Executive Order Impacts Civil Engineering Industry

Executive Order Impacts Civil Engineering Industry


After being inaugurated last week, President Trump has issued a flurry of executive orders. It’s important in the first 100 days for a president to show action. Executive orders are a way of getting off to a fast start and showing a sense of direction. Even though some may seem controversial, it is worth noting which ones will have an impact on the Civil Engineering industry.

Click the Link Below to Read the Executive Order

Executive Order Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals For High-Priority Infrastructure Projects


One executive order worth paying attention to is the “Expedited environmental review for high-priority infrastructure projects.” It was written in an attempt to reduce regulatory burdens associated with developing and commercializing infrastructure so that investment capital can be deployed efficiently. Under Trump’s order, any governor or Cabinet secretary can ask for a project to be designated as high-priority. The Chairman of the Council of Environmental Quality shall make this determination based on the project’s “importance to the general welfare, value to the nation, environmental benefits, and other factors.” If the Chairman approves, the project will go to the front of the line for any agency required to review and approve the project. Trump said, “We can’t be in an environmental process for 15 years when a bridge is falling down. If it’s a no, we’ll give them a quick no, and if it’s a yes, Let’s start building.”


It’s evident that the nation needs infrastructure upgrades and repairs across the board. Just last week the Delaware River Bridge had to be closed (and will remain closed) due to a severe fracture discovered in the bridge’s steel framework. In its most recent report card on America’s infrastructure, the American Society of Civil Engineers said the country needed $3.6 trillion in public investment by 2020. So even if Americans don’t agree on all Trump’s politics, streamlining the review process for significant infrastructure upgrades is a step in the right direction.

Commercial Drone Services in Chester County

Commercial Drone Services in Chester County

D.L. Howell & Associates, Inc. and Howell Kline Surveying are happy to officially announce our UAS Commercial Drone Services. We are pressing forward with the latest technologies for Civil Engineering, Land Planning and Professional Land Surveying utilizing UAS or Unmanned Aerial Systems also known as Drones.


D.L. Howell & Associates, Inc. provides aerial service to corporate clients in the engineering, construction, and commercial property management industries. Some services include creating high resolution aerial photos that are georeferenced for pinpoint accuracy, making them perfect for distance, acreage, volume, and elevation calculations. We can also create 3D models and generate representations of geographical features and structures.

Our commercial drone service capabilities include but are not limited to:

  • Construction Site Progress Photography
  • Aerial Topography
  • Aerial Photography
  • Aerial Inspections
  • Pre and Post Construction Site Photography
  • Aerial Mapping and Modeling

D.L. Howell & Associates, Inc. has two FAA certified remote pilots.

David W. Gibbons, P.E. received his FAA Remote Pilot Certification in September 2016 and John Hubickey who received his FAA Remote Pilot Certification in October 2016.

Both of our pilots have flown multiple projects ranging from 5 acres to over 200+ acres of land. Projects include construction site project photography and videography

D.L Howell and Howell Kline is one of just a few businesses within Chester County authorized to use drones in a professional capacity. Our ability to utilize this new technology provides tremendous value to clients across all industries and projects.

With superior drone technology, we are taking civil engineering and land surveying services to the next level.

To arrange a consultation, please visit our Contact page or feel free to give us a call at (610) 918-9002.

Rounding out the Workforce

Rounding out the Workforce

With 2017 underway, the presidential inauguration rapidly approaches, and Donald Trump looks to take his seat in the oval office. As is always the case with a change in leadership, there is a level of uncertainty before a new leader assumes his or her role. Among the bounty of questions that come to mind, many wonder what direction the state of education will head towards. Millions of Americans will speculate whether the trend of post-college student loan debt will continue, or if there will be a shift in the education structure. While many will lust for the days of free tuition to a public university, a more realistic line of thought will show that we are not quite there yet and may not arrive at that point for years to come. Although this may be discouraging, there is one alternative to a traditional 4-year college/university that has been overlooked by much of the population for the past several years: trade school. From kindergarten to high school, students have had the message hammered into their heads that they need to go to college after graduating high school, from parents, teachers, and even the media, to lead a successful life. What they rarely tell you is that there is another option. You don’t have to go to college to become a doctor or a lawyer but instead, you could attend trade school to learn the skills necessary to be an electrician or carpenter, or some other skilled trade worker.

Trade school is a viable alternative to the traditional 4+ year university experience and it offers a lot of benefits. For one, trade school costs less and takes fewer years to complete than a university. On average, a four-year university will gouge your pocketbooks for over $125,000, with several top institutions amounting to over $200,000. That number can be quite daunting to countless parents and prospective students throughout America. Conversely, a 2-year trade school averages a little over $30,000, less than 25% of the average university and less than 12% of many top universities. That significantly minimized tuition also comes with a reduced term of enrollment. The average length of trade school is two years whereas most universities take a minimum of 4 years to earn a bachelor’s degree, with numerous students adding a year or two because of dropped classes or transfer from another school. This means that anyone completing trade school can enter the workforce at least two years earlier than a university graduate, allowing the skilled trade worker a head start on their student loan payments. And that doesn’t even touch on the additional time and expense consumed by graduate, medical, or law school.


Another big draw for trade school is job demand. How many times have we heard that our waiter at Chili’s was a psychology major or that the cashier at Petsmart was a fine arts major? Several paths in college look great on paper and truly do allow an individual to follow his or her passion. But there are more than a few degrees that come with a low-demand job market that make it difficult for recent graduates to begin careers relevant to their major. Those include psychology, fine arts, and history, to name a few. On the flipside, professions such as electricians, plumbers, and carpenters have typically been filled by the older generation which is now beginning to retire. This movement is creating a vacancy that is waiting to be filled by an eager, young workforce. Those completing trade schools have taken advantage of this opportunity and typically have had an easier time finding a job than many college graduates. Take, for example, HVAC technicians. They can provide year-round service for a market that won’t go away anytime soon. Homeowners and renters alike will always want the comfort of heat in the winter and the refreshment of air conditioning in the summer. It’s safe to say that’s a high demand field.

Although I did not mention other benefits of trade school such as the joy and reward of creating with one’s hands or that it caters to a variety of learners I will wrap up this blog post with a quote from an experienced judge. He once said, “The world needs ditch-diggers, too.” This statement is not meant as a slight to the skilled trade worker, but rather as a commentary on the balance and diversity of skill sets required for a well-oiled industry. We need competence on all levels – from our designers to our builders, all the way up to management. In our industry, if the skilled workers implementing our plans are inadequate, then it won’t matter how good of a design we have created – something will likely go amuck in the build process. We are only as strong as our weakest link. So if you or someone you know wish to be productive in your career (and avoid the looming cloud of student loan payments), do not look singularly at a 4-year university. Broaden your scope and consider trade school as a viable option for your future. But if you decide to go to college, engineering is never a bad major to take.
New Year! Should we all shed a few square feet?

New Year! Should we all shed a few square feet?


Happy New Year! One of the most common questions of the holiday season: what’s your New Year’s resolution? We often promise ourselves we’ll work out more, or spend more time with family, or work out more, or drink more water, or, I don’t know, work out more. However, there is another popular resolution this year that is all about less. Less things, less work, less shopping…and less square footage. The lifestyle is called “Minimalism.” The predominant idea of minimalism is a shift in focus from the tangible (i.e. material items) to the intangible (i.e. relationships, experiences, memories). Minimize consumerism, maximize happiness! Well, let’s say that this new mentality takes a stronghold on America. How will this affect the civil engineering industry? This is where the idea of less square footage, or “Tiny Houses,” comes in.

​Tiny houses are 150-500 square foot homes that are equipped with all the essentials to make day to day life possible– beds, bathrooms, and kitchenettes. But you can’t plop this $35,000 – $80,000 shack just anywhere. You need land, of course. Land isn’t free. And, as we know, with land ownership comes adherence to local regulations and laws. Not every municipality is going to allow for a “tiny house” to be considered a dwelling, so before setting up shop on land, the owner must research whether the home will be considered livable by the residing township’s ordinance definitions. Zoning laws often consider these homes to fit the description of an RV, which is usually considered temporary shelter rather than a permanent residence. Beyond the definition of their lodging, tiny home owners must also consider sewer/septic connections, storm water management, municipal water connections, and minimum lot size. Because of the novelty of the concept, even if a tiny home owner purchased a lot of land, placed the tiny home on it and made all the utility connections, there is always the risk of a neighbor complaining to the township. And zoning laws aren’t the only type of regulation restricting your tiny dreams. Building codes will affect the design of your custom home. The International Residential Code (IRC) states minimum square footage and ceiling heights for specific room types.

​There has been a movement in states like Colorado, California, Texas, and Florida to amend zoning and building codes to accommodate for tiny house enthusiasts. Even tiny house hotels are a thing in Oregon, which is when many miniature homes surround a regular sized home. Tiny house communities have become popular. However, while some advocates have been successful, many counties remain strict about their zoning.

I don’t think Americans are ready to give up their surround sound and 3-car garages, so we shouldn’t expect a mass influx of tiny homes. Quite frankly, we have built America around a specific infrastructure system, and the tiny house doesn’t exactly fit the mold. However, this revolution of quality over quantity is something to keep in mind as we forecast industry housing trends over the next few years.

Tiny House Links