Rocks Roads Ripples N'At: 

Pittsburgh's Civil Engineering News Blog

  • 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

  • 17 Aug 2017 8:57 AM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    Edited from a Press Release by Swanson School of Engineering, University of Pittsburgh

     As the demand for energy grows and the human impact on natural resources like fresh water becomes more profound, public and private entities are relying on environmental engineers to address current and future challenges facing our society. In order for its students to capitalize on this changing job market, the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering offered a new environmental engineering major beginning the 2016-2017 academic year, and plans to seek ABET accreditation in October, 2017.

    The degree launched in the fall of 2016, and the first graduates adjusted their course requirements to graduate in April 2017, says Leonard Casson, associate professor and academic coordinator of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. The environmental engineering major joins bioengineering, chemical and petroleum engineering, civil engineering, electrical and computer engineering, industrial engineering, mechanical engineering, materials science engineering, and engineering sciences in the Swanson School.

    “Recently, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed that there’s going to be a great demand for environmental engineers, and many of our alumni and employment partners have indicated this to us as well.” he says. “Civil engineers in particular need to adapt quickly to evolving societal needs, and our Department realized that we were poised to create a specific major to give our students an advantage.”

    According to recent BLS data, “employment of environmental engineers is projected to grow 12 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations.” California, Pennsylvania, New York, Florida and Texas currently lead the U.S. in the highest employment level of environmental engineers.

    Casson added that there are currently 67 ABET accredited environmental engineering programs in the United States. And, locally, he continued, environmental engineers—who use the principles of engineering, biology, and chemistry to develop solutions to environmental problems—will likely have job opportunities in many professional areas including water and wastewater treatment, site remediation, solid and hazardous waste management, energy, green building design and construction, and mining.

    “Developing this program was possible thanks to the depth and breadth of our faculty, many of whom are nationally and internally recognized for their research in water and wastewater management, sustainability and green design and unconventional resources such as Marcellus and Utica shale,” Casson said. “Additionally, we have found that women and minorities with a passion for the environment are greatly interested in this program, and so we anticipate it to be an advantage when recruiting future undergraduate students.” 

    The Department has approximately 300 undergraduate students (sophomore, junior and senior) and 150 graduate students (MS, PMS and PhD). It is also one of Pitt’s oldest academic programs, established in 1867 as a direct result of the impact of the civil engineering field during the Civil War.  

    Joe Miksch, News Director, University Communications

    Contact: Paul Kovach

  • 29 Jun 2017 8:47 AM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    By Linda Kaplan and Karen Mueser

    For the fifth year in a row, the Pittsburgh Younger Member Forum teamed up with the Keystone-Mountain-Lakes Carpenter’s Union to enter the annual CANstruction Pittsburgh competition.

    This year’s entry “Giving Everything to End Hunger” was a 3D version of the cover of Shel Silverstien’s classic book “The Giving Tree”. The design was selected to fit with the competition theme of “Food for Thought.”  Constructed over the course of six hours by Karen Mueser, Linda Kaplan, and Erin Feichtner of the YMF along with members of the Carpenter’s Union, the display was eight feet wide and eight feet tall with the tree and leaves projecting out.  It all starts with a sturdy trunk of potatoes sitting on a verdant hill of spinach, green beans and peas.  The sky comprised of chicken broth and a variety of beans.  The tree’s canopy comprised of almost 500 cans of tuna – that’s nearly 140 pounds of fish.

    Perhaps the best part of CANstruction is the cause. All of the cans used in the structure were donated to our food bank partner, The Brashear Association, which is located in Pittsburgh’s Southside. With more than 2,000 cans of food weighing over 1,600 pounds, this Giving Tree will live up to its name, providing many meals for the families of Pittsburgh.  We are pleased to be donating so much good food to the members of our community that need it.

    While CANstruction is ultimately a food charity, there is a healthy dose of competition between the teams and six awards from the ‘Best Use of Labels’ to ‘Fan Favorite’ were up for grabs. This year, “Giving Everything to End Hunger” won the 2017 award for “Juror’s Choice” as the favorite of the 5 local judges.  The structure will now go on to compete in the National level competition via photos.

    We would like to extend a special thanks to everyone that donated to the project including: friends, family, and members of the ASCE Pittsburgh Section, Giant Eagle Parkway Center,  The Greater Pennsylvania Regional Carpenters Unions with special thanks to Locals 443, 432 and 441Civil and Environmental Consultants, Inc., and HDR.

  • 01 Jun 2017 10:35 AM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    By Djuna Gulliver

    Angela M. Mayer, EIT, and Director of ASCE-Pittsburgh has won the prestigious 2017 Daniel W. Mead prize.  “Initially I just wanted to challenge myself to write the Daniel W. Mead ethics paper,” Ms. Mayer says.  “However, for ASCE National to recognize my efforts by presenting me with this award is exciting!”

    The Daniel W. Mead prize was established in 1939, and is annually awarded to the author of the best paper on professional ethics in civil engineering. “Engineering has evolved over time largely in part to the efforts of Daniel W. Mead,” explains Ms. Mayer. “He was tasked by ASCE to develop ethical guidelines that would meet the needs of all members of the profession.  These efforts have evolved into the current ‘Code of Ethics’ that all in the profession should hold paramount to ensure the safety, health, and welfare of the public”.

    This year’s topic was “Is it ethical for university engineering faculty to teach technical subject matter to engineering students without obtaining professional licensure?”  Ms. Mayer submitted a paper titled Assurance through Licensure.  In the paper, Ms. Mayer says that there is a disconnect between licensure and the hiring process of Universities.  She writes:

    Universities tend to recognize and reward faculty with published scholarly works; not educators with practical industry experience and licensure. Over time, an obvious development of disconnection has occurred between industry experience, faculty qualifications, and licensure at institutions.  

    Ms. Mayer argues that educators are not only responsible for teaching proper technical material, but educators also serve as role models.  So, while some professors are not directly involved in the practice of engineering, educators have an ethical obligation to obtain their license.  Meanwhile, Universities should place more emphasis on professional experience.

    Even though they are not clearly involved, professors’ influence on students have a direct impact on society. Engineering faculty act as role models for engineering students that aspire to become licensed. Nevertheless, if the public holds future engineers to licensure standards their educators should be held to the same criteria.

    Ms. Mayer’s full paper will be available to read on the ASCE website.

    What inspired Ms. Mayer’s essay response to this year’s topic? “Coupled with research, my personal pursuit to obtain a P.E., and viewpoints I held over from college all compiled to formulate my response to the Mead paper’s topic this year,” she explains.

    Ms. Mayer has over 10 years of engineering experience, and is currently an asset integrity engineer at Williams, Pittsburgh.  She previously worked as a project engineer at KU Resources, and a staff engineer at Phillips and Associates.  She is an active member of the Diversity Committee at ASCE-Pittsburgh and the Young Member Forum.  She has been recognized throughout her career for her professional achievements and leadership, and has received the ASCE Edmund Friedman Young Engineering Award and the ASCE-Pittsburgh Young Engineer of the Year Award.  And while she feels a sense of accomplishment looking back at her career, “I look forward to what the future holds!” she exclaims.

  • 25 May 2017 9:00 AM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    By Erin Feitchner, ASCE Pittsburgh Section YMF President

    YMF Annula bowling tournamentThe Pittsburgh ASCE section Younger Member Form (YMF) closed our 2016-17 year in April.  This year continued the long standing tradition of providing several events and opportunities for young engineering professionals and students to expand their professional network, gain technical knowledge, and partner with community outreach. 


    In the Fall, we kicked off the year with our annual family picnic at Highland Park where, members and their families enjoyed sunshine and relaxation.  This was followed by a partnership with ESWP, SAME, ASHE, EWB, and TauBetaPi for a networking mixer at ESWP.  Other networking opportunities for students and young members included the Pirates tailgate and game, a camping trip in Tionesta, PA, enjoying Oktoberfest at Wiggle Whiskey Barrelhouse, and our bowling tournament.  These events allow networking in a relaxed setting while helping to showcase businesses and regions within our vibrant city.


    Dr. John Oyler presenting on the Gateway ClipperIn December we held our YMF annual dinner on the Gateway Clipper, where beloved University of Pittsburgh professor Dr. John Oyler, PE presented on the “Civil Engineering Heritage of Western Pennsylvania.” He discussed the development and significance the National Historic Civil Engineering Landmarks that are in the Western Pennsylvania area, including the survey of the Mason Dixon Line, the PA Turnpike, and Smithfield Street Bridge. Engaging the audience, he provided the perspective from being on the History Heritage Committee for some of the applications and  discussed some other significant regional Civil Engineering accomplishments that could be nominated for this honor.  Dr. Oyler concluded with a challenge to the young professionals to pick up the torch of engineering advancements and creativity to create future historic landmarks.


    YMF meeting with a presentation on the Liberty Bridge fireThe YMF then rang in the new year at January’s general body meeting which included a highly anticipated presentation on the Sept. 2, 2016 Liberty Bridge Fire and Emergency Repair by Nick Burdette (HDR) and Joe Plummer (PennDOT).  Burdette and Plummer discussed the timeline of the fire, assessment, and repair; sharing analysis models alongside details of the complex jacking system used to reset and repair the deformed member.


    YMF-Pittsburgh members at ERYMCThe Eastern Region Younger Members Forum (ERYMC) was also held in January and the YMF sent three members who participated in lectures on ASCE national organization, initiatives, and tips. Events also included practical tips on networking, and a presentation on contract liability language, BEAST.  During the annual business meeting a leading vote of abstention was closed on the region’s support towards legislature being submitted in New Jersey this year.  This bill would increase the education requirements for taking the PE exam.   Additionally, at the ERYMC awards dinner Jeff Jalbrzikowski was recognized for winning the National Outstanding Young Civil Engineer Award in the Public Sector.


    Movie viewing of Dream BigThe YMF ERYMC attendees also brought back the excitement of the sneak peek of ASCE’s Dream Big movie and synergized a group of younger members (and a couple kids too!) to attend the Dream Big Premiere at the Carnegie Science Center on February 17. On the topic of the Science Center, the YMF held a casual event at the 21+ night at the Science Center on Construction on April 28, 2017 and where some of the YMF members who missed the Premiere of Dream Big had an opportunity to see it.


    YMF members getting a tour of the Greenfield BridgeIn March the YMF members and students from Geneva College were given a site tour of the Greenfield Bridge.  Representatives from Mosites, the City of Pittsburgh, and design firm HDR explained design considerations, construction methods, and answered questions about this historic and publicly identifiable bridge.


    Also in March the YMF started to reach out to members outside of the Pittsburgh downtown area by holding some roaming happy hours. The first social event was held at the South Pointe All Star Sports Bar & grill on March 3. The second was held in Monroeville at the Rivertowne Pour House on March 30. We plan to have one more social event this year in the Uniontown area and to continue to reach out to members in the upcoming year, so if you work or live outside of the city and have a suggestion for a venue please contact our YMF leadership or leave a comment below!


    The Pittsburgh section and YMF supported young professionals in developing their leadership skills with positions within the board and committees and in leadership programs and conferences.   The YMF sent members Azekah Giffiths, Emily Eichner, and Scott Duda to the Younger Member Leadership Symposium in August.  The symposium brought together over 40 YMF members from across the U.S. Over the course of the weekend, attendees participated in workshops designed to improve leadership abilities, refine communication skills, and identify areas for further personal growth and development.  President-elect Erin Feichtner was introduced and participated in the nine-month Leadership Development Initiative (LDI) Pittsburgh.  This program brings together emerging young professional from several different industries across the Pittsburgh region.  Participants attend lectures one several key elements that help one become an effective leader in work and in community involvement.  The program culminates with a PopUp! event in one of the neighborhoods in the Pittsburgh limits where participants work with a community to host a customized event.  This year LDI is working with the community of Carrick with the PopUp! event on May 6th

    Throughout the year LDI students lead classes and participated on the ACE mentorship program that introduces high school students to the career opportunities in architecture, construction, engineering, and related areas of the building design and construction industry.  This is done by designing mock projects, tour local construction sites, and visit architectural, engineering and construction offices.


    This spring younger member and section director Angela Mayer won the Daniel W. Mead Prize for Younger Members and will receive her award at the National Conference in New Orleans.

    We ended the spring similarly to how the year started with a Joint Social with ASHE, CAWP, ESWP, PSPE, SAME, & EWB at Mario’s Shadyside on May 5th.

    So what are you waiting for? If you are a Pittsburgh civil engineer under the age of 35, then join the YMF now by contacting Erin Feitchner, ASCE Pittsburgh Section YMF President.

  • 18 May 2017 8:27 AM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    By Linda Kaplan

    ASCE Pittsburgh was recently recognized by National as the winners of the 2016 ASCE Section and Branches Diversity Award for continued focus on and attention to this important issue.  This is the second year in a row that Pittsburgh has won this award.  “The groundwork for our efforts to increase diversity and inclusion within our section and to communicate the matter to our members began four years ago when one of our board members, Lauren Terpak, opined that the Pittsburgh Section needed to be at the forefront of this matter and volunteered to chair the Diversity committee,” says ASCE-Pittsburgh Past President, Pat Sullivan.  “Thanks to her initial efforts and the effort put forth by the Pittsburgh section to recognize diversity at selected events throughout the year, we are grateful to be the recipient of the award for a second consecutive year.”

    When most people think of diversity they typically are referring to “primary diversity” factors – those characteristics you are born with, such as age and ethnicity.  However, when addressing diversity in a professional setting, there are actually 4 levels of diversity factors that should be considered.

    Primary Factors Secondary Factors Workplace Factors Style Factors
    Those traits you are born with and are unlikely to change. Those differences that are the result of choice made throughout your life. Those factors developed by workplace structure and roles. How you show and present yourself differently from others.
    • Age
    • Physical Abilities
    • Race
    • Ethnicity
    • Gender
    • Sexual Orientation
    • Education
    • Class/Income
    • Language/Accents
    • Marital Status
    • Parental Status
    • Military Experience
    • Religious Beliefs
    • Geographic Location
    • Nationality
    • Organizational
    • Occupation
    • Job Level
    • Job Classification
    • Department
    • Work Location
    • Work Shift
    • Skills
    • Years with Organization
    • Leadership Style
    • Work Habits
    • Performance Expectations
    • Personality Type
    • Communication Style

    ASCE-Pittsburgh Board Members at the 2016 E-Week Awards BanquetIt is only by recognizing and learning to value differences across all four of these categories, and then using them to leverage superior results for our organizations, that we can truly be inclusive.  A diverse population that is not included will not contribute, and may leave the organization.  A non-diverse population, even if fully engaged, will never produce change.  A successful organization will desire differences, rather than just tolerate them, knowing that this produces healthier, more open dialogue and superior performance.

    The Pittsburgh Section has made an effort to encourage dialogue on this important topic through the use of the “Diversity Minute” at major events.  By sharing a quote related to diversity, and allowing members the opportunity to respond, we begin to recognize diversity and foster an inclusive atmosphere. 

    If you are interested in becoming more involved with Diversity and Inclusion efforts through the Section, please contact President Coreen Casadei.  

  • 11 May 2017 12:11 PM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)
    By Vishal Patel, P.E., Edited by Gregory Rumbaugh, P.E.

    Seventy-four Geo-Institute & Deep Foundation Institute (DFI) members and guests gathered at the Engineers Society of Western Pennsylvania on Saturday, April 8th, 2017 for an ASCE Pittsburgh Section Geo-Institute and DFI Chapter short course.  The course was presented by members of the DFI Committee on Augered Cast-in-Place (ACIP) and Drilled Displacement Piles, led by Morgan NeSmith, P.E. (right), presented latest advancements in design methodology, testing, quality control and assurance, and recent case history regarding ACIP piles.

    A total of ten presentations were presented during the Saturday short course. Morgan NeSmith, P.E. started off the morning session by introducing the committee projects, the development of ACIP, and current installation procedures. He also talked about their commitment to introduce ACIP and its usefulness to various Department of Transportation entities. Following Mr. NeSmith’s presentation, various DFI Committee members of ACIP piles presented about quality control and assurance, design methodologies, case histories, non-destructive testing, challenges in ACIP construction, grouting, and applications of ACIP. A full list of speakers and their background is available online at ASCE Pittsburgh Geo-Institute web page.

    Feedback of the survey handed out during the short course offered us a highly positive response from the attendees. Many attendees were extremely satisfied with the technical presentations offered at the short course while some even said ‘It was one of the best I have ever attended- and I have been to a lot.’

    The short course took place from 8am to 5:30pm and included a continental breakfast and lunch. The Geo-Institute & DFI were happy to be able to provide up to 7.5 PDHs, including 6.75 hrs accredited for New York professional engineers.

  • 04 May 2017 8:36 AM | ASCE Blog Editor (Administrator)

    By Linda Kaplan, PE

    The Western Pennsylvania ACE Mentoring program introduces interested High School students to various disciplines within the Architecture, Construction, and Engineering fields.  The program runs from October to May, with the students meeting every other week.  For the first 6 weeks of the program the sessions focus on introducing some of the major ACE fields: architectural design, civil/site engineering, structural engineering, urban planning, MEP engineering, and construction management.  ASCE representatives provided the background presentations and activities for both the civil/site engineering and structural engineering sessions in Fall 2016. 

    For the second half of the program students split into teams to develop the design of a real life local project. Team members will each take on different roles: architect, civil engineer, structural engineer, urban planner, contractor, or mechanical/electrical engineer based on their preference from the first half of the program.  Over the course of 4 working sessions the students will meet first with experts representing their assigned project roles to learn more about that field and develop the design.  Students will then meet with their teams to coordinate the overall efforts of each discipline.  At the end of the program project teams will present their work to a panel of judges and one team will “win” the contract.

    This year’s project

    Students test popsicle stick bridges during the ACE ‘Intro to Structural Engineering’ session at the University of Pittsburgh. In the 1960s, access between two neighborhoods, Downtown Pittsburgh and the Hill District, was severed by the construction of I-579 also known as Crosstown Boulevard. With the demolition of the Civic Arena and construction of PPG Paints Arena, redevelopment of the area aims to help revitalize the Hill District.  Part of those plans include reconnecting the Hill District to Downtown by ‘capping’ I-579 to eliminate the physical barrier between the neighborhoods. Restoring the connection between the communities will offer more convenient and safer access to opportunities for residents of the redeveloping Hill District including jobs, education, and connections to other neighborhoods and services.  Special thanks to HDR Engineering for sharing project information with the students. 

    Each team is to develop a concept for the 3-acre (52,800 square foot) project site. The project will consist of the construction of a new structure spanning over a portion of the below-grade I-579 highway, a developed pedestrian and bicycle network, and an urban open space for gathering, along with a building.  The students received an RFP that included deliverables from each of the 6 disciplines.  This format allowed the interested students to get more in-depth with their chosen discipline than previous years and allowed the mentors to introduce more advanced concepts and realistic material. 

    ASCE members Linda Kaplan, PE and Karen Mueser, PE led the students of the structural engineering team.  These students were responsible for development of the design of the spanning structure over I-579.  Students used portions of the AASHTO and AISC code, as well as PennDOT standard templates to develop a Type, Size & Location report for their structure.  Their final product included load calculations to size the main members, plan and elevation drawings, as well as a written report. 

    “Working with a small group of students who had an expressed interest in structural engineering made this one of the more rewarding ACE experiences for me.” Linda observed.  “The students worked really hard and we were able to take these concepts further than is typical in a high school mentoring environment.”

    Member Nicholle Piper, PE organized the activities for the civil/site engineering group.  This group’s deliverables included a site topography plan, stormwater runoff calculations, a site utility plan, and a site plan. The students followed PADEP regulations, City of Pittsburgh code requirements, and a sample zoning ordinance to prepare their deliverables.

    The students will be presenting their final projects on May 10th, starting at 5:00 pm at the Carpenters Training Center of Pittsburgh off of the Parkway West.  The event is open to the public, and ASCE members are invited and encouraged to attend to see the impressive work of these students, future members of our profession. 

    Pittsburgh Section ASCE Civil Engineers volunteer to  mentor regional high school students.  To join them for the 2017-2018 ACE program. please contact Linda Kaplan or Karen Mueser.


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