plan and the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals (UN SDGs). If you have not yet read up on OnePGH or the UN SDGs you should start today, as in right after you are done reading this blog post. Both are roadmaps and examples of how to look at the broader picture regarding building the future of our cities. We should be continually referring to and reminding ourselves of the 17 goals set forth in the UN SDGs and the goals within OnePGH. We should be considering how each of the goals are potentially being addressed – or not – by implementing this project or smart technology. We should be using them to better guide our decisions and engineering moral compass. This includes both public and private sectors. 

    It should also be stressed that ASCE national headquarters have made sustainability a fundamental cornerstone of its engineering code of ethics. Directly from ASCE's website: "ASCE and its members are dedicated to ensuring a sustainable future in which human society has the capacity and opportunity to maintain and improve its quality of life indefinitely, without degrading the quantity, quality or the availability of natural, economic and social resources. Whether you are just beginning to explore the benefits that a focus on sustainability can bring to your community and your engineering practice, or you are looking for the tools to take it to the next level, we can help you build a better future."

    As the ASCE Sustainability Committee moves into planning the 11th edition of the conference, we may explore the UN SDGs in greater detail. What are they and how do we begin to implement these on our projects? What kind of measurable impacts can they have on our cities? This is just a single idea amongst many in our collective minds; we’d love to hear your ideas for next year’s conference theme as well. If you have interest in participating in our conference organizing committee, please do join us! ASCE or Sustainable Pittsburgh membership is not required to participate but much encouraged. The ASCE Pittsburgh Sustainability Committee prides itself on generating innovative, creative, and thought-provoking topic ideas around the topic of sustainability. If this sounds like something that interests you, please join us! For more details, contact me at or on twitter @TomBatroney.


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