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March 18, 2013
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News for and about the civil engineering community

  Top Story 
  • Confusion, violation of SOP led to cracks in pontoons
    Two state engineers in Washington who didn't follow standard operating procedures are being blamed for the cracks in the concrete pontoons to be used for the State Route 520 floating bridge. In addition, an internal analysis of the cracking issue found that "a poorly implemented project-delivery process that combined design-build and conventional design-bid-build created confusion that opened the door to faulty design work." Engineering News-Record (3/14), KOMO-TV/KOMO-AM (Seattle) (3/12) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Infrastructure Watch 
  • Report: Va.'s Silver Line tunnel settles an inch
    A portion of a new rail tunnel in Tysons Corner, Va., has settled about an inch, but recent tests show there is still the necessary clearance for a Metro train to pass, according to an inspection report. The tunnel is part of the first phase of the $5.6 billion Silver Line rail line project. Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority engineers and the Metro will review the findings in coming weeks. "At this point in time, right now, it looks all right," said Pat Nowakowski, chief construction manager on the Silver Line for MWAA. "It was built in accordance with the requirements." The Washington Post (3/14) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • House may vote on Keystone XL bill before Memorial Day
    House Republican leaders are seeking to vote by the end of May on a bill that would green-light TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline. "It is about energy independence for North America," said Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich. "I know the president is in his home state of Illinois today and he is going to talk about energy issues, and I think this is one of the key parts of any energy package or plan or vision," said Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., the bill's primary sponsor. The Hill/E2 Wire blog (3/15) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Obama's pick for Interior chief offers insight about fracking
    Natural gas has an important role in the country's energy economy, but the public needs to have full confidence that hydraulic fracturing is carried out safely, said Sally Jewell, President Barack Obama's nominee to lead the Department of the Interior. Jewell said she would urge the Bureau of Land Management to concentrate on "reasonable requirements" for the drilling technique. "I would encourage knowledge-sharing between the BLM and states to assure that the best available science is used to support safe and responsible resource development," Jewell said. Platts (3/15) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Trends & Technology 
  • The roads of the future?
    This article presents two ideas for the roads of the future that use solar power and magnetic induction to energize transportation in the coming decades. The Solar Roadway was developed with the idea that a layer of concrete or asphalt used on regular roads could be replaced with "solar cells beneath a layer of glass." Installed on all U.S. roads and operating at just 15% efficiency, this could meet "more than four times our current electricity needs." Magnetic induction would be used in a system that keeps electric buses charged wirelessly through power-transfer systems in the road. FastCoExist (3/12) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Sustainable Development 
  • Big Wood: A vision for more sustainable skyscrapers
    Architect Michael Charters has developed "Big Wood," a model for a large-scale timber skyscraper that could be built along the Chicago River in the city's South Loop. The mixed-use complex, with "acres of green roofs" would "serve as a sustainable alternative to standard building materials," writes Mark Boyer. "Similar to the rapid innovation in building technology that occurred in the early 1900s, 'Big Wood' is positioned to be a catalyst for a new renaissance in high-rise construction, changing forever the shape of our cities," Charters said. Inhabitat (3/16), (3/14) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Hot Topics 

Top five news stories selected by ASCE SmartBrief readers in the past week.

  • Results based on number of times each story was clicked by readers.
  Advancing the Profession 
  • Experiential learning making a difference at engineering schools
    Universities are revamping engineering programs, focusing on real-world applications and taking students out of a heavily math-driven environment for a more engaging educational experience. The effort appears to be paying off, with the number of master's degrees in the field rising 8% between 2010 and 2011. Experiential learning means that students "are more hands-on, active and learning that there may be more than one way to solve a problem," observed Gary May, dean of the Georgia Tech College of Engineering. U.S. News & World Report (3/14) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Getting the greatest effort from your employees
    Many employees will acknowledge that they aren't fully dedicated to their jobs, Julie Winkle Giulioni writes. Fixing that requires a different approach to increasing productivity, including prioritizing the tasks of human resources and the need for persistent training. "Supply the equipment, tools, and resources to support excellence," she writes. SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Leadership (3/14) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  News from ASCE 
  • Free eLearning Webinar: Keeping women from leaving engineering
    Did you know that more than 20% of engineering school graduates are women, yet a mere 11% of practicing engineers are? During this Women's History Month, take part in a timely, free event for ASCE members that explores why women engineers don't stay in the profession, and how you can help. In the free eLearning webinar, Why Women Leave Engineering -- And What You Can Do About It, you'll hear from the researchers of a groundbreaking study about their findings and insights, and recommended steps to take to address the challenge. The free webinar for ASCE members will be held Thursday, March 28, from 3-4 p.m. ET. Sign up to attend. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

  • Civil Engineering online exclusive: Washington, D.C., Plans Ambitions "Green" Path
    ASCE Civil Engineering magazine online  

    The District of Columbia plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, implement sustainable storm-water capture and treatment systems, and ensure that its buildings meet stringent environmental standards in the years to come. See what the nation’s capital plans, then explore more fascinating articles at

    LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

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