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March 26, 2013
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News for and about the civil engineering community

  Top Story 
  • Report: U.S. labs lack standards for design, construction
    Bioterror laboratories and other labs that study pathogens in the U.S. are at "increased risk for accidents" because there are no national standards for their design, construction and operation, according to the Government Accountability Office in a followup to a 2009 study on the labs. "In the absence of some fundamental criteria, each laboratory can be designed, constructed, and maintained according to local requirements. This will make it difficult to be able to assess and guarantee safety," the GAO said. USA Today (3/25), France-Presse (3/25) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Infrastructure Watch 
  • Bulk of construction for $1.5B project in Ore. to be done in 2013
    A large portion of construction work on the $1.5 billion light-rail project in Oregon will be done this year, according to TriMet. The 7.3-mile Orange line will run across the Willamette River and connect Portland State University to Southeast Portland and other points. This article provides updates on the project and outlines future construction plans for the line scheduled to open by September 2015. The Oregonian (Portland) (3/23) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Dual-use option could shave 25% from cost of San Diego project
    The San Diego Chargers NFL team wants a new stadium, and the city's convention center wants to expand. If the projects were combined to create a dual-use facility, the city could save 25% on the $1.6 billion cost of building two separate structures. "And what if, to be very simple ... you put a roof and a floor on a stadium, neither of which we have now?" asked San Diego Mayor Bob Filner. "You could have concert venues with a roof and other things. With a floor, you can play hockey and soccer, basketball." San Diego Union-Tribune (3/22) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • $486M worth of road, bridge projects to begin in Ill.
    More than 200 road and bridge projects worth $486 million are slated to begin soon in Illinois. The projects will be funded mostly by the state's $31 billion public-works program. Included in the program are removal and reconstruction of bridges and rebuilding an interchange. "All of this puts people to work and lays a foundation for future economic growth," said Gov. Pat Quinn. Chicago Tribune (tiered subscription model) (3/25) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Paris will have 124 miles of new metro lines under $39B plan
    The French government has announced a $39 billion plan to construct 124 miles of "new metro lines and 72 stations in and around Paris by 2030." One part of the project involves construction of a nearly five-mile tunnel "to connect the east of Paris to its west," said David Petreco, project head for SNCF, France's national railway firm. Among those in the construction industry that could benefit from the project are builders such as Bouygues SA, Eiffage SA and Vinci SA. Bloomberg (3/26) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Trends & Technology 
  • 3D printing speeds crazy ideas into testable prototypes
    3D printing, used to make a variety of finished items, is being used in a range of industries to quickly produce and test product prototypes. Ford, for instance, used a 3D printer to produce a testable prototype for a hybrid transmission from aluminum powder. Said Charles Sprinkle, a systems engineer for loudspeaker maker Harman America, "This has more than cut in half the time it takes to go from a crazy idea in someone's head to a part that's ready for production." USA Today (3/20) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Sustainable Development 
  • Unobtrusive structures could bring more functionality to urban parks
    Getting urban dwellers to make better and more frequent use of their limited green spaces is the objective of the London-based company Invisible Works, which envisions using "biomimetic" infrastructure to unobtrusively bring things such as shows, screenings and restaurants into parks. "We’re really saying that people need to be able to use this space, and people are living in a technologically developed city. How do we integrate these two things together without harming the environment but enhancing it?" said project director Ed Shuster. FastCoExist (3/25) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Advancing the Profession 
  • For technology to serve people, our institutions need to keep up
    Technology is changing our lives for the better, at least potentially so, but there is evidence that humanity may be failing to keep up with these changes, writes Richard Florida, director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management and Global Research Professor at New York University. We may not be adjusting our institutions and expectations to allow the kind of human flourishing that advances in technology can enable. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free content) (3/25) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Is your very existence a threat to your employees?
    By simply existing, bosses psychologically threaten their workers in fundamental ways, says David Rock, director of the NeuroLeadership Institute. Leaders have higher social status and greater autonomy than their employees, and that imbalance, left unchecked, can demoralize and demotivate workers. "A smart boss will notice this and do all sorts of things to try to fix it," Rock says. The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (3/23) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  News from ASCE 
  • Look ahead to ASCE's 2013 Annual Conference at official website
    Bookmark the website for ASCE’s 143rd Annual Civil Engineering Conference and keep up to date on new information as it's updated. The site features exclusive content, news, and information on all of your Annual Conference needs. Explore today to get detailed background on the destination, hotel, and this year's conference theme, Civil Engineers -- The Foundation of the Nation. Visit and bookmark now and start planning your October trip to Charlotte! LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Civil Engineering online exclusive: Kentucky National Park Debuts New Visitor Center
    ASCE Civil Engineering magazine online  

    The National Park Service replaces a nondescript visitor center with an impressive structure inspired by classic Works Progress Administration designs. See the fusion of old and new, then explore more fascinating articles at

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It is often laziness and timidity that keep us within our duty while virtue gets all the credit."
--François de la Rochefoucauld,
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