Rocks Roads Ripples N'At: 

Pittsburgh's Civil Engineering News Blog

  • 26 Mar 2018 3:23 PM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    From Alcosan Communications

    February 20, 2018 - Working diligently to bring solutions to the region's issue of overflows caused by excess groundwater and stormwater, ALCOSAN's Tim Prevost, manager of Wet Weather Programs, is a champion of making our rivers and streams cleaner and healthier through the authority's Green Revitalization of Our Waterways (GROW) program. Because of his efforts, Prevost has been named the 2017 Civil Engineer of the Year by the Pittsburgh Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

    Prevost, who has been with ALCOSAN for 20 years, is a registered professional engineer in Pennsylvania and a graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology.  At ALCOSAN, Prevost oversees the  GROW program and  leads the  Authority's  compliance  with the EPA's combined  sewer  overflow  (CSO) and sanitary  sewer overflow (SSO) policies. He also received the  ASCE-Pittsburgh's 2012 Government Engineer of the Year award.

    The GROW program, which recently received the 2018 National Environmental Achievement Award by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), provides reimbursement grants to the authority's 83 partner municipalities and authorities for projects that reduce the amount of excess groundwater and stormwater that enters the sewer collection system and ultimately leads to the problem of overflows during  wet weather events. Annually, approximately 9 billion gallons of mixed stormwater, groundwater and sewage enter the region's rivers and streams during wet weather. ALCOSAN is under a federal consent decree to reduce these overflows throughout its  system.

    ALCOSAN's Executive Director Arletta Scott Williams applauded the awardee saying, "I have been privileged to watch Tim grow up in the ALCOSAN family. He has never wavered in his enthusiasm and determination for the program, projects and people, consistently assuming more responsibility through a unique combination of creative thinking and technical reasoning."

    "I am excited and humbled by this award," said Prevost. "But I know this honor wouldn't have happened without our GROW team. I cannot thank them enough, because everyone doing their part and working together to make the GROW program a success is the main reason for this recognition. This award is for all of us."

    Since inception in 2016, the GROW Program has undergone two funding cycles, providing $18 million in grants for 59 projects that will annually remove nearly 109 million gallons of stormwater and groundwater from the ALCOSAN system. A total of 43 municipalities and 14 city of Pittsburgh neighborhoods have taken part in the GROW program. Cycle Ill of the GROW program will begin later this year.

    ALCOSAN is the clean water agency for most of Allegheny County, treating wastewater for 83 Allegheny County communities, including the City of Pittsburgh. The authority, which is Green by Mission and Green by Choice, enhances the c:ummu11ily' environment, quality of life and safety by working to  protect drinking  water, rivers  and streams, and making the Pittsburgh region a great place to live, work and  play. ALCOSAN's 59-acre  treatment  plant  processes up to 250 million  gallons of wastewater daily and is one of the  largest such facilities  in the Ohio River Valley.

  • 22 Feb 2018 5:59 PM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    By Angela Mayer, EIT

    ASCE Board of Direction voted unanimously in July to adopt a new cannon in the Society’s Code of Ethics.  The newly adopted Canon 8 in the Code of Ethics expresses a professional obligation to provide fair and equal treatment for all.  It states:

    • Engineers shall, in all matters related to their profession, treat all persons fairly and encourage equitable participation without regard to gender or gender identity, race, national origin, ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation, disability, political affiliation, or family, marital, or economic status.
    • Engineers shall conduct themselves in a manner in which all persons are treated with dignity, respect, and fairness.
    • Engineers shall not engage in discrimination or harassment in connection with their professional activities.
    • Engineers shall consider the diversity of the community, and shall endeavor in good faith to include diverse perspectives, in the planning and performance of their professional services.

    ASCE’s Committee on Diversity and Inclusion and the Committee on Ethical Practice began collaborating on the new canon in 2016, seeking to provide a basis for enforcing ASCE’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.  The new cannon has been given the nickname the “Diversity” Canon.  This addition is the first revision to the ASCE code of ethics since 2006 and is the first addition of a new Canon in over 65 years. 

  • 18 Jan 2018 8:58 AM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    By Erin Feichtner

    On December 7, 2017 the Younger Member Forum hosted the annual December Dinner.  This year the dinner was held at the National Aviary.  Attendees were able to explore the exhibits, learn about the various birds, and even take a picture with one of the Aviary’s penguins, Disco.  The evening also allowed for great networking and discussions during a delicious buffet dinner.   

    The keynote presentation was given by Sean Luther of Innovate PGH and Jeremy Waldrup of Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.  Mr. Luther, who was formally with the Envision Downtown committee of Downtown Partnership, started out by presenting how Pittsburgh is using Private/ Public Partnerships between local residents, business owners, and the Mayor’s office to create and test projects with the goal of continuing economic growth and improving the overall experience for all within the “golden triangle”.  They do this with small scale projects, collecting data and feedback, proposing improvements, implement projects, and collect data on how effective those changes are.  Some examples of completed projects are the remake of Strawberry Way and improving the busy Penn and 11th St intersection.  Both projects pedestrian traffic safer and more enjoyable in under developed areas.  Using local artists and well placed pavement markings, these projects made pedestrian travel ways more clear, safe, and attractive.  This also improves motorist’s ability to navigate intersections in Pittsburgh’s notoriously confusing downtown grid.

    The project at the Smithfield & 6th St. bus stop took the “simple” task of providing more space and amenities to accommodate queued passengers at one of Pittsburgh busiest transit stops. This needed to be accomplished in a complicated roadway footprint of transitioning lane count and on street parking.  The project was completed by looking at the street and intersection as a whole, and realigning the pavement marks and roadway widths.  This allowed for a wider sidewalk with shelter, all without negatively impacting traffic flow patterns.

    Such projects move downtown Pittsburgh into the modern age of urbanscapes that are multi-use, safe, and reflect the history and local art of a community.  Mr. Waldrup spoke on the projects that are currently in conception and design.  “Life on Liberty” is a project under way that is trying to increase the use of Liberty Avenue through identifying short comings of current amenities, encourage foot traffic, and promote local businesses.  Broad scope projects include 1) looking at the data on traffic flows through the central downtown area to identify if bus stops are in appropriate locations, 2) identify if the street’s typical sections are fitting for the primary user and vehicle type, 3) finding a sidewalk surface material that is durable and attractive, and 4) trying methods for business owner’s trash disposal that are attractive and safe to the overall city system.  As the new Pittsburgh City Department of Mobility and Infrastructure develops Mr. Waldrup hopes it will use the data and projects Envision Downtown has done to continue the great work done.

    More about Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership can be found at  Also consider attending a community feedback meeting if you live or work downtown and are interested in any of the projects of Envision Downtown or the Department of Mobility and Infrastructure.  For ages, visitors and longtime residents have asked engineers “Why would someone design things this way?” or “Why can’t someone fix this so it works better?” Whether you are a traffic engineer or water treatment engineer, we all have skills and knowledge that can be useful in these conversations and projects that are taking action to fix and answer these common questions about Downtown Pittsburgh. 

    An event like this is never possible without the support from company sponsors. Our Gold Level sponsors this year were Borton-Lawson Engineering and Architecture and Tetra Tech.  The Silver Level sponsors were Gannett Fleming, MS Consultants, Inc., and SAI Consulting Engineers.  The penguin bird encounter was sponsored by University of Pittsburgh Johnstown Alumni. 

  • 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.


 © ASCE Pittsburgh Section. All Rights Reserved.
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software