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March 11, 2013
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News for and about the civil engineering community

  Top Story 
  • Deck is placed on San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge
    California's San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge project reached a major milestone when crews spent nine hours on Saturday placing 1,220 cubic yards of concrete for the final deck section of the eastern span of the bridge. The new bridge, "designed to withstand the strongest possible ground motion involved with a seismic event within a 1,500-year period," is slated to open to traffic in September. KTVU-TV (Oakland, Calif.) (3/9), KPIX-TV (San Francisco) (3/9) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Infrastructure Watch 
  • Multibillion-dollar energy projects at risk from lack of skilled workers
    A scarcity of engineers and construction laborers is jeopardizing the progress of U.S. oil and natural gas projects worth $100 billion, according to this article. This could lead to a 100% increase in labor costs by 2020 as shale projects continue to multiply, according to NES Global and Piper Morgan Associates. "The cost of labor is being bid up, and that's a problem for our competitiveness," said Peter Robertson, Deloitte LLP's independent senior adviser. Bloomberg (3/7) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • "TRex" to test soil around quake-hit New Zealand city
    "TRex," the world's largest seismic vibration truck at approximately 32 tons, will start testing soil in Christchurch, New Zealand, a city devastated by an earthquake in 2011. Using large hydraulics, the truck will "shake the ground" and analyze soil properties at up to an 850-foot depth. By "[u]sing state of the art information on soil properties ... we can begin to link cause and effect and better understand where such effects will occur elsewhere during future earthquakes worldwide," said University of Canterbury earthquake engineer Dr. Brendon Bradley. The New Zealand Herald (3/11) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Trends & Technology 
  • Engineering professor develops "self-healing asphalt"
    Erik Schlangen, an engineering professor at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, has developed a new kind of porous asphalt made with steel-wool fibers, which, when cracked, can be "healed" when heated with induction. The new asphalt has a lifespan twice that of regular porous asphalt and becomes "stronger after being heated." Mashable (3/9) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

  • Prefab construction gains popularity for building projects in NYC
    Modular construction is becoming more popular among architecture, engineering and construction firms doing projects in New York City. Among the projects that helped boost its appeal is Forest City Ratner's Altantic Yards. Prefabrication used to be looked down on, "but there has been a sea change, and now there is much less of a distinction over whether a building has been assembled off-site or on-site," said David Burney, commissioner of the New York City Department of Design and Construction. The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (3/8) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Sustainable Development 
  • Coiled skyscraper is wrapped in vertical gardens
    The Agora Garden, a 90-degree twisted skyscraper wrapped in vertical gardens designed by Vincent Callebaut Architectures, is being built in Taipei, Taiwan. The structure, "inspired by two encircling hands clasped together and the helical structure of DNA," will feature nanotechnologies, wide planted balconies and a rainwater capture system. It will also have a solar roof to produce energy, and low E glass to reduce excess solar gain and avert thermal loss. Inhabitat (3/10), World Architecture News (3/7) 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 
  • Balsa wood tower challenge: Hands-on way to learn engineering
    Eighth-graders at Parkview Middle School in Ashwaubenon, Wis., participated in a balsa wood tower challenge as a "hands-on way for students to learn science and engineering," the teachers said. The competition, co-sponsored by architectural and engineering firm Ayers Associates, challenges students to build a 2-ounce tower out of balsa wood that could support their body weight. "It's a great opportunity for students to have a real-life application and actually work in partnership with engineers," said Julie Branner, a science teacher. Green Bay Press-Gazette (Wis.) (3/8)
  • Mass. proposal would bring STEM academies to community colleges
    Massachusetts House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo has proposed a plan that he says would help students who enter community colleges needing math remediation. The STEM Starter Academy would provide intensive math instruction for such students using an immersion model in which students could spend up to three hours a day, five days a week in math class. Boston Herald (3/8) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  News from ASCE 
  • Expand your skills with ASCE’s Face-to-Face Seminars -- save on groups of 3 or more
    ASCE holds hundreds of Face-to-Face Seminars each year in cities across the nation. In-depth and delivered by leading experts, ASCE seminars are a proven method of expanding your knowledge and increasing your skills. Because each seminar is comprised of a small group of engineers, you’ll receive comprehensive training and personalized attention from instructors. Save 10 percent when registering three or more engineers for the same seminar. Learn more now. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Civil Engineering online exclusive: Nanotech Research Building Strictly Controls Vibrations
    ASCE Civil Engineering magazine online  

    Engineers are using physical separation and massive concrete structural elements to strictly control the vibrations in a new institute dedicated to the production of a promising nanomaterial. See how it was designed, then explore more fascinating articles at

    LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

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