NIST will investigate Champlain Towers South collapse

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, a federal research laboratory specializing in engineering and other technical areas, announced on June 30 that it would conduct a full technical investigation into the causes of the June 24 partial collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium in Surfside, Florida.

The investigation could take years to complete and will seek to understand the technical cause of the building’s failure so the agency can, if it is deemed necessary, make recommendations for specific standard, code, and practice improvement in building design.

The Champlain Towers South condominium partially collapsed between

A historic library gets a makeover inside and out

Over the last 12 years, the District of Columbia Public Library has undertaken the renovation and modernization of 22 libraries, including the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, arguably the most historically significant in the District’s collection. The existing building, designed by celebrated modernist architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, was a forgotten gem lost under years of deferred maintenance. After a $211 million makeover, the library reopened to the public in September 2020. At more than 400,000 sq ft, the revitalized building comprises vibrant, open multiuse spaces and a renovated rooftop that offers breathtaking city views. The design

Michigan covered bridge replaced with nearly identical replica

Nearly a decade ago, a 144-year-old covered bridge in Michigan was destroyed by arson. Its recently completed replacement was designed to look as identical as possible to the original structure while meeting more stringent loading demands associated with today’s heavier vehicles. 

Nestled at the base of a wooded hill in Keene Township, Ionia County, Michigan, Whites Bridge stood for 144 years until it was destroyed by arson in 2013. Built in 1869 at a cost of $1,700, the span carried Whites Bridge Road across the Flat River. In August 2015, the Whites Bridge Historical Society and the Ionia County

Artificial lake fulfills many roles in a new Houston park

The Eastern Glades project in Houston has added a new artificial lake and other amenities to the city’s Memorial Park. As a highlight of the park’s 10-year master plan, the multifunction Hines Lake provides the local community with stormwater treatment, flood control protection, aquatic wildlife habitats, recreational facilities, and other benefits. 

A devastating drought across the American Southwest in 2011 served as a catalyst for major improvements to Memorial Park, Houston’s largest urban green space. That drought killed off as much as 90% of the tree canopy in certain areas of the park, according to the website of the

Why people skills belong in your tool bag

I wish I’d known how important people skills would be for success while practicing engineering and technical endeavors.

Bridges don’t build themselves. Treatment plants don’t operate themselves. Multidisciplined design efforts don’t spontaneously self-organize and coalesce. It’s people, of course, who are the common element in transforming ideas into reality. Whether performing or supervising work, incorporating the work of others into your projects, anticipating and addressing others’ expectations, or revising work plans for unexpected issues, any workplace can be a symphony of people interacting with one another — and one day you may find yourself as the conductor.


Best places for civil engineers 2021

Houston, Los Angeles, and Denver top the list of the 10 best places to be a civil engineer this year — as they did last year. What’s new? Seattle and the Research Triangle area of North Carolina have slipped; Austin, Texas, and Philadelphia are on the move; and Dallas is rising fast. 

In ASCE’s Best Places for Civil Engineers 2021, some things have remained the same — and some have changed. As was the case in 2020, Houston, Los Angeles, and Denver take the highest spots in our top 10 list. But the No. 4 position — occupied last

Continued learning and setting boundaries are keys to career growth

Kush A. Vashee, P.E., CAPM, ENV SP, LEED Green Assoc., M.ASCE, has successfully navigated many changes, from growing up in Zambia to moving to the United States, from working in land development to switching to transportation, and most recently, from being an associate engineer to being promoted to project engineer at RK&K in Fairfax, Virginia. Along the way, he has learned the power of clear communications, especially in email, and of asking questions. He advises younger civil engineers to keep learning, prepare for change, practice empathy, and set boundaries.

What are the new responsibilities that come with being

Hybrid course helps new students feel connected — even from home

ARCE 106, Introduction to Building Systems, is designed to give incoming freshmen the opportunity to learn some of the basics of civil and structural engineering, with the hope that, once they see what the fields are about, students will be more informed about their chosen major and more excited about their future careers.

Taught for the past six years by Allen C. Estes, Ph.D., P.E., F.ASCE, professor and head of the Department of Architectural Engineering at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California, and John W. Lawson, P.E., S.E., M.ASCE, a professor in the same department, the course helps

How to remedy five management flaws and create resilient teams

Jennifer L. Donahue, Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE, is the founder of JL Donahue Engineering — a globally recognized seismic analysis and engineering firm. With her 25 years in the U.S. Navy, she is well qualified to offer advice for how engineers can use lessons learned from earthquake engineering design and military training to create resilient teams prepared to weather crises.

1. How does engineering for disasters relate to managing for disasters? 
One of the things that we do as engineers is to design things that will last through any type of crisis. Whether it’s an earthquake, tornado, high winds, or