Engineers Piece Together Champlain Towers Probable Collapse Sequence

Structural engineers have compiled the probable sequence and speculated over the initial trigger of the fatal collapse of the 12 story Champlain Towers in Surfside Florida. The fatal collapse has claimed a dozen lives and left 149 individuals unaccounted for. Allyn Kilsheimer, a veteran engineer and founder of KCE Structural Engineers, has been hired by Surfside to investigate the collapse. The investigation into the collapse will likely take months and may never find a single definitive cause. 

It has been reported that in October 2018 an engineer, Frank P. Morabito, had discovered “major structural damage” to a concrete slab below the pool deck in the section of the Champlain Towers South condominium building. Morabito stated that waterproofing below the pool deck and entrance drive had failed, allowing for damaging leaks and limited water drainage. Utilizing this information, a surveillance video, photos, and the original 1979 plans, structural engineers are beginning to piece together this disastrous collapse.

While examining images of destruction experts observed indications of “punching shear failure,” in the parking garage below the building. Punching shear failure of foundation, defined by Neenu S K editor of The Constructor, occurs when there is a localized force acting on the structure. It is mostly found in foundations but also common in flat slabs. When the total shear force exceeds the shear resistance of the slab, the slab will be pushed down around the column, or this can be viewed as the column being punched through the slab.

“There is a possibility that part of the pool [area] came down first and then dragged the middle of the building with it, and that made that collapse, and then once the middle of the building collapsed, number two, then the rest of the building didn’t know how to stand up and it fell down also, number three.”stated Kilsheimer

The president of the Structural Engineering Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Joe DiPompeo expressed his beliefs that there must be “a very specific sequence of events that somehow evaded all the fail-safes in the code and everything else.”


  1. Jon Swaine, B. S. (2021, June 29). Video, images and interviews deepen questions about the role of pool deck in condo collapse. The Washington Post. 
  2.  What is Punching Shear? Punching Shear in Slabs and Foundations. The Constructor. (2017, September 28).
  3. Jon Swaine, B. S. (2021, June 29). Video, images and interviews deepen questions about the role of pool deck in condo collapse. The Washington Post.

New Jersey Student Wins MATHCOUNTS 2021

The MATHCOUNTS Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that reaches students in grades 6-8 in all US states and territories with three extracurricular math programs. More than a quarter million students participate in their programs or use their resources each year.

MATHCOUNTS has a free National Math Club that gives students an opportunity to play fun math games in a non-competitive social environment. MATHCOUNTS also has a nationwide competition series. 

NJSPE is proud to announce that this year’s first-place finisher in the National MATHCOUNTS competition is New Jersey’s own Marvin Mao

Marvin is an eighth grader from Davidson Academy from our Bergen Hudson Chapter! He will receive a $10,000 scholarship.

Alexander Wang (Millburn Middle School – North Central Chapter) placed 4th in the nation.

Also, the New Jersey team made up of Marvin Mao, Alexander Wang, Andrew Lin (Timberlane Middle School – Mercer Chapter) and Evan Fan (William Annin Middle School – Mercer Chapter) are the top team in the country! The team will receive a trip to the US Space Camp Congratulations to the team and their coaches Daniel Plotnick, Stephanie Cucinella, Ying Lu, and Audrey Fan. Ms. Cucinella also served as the state team coach. 

All of the MATHCOUNTS competitions were held online for 2020-2021. They began with monthly practice competitions from October through January. The Mathletes then moved through the Chapter Competitions, the Chapter Invitational Competition and finally the State Competition. The top for Mathletes comprised the team that advanced to Nationals. There, they competed against teams from all 50 states and the US Territories.

This year’s national competition engaged 224 students representing 56 US states and territories in four rounds: Sprint, Target, Team, and Countdown.

The runner-up for the individual competition was Bohan Yao, an eighth-grader from Redmond, Washington, who will receive a $5,000 scholarship. Ten finalists will also receive $3,000 scholarships.

New Jersey MATHCOUNTS is supported by the NJSPE Education Foundation.

If you would like to donate to the NJSPE Education Foundation you may do so here!



1.MATHCOUNTS, MATHCOUNTS Foundation, 2021,
2.NSPE Update: May 2021, 

5 Engineering and Architecture Trends in 2021

2020 was a year of pause and transition. A time of innovation and pivoting. Professionals were asked to halt work and new methods were put into practice. Many of which are here to stay. As we settle into 2021, it is evident that certain trends will continue to flourish.

*Information for this blog post was provided from an article cited below.


1. A Heightened Concern with Sustainability and Climate Resilience

Innovative green alternatives and improvements to infrastructures with regards to climate change is a key focus for 2021. The Alliance for a Sustainable Future – a joint effort between the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions – released a 2020 report citing that 60% of surveyed cities across the U.S. have launched or significantly expanded a climate initiative or policy. Displaying a proactive approach in the importance of protecting our natural environment and enhancing existing infrastructure resilience to climate change.

2.Rising investment in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure

Stemming from the same climate cautious mindset expressed in trend number one, biking and pedestrian infrastructures are greener alternatives that continue to grow in popularity.

3. Technology brings better ways to visualize projects

Visualization technologies, such as 3D modeling, gained traction as viable solutions during the challenging year of 2020. However, the benefits of these tools prove that they will continue to play a part moving forward. 3D renderings and animations offer a better understanding of a project while it is still in the beginning phases of design. Offering earlier problem solving solutions and overall lower costs and higher satisfaction of a project.

4. Virtual public engagement is here to stay

Virtual public engagement is an efficient and price conscious alternative to in person engagements. With more tools available that ever before virtual engagements and events will last well beyond present circumstances.

Example of virtual tools include:

  • Drone filming and photography
  • 360-degree high-definition webcams
  • Virtual meetings, webinars, and video conferencing
  • Dedicated websites
  • Strategic social media
  • Email outreach
  • Online surveys

5. The need for creative, multi-family land developments

The housing marketing is fluctuating. People across generations are in search of houses in more rural areas, leaving cities behind. However, the vast amenities and cultural experiences are still desired. “This high demand paired with the limited supply creates an opportunity for private developers to explore creative options such as duplexes, multiplexes, bungalow courts, townhomes and live-work spaces.”

Do you agree with these trend forecasts? Do you see them as beneficial or detrimental to the engineering industry? Follow us on Instagram and LinkedIn and let us know what you think.

1 Broses, M., Crow, B. and Wells, P., 2021. 8 Trends in Architecture and Engineering for 2021. [online] SEH®. Available at: <> [Accessed 7 April 2021].

New Robotics Technology may Improve Building Construction

Previously untouched by automation, the construction industry has become recently permeated with new technology and robotics. While manual labor is likely to always remain a vital component in modern construction, technology has and continues to evolve to support and optimize the construction process. Over the last few years multiple digitized strides have been made within the construction industry. The newest piece of technology is emerging from Purdue University. Innovators are developing robotic technology that promise to assist construction companies and contractors in producing higher quality buildings, at a lower cost, and faster turnaround.  

The National Science Foundation provided support for the development of this new technology. This new automation combines a contemporary mechanical design with advanced computer vision sensing technology. Jiansong Zhang, an assistant professor of construction management technology in the Purdue Polytechnic Institute, describes their technologies as “help[ing] to address workforce shortages in the construction industry by automating key construction operations.” Zhang goes on to explain “on a construction site, there are many unknown factors that a construction robot must be able to account for effectively. This requires much more advanced sensing and reasoning technologies than those commonly used in a manufacturing environment.”The group of innovators working on this project reimagined the extent to which robotic sensing can be utilized, focusing on the computer vision sensing mechanics. The computer vision sensing software curated for this project uses a newly developed algorithm “which allows the robotic system to sense building elements and match them to building information modeling (BIM) data in a variety of environments.” This novel technology will monitor safety hazards and decrease the amount of equipment required in the field. In the end helping to minimize expenses while also speed up production.


 1 Purdue University. “Emerging robotics technology may lead to better buildings in less time.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 February 2021. <>.

How Drones are Impacting Civil Engineering

The advances in drone technology over the last few years have modified how we utilize them. Drones and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are no longer just considered high-tech toys. The benefits of these innovations are particularly prevalent in the civil engineering field.  

There are numerous advantages to using drones on site. Benefits include the simplicity of collecting and sharing data, the improvement of health and safety to the engineer in the field, and perhaps the most advantageous utility is the improvement to surveying. Drones simplify the surveying process both by increasing the accuracy and decreasing the complications over large areas.

A drone survey captures aerial data by using downward-facing sensors. During a survey the sensors, or cameras, photograph the land several times from multiple angles. Each image is then tagged with coordinates. In a manned aircraft, or with satellite imagery, the flight would take place at a higher altitude resulting in slower data retention. These options are more expensive and dependent on atmospheric conditions such as clear skies. 

Compared to traditional topographic surveying, which is a slow and labor-intensive process, the drone is incredibly beneficial. Traditional topographic surveying required manual collection of multiple GPS points which, depending on the size of the area, could easily include several hundred points. The drone expedites this process.

If you are interested in the benefits of drones in engineering and would like to learn more you should check out NJSPE’s continuing education course “DRONES IN ENGINEERING” . The course will review the ways drones are being used in the construction industry, mainly in the engineering and surveying fields. The course will show examples of how drones are being utilized in various different situations to assist Engineers. You will learn the safety benefits of using drones in compromising health situations. You will learn some of the legal requirements for use of drones, applications of drones for specific Engineers needs, benefits of using drones, and you will see some of what the future can hold for drone technology in the engineering field.

2021 MATHCOUNTS Updates

Do you know a 6, 7, or 8th grader who loves math or possibly needs to improve his or her math skills? Maybe MATHCOUNTS is the answer. MATHCOUNTS has a free National Math Club that gives students an opportunity to play fun math games in a non-competitive social environment. MATHCOUNTS also has a nationwide competition series. All of the competitions through the State level will be online for the 2020-2021 year. This and other changes will expand access to a larger group of potential participants.  

Who can register? Any type of school, of any size, can register—public, private, religious, charter, virtual or home school can register up to 15 students (up from the traditional 10 students). If a mathlete’s school is not planning to register, an individual can register as a non-school competitor. To also expand the fun, four practice competitions and an additional competition level have been added this year.  

Click here to learn more about the National Math Club.

Click here for the Official Rules and Procedures for the MATHCOUNTS Competition Series.

The final day to register is January 15! Click here to register for the Competition Series. 

Registered schools and non-school competitors will have access to the 4 practice competitions on October 15, November 15, December 15, and January 22.  

  • Chapter Competition will be from 1pm (EST) February 5 through 1pm (EST) February 6 
  • Chapter Invitational Competition will be held at 7pm (EST) on February 25 
  • State Competition will be held at 7pm (EST) on March 25.

Online Practice Competitions Information

To prepare for the official competitions, registered schools and NSCs will have access to 4 online practice competitions, comprised of modified, past MATHCOUNTS problems. A practice competition will be released on the Art of Problem Solving (AoPS) Contest Platform on October 15, 2020, November 15, 2020, December 15, 2020, and January 22, 2021. All of a school’s registered competitors (1-15 students), plus up to 50 additional students at the school, will have access to at least the first 3 practice competitions. The practice competitions will include a team round, allowing students from the same school to form teams. 

Selection of chapter competitors, as well as the selection of students given access to the practice competitions, will be made entirely at the discretion of the coach. Any or all of the practice competitions may be used by coaches to determine chapter competitors but are not required. 

Practice competitions are confidential and for use solely by students and coaches at registered Competition Series schools. These competitions must remain confidential and may not be used in outside activities, such as tutoring sessions or enrichment programs with students from other schools.

It is important that the coach looks upon coaching sessions during the academic year as opportunities to develop better math skills in all students, not just in those students who will be competing. Therefore, it is suggested that the coach postpone the selection of competitors until just prior to the Chapter Competition, but no later than January 15, 2021.

100 Years of Engineering

As 2020 is closing out, it’s worth taking a moment to look back and reflect on the last 100 years of engineering achievements. When you think all the way back to the 1920s, it’s hard to believe where we are today. We’re advancing at such a rapid rate that it’s almost impossible to imagine what the next 100 years will bring! Let’s take a look at some of the engineering highlights over the past century: 

Engineering Achievements 1920-2020

Frequency multiplexing concept
AT&T develops the frequency multiplexing concept, in which frequencies of speech are shifted electronically among various frequency bands to allow several telephone calls at the same time. Metal coaxial cable eventually is used to carry a wide range of frequencies.


Synthetic rubber developed
Wallace Carothers and a team at DuPont, building on work begun in Germany early in the century, make synthetic rubber. Called neoprene, the substance is more resistant than natural rubber to oil, gasoline, and ozone, and it becomes important as an adhesive and a sealant in industrial uses.


Pennsylvania Turnpike
The Pennsylvania Turnpike opens as the country’s first roadway with no cross streets, no railroad crossings, and no traffic lights. Built on an abandoned railroad right of way, it includes 7 miles of tunnels through the mountains, 11 interchanges, 300 bridges and culverts, and 10 service plazas. By the mid-1950s America’s first superhighway extends westward to the Ohio border, north toward Scranton, and east to Philadelphia for a total of 470 route miles.


Direct long-distance calling first available
In a test in Englewood, New Jersey, customers are able to make long-distance calls within the United States directly, without the assistance of an operator. But it takes another decade for direct long-distance dialing to be available nationwide.


Synthetic oils
Synthetic oils are in development to meet the special lubricating requirements of military jets. Mobil Oil and AMSOIL are leaders in this field; their synthetics contain such additives as polyalphaolefins, derived from olefin, one of the three primary petrochemical groups. Saturated with hydrogen, olefin-carbon molecules provide excellent thermal stability. Following on the success of synthetic oils in military applications, they are introduced into the commercial market in the 1970s for use in automobiles.


The first CD-ROM patented
James T. Russell, working at Battelle Memorial Institute’s Pacific Northwest Laboratories in Richland, Washington, patents the first systems capable of digital-to-optical recording and playback. The CD-ROM (compact disc read-only memory) is years ahead of its time, but in the mid-1980s audio companies purchase licenses to the technology. (See computers.) Russell goes on to earn dozens of patents for CD-ROM technology and other optical storage systems.


MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scanner introduced
The first commercial MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scanner arrives on the medical market. 


Human Genome Project
Researchers begin the Human Genome Project, coordinated by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health, with the goal of identifying all of the approximately 30,000 genes in human DNA and determining the sequences of the three billion chemical base pairs that make up human DNA. The project catalyzes the multibillion-dollar U.S. biotechnology industry and fosters the development of new medical applications, including finding genes associated with genetic conditions such as familial breast cancer and inherited colon cancer. A working draft of the genome is announced in June 2000.


100 million cellular telephone subscribers
The number of cellular telephone subscribers in the United States grows to 100 million, from 25,000 in 1984. Similar growth occurs in other countries as well, and as phones shrink to the size of a deck of cards, an increasingly mobile society uses them not only for calling but also to access the Internet, organize schedules, take photographs, and record moving images.


Apple Inc. launched the iPad
Its first tablet computer, which offered multi-touch interaction. The iPad became an immediate bestseller and only months after its release became the best selling tech product in history. By the mid-2010s, almost all smartphones were touchscreen-only, and Android and iPhone smartphones dominated the market.

It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come! What engineering achievements do you think will come in the next 100 years? Share this article and let us know what you think!

Submit Your Ideas! NJ Transportation Research Ideas Portal is Open

NJDOT’s Bureau of Research is asking for your best ideas for future transportation research.

Ideas that can turn problems into solutions that can be implemented in New Jersey.

The New Jersey Department of Transportation’s (NJDOT) Bureau of Research staff works directly with university and other research professionals to find solutions to improve the safety, mobility and accessibility of New Jersey’s residents, workers, visitors and businesses. Our goal is to enhance the quality and cost effectiveness of the policies, practices, standards and specifications that are used in planning, building and maintaining New Jersey’s transportation infrastructure.

NJDOT’s Bureau of Research is interested in soliciting ideas from NJDOT’s research customers and other transportation stakeholders for the NJDOT Research Program.   We are interested in your research ideas – particularly, ideas that can turn problems into solutions that can be implemented.  We use this website to gather and share ideas as a first step in the development of fundable research proposals. 

How Do Ideas Inform Research Needs Statement Development?  Ideas are not research needs statements or proposals. After the deadline date of a research idea solicitation round, research ideas are prioritized by the Research Oversight Committee and high priority research needs are posted as proposals. Submission of a research idea does not preclude individuals or groups from Institutes of Higher Learning or other eligible research organizations from subsequently bidding on a Request for Proposal prepared and issued by the Bureau of Research. RFPs will be posted on our research RFP web site:

This is a first step in the development of fundable research proposals sponsored by the NJDOT Research Program.

Ideas can be submitted in six campaign areas:

  • Capital Improvement & Infrastructure
  • Mobility and Operations
  • Multimodal
  • Planning & Environment
  • Policy and Organization
  • Safety Management

Click here to submit your idea

You must be registered to participate.

Click on the Submit New Idea button to start the process. 

The deadline for this round is December 31, 2020.


Multimodal topics include: Maritime • Airports • Mass Transit • Freight • Multimodal Grants • Transportation Data • Railroads • Unmanned Aerial Systems

Engineering Student Scholarships You Should Apply For

It’s no secret that 2020 has been a rough year for everyone. Rising college freshmen and current undergrads must adapt to the new normal of going to college online and paying for college might not look the same as it used to. For that reason, many of you may be relying on student aid, grants, and scholarships to cover college expenses. Here, we’ve compiled a list of eligible scholarships for you to apply for! The best part about scholarships is that you won’t have to pay them back. There’s no harm in applying for as many engineering scholarships as you can.

SAME NJ Scholarship

The New Jersey Post SAME Scholarship Fund, Inc, for the calendar year 2021 will award a minimum of one, one-time scholarship based on merit to a college or university undergraduate student studying Architecture, Engineering, or a related science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) subject. The Scholarships are awarded to undergraduate students who will be entering their 2nd through last year of study at a Community College, four year College or University in the 2021-2022 academic year. Priority for Scholarship awards will be citizens of the U.S., residents of NJ, and/or matriculated in a university located in New Jersey. Scholarship applicants must have a GPA of 2.5 out of 4.0 or higher to apply

Deadline: March 11, 2021

Apply now >>

ACECNJ Scholarship

The American Council of Engineering Companies of New Jersey (ACECNJ) awards up to six scholarships each year to students attending an accredited engineering program in New Jersey. Students must be entering their junior, senior, fifth, or master’s degree year, in the upcoming fall to qualify for the general scholarships, as well as be a US citizen.

Deadline: February 5, 2021

Apply now >> 

Scholarships for Women Engineers

The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) provides a huge list of engineering scholarships on their website for women in STEM-related majors/fields. SWE Scholarships support those who identify as a female/woman and are pursuing an ABET-accredited bachelor or graduate student program in preparation for careers in engineering, engineering technology, and computer science globally. In 2020, SWE disbursed nearly 260 new and renewed scholarships valued at more than $1,000,000!

Applicants complete one application and are considered for all scholarships for which they are eligible. Upperclass applications are officially being accepted and freshman applicants may begin applying on March 1, 2021.

View the list of scholarships >>

Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship

The Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship seeks to attract talented, committed individuals, with backgrounds in the STEM fields—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—into teaching in high-need secondary schools in Pennsylvania. The Fellowship has also prepared over a thousand teachers in Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, and Ohio. Eligible applicants include current undergraduates, recent college graduates, mid-career professionals, and retirees who have majored in, or have extensively studied, one or more of the STEM fields. Includes admission to a master’s degree program at a well-established partner university teacher certification in science, mathematics or technology education and extensive preparation for teaching in a high-need urban or rural secondary school for one full year prior to becoming the teacher-of-record in a science or math classroom.

Stipend amount: $32,000

Deadline: Varies

Apply now >>


Not only do scholarships help you with college costs, but they would also look great on a resume! Apply for as many as you can’t and don’t give up! We wish you the best of luck!

New Green Infrastructure Stormwater Management Rules

In March 2020, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection formally adopted groundbreaking amendments to the state’s stormwater management rules to better protect water quality by reducing polluted runoff through the implementation of green infrastructure technologies, which also helps to make New Jersey more resilient to storm and flood impacts from climate change. The new rule amendments take full effect on March 2, 2021. Green infrastructure is a set of stormwater management practices that use or mimic the natural water cycle to capture, filter, absorb, and/or reuse stormwater. 

In older stormwater collection systems, stormwater would be centralized in one big basin. With these new rules, it will be required that stormwater management features be distributed around a site. Historically, stormwater runoff has been a major source of water pollution throughout New Jersey and across the nation. Runoff from storms carries fertilizer, pesticides, automotive fluids, and other pollutants into waterways, degrading ecosystems and impairing lakes, streams, and rivers. Poorly controlled stormwater can also lead to dangerous flooding conditions. Climate change has posed an added risk for harm to people and property from stormwater runoff. 

Green infrastructure uses nature to reach its goals. Some strategies include rain gardens, bio-retention basins, vegetated swales, and green roofs. It naturally manages stormwater, allowing better infiltration of above-ground stormwater into the groundwater deeper beneath our feet. This use of natural resources helps in beautifying communities and helping in the fight against climate change by creating carbon-sequestering green space. 

Have questions about the new Green Infrastructure Rules? Refer to the FAQ here.

New Jersey Green Infrastructure Stormwater Rules – 2 PDH – December 4, 2020

NJSPE’s next upcoming event can inform you even more about the new stormwater rules! This webinar takes place on Friday, December 4, 2020, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. If you’re an NJSPE member it’s just $49 to attend and for nonmembers, it’s $99. Professional engineers will earn 2 PDHs for attending!

Learn more about the event and register today!

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