Rocks Roads Ripples N'At: 

Pittsburgh's Civil Engineering News Blog

  • 12 Jan 2018 8:35 AM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    By Jason Baguet and Ben Briston, Photos courtesy of Sustainable Pittsburgh

    On November 16, 2017, the Environmental Water Resource Institute Chapter (EWRI) of ASCE-Pittsburgh and Sustainable Pittsburgh’s Champions for Sustainability (C4S) came together for the 9th Annual Sustainability Conference.  The conference was presented in partnership with the City of Pittsburgh Office of the Mayor and the American Public Works Association - Western Pennsylvania Chapter and included a series of seminars and panel discussions focused on “Engineering a Sustainable Economy”.  The theme of the day was how Pittsburgh and other communities across the globe are positioning for greater resiliency through innovation and technology, from sustainable traffic infrastructure to smart stormwater systems. 

    The all-day conference was held at the August Wilson Center, and had a line-up of engineers, public works professionals, sustainability professionals, educators, and policy makers presenting forward-thinking initiatives. In the opening segment, Tom Batroney set the stage with a historical look back at previous years of sustainability, and reminded us all of the ASCE Principles of Sustainable Development in that we have to “do the right project” and “do the project right”.  Rather than sprinkle green features on conventional projects, we have to properly engage all stakeholders and have the mindset to address sustainability more holistically.

    The keynote speakers, John Stanton, President and CEO at the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure and Rosanna D'Antonio, Deputy Director, Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, discussed the ENVISION Rating System, which was designed to evolve with the changing concept of sustainability, and is driving change throughout the world. John comprehensively described the ENVISION system, stating that it usually is used as a free self-assessment tool and can be a cost-efficient way to guide quality assurance and control on a project level.  Cities such as Kansas City and large agencies such as New York City Transit are starting to adopt ENVISION concepts as normal practice. John stated that the Pittsburgh region needed a catalyst to embrace ENVISION as well as leaders that would accept visibility and transparency of their performance to make this a reality. It was noted that the ENVISION system can also be applied to existing infrastructure, and one local opportunity to apply the system could be for a capital bridge replacement program which considers full lifecycle replacement of structures. This may be possible with the right policy partnerships as Allegheny County owns and maintains over 500 bridges.  

    Rosanna D’Antonio followed John’s description of ENVISION with examples of how the system is being applied on the local level within the LA County Department of Public Works. The agency has started to use the system internally for all projects, but the county has submitted one project for verification by ENVISION and that project gained platinum status. D’Antonio summed it up best by saying, “In the past, our main focus was project delivery at the lowest cost. Today, with a focus on the environmental, economic, and social benefits of a project, i.e., the triple bottom line, we are using public infrastructure as a vehicle to improve the overall quality of life for the residents of Los Angeles County.”

    Also included during the day were two lively panel discussions, the first titled: “Sustainability and Innovation in the Pittsburgh Region.”  This panel discussion included Karina Ricks, Director of the Department of Mobility and Infrastructure with the City of Pittsburgh, James Ritzman, Deputy Secretary of Planning with PennDOT, Chris Hendrickson, Director of the Traffic 21 Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, and Dan Cessna, Senior Vice President with Michael Baker International. The panel discussion focused on transportation innovation and sustainability in the Pittsburgh region. One comment that registered came from Dan Cessna, who said, “We often become engulfed in maintenance contracts and it is easier to manage change than manage crises.”

    The second panel discussion included Michael Barnard, Project Director with Oxford Development Company, Daniel Bonk, Senior Engineer with Montauk Energy and Dhaval Bhalodia, Director of Asset Optimization with EverPower Wind Holdings. This panel focused on endeavors that local private companies are taking to build resilient cities and healthy, sustainable communities of the future.

    The future of smart transportation, led by Chris Hendrickson and smart water solutions, led by both Viktor Hlas, Business Team Lead with Opti Stormwater Controls and Megan Zeigler, Green Infrastructure Project Manager with Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, were also topics of discussion. A highlight from the first presentation was that smart spine traffic signals could improve travel efficiency by reducing vehicle bunching and also help address air pollution. As for smart water solutions, smart valve systems could improve green stormwater infrastructure system performance by increasing storage efficiency and reducing costly maintenance of these systems.

    Students from the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University had the opportunity to display their research posters during breaks. Several posters were displayed ranging in topics from a Systems-level Approach for Integrated Shale Gas Produced Water Management; Sustainable Design of Carbon Nanomaterials: Decoupling the Role of Material Structure and Surface Chemistry on Electrochemical and Biological Activities; and Food-Energy-Water Nexus: Irrigation Impacts of Domestic Food Trade.

    The Sustainability Conference is an annual conference focused on bringing together sustainability experts in science, engineering, and public policy.  Click here to find out more about the Sustainability Committee.

  • 21 Dec 2017 8:53 AM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    By Maria C. Jaime, Ph.D., E.I.T., Edited by: Vishal Patel, M.S.C.E., P.E. 

    On Thursday, November 30th, 2017, distinguished Professor Kerry Rowe from Queens University in Canada delivered the 2017 Terzaghi Lecture at the Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania (ESWP) club in downtown Pittsburgh, PA.  The ASCE Pittsburgh Section Geo-Institute Chapter had the honor to host Dr. Rowe and more than 40 ASCE members and non-members who gathered to enjoy this dinner meeting and lecture at the outstanding ESWP venue.

    Drawing together results from extensive research such as field observations, long-term experimental data, and theory, the prestigious lecture highlighted the importance of carefully considering the implications of design and construction decisions in ensuring long-term performance of geosynthetic liner systems for environmental protection in landfill barriers. It explored well-understood concepts and examined common misconceptions and consequences. It emphasized the importance of the geosynthetic material selection, accounting for the interactions between different geosynthetics and other barrier system components.  It demonstrated that the obvious is not always expected.

    Dr. Rowe is a pioneer in the field of geosynthetics and has made immeasurable contributions to the development of new technologies and methods to prevent the contamination of water sources by mining and landfill activity. He is the author of over 350 peer-reviewed journal papers, 3 books, 15 book chapters, and more than 330 full conference papers. Additionally, he has been recognized by numerous awards including the Giroud Lecture (2002), Rankine Lecture (2005), Manuel Rocha Lecture (2006), Casagrande Lecture (2011), the Ferroco-Terzaghi Oration (2012), and the ASCE Karl Terzaghi Lecture (2017). The International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering has created the ISSMGE R. Kerry Rowe Lecture. He has been elected a Fellow of the world’s oldest and most prestigious scientific society, the Royal Society (of London, UK) as well as been elected a foreign Member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and Fellow of the UK Royal Academy of Engineering.  He is also a member of the Royal Society of Canada, the Canadian Academy of Engineering and Professional Societies in Australia, Canada, and USA. He is a past president of the International Geosynthetics Society, the Canadian Geotechnical Society and the Engineering Institute of Canada.

    At the conclusion of the presentation, Greg Rumbaugh (ASCE G-I Chair) presented Dr. Rowe with a gift of a Pittsburgh Geo-Institute polo shirt (as seen in the photograph).

  • 15 Dec 2017 4:51 PM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    By Jessica Bladow

    Earlier this year, on August 24, 2017, ASCE’s Continuing Education Committee partnered with ESWP (Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania) to provide all local Professional Engineers a full day’s worth of courses from which to earn up to 7.5 PDHs (Professional Development Hours) for the upcoming Pennsylvania Professional Engineer License Renewal deadline (September 30, 2017).  The Pennsylvania State Board of Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists requires Professional Engineers to obtain 24 PDH units during the biennial renewal period.  For more information on Pennsylvania’s Professional Engineer requirements, please see the Continuing Education Made Easy Blog at by Sam Shamsi.

    This day-long event allowed attendees the opportunity to attend up to seven lectures, offered under three concurrent breakout sessions.  Attendees could choose a full-day registration, or just the morning, or afternoon session.  The morning sessions included Geotechnical, Transportation and Water; the afternoon sessions included Industrial, Legal & Ethics, and Technology.  Attendees were free to attend sessions from any of these tracks and mix and match according to their interests.

    When asked what brief description attendees would give a colleague about the Boot Camp, the following were some representative responses:

    • “Worthwhile professional development information; a reasonably priced alternative for continuing education; good networking and interaction with other engineers.”
    • “A great opportunity for professional development in a great setting.”
    • “Good way to earn relevant PDH hours at a reasonable cost.  Worth the day.”

    Based on the overwhelmingly positive feedback, ASCE and ESWP will definitely be hosting another PDH Boot Camp; so, keep your eye out for more information in the upcoming year!

    A lot of people helped make this event possible: thanks to everyone who volunteered on the program committee and as a speaker!  Click here for the full brochure.

    Program Committee:                                                  

    • Jessica Bladow                                                           
    • Dave Teorsky                                                            
    • Sam Shamsi                                                                
    • Doug Clark                                                                 
    • Dawn Spence                                                             
    • Tom Bice                                                                                          
    Finally, one last big thank you to all of the sponsors that supported this event! 










  • 09 Nov 2017 8:34 AM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    By Vishal Patel, M.S.C.E., P.E., Todd DeMico, P.E., and Sebastian Lobo-Guerrero, Ph.D., P.E.


    Common techniques for stabilizing large scale slopes (i.e. rock toes, buttresses, soil nails, retaining walls, etc.) are sometimes impractical from both a constructability and stability point of view. Slope stabilization with deep foundations, while effective, are not widely used due to a lack of published standardized design procedures. American Geotechnical and Environmental Services (A.G.E.S.), Inc. had the opportunity to design an embankment stabilization system using drilled shafts. Drilled shafts were chosen for the site based on unique construction conditions and the overall scale of the proposed embankment. A.G.E.S., Inc. was also involved during construction of the project and had the opportunity to observe the general performance of the system.


    This case study involves the installation of a pipeline at the toe of an existing 110-foot-tall embankment (see right) constructed within a known ancient landslide. Construction for the project required excavation for the pipeline in addition to a 50 foot wide bench near the existing toe for construction access. In order to accommodate the bench width, an additional 45-foot-tall embankment below the existing 110-foot-tall embankment needed to be constructed. The size of the embankment and the inherent weakness of the soil within the ancient landslide required consideration of techniques beyond the traditional slope stabilization methods to meet an acceptable factor of safety and a very limited time frame for construction. A total of 75, 3-foot-dimeter, drilled shafts reinforced with W beams, embedded into bedrock, were designed and constructed in 3 rows along the embankment to provide adequate stabilization.

    Analyses for excavations along the proposed final slope were performed along the existing embankment. The analyses were performed to ensure the pipeline excavation, the 50-foot-wide by 300-foot-long bench, and the proposed treatments below the pipeline, would not result in instability of the existing embankment. The space for the bench resulted in the final slope extending approximately 45 feet lower in elevation to reach flatter grade. As a result of the bench, the pipeline was to be installed in a backfilled excavation consisting of both the upper 110 foot tall existing embankment and the 45-foot-high stabilized embankment. The slope at the lower portion was to maintain the 1.3H:1V orientation of the existing ground surface.


    Drilled shafts were proposed to minimize disturbances to the existing soils. Design for the proposed slope retrofit consisted of performing geotechnical and structural analyses for both global stability of the proposed treatment and lateral analysis of the proposed drilled shafts. The two analyses were performed sequentially to ensure that the proposed layout satisfied these geotechnical and structural requirements.

    Stability analyses were performed using SLIDE for both the upper slope (the existing embankment above the pipeline) and the lower slope (the proposed slope treatment region below the pipeline). The slope treatments were designed to satisfy a factor of safety of 1.3 for the temporary condition and 1.5 for the permanent condition. These analyses were performed to ensure that the proposed embankment work would be stable for both construction and permanent conditions. In an effort to minimize soil disturbances at the toe of the slope, rigid elements (drilled shafts) were chosen as the preferred option. The drilled shafts were modeled in SLIDE as a resisting force. Based on the required resistance, the pile layout was determined from the SLIDE analyses. Lateral analyses (p-y model) were performed using LPILE in order to size the rigid elements and ensure drilled shafts extended deep enough in order to satisfy a fixed condition.

    The drilled shafts consisted of W-piles encased within concrete (see left). Bending and shear resistance were analyzed considering the 50 ksi steel piles only. The analysis considered a spacing of the drilled shafts along each row equal to three times the drilled shaft diameter (3xD) in order to maximize passive resistance due to soil arching. The spacing in between rows was chosen to avoid “shadowing” and group effects that could potentially reduce the shaft resistance.


    The design procedures for stabilizing slopes with deep foundations such as drilled shafts are still in their infancy. Although several publications exist for this stabilization technique, none are widely accepted nor considered design standards. This manuscript described a simplified design procedure based on global stability and lateral deformation analyses as suggested in the literature (for example FHWA and ODOT design manuals). A.G.E.S., Inc. was able to witness the constructability of this design alternative and did not find any indications of instability. This suggests that the implemented design procedure provides and adequate factor of safety. As projects like these begin to gain momentum, particularly in the public sector, the procedures for design will become more common.

    A manuscript describing in detail the implemented design procedure is being developed by the authors and it is expected to be presented at ASCE-GI/DFI/ADSC/PDCA International Foundations Congress and Equipment Expo (IFCEE) 2018 in Orlando Florida.

  • 02 Nov 2017 10:42 AM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    By Brian Tittmann, Edited By Greg Rumbaugh

    More than 60 ASCE members and guests gathered at Cefalo’s Restaurant on Thursday, October 19th for an ASCE Pittsburgh Section Geo-Institute Chapter meeting. As part of the meeting, Mr. Martin Derby, a senior geohazard practice leader with Golder Associates, presented the lecture “Performing Geohazard Assessments and Pipeline Monitoring Methods.” The presentation focused on assessing geohazards, including unstable slopes, seismic events, subsidence and hydrotechnical (water erosion), which have the potential to adversely impact infrastructure, including pipelines, in the Appalachian region.

    Performing geohazard assessments along pipeline corridors assists owners and operators in determining if a natural hazard may impact their assests. Mr. Derby went on to outline a three-phase approach used to identify, characterize and ultimately mitigate/monitor potential geohazards. Phase I begins with a regional-scale desktop assessment to identify, initially characterize and qualitatively classify geohazards.  Phase II involves a non-intrusive ground reconnaissance completed at targeted sites that warrant additional assessment. Finally, Phase III involves subsurface investigations such as drilling, test pitting or geophysical surveys carried out at specific sites of concern. Phase III also involves the collection of sufficient data to plan for and design site specific mitigation and/or monitoring such as in-situ pipeline monitoring (e.g. strain gages), slope monitoring (e.g. inclinometers, tilt meters, etc.), InSAR (satellite and ground based), LiDAR (airborne) and fiber optics. Overall, Mr. Derby’s presentation illustrated how important assessing geohazards can be for a client to determine if a natural hazard may impact their assets. Geo-Institute is grateful to Mr. Martin Derby for sharing his experience and depth of knowledge on this subject as well as to Cefalo’s for their delicious food and great atmosphere.  

  • 26 Oct 2017 11:04 AM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    By Greg Holbrook

    September 15, 2017 marked the Annual American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) SteelDay Construction Tour presented by the Pittsburgh SEI Chapter. SteelDay provides the opportunity for individuals from various professions and expertise to see how the structural steel industry contributes to building America. This year’s tour was in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh at the new Empire Apartments Building (Empire Building) mixed-use building complex.

    The Empire Building is a 17-story structure with a six-story parking structure holding 381 parking spaces. There will be 723 apartments of one, two, and three-bedrooms with amenities such as in-suite washers and dryers, granite countertops, “robust” internet and WI-FI, a pool and patio entertainment space, and even a golf simulator. The building will also have 10,000 sq. ft. of retail space on the ground floor. The structure boasts great views of adjacent neighborhoods, such as East Liberty, Shadyside, Bloomfield, Lawrenceville, and Oakland and the Universities. Tour participants were able to witness some of these views from the 16th floor level, which included great photo opportunities of the Cathedral of Learning, which were particularly appealing to University of Pittsburgh alumni attendees.

    Approximately 35 participants met at the construction field office adjacent to the site to begin the tour. Project managers and members of the team talked about the speed of construction and the requirement to adhere to the project schedule. This included one important detail: Staging of the materials brought on site to minimally impact traffic in Oakland. This was accomplished by closing off a side lane of Centre Avenue thus allowing trucks to deliver materials out of the traffic’s way and then to exit onto the roadway after delivery. The construction began in the spring of this year, and through a time-lapse video everyone witnessed the expeditious foundation and steel construction to date. You can also view the same time-lapse video highlighting the building’s progress.

    Attendees also learned that the entire project is being built directly by companies here in Pittsburgh. Sippel Fabrication (Sippel) is the steel fabricator for the project. As some of the SEI members may remember, a past SteelDay event included a tour of Sippel’s facility in Ambridge, PA.  Century Steel Erectors (Century Steel) is conducting the building erection and the Massaro Construction Group (Massaro) is the construction manager for the project. Through their collaboration, these three firms showcase Pittsburgh as a leading 21st century “Steel City.” Their work focuses not on past laurels but rather on what is now and what is yet to come in Pittsburgh’s skyline.

    2017 was another successful year for SteelDay’s mission: to gather individuals from various industries to share how the Steel Industry contributes to building America. I thank our generous hosts, Massaro, and the local contributors, Sippel and Century Steels for a job well done!

  • 03 Oct 2017 8:57 AM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    By Djuna Gulliver

    Dr. Oyanedel-CraverDr. Vinka Oyanedel-Craver, Associate Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Rhode Island, became interested in water research during her undergraduate degree.  Starting with waste water treatment, her research interests slowly moved to point-of-use water treatment technologies in rural areas.  “Water is essential for both individual health and community development,” Dr. Oyanedel -Craver says. “However, most of the time it is overlooked because most infrastructure is so out-of-sight.”  When infrastructure is updated, Dr. Oyanedel-Craver argues that consequences are often not researched or communicated to the public. “New technologies are usually a black box to the people and most the time we implement them without figuring out the long-term implications.” 

    While Dr. Oyanedel -Craver was driven to increase research in this subject, she also recognized the worldwide lack of women in leadership positions in the water sector, both in academic and industry.  “Without women in leadership positions in the water sector and policy, it is not possible implement development strategies that can benefit everyone,” she explains.  Dr. Oyanedel -Craver set out to increase awareness of the effect of water on the community, while also promoting women in leadership.  She became one of the founding members of the Women-Water Nexus (WWN) Committee at the ASCE Environmental and Water Resource Institute.  Now, she is the Chair of the Women-Water Nexus, which aims to develop a network of women scientists and engineers in developed and developing countries that promote research in water treatment and water resources.  The group also focuses on the education of future women scientists and engineers.

    Dr. SchifmanDr. Laura Schifman, a National Research Council postdoctoral fellow became involved in the Women-Water Nexus when Dr. Oyanedel-Craver, her former Ph. D mentor, asked if she would become vice-chair.  “Of course I said yes,” she says. “Throughout pursuing my PhD, I was always aware that I was one of a few females in the room during engineering conferences, we had significantly more men in the geosciences department that I graduated from, and men were being highlighted more for their work in the field I was working in. The WWN seemed like a perfect way to work with other female scientists and engineers to empower women internationally and give them a trusting network they can rely on when it comes to mentoring.”

    Dr. Schifman understands the power of decision-making in the water section.  “Water is the ultimate currency. Everything we do, whether it is industry related, agriculture, or constructing a new building, it relies on water.” And for her, the ties between water and women are clear.  “In the global south, women are usually the ones tasked with maintaining the water source in the house. This is a very important role, but somehow there is a huge disconnect between what happens in the transition from those situations and who ends up in the decision-making roles for water resources management of a city, county, or country.”   

    Dr. Schifman was not always passionate about this subject, and instead dreamed of becoming a dentist. But to meet her undergraduate class requirements, she signed up for Aquatic Ecology. In that class, there was one lab experiment that stood out. “We stood in a stream, kicking up larvae of insects.  Because some insects are better at tolerating poor water quality, you can get an understanding of water quality depending on the kind of insects you find,” Dr. Schifman explains. “That got me hooked and instead of applying to dental school I pursued a MS in Hydrology and Water Resources Management followed by my PhD in Environmental Science.”  She now works on sustainable city planning, researching the physical and chemical processes in urban soils and tying it into urban green spaces and green infrastructure.  She can then use this research to understand how the use of the natural water cycle can lead to improved air and water quality, access to green space, and flood mitigation. “Overall, I hope to highlight the value of urban green spaces so we can start to incorporate more of them in the (re)design of our cities.”

    TDr. Oyanedel-Craver teaching at a local high school in San Mateo Ixtatan Guatemalahe Women-Water Nexus, still in its early phase, is currently recruiting members, and planning its first few programs.  “We are starting to develop our network, hopefully by early next year we can start our mentoring program and support activities looking to create gender inclusive training for the water sector,” Dr. Oyanedel-Craver says.  One of the aspects of this mentoring program will be to give women assistance and feedback on preparing presentations for international conferences.  The Women-Water Nexus is also hoping to perform an international survey to inform them on the current number of women leadership positions, the pathway they took to get there, and the common hurdles.  “Bringing this information to light can hopefully inspire the next generation of women to aim high,” Dr. Schifman says.  Both Dr. Oyanedel-Craver and Dr. Schifman hope the Women-Water Nexus will grow into a vibrant community that provide support to women around the world achieve their full potential.

    If you are interested in participating with the Women-Water Nexus, visit the Women-Water Nexus website for more information.

  • 26 Sep 2017 9:24 PM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Article from DFI Deep Foundations

    Recently modified design equations used in the transportation industry to calculate side friction and end bearing capacity for drilled shafts are now providing more realistic estimations of capacities than did previous methods. Using multiple case studies and test results from various projects, a more realistic design approach was formulated by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), which resulted in greater values of ultimate capacity for side friction and end bearing and in a more efficient design overall.

    In 2010, the FHWA published GEC-10 – Drilled Shafts: Construction Procedures and LRFD Design Methods, which illustrates a different method of calculating side friction and end bearing resistance and results in greater values for design. In 2014, the Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) adopted the method put forth by FHWA, which was included in its LRFD Bridge Design Specifications, 7 Edition. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) recently adopted and incorporated the similar methodology as AASHTO for calculating side friction and end bearing for drilled shafts in rock, and these changes are reflected in the 2015 edition of the PennDOT Design Manual, Part 4 (DM-4). This article discusses the past and current design methodology along with a project case study with results from Osterberg Cell (O-cell) load testing, which presents a comparison between the design resistances of ultimate side friction and end bearing and the measured capacities at failure.

    Read full article here.

  • 21 Sep 2017 9:03 AM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    By Mike Krepsik, PE

    Performance consultant Chris FlickingerIn May, the Continuing Education Committee for the Pittsburgh Section of the American Society for Civil Engineers hosted the leadership training seminar Performance DISCovery at Roland’s Seafood in the Strip District. Presented by national speaker and renowned performance consultant, Chris Flickinger,  the seminar coached ASCE members how to use advanced behavioral science to get farther, faster and be more effective during their interactions with others.

    Internationally ranked among the top 1% of performance consultants in the world, Flickinger works with large Fortune 500 companies as well as family-owned businesses and mid-sized companies. Chris’ background includes the Fox News Channel, Dale Carnegie Training (former leadership training instructor), the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Psycho-Metric Analysis and Positive Psychology Coaching under the guidance of Harvard’s world famous professor, Dr. Ben Tal-Shahar.

    Attendees learned techniques and honed their abilities through group interaction to quickly “read” and adapt to people to easily anticipate and connect to their interests, needs, wants, challenges, and expectations using DISC personality traits and identifiers. From simple things, like a person’s style of dress or grooming to mannerisms and word choice while speaking, these and other identifiers provide clues as to that person’s dominant DISC personality profile. Once you’ve identified the dominant DISC personality profile, you’ll gain insight into the best way to modify your sales pitch or negotiation tactics by addressing those aspects of the conversation your receiver cares about most. By learning these skills, the attendees increased their negotiation power and leadership potential during business and interpersonal interactions.

    Twenty-seven attendees  received attentive instruction and practiced what they had learned in group role-playing exercises during the three hour seminar over dinner, earning 3 PDH credits.

    Feedback from the group was overwhalmming positive. with numerous requests requests for additional material from our presenter. “Chris is very knowledgeable and very good at presenting the material in a way I could understand,” said one participant. “This was by far the most useful/beneficial professional seminar I've attended,” another participant added.

    The ASCE Board graciously sponsored the event by defraying the cost of a national speaker and allowing the Continuing Education Committee to offer Chris’s insightful instruction at a reasonable cost to members. Performance DISCovery comprises part one of a three-part lecture series Flickinger has developed on leadership in the professional arena. Keep an eye on the Upcoming Events section of your ASCE Pittsburgh Section e-mails for the announcement of the second installment of our leadership training series presented by Chris Flickinger in the spring of 2018.

  • 31 Aug 2017 3:33 PM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    By Edward Major II, E.I.T. (YMF Technical/Employment Chair) and Max Wallack, E.I.T. (YMF Community/Outreach Chair)

    On August 4-6, 2017, the ASCE Committee on Younger Members hosted the annual Younger Member Leadership Symposium (YMLS) at the ASCE headquarters in Reston, VA. Younger Member Forum (YMF) members Max Wallack, E.I.T. (YMF Community/Outreach Chair) and Edward Major II, E.I.T. (YMF Technical/Employment Chair) had the opportunity to represent the ASCE Pittsburgh Section at this year’s event. The conference brought together nearly 50 younger members from across the nation to network, learn about different communication and personality styles, and discuss the hot issues facing the civil engineering profession today.

    “Raise the Bar” Brainstorming Session

    While Max attended a pre-conference technical tour (see below) of various legislative and ASCE offices in Washington, D.C., Edward had the opportunity to meet with ASCE’s “Raise the Bar” director, Kelly Dooley. “Raise the Bar” has been an initiative by ASCE since the 1990s to elevate professional licensure requirements to match their current body of knowledge definition (“body of knowledge” referring to the set of knowledge gained during a typical undergraduate engineering curriculum). Through this brainstorming session, we learned of three possible actions that ASCE has considered:

    1. Accept that the current body of knowledge definition established by ASCE is greater than current licensure requirements and do nothing,
    2. Attempt to elevate licensure requirements to match the body of knowledge, such as requiring an advanced degree or additional coursework to take the P.E. exam, or
    3. Offer something, such as special certifications, in addition to the professional license that, when held in conjunction with the license, will equal the current body of knowledge definition.

    Option 2 is currently being explored by ASCE through lobbying of state legislatures. This option, in its current form, specifies a master of science or 30 credits of coursework beyond the bachelor of science as requirements to sit for the P.E. exam. Efforts have been made in several states to reach out to the local ASCE sections and branches, and even legislators themselves. Although this is the direction that ASCE is currently pursuing, the other two options and potential others could prove valuable as well. It is our hope that the feedback offered by Edward and others will help ASCE proceed successfully.

    Technical Tour

    During the technical tour, ASCE younger members toured the capital building with former Representative Bob Carr and visited the ASCE Government Relations Department in Washington, D.C. The ASCE Government Relations Department advocates for infrastructure, sustainability, and education and licensing requirements for civil engineers. ASCE encourages younger members to attend the Legislative Fly-In to meet with members of Congress to discuss ASCE initiatives in-person and gain valuable experience interfacing with government.

    Friday Evening

    After the technical tour and Raise the Bar session, YMLS attendees developed a personal vision, which is “everything you would like to be, do, and have in your life/career. It is a vision of your future based on your personal values, purpose, influence from mentors, and life goals.” (Kelly Doyle, YMLS 2017)

    Saturday / Sunday

    At the ASCE headquarters in Reston, Virginia, younger members discussed a variety of skills that could be implemented in the workplace. One of the main focuses of the weekend was how identifying our personal communication styles, in addition to coworkers’ communication styles, can help facilitate better interactions. These styles are based on assertiveness, the degree to which we ask or tell, and emotional responsiveness, the degree to which we control or display our emotions. These four main communication styles are:

    • Analytical (which represents approximately 38% of engineers),
    • Driver (28% of engineers),
    • Expressive (23% of engineers), and
    • Amiable (11% of engineers).

    A more in-depth explanation of these four styles can be found here.

    Edward determined that his personal communication style can be classified as Analytical-Amiable. Analyticals are classified by a desire to always know the correct answer, to always have all the facts in front of them during a discussion, and are sometimes seen as rather detached. Amiables are typically very approachable and cooperative, good listeners, and tend to use opinions more during discussions.

    Max identified his personal communication style as Analytical-Expressive. Expressives are enthusiastic, approachable, want to develop relationships, and are sometimes seen as impractical or make quick decisions based on emotion. The last style, Drivers, which neither Edward or Max identify as, is generally classified by being organized, decisive, and sometimes critical of work.

    Other topics of interest during the weekend were negotiating skills, work-life balance, difficult decisions, and a mentorship panel consisting of vice presidents, directors, and project managers from various public and private entities. The panel responded to a series of questions from younger members. The advice from these mentors was relatively consistent across the board – most recommended joining multiple professional organizations, learning to communicate across multiple generations, and presenting information concisely.

    YMLS is held annually at ASCE Headquarters in Reston, VA. You can read more about Pittsburgh’s participation in the event last year here


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