Crazy Construction Chaos

Crazy Construction Chaos

It has been a very exciting beginning of 2023 for Howell Engineering! After unveiling our new name and logo and rebranding the company trucks, it was time for the office to get a makeover. We moved into our office on Wrights Lane in West Chester in 2008, and with fifteen years of wear and tear, it was time to freshen up the inside.

We are doing it all. Fresh paint on the walls, replacing the old worn-out carpet with new flooring… the works!

It’s a heck of an undertaking. The Howell team even pitched in to help move the pallets of flooring material throughout the main level. Take a look at the crazy chaos construction photos and video. This upgrade will bring new energy to the office for employees and clients and is an excellent start to 2023!


The Cut (and Fill) of Our Jib

Have you ever looked at a pile of soil, stone, or mulch and thought, “That’s probably like X wheel barrels full.” Or “That’s probably about 10 yards.” Well, guess what!? Your guessing is OVER! So, Howell’s drone program gets mentioned ad nauseam in our Newsletters, but there’s one service we offer that doesn’t get mentioned all that much, and that’s our Cut and Fill Analysis. We can do it on mounds of material such as soil, stone, or mulch. After a simple drone flight, we can analyze the volume of features on your map that have relevant 3D dimensionality. We can provide a rough estimate for the area, cut, fill, and net volume of the pile. Below are some examples of the work we at Howell can do for you!

Pile 1

Area: 0.82 acres
Material Volume: 21796.57 y³

Pile 2

Area: 4918.25 ft²
Material Volume: 1463.68 y³

Stop, Take A Deep Breath – No Really

Stop, Take A Deep Breath – No Really

You probably don’t think about your breath that often. It’s always there in the background, and you are doing it right now. But paying more attention to your breathing can significantly impact your stress levels. When you experience stress or anxiety, you may experience irregular or shallow breathing, which makes it hard to get more air in, and you may even experience hyperventilation. Deep breathing is a practice that enables more airflow into your body and can help calm your nerves and reduce stress and anxiety.

Now that I have your attention, there are four types of breathing; the first type is Eupnea, which is the type you are probably doing right now while reading this newsletter. This type of breathing occurs when you are not thinking about breathing. Also known as “quiet breathing,” both the diaphragm and external intercostal muscles must contract. The second type is diaphragmatic breathing, also known as deep breathing, and the muscle must contract in this type of respiration. As the muscles contract, breath passively leaves the lungs. The third type of breathing is coastal breathing, also known as “shallow breathing,” which uses your intercostal muscles, the muscles between your ribs. If you are stressed, you may be doing this breathing right now (or even unconsciously holding your breath). The last type of breathing is called hyperpnea, also known as forced breathing, where both inhalation and exhalation are active, not passive, due to muscle contraction.

Of all four types of breathing, Deep Breathing is one of the easiest, most convenient, and most natural tools to combat issues like stress, and anxiety, reduce pain and high blood pressure, and even aid digestion. Oxygen does wonders for the body and mind. It cleanses, opens, and soothes different parts of our well-being and is overall something extremely healthy we can all do. Below are some of the benefits of deep breathing:

1) Decreases stress and increases calm. When you become stressed or anxious, your brain releases cortisol, the “stress hormone.” By taking deep breaths, your heart rate slows, and more oxygen enters your bloodstream and ultimately communicates with the brain to relax. Deep breathing also ups your endorphins, the “feel good” chemical. 

2) Relieves pain. Deep breathing triggers the release of endorphins, which not only helps create a feeling but also combats pain.

3) Stimulates the lymphatic system (Detoxifies the body). Breathing oversees 70% of cleansing the body of toxins (the other 30% is through the bladder and bowels.) Breathing releases carbon monoxide, which is important to fully release. If you do not breathe fully, your body must work overtime to release these toxins.

4) Improves immunity. When fully oxygenated, your blood carries and absorbs nutrients and vitamins more efficiently. Essentially, the cleaner the blood, the harder it is for illnesses to stay in your system.

5) Increases energy. The more oxygen in the blood, the better our body functions. It also improves our stamina.

6) Lowers blood pressure. As your muscles relax, your blood vessels dilate, which improves circulation and lowers blood pressure. Deep breathing also slows and regulates the heart rate, which also helps with lowering your BP.

7) Improves digestion. The more you breathe deep, the healthier blood flow you will produce, promoting your organs to function more effectively, including your intestines.

8) Helps support correct posture. When you take a deep breath in, your lungs take up maximum space, and your diaphragm pulls down, so your torso straightens for this to be possible. Next time you breathe in, notice that you simultaneously lengthen and straighten your spine.

Deep breathing is somewhat unnatural for your body, so just like learning any new skill, it takes practice! Try to incorporate one breathing exercise each day. Here is a simple breathing exercise that can be incorporated into your daily routine:

Breathe in calmly through the nose, filling your abdomen and chest, for 5 seconds (or longer, not exceeding 7 seconds). Hold this breath in for 3 seconds. Slowly and gently release the breath through the mouth for 5 seconds (or more, whatever is comfortable). Breathe out through a slightly parted lip or “O” shaped lips. Repeat this five times, or even better, continue for five minutes. Deep breathing should be slow and gentle. Remember to fill the abdomen and not just the chest.

Sometimes when life, work, road rage, or stress gets the best of you, try not to get frustrated or aggravated but STOP and take a deep breath. You won’t regret it.

Source: RefreshMH. “Benefits of Deep Breathing.” Urban Balance, 3 Nov. 2014,

The Future of Land Surveying

The Future of Land Surveying

Happy New Year! As we begin a new year, it’s exciting to think about the advances and technologies that will shape the field of land surveying in Pennsylvania in the coming years. One major development we can expect to see is the increasing use of drones for surveying. These unmanned aircraft are capable of capturing high-resolution images and data from the air, enabling land surveyors to cover large areas quickly and accurately. Drones can also access difficult-to-reach areas, such as forests or rough terrain, making them a valuable tool for various types of surveying projects.

Another significant change we can anticipate is the growing role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in land surveying. In fact, this article was created using an AI language model that was trained to produce text. With just a few simple prompts, like “Write me a two-minute article about the future of Land Surveying in Pennsylvania in 2023,” the AI model can analyze a vast amount of language data from the internet and generate a human-like response in seconds.

AI is likely to have a significant impact on land surveying in the United States, including improved data collection and analysis, increased accuracy and precision, increased productivity, and enhanced safety. However, there are several ways in which AI will not be able to fully replace humans in this field:

  1. Legal and regulatory issues: There may be legal and regulatory barriers to the use of AI in land surveying. For example, in the United States, land surveys must be performed by licensed professional land surveyors.
  2. Complex and changing environments: Land surveying often takes place in complex and changing environments, such as construction sites or disaster areas. In these situations, human judgment and adaptability is necessary to accurately survey the land.
  3. Ethical considerations: Some people may have ethical concerns about using AI to make decisions that affect land use and ownership.
  4. Interpersonal skills: Land surveying requires strong interpersonal skills, as surveyors may need to communicate and work with a variety of people, including property owners, government officials, and other professionals. AI may not have the ability to effectively interact with people in these situations.
  5. Creativity and problem-solving: Land surveying requires creative problem-solving and out-of-the-box thinking to find solutions to complex challenges. AI may not be able to replicate these human traits.

At Howell, we are committed to staying up-to-date on the latest technology and using it to create a high-quality survey deliverable in the most accurate and efficient way possible. Whether it’s using AI to create a newsletter article or adopting cutting-edge technology to enhance the safety of our technicians, we are dedicated to continually advancing our craft.

Here is how the AI model concluded the article and we at Howell completely agree…

Overall, the future of land surveying in Pennsylvania looks bright and we are excited to see what the next year brings. We hope you’ll join us in exploring all that this field has to offer. Best wishes for a happy and successful 2023!

Coming in for a Clear Landing

Coming in for a Clear Landing

Recently Howell Surveying performed a drone flight over the Brandywine Valley Airport to find out the relative height of the surrounding trees and buildings to the runway. Several months before this flight, a separate operation was done in order to create a high-resolution image of the existing features of the airport and its surrounding areas. This flight, however, was completed with our Yellowscan Mapper LiDAR system.

LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging, and it is the process of laser light being sent from a source (transmitter) and reflected from objects in its range. Each reflected light spot is represented as a dot or a data point. These data points are then compiled into a 3D surface or a “point cloud” for our surveyors and drafters to work with. The system receiver detects the reflected light, and the time of flight is used to create a distance map of the objects in its scope.

Howell Surveying used all of this data to determine the heights of both the buildings and trees near the airport’s takeoff and landing areas. This would allow the airport to identify any possible issues with a tree or a building’s height relative to the approach and takeoff path of the runway.

The point cloud in the images below shows the different heights of objects relative to the runway. The total area covered during the flight totaled nearly 300 acres.

Ted Gacomis Scholarship for Giving Tuesday

Ted Gacomis Scholarship for Giving Tuesday

Throughout the year, Howell Engineering and Howell Surveying support dozens of nonprofits through golf outings, sponsorships, events, sporting clay shoots, grand prix races, food drives and the like. There is no shortage of places to support; however, we chose to support the causes that mean the most to us and are in our “backyard.” I am big on supporting the community we live and work in daily. A year and a half ago, Theodore “Ted” Gacomis, a close friend and mentor, passed away suddenly. Ted was my boss before I went out on my own, and as many have heard me say, I literally would not be here today doing what I do without his mentorship, friendship and support. After Ted passed away, I wanted to create a lasting memory in his name, something that would carry on his legacy as a friend, mentor and engineer, and so with help from his wife Ellen, close friends, colleagues and the Chester County Community Foundation we have created the Ted Gacomis Scholarship for Civil Engineering. Please join me in supporting this Scholarship today. Your generous support will allow us to award a scholarship to a graduating senior high school student in Chester County pursuing a degree in civil engineering.

We appreciate your generous support. Thank you for considering.

Ways to Donate to the Scholarship

There are many ways to make a gift to the Ted Gacomis Scholarship for Engineering. Below are some of the most common ways to make a gift.

Check – Payable to: Ted Gacomis Scholarship for Civil Engineering c/o Chester County Community Foundation (The Lincoln Building, 28 West Market Street, West Chester, PA 19382)

Online – Make a safe and secure gift as soon as the submit button is selected. Ted Gacomis Scholarship for Civil Engineering | Chester County Community Foundation (

Donor Advised Fund – A donor-advised fund is a simple, flexible and tax efficient way to give. It also serves as a meaningful way to strengthen your family’s tradition of philanthropy. Contact your DAF holder and request a grant distribution. Be sure to use the Ted Gacomis Scholarship for Civil Engineering’s EIN # 23-2773822. You can also designate the Scholarship as a beneficiary for your donor-advised fund.

Workplace Giving & Employer Matching – You can give to the Ted Gacomis Scholarship for Civil Engineering through most workplace fundraising drives. Your employer may match your financial contribution, whether you give at work or on your own. Please contact your Human Resources Department for instructions.