An Engineers’ Role in Hurricane Disaster Prevention and Relief

Hurricane Ida, a powerful category 4 storm, left all of New Orleans and southeast Louisiana in the dark when it completely destroyed the electric grid. The true scope of the destruction is just beginning to come to light as six people have lost their lives and more than one million are left without power. Officials are warning some residents that it could be 21 days before power is restored. They also say it could be five days until the water and sewer system is up and running again. Unfortunately, this is a pain that many New Orleans residents know all too well. Hurricane Ida arrived exactly 16 years to the day after Hurricane Katrina. One fortunate result of Hurricane Katrina was the construction of New Orleans’s storm-risk-reduction system.

New Orleans’s storm-risk-reduction system is a 14.5 billion dollar system constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other local, state, and federal agencies. It consists of flood-walls, levees, and a pump system to siphon out excess water. So far the system has worked successfully through Hurricane Ida’s landfall. The construction and execution of New Orleans’s storm-risk-reduction system is only one example of the important role engineering plays in hurricane destruction prevention and relief. 

When it comes to destruction prevention from natural disasters such as hurricanes, Civil Engineers are our first line of defense. When designing infrastructure they must take into consideration the ability to withstand extreme winds, flooding, and rain-induced landslides. Buildings within hurricane prone areas must be built differently than those more inland. For example when heavy wind pushes against the roof of a building, negative pressures against it can cause the roof to become detached. Once a roof is detached from the building, the whole structure becomes weak and has the potential to collapse. To avoid building failure, the Civil Engineer must know that anchoring the roof to the foundation of the building is key to defending the building against destructive high winds. 

In the wake of a deadly disaster Civil Engineers also provide relief by disaster mitigation. Disaster mitigation minimizes the suffering of individuals affected after a natural disaster. This is done by building shelters, streamlining logistical strategies for reducing food and water shortages, and facilitating evacuation routes. In addition engineers have assisted with the rescue of individuals by the use of drones. Drones can be used to capture images and locations of people who need to be rescued. This is an easier, safer, and more efficient rescue effort than having a team physically search for stranded people via boat. 

The importance of engineers both before and after a natural disaster, such as a hurricane, can not be overlooked. Engineers assist in the strategies to prevent destruction and in the relief efforts exerted after such destruction takes place. 

 

1 Campo-Flores, A., & Wolfe, R. (2021, August 30). Hurricane Ida leaves more than 1 million without power in Louisiana. The Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com/articles/hurricane-ida-leaves-more-than-1-million-without-power-in-louisiana-11630330467.
2 SCHOOL OF PE. (1970, October 17). HOW ENGINEERING PLAYS A BIG ROLE IN HURRICANE RECOVERY. SCHOOL OF PE. https://www.schoolofpe.com/blog/2018/10/how-engineering-plays-big-role-in-hurricane-recovery.html.
3 Gullion, S. (2020, May 4). How civil engineers help during disaster recovery. Keck & Wood Civil Engineers, Duluth, Fayetteville GA, Rock Hill, North Charleston SC. https://keckwood.com/news-updates/how-civil-engineers-help-during-disaster-recovery/.

Why is Diversity in Engineering Important?

Has a lack of diversity in engineering limited the profession’s success thus far? Engineering and STEM fields, in general, tend to be primarily occupied by white males. As a professional engineering society, we recognize that diversity within our industry is so important. Professional engineers across the country are working to raise awareness, start a conversation, and take meaningful steps to make a difference within the engineering profession. While we can’t change our past, we can take control of the future.

The call for diversity in engineering has become more urgent. Last June, NSPE President David Martini, P.E., F.NSPE, delivered a statement on the growing protests across the country and in his own state of Minnesota. He reminded all members that basic human decency and the NSPE Code of Ethics demand that “Engineers shall treat all persons with dignity, respect, fairness and without discrimination.”

He continued: “As professional engineers and leaders in our communities, we are committed to applying our talents and knowledge to make the world a better place for all. The events we are witnessing make us all painfully aware of the work that remains to be done to address the root causes of this societal ill and heal its wounds, and underline the imperative, as a profession, of putting our own house in order.”

It’s time to start a conversation and recognize why diversity equals success for the future of engineering!

Diversity is the key to the future of engineering

Diversity means introducing and encouraging the profession of engineering to all races, genders, nationalities, and sexualities. Women and racial minorities make up a very small number in the grand scheme of the engineering industry. Currently about 13 % of Engineers are female and on average they earn 10 % less than male engineers. A problem engineering has had in the past is that from K-12 education, we’re not encouraging and presenting the opportunity of joining the STEM fields to all. The future of engineering depends on diversity for many reasons:

Innovation and talent

A lack of diversity is directly related to a deficit of talent and loss of potential innovation. The capacity for success in the field of engineering is not at all curtailed by race or gender. In the past by not encouraging diversity, the engineering industry is likely missing out on talented individuals!

Profit

Greater diversity brings a large range of perspectives to the table. With more of these brains working together, you can imagine that innovation, growth, and financial success would be increased. The Peterson Institute for International Economics’ 2016  survey , of 21,980 firms from 91 countries, found that having women at the C-Suite level significantly increases net margins.

Shifting demographics

According to the US Census, more and more infants being born today fall into the “non-white” category. The future society is going to be more diverse and the workforce will likely not be dominated by all white males. The engineering industry needs to make efforts to diversify now to move with the shifting demographics.

Ethics

Every professional engineer must complete an ethics course in order to keep your professional engineering license in good standing. Additionally, the code of ethics for engineering says that engineers shall treat all persons with dignity, respect, fairness, and without discrimination. 

Diversity in engineering is so important to the overall success in the industry, not just from a financial standpoint but also because if we’re not taking diversity into consideration, we’re missing out on new perspectives and ideas that could push this industry forward!

Be a part of the conversation by joining a professional engineering society today! Learn more about joining NJSPE.

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. https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/interactive/2021/building-experts-miami-condo-collapse/?tid=usw_passupdatepg. 
  2.  What is Punching Shear? Punching Shear in Slabs and Foundations. The Constructor. (2017, September 28). https://theconstructor.org/structural-engg/punching-shear-slabs-foundations/17716/.
  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, www.mathcounts.org/our-story.
2.NSPE Update: May 2021, www.magnetmail.net/Actions/email_web_version.cfm?publish=newsletter&user_id=NSPE&message_id=20281500. 

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: <https://www.sehinc.com/news/8-trends-architecture-and-engineering-2021> [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. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/02/210210091126.htm>.

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

1920
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.

 

1930
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.

 

1940
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.

 

1950
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.

 

1960
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.

 

1970
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.

 

1980
MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scanner introduced
The first commercial MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scanner arrives on the medical market. 

 

1990
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.

 

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.

 

2010
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: https://www.state.nj.us/transportation/business/research/requestsforproposal.shtm

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.

RESEARCH CAMPAIGN OF THE WEEK: MULTIMODAL

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

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