Potable Water…From a Billboard?

To kickoff its application process last year, The University of Engineering & Technology of Peru addressed a serious problem while providing a message of hope.

With a poor economy and an annual rain fall of next to nothing, many citizens lack potable water. With an atmospheric humidity of 98%, the University created a billboard that not only advertised UTEC, but also captured the humidity producing potable water accessible via spigots at the bottom of the structure. This project helps hundreds of families each month.

We take water for granted here in the United States, and such an engineering project would be merely a stunt on our turf. But the ingenuity used here is not only inspiring  future engineers in Peru, but it is making an impact, and that is what I love about engineers – wherever they are in the world, they can make a tremendous impact to their communities.

 


Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc
Managing Partner, CivilEngineeringCentral.com
View Matt’s profile & connect with him on LinkedIn

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

July 22, 2014 at 12:29 pm 1 comment

The Top 10 Most Impressive Civil Engineering Projects of All Time

The Top 10 Most Impressive Civil Engineering Projects of All Time

With the 100th Anniversary of the completion of the Panama Canal taking place later this summer, Norwich University has put together this infographic celebrating these engineering achievements of the past.

Would you agree with this list? Are there any feats of engineering that you believe are missing or could replace any of these? Share with us your thoughts!

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June 12, 2014 at 12:57 pm 4 comments

Ground Penetrating Radar: Cultivating a Sense of Place

How do you connect to a place? We all have a relationship with the city we live in, the community we grew up in, and the spot where we have repeatedly gazed up at the starts many times before.

What lies between mankind and a place can be on an individual level, and a societal one. Before georadar technology came around, archeologists had a harder time of finding sites of cultural significance, but now, it is a gold mine of artifacts just waiting to be found under the surface.

Above the individual nostalgia, familiarity, and other positive connections we have with a place, there are societal values that can be found through artifacts and the proper use of technology at our disposal.

 

Finding a connection to culture, value, and opportunity in a place taken for granted. 

 

A prime example of value and connections cultivated on a community level lies in the artifact location in Ventura, California in 2011. Artifact location can lead to culture discovery in the last place that you would expect to find it – under a parking lot. This area used to hold Spanish mission grounds, and what do you know, it happened to be forgotten along with the fact that it is heavily laced with artifacts giving information about the Chumash Indians.

 

The Chumash was a tribe with most of their history and heritage lost in assimilation by Spanish settlers in California. Among some of the artifacts found there were deer bones, which suggested to archeologists that some of the Chumash that were imprisoned by the Spanish might have been granted hunting freedoms.

Because such little history is known, many people, including myself, see this discovery as huge gain for our collective sense of place, community value, and insight into a culture that could have been lost forever.

 

In order to find this important archeological site, ground penetrating radar (GPR) was used. This is a non-destructive way to see what lies below the surface using wide spectrum energy pulses and electromagnetic induction meters. Basically the technology sends out pulses and then reads the way that the different materials reflect the energy.

 

The knowledge of the history, geography, geology and legends all intertwine into our sense of place.

 

The things we take care not to destroy are a prime example of how important the people’s opinion is. The most recent damage was reported by the Shanghaiist in June of 2013 as construction workers bulldozed tombs and artifacts dating back to the Shang Dynasty in the name of putting up a railway. This shows what was and wasn’t valuable to the unity of a culture, one that still hasn’t recovered from the deep cut of corporate greed.

The “blunder” as it is called was one that seemed intentional at the time, removing archeological tools and acceptance of production costs, and that was later brushed off as an accident. As much as is gained for the history books can be wiped clean with much less effort and contributing far more to a negative sense of place and a disconnect from one’s government and community.

After the railway was constructed, how does that contribute to the sense of place?

A few generations later the pain may be forgotten, the memory gone as those who witnessed the crime pass away, but the good stuff is just as irreplaceable as memories. Let your connection to your place be a good one. Appreciate the value of sustainable building and hope of for the patient use of technology to gain heritage and further cultivate a sense of place.

 

Author:  Victor Archambault Victor Archambault is a man of science, geeks out over Civil Engineering, and loves the New Jersey Devils. He finally joined the twitterverse, so please follow him so that he has more than two friends

Author: Victor Archambault
Victor Archambault is a man of science, geeks out over Civil Engineering, and loves the New Jersey Devils. He finally joined the twitterverse, so please follow him so that he has more than two friends

 

 

May 14, 2014 at 7:59 am Leave a comment

Winner of 5th Annual Best Civil Engineering Firm Logo Contest

We are pleased to announce the WINNER of the 5th annual “Best Civil Engineering Firm Logo” contest!  Every year we receive dozens of entries from firms big and small all across the country.  Each firm has their own meaningful story behind the development or evolution of their logo and they are always a pleasure for us to evaluate.   Beyond the visual elements of the logo, we also evaluate how well each logo is utilized in the overall branding of the company and how well it is incorporated  into social media.    We would like to thank ALL of those who entered this year’s contest, and at the end of the day, as long as your logo is something that you can stand proud beside that is really all that matters!

So, without further ado, we would like to extend an enormous round of applause to this year’s winner:

 

Stantec Logo


“Stantec is thrilled to have our logo recognized by CivilEngineeringCentral.com. We’re proud of our new logo and feel that it embodies who we are. As a lens, it evokes the creative way we see the world and the community-minded approach we bring to every project. The warm colors represent the warmth of our client relationships, while the S-shape builds on the heritage of our past logo in a fresh, new way, reinforcing our creative approach and our dedication to community and relationships.”

-Crystal Kerr, Director, Marketing & Communications, Stantec

logo contest logo - CEC

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

April 10, 2014 at 11:22 am Leave a comment

The “We’ve Always Done It This Way” Mentality

As a search consultant I have the opportunity to speak with dozens of civil engineering professionals across the country on a daily basis.   I speak with key executives in the C-Suite, Project Engineers, and to every level of civil engineering professional in between.   After learning about their skill set and their contribution to their organization and to our nation’s infrastructure I always ask the following question:

“What would be a motivating factor that would prompt you to explore a new opportunity?”

Most of the time I get responses that include phrases like:

“More opportunity”

“Glass ceiling”

“Larger, more challenging projects”

“More responsibility”

“Smaller company”  / “Larger company”

But every so often I will connect with a candidate who is working for a firm where the existing leadership has the ol’ “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it mentality.”

 

we've always done it this way

 

Over the past few months I have run into a number of firms who just cannot get out of their own way as a result of their “we’ve always done it this way” point of view.

I recently heard of a firm that was poised for growth and had determined that they had to make some changes by creating a couple of new positions that would really help take them to the next level.  One of these positions was Chief Operating Officer.  The Board of Directors developed a detailed job description that outlined a  plan moving forward and the positive impact that the addition of a COO would make.  At the end of the day they decided to put the role on the back-burner for no other reason than the company ownership, all of whom have been with the company for 35+ years,  felt that what they were doing has worked for the past twenty five years and there was no sense changing things up.  The younger generation of engineers and future leaders of this organization are unsettled by all of  this and will likely be future leaders somewhere else.

Another firm that has a strong tradition of excellence within the Mid-Atlantic region is unwilling to budge on their vacation policy.  Not one single person they say, from the CEO on down, receives more than three weeks of vacation.  It is non-negotiable.  I am all about hard work, trust me, I am typing this on a Saturday.  But to remain competitive in the marketplace you need to be able to do better than three weeks vacation, especially for senior level professionals who have certainly earned four weeks anyway.   This is another example of an existing ownership with an “old school” mentality that is not able to see the forest through the trees, in my opinion.

These are just a few examples; there are plenty of companies out there who lag behind in technology, training, and who preach a culture and a philosophy of innovation but whose actions show otherwise.

On the other hand, I have had some first hand experience working with clients who understand the importance of change,  organizational evolution, and constant re-evaluation.

I recently worked with a client who saw an enormous amount of opportunity in the marketplace, but just could not break free from their 30 employee shell.  The CEO of the company reached out to me and shared with me his vision to become an ENR Top 500 firm, and he was ready to invest in the right people to make that happen.  He was acting as CEO, COO, Director of Business Development and Director of Engineering, and as you can imagine,  could barely see one step ahead of himself.  We successfully conducted a search for him and he now has in place a Director of Engineering and an Executive Vice President who has actively taken on the operations element of the firm and is contributing to business development and strategy.  As a result of investing in these two key hires they are looking to double in size in the next 18 months.

Another client  has been in business for nearly 40 years and is in its second generation of ownership, currently working towards the third generation.  The company ownership is split between five or six shareholders, but they have limited the length of time that shareholders can be shareholders.  This allows for the semi-regular turnover of ownership which leads to the replenishment of fresh and innovative ideas.

Another firm not only encourages its employees to think “outside-the-box,” but they actually allow for those ideas to be implemented.  As traditional and conservative as civil engineers traditionally are, the willingness to try something new may seem a little risky, but their clients REALLY enjoy their willingness to present innovative approaches and concepts to many age old problems.   This type of mentality and philosophy is attractive to many people and as a result helps them bring top talent in the door, and it excites the clients and keeps them coming back for more.

 

Change can often be scary, but it is necessary.  History shows that those firms who are satisfied with the status quo, and who drown themselves in   “we’ve always done it this way”  mentality will eventually be left in the dust.

May you not be left in the dust!

 


Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc
Managing Partner, CivilEngineeringCentral.com
View Matt’s profile & connect with him on LinkedIn

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

April 8, 2014 at 11:59 am 4 comments

Legalized Marijuana Use Grounds For Termination Within A/E Firms?

The legalization of marijuana use in Colorado and Washington is causing an uprising within the A/E marketplace.  It has been reported that firms are trying to determine policies that take in consideration federal and state laws while being mindful of employee and client safety. Speaking with operations and human resources executives on the legalized use of marijuana by employees, I am receiving one unified comment:

Marijuana use will not be tolerated-whether legal in the state the employee works or not.

Civil engineering  and architect employers believe that any potential impaired judgement could lead to fatal design issues or poor decision making. I asked several executives how recreational use of the drug  during personal hours is any different than staff consuming alcohol on their own time. Additionally, I asked “If an employee goes on vacation to Colorado or Washington, then smokes marijuana, returns and tests positive- what will happen?” I received a variety of responses to both these questions, but no clear answer. “Too many shades of gray. Employees need to take responsibility. If they are smoking in a legalized state on vacation, chances are they are smoking at their homes too.”  Emotions are running deep on this topic.

The Department of Defense has reported that contractors who test positive for any drug use may lose their security clearance. Similarly, other federal agencies require contractors/engineering firms to drug test staff working on their projects. This would clearly direct firms providing services to those agencies. Liability insurances for many firms are expected to rise.

NORML (www.NORML.org) shares  “marijuana is the third most popular recreational drug in America (behind only alcohol and tobacco), and has been used by nearly 100 million Americans. According to government surveys, some 25 million Americans have smoked marijuana in the past year, and more than 14 million do so regularly despite harsh laws against its use. Our public policies should reflect this reality, not deny it.”

Many states and many more A/E firms will be dealing with this issue in months ahead. What do you think? Carol new profile

Carol Metzner President, The MetznerGroup Managing Partner, CivilEngineeringCentral.com View Carol’s profile & connect with her on LinkedIn civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

March 19, 2014 at 9:48 am 2 comments

Obama To Propose $302 Billion Highway Repair Program

aepcentral:

I was thinking along the lines of major pothole repair in northern Chester County here in PA after all this snow and frigid temperatures…but this would be a great shot in the arm to the economy!  ~Matt

Originally posted on Swampland:

President Obama will propose a four-year, $302 billion transportation program on Wednesday to repair and rebuild roads, bridges and transit systems, the White House said.

The program would include funding from $150 billion in revenue raised through “pro-growth business tax reform”, said the White House. The initial announcement said this would include “closing unfair tax loopholes, lowering tax rates, and making the system more fair,” though it included few specific details.

Infrastructure in the United States has deteriorated in recent years, and the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the country’s roads, ports, bridges and other infrastructure an overall grade of D+ last year in its annual rating program. The Associated Press found last year that 65,605 bridges in the federal National Bridge Inventory were classified as “structurally deficient.”

The Obama administration called for a $77 billion transportation program last year as part of its 2013 budget proposal and has proposed other…

View original 11 more words

February 26, 2014 at 3:23 pm Leave a comment

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