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STEM losing steam among teens
It really shouldn't come as a shock that teens are losing interest in STEM, says NewsLog Editor John Bachner (see his editorial below): Engineers have been pushing the STEM concept for years with continually less effective results. (What's the definition of insanity?) Now, the 2013 Teens & Careers Survey report — published by Junior Achievement USA and the ING Foundation — reinforces the point: The good news: 46% of surveyed teens showed interest in pursuing either a STEM or medical-related career. The bad news: That’s a 15% decrease from last year's data… and this at a time when the United States Department of Labor predicts employment opportunities in STEM careers will increase by 17% through 2018.
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EDITORIAL: The definition of insanity
By John Bachner
Engineers are the most important people on Earth, but — in explaining engineering to kids — they all too often focus on the raptures of math and science, not the fact that engineers make civilization possible. Those who do love math and science seem to most appreciate their comforting predictability. Two and two always come out four. Compare that to the humanities, where two and two can do just about anything people want. As such, for many, math and science — and engineering, too — comprise a societally approved refuge.
Faulty gas-pipeline inspections net PG&E $8.1-million fine
Contra Costa Times via Engineering News-Record
Federal rules require contractors to generate three X-rays of each weld before a natural-gas pipeline may be returned to service. And that’s exactly what PG&E assumed one of its contractors was doing in the wake of the 2010 San Bruno gas explosion that killed eight people, partly because of PG&E's faulty records and flawed pipeline inspections. But the contractor was generating two X-rays, not three, on some 255 welds. Labeling the error "lapses in management" and "shoddy work," state regulators have slapped the utility with an $8.1-million fine. The X-ray work was conducted in 2011, 2012, and 2013. PG&E discovered the flawed testing in March 2013 and corrected the tests within five months.
Nanofracking: The next big thing?
Dallas Business Journal
Nanotechnology could be the next revolution in hydraulic fracking, allowing the recovery of more oil and gas from shale wells and older producing wells. The concept is being developed by FTS International, which has corporate offices in Fort Worth and Cisco, TX. The tiny particles are "smart," joining in a wedge formation that lifts hydrocarbons like oil or gas so it can be recovered. The particles also help recover frack fluids while removing sludge and cleaning out saltwater disposal wells, where producers inject frack fluids.
Bring home the best of GBA conferences with content on-demand — online and on DVD.
Fall Conference sessions on demand now available
Sessions from the 2013 GBA Fall Conference are now available on demand. Titles available are:
Get real PDHs (depending on where you're licensed) by virtually attending these on-demand sessions! There's no limit to the number of persons who can attend per computer connection. Learn and earn. Free for firms with at least one paid registration to the conference — either in-person or the live webcast. Other members pay the discounted rate of just $395 for all the sessions or less for individual sessions.
- Think Globally, Act Locally: Enterprise Risk Management; Communicating Project Risk: Proving Your Value by Consulting in Practice
- Business Basics, Reinvented for the Fast Future
- Getting to the C Level; Only Losers Sue White Knights
- Climate Change: Assess, Design, Act
- Risk in the Project Context
- Covering Your Assets: The ROI of Internal Engagement
- The Continuously Improving Safety Program
Lunch & Learn: Workplace Harassment
What do the folks in your firm need to know about workplace harassment and what should and should not be done about it? Chances are the key points you need to make have been made for you by the GBA Education Committee in its "Workplace Harassment" Lunch & Learn.
A whole new need for geoprofessionals: Fracking for geothermal energy
MIT Technology Review
The use of hydraulic fracturing has unlocked vast new reserves of natural gas. Now Alta Rock, a Seattle-based start-up, is developing technology that might do the same for geothermal resources, turning a marginal power source into a major source of carbon-free electricity and heat in the United States. Earlier this year near the Newberry Volcano in Oregon, Alta Rock demonstrated a key part of its technology to unlock heat trapped deep underground. Unlike solar and wind power, that heat would be available around the clock and in all sorts of weather.
Picturing the underground
Imagine your drilling crew is preparing to sample soil in an easement that already contains multiple utilities. Your field representative holds a tablet computer whose screen displays a real-time, live view of the work site along with a clear "picture" of what's beneath the ground — images of color-coded pipes and cables, ducts, manholes — and their exact locations in relation to the real-time picture of the surface. Technologies that do exactly that have already been used.
Find a solution in the ASFE/GBA resource catalog
45 years of resources under one cover to help you and your clients confront risk and optimize performance.
FROM THE BENCH: No statutory immunity for engineer
An Ohio immunity statute provides that "a political subdivision is not liable in damages in a civil action … allegedly caused by any act or omission of the political subdivision or an employee of the political subdivision in connection with a governmental or propriety function." That's the statute that Arcadis U.S. relied on to claim it was acting as an agent or employee of the City of Freemont, Ohio when making decisions affecting a constructor that was building a water reservoir for the city. The constructor asserted that the project was to be a "balanced site" and there would be sufficient clay on site to build the reservoir with minimal waste materials to be removed from the site. It further alleged that the engineer concealed the necessity for either using imported clay, a liner, or mixing existing soils with a soil sealer. The constructor also alleged that, when it submitted a change-order request, the engineer consulted with the city on its draft responses and failed to act as an independent neutral party to resolve the issues as required by contract. Trucco Construction v. Arcadis U.S., 2013 WL 494353 (Ohio 2013).
Help GBA grow
GBA needs your help! You know the value of being a member. Here is your chance to share the value and help GBA grow its membership ranks. Do you know a firm we should be talking to about membership? If so, please contact Executive Vice President John Bachner at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you can help us with a personal introduction, that is even better, but if not, we'd still love to get your recommendations.
U.S. Chamber: Raise the gas tax and build infrastructure
Congress last raised the federal gas tax (to 18.4 cents a gallon) on October 1, 1993. It generates about $30 billion a year. Former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a Republican, said Congress should now raise the federal gas tax by 10 cents a gallon, noting that, to make even a "scratch" in the nation's infrastructure needs, the U.S. needs to raise close to $500 or $600 billion dollars.
Webinar: Hunt It, Kill It, Cook It, Eat It: Adding Value to Environmental Services
In this one-hour, on-demand webinar, James M. Harless, PhD, CHMM (Soil and Materials Engineers, Inc.) tells how he developed a business model for delivering environmental services on brownfield projects, based on securing external funding to pay for required response actions, including consultant services, and how — in the process — he was able to avoid the forces of commoditization and achieve strong earnings for his firm (while penetrating local units of government, a new market segment) and creating new "clients for life." This on-demand webinar may qualify for one Professional Development Hour (PDH).
Fall Conference photos now online
Photos from the 2013 Fall Conference in Boston, MA, October 10-12, 2013, are now available online. Check out what your GBA colleagues were up to in Boston and see pictures from the celebration to honor John Bachner's 40 years with the organization. Browse and download low-resolution copies or order prints and high-resolution copies today.
THE HR DEPARTMENT: Saying thanks the right way
Frank McKenna was a phenomenal leader. Besides having a clear action-oriented vision for the Province of New Brunswick and a brutally tough work ethic — where he was at his desk at 7 am every morning having walked over a mile from his home along the St. John River and working into the early evening — McKenna made a consistent point of regularly recognizing lower-level civil servants. He would bypass the hierarchical levels and walk into a policy officer's cubicle and personally thank him or her for doing a piece of work and for doing it well.
Companies using RICO to pursue spurious claims
A federal judge in Wheeling, WV has stiffened the punishment of two prominent Pittsburgh personal-injury lawyers and a discredited radiologist who, a jury found last December, had promulgated fraudulent asbestos lawsuits against CSX Transportation, a freight-railroad company that employs more than 31,000 Americans.
Hundreds likely to die when overdue quake hits LA; officials do nothing
Los Angeles Times
More than 1,000 old concrete buildings in Los Angeles and hundreds more throughout the county may be at risk of collapsing in a major earthquake, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis. By the most conservative estimate, as many as 50 of these buildings in the city alone would be destroyed, exposing thousands to injury or death. Despite their sturdy appearance, many older concrete buildings are vulnerable to the sideways movement of a major earthquake because they don't have enough steel-reinforcing bars to hold columns in place.
For a complete list of upcoming events, click here.
Did you see this oldie but goodie?
The Evolution of Geotechnical Engineering: A Personal Perspective: This DVD comprises a high-quality, edited video of the presentation made by Elio D'Appolonia, Ph.D., P.E. during ASFE's national meeting in Monterey, California, on October 11, 2003. A 50-year veteran of the engineering profession, Dr. D'Appolonia discusses four key industry milestones and how they affected and contributed to the evolution of the profession.
Wal-Mart, PSU collaborate on green-roof research
Under a two-year research partnership between Portland State University and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., PSU's Green Building Research Laboratory will install dozens of sensors and a weather station on Walmart's new North Portland (Hayden Meadows, OR) store. The installation will comprise 40,000 square feet of vegetative roof installed in three separate sections, each designed to test specific aspects of green-roof design; e.g., materials and soil depth. The remaining 52,000 square feet of white-membrane rooftop will also be monitored, to develop side-by-side comparisons of factors like surface temperature, water flow, and building operations. PSU will compare data collected from the Hayden Meadows roof to data collected on a Walmart green roof in Chicago.
Freight-rail boom a boon for geoprofessionals
Construction firms working in the freight-rail sector are benefitting from increased investment by U.S. railroad companies over the past decade. In fact, freight-infrastructure work is barreling ahead, thanks to a huge influx of capacity-upgrade projects in the past 18 months to support oil and gas exploration, along with intermodal traffic increases, say industry experts. How big is the boom? According to the Association of American Railroads (AAR), U.S. Class I railroads originated 9,500 carloads of crude oil in 2008. By 2012, that number jumped to nearly 234,000 carloads. In the first quarter of 2013, railroads transported 97,135 rail carloads of crude oil, a 166% increase from the same period in 2012.
2013-2014 BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Kurt R. Fraese, L.G.
(GeoEngineers, Inc., Seattle, WA)
Steven D. Thorne, P.E., D.GE
(Terracon, Somerset, NJ)
Gordon M. Matheson, Ph.D., P.E., P.G.
(Schnabel Engineering, Inc., Glen Allen, VA)
Joel G. Carson
(Kleinfelder, Omaha, NE)
Stewart G. Osgood, P.E.
(DOWL HKM, Anchorage, AK)
Laura R. Reinbold, P.E.
(TTL, Inc., Nashville, TN)
Woodward L. Vogt, P.E., D.GE
(Paradigm Consultants, Inc., Houston, TX)
7701 Las Colinas Ridge, Ste. 800, Irving, TX 75063