Profound Technologies received final approval from the Upper Uwchlan Township Board of Supervisors to construct a 6,160 S.F. building addition. D.L. Howell had the pleasure of working with Kevin Busza, who is one of the partners of Profound Technologies. They are located near the intersection of Route 100 and Little Conestoga Road and have been in this location since 2017. Profound is an “IT” company that specializes in audio video and control system solutions for commercial, residential, government and education applications. D.L. Howell assisted Kevin through the Land Development process to obtain all the required approvals to expand his business with the help of Riley Riper Hollin & Colagreco, and Orsatti & Stuart Associates, Inc. Designing the site layout with the building addition and additional parking spaces brought along many challenges since this property was already developed with the existing building essentially in the center of the relatively small property. The required approvals from the Township included a Zoning Variance, Conditional Use, and Land Development. A Highway Occupancy Permit was also obtained from PENNDOT. Construction is slated to begin this spring and is expected to be completed by fall of this year. DL Howell is very appreciative to have had the opportunity to assist Profound Technologies in expanding their business.
(Excerpted from an article by Marcia Wendorf)
Did you know that the Earth has two magnetic poles? They are the North and South Magnetic Poles.
Previously, between the years of 1590 and 1990, the North Magnetic Pole hung around northern Canada in an area covering about 1,400 square miles. Just 20 years ago it was moving at a rate of 6.2 miles per year. Currently, the North Magnetic Pole is moving at a rate of 31 miles (50 km) per year. It continues to accelerate as it moves away from Canada and toward Siberia.
What is causing the pole to move?
Earth’s magnetic field extends from its interior out into space. Once in space, the field interacts with the solar wind, which is a stream of charged particles emanating from the Sun. If we didn’t have this magnetic field, the solar wind and cosmic rays would strip away the Earth’s ozone layer, which protects us from the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation.
Earth’s magnetic field is created by the movement of liquid iron and nickel about 1,800 miles below the Earth’s surface. Since the liquid is extremely hot (over 5,400 degrees Fahrenheit) it moves very easily. This movement is known as “The Dynamo Effect”.
How does this affect me?
Those most affected by the shift in the North Magnetic Pole are airports and people who like to explore the outdoors with a map and compass.
Airports designate their runways based upon their relationship to Magnetic North. They do this so that pilots may use the magnetic compass in their planes to orient themselves properly to the runway. For example, if a runway is oriented at an azimuth of 90°, it would be given a designation of 9. Coming from the other direction on the same runway (180° different) that runway is given a designation of 27 because it has an azimuth of 270°. (Runways are rounded to the nearest 10 degrees). As the North Magnetic Pole moves, these airports will have to change the designations of their runways to keep up with the shift.
The magnetic poles are weakening and may reverse.
In addition to moving, the Earth’s magnetic field is weakening at a rate of 5% every 100 years. If it weakens too much, Earth will become vulnerable to cosmic and solar radiation. This would have a catastrophic affect to life on Earth.
Sometimes, the North and South Magnetic Poles will switch places. This happens, on average, about every 500,000 years. The last time the poles reversed was 780,000 years ago, so we’re overdue for this phenomenon.
Fear not! If this happens anytime soon, we at DL Howell and Howell Kline Surveying will be here to assist you in your time of need … and perhaps Denny will let us close the office at 5:00 p.m. that day.
On Monday of this week, I received some dreaded news!!! It was my turn to write the Newsletter….UGH, it always seems to come along during the busiest week when everything is crazy, and a million things are going on. Usually, I have an idea of what I am going to write about, which always seems to be me complaining about college graduates or some new regulation that is raising my blood pressure. This week I was at a loss. I know everyone needs a break from my complaining or drone videos of our newest project, so I decided to take a step back. With Christmas coming (or whatever holiday you chose to celebrate this time of year), it is always a good time to step back and reflect. This past May, we celebrated our 20th year in business, and I want to take a moment and reflect on all that I am truly thankful for these past 20+ years. For those that don’t know, I grew up in East Fallowfield outside of Coatesville. I graduated High School in 1988, and after my first year at Drexel, I went into the Yellow Pages and called Hunt Engineering in Malvern and was hired for the Summer as a surveyor. While I enjoyed working there, unfortunately for them, I delivered plans to a firm in Exton called Edward B. Walsh and Associates, Inc. and knew right away I wanted to work there. After significant harassing of Barry Walsh, I convinced him to hire me for Christmas break and luckily was brought back for all of my Drexel Co-ops and ultimately full time! And so, first and foremost, I am very thankful for Barry Walsh, PE, and especially Ted Gacomis, PE, for giving me my first opportunity in this business and for the countless hours of teaching I received from Ted. Every single time I walked into Ted’s office, no matter how busy he was, he stopped what he was doing, sat back, let me lay my plan on his desk and answered my questions, and taught me more and more about engineering, what a great environment to work and learn in! And if that wasn’t enough, I got to work on projects for and alongside Jack Loew, Eli Kahn, Tim Townes, and Craig Hough. I felt like I was a celebrity. Being in my early 20’s and learning from these guys was so great. Now I was learning not only civil engineering but also about site layout, construction costs, value engineering as well as architecture. My first client to have on my own to work with was John Drury, who became my father in law and one of my biggest supporters. Working with him and John E. Good, Esq on projects all over West Chester, I now found myself handling Township meetings myself and learning from one of the smoothest and most savvy attorneys I have ever known, not to mention 2 of the most fun people I have ever worked with. The John and John show as I liked to refer to them taught me so much, and looking back, I was still just a kid. So thankful for the faith they had in me at 24 years old. These eight people shaped a huge part of my early career, and no question started me down a path that led to having my own firm today. The year was 1995 (out of college for two years), and along comes one of my longest and best clients of all time Tom Bentley. When I left engineering to work for Bentley Homes, my experience and learning went into high gear! Tom gave me an amazing opportunity to learn and grow, and I was only 25 years old and learning residential real estate development. Few can say they have been given such amazing opportunities to learn in this business, and for all of this, I am so grateful. Alright, lets fast forward to 1999 when DL Howell was started. There are hundreds of people that I am thankful for getting us through these last 20 years, but I want to especially recognize several in particular.
First, our clients:
Thank you, Tom Bentley, and all of your crew for placing trust in me for so long and teaching so much about residential community design.
Thank you to Eli Kahn for so many years of so many creative, cutting edge projects that you entrusted with us and being a friend for all of these years.
Thank you to all of NV Homes and for giving us the opportunity to be a part of such large impactful communities in Chester County.
Thank you to John Lynch for keeping us on our toes and teaching us that we CAN find another high gear when needed.
Thank you to Mark Bedwell and the Bedwell Companies for always thinking of us and giving us opportunities.
Thank you to all of our clients who so loyally work with us and entrust us with your projects.
Thank you to all of the site contractors who get to implement and interpret our plans, including Lyons and Hohl, Brubacher, Schlouch, Kreider, and B and J Excavating. You all make us look good, and we appreciate not only working together but also you catching our mistakes before pipe goes in the ground or asphalt goes down!!
Thank you to ALL of the attorneys we work with and for including Brian Nagle, Kristin Camp, Patrick Mckenna, Sigmund Fleck, Ross Unruh, Alyson Zarro, Jon Jordan, Mike Shiring, Debbie Shulski and Lindsey Dunn. A special thank you to John Jaros, Lou Colagreco, and Mark Kaplin.
Thank you to all of my engineering colleagues and Township Engineers we work with. I realize we are usually at each other’s throats all year long, but I still enjoy it.
Thank you to Chris Godshall at Meridian Bank and everyone at Meridian Bank. Please remember this Newsletter when the next recession hits.
Thank you to Orsatti-Stuart…..Joe and Patrick, you are two of my favorite people to work with.
Thank you to Ed Theurkauf for reading every single newsletter we send out AND commenting on it.
And lastly, thank you to the entire team at DL HOWELL and HOWELL KLINE…. We are only as strong as our team!!!
I think we unintentionally take for granted all of the great people we work with every day. In many ways, they are like family and it sure seems like we spend more time with them then we do our real families, especially when we are out until 11 pm at a Planning Commission Meeting. I often stop and look around at all of the holiday parties this time of year to take in all of these great people and am glad I have this chance to thank as many as I can remember at 11:27 pm on a Thursday night. Have a great Holiday and New Year and see you in 2020.
Denny L. Howell, II PE
Recently, many of you received a letter from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) regarding the reissuance of the PAG-02 NPDES General Permit. This letter has prompted many phone calls to our office from clients asking- What does this mean?, Do I need to do anything?, Why did I receive this letter? As of December 8, 2019, the terms and conditions of your NPDES Permit coverage have changed. Here are the major focus points you need to be aware of:
You received this letter because you currently have coverage under the PAG-02 General NPDES Permit
NPDES Renewals/New Applications
- still have to submit for a renewal 180 days prior to permit expiration
- permits will only be renewed until 12/7/2024
- new permits will only be valid until 12/7/2024
- there will be new renewal process after that
- all new permits will be subject to the new guidance
- if in an Impaired Watershed
- ABACT BMP’s will need to be implemented if any additional earth disturbance is proposed throughout the life of the project
- For TMDL streams option for non-discharge alternative OR ABACT
- Site Inspection Report Form will need to be used when doing site inspections (for Engineers or qualified professionals)
- Instrument Filing is needed at time of NOT and also at time of Permit Transfer (if applicable)
- “Modules” will need to be completed and included with NOI submission
- NOI for General NPDES and a different NOI for Individual NPDES
- New County and Municipal Land Use notifications forms have been created
If current permittees are unable to comply with the terms of the new 2019 General Permit they are to submit an Individual NPDES Permit application by March 9, 2020. This is determined based on the Acknowledgement form, which is to be completed and returned to DEP (or completed online) by March 9, 2020.
We encourage you to contact your regional PA DEP office, local Conservation District, or civil engineering firm to help aid in answering specific questions and concerns you may have.
It’s the wonderful time of year again when the traffic gets heavier and the weather gets colder. It’s Christmas time! It’s that time where everyone loves to give presents to make everyone happy and if you have a special someone who is an engineer that you would like to treat, here are a few gift ideas for them.
Who doesn’t love a good novelty gift? A t-shirt that says “World’s Best Engineer” or a coffee mug that has some sort of equation on it. You could even a get shot glass with E=mc² for those long days working in the office.
Anything personalized for the desk is always a good idea. A nice name plate stand with a pencil holder attached or a vintage looking lamp. You could even get a little creative and get a replica bobblehead made for that person.
There are many different ideas regarding what can be hung up on the wall. To start, you can look at getting some sort of clock for the office. It can be someone’s favorite sports team themed or just a plain old white and black clock. Another idea is to get a motivational quote framed from one of the great engineers. One out of the box ideas would be to find an original plan from where your engineer grew up at and get it framed for them.
Let’s be honest, almost everyone loves to grill and why not get them an engineered themed grill set. Along with that you can get a cooking apron that says, “Trust me, I’m an engineer”. There are all sorts of things out there like engineering cutting boards or burger molds for shaping the meat into bolts and such.
So, while you’re spreading holiday cheer to everyone, don’t forget to spoil your favorite engineer with one of these gifts! Happy Holidays from everyone here at DL Howell & Associates!
I know you were all looking forward to another newsletter with an update on a project that you have already read about three times or maybe you were looking forward to reading about the infamous leaking locks on the Panama Canal (D.L. Howell Blog, J. Brewer, August 2015), or how about another newsletter about drones! For this week’s newsletter, I am going to go with something a little different and hopefully useful to all of our fellow professionals working in an office environment.
It’s that time of year again when there is that one person in the office that we will call ‘Patient Zero’ or ‘RBV.’ He comes into the office and is obviously sick, well, obvious to everyone but himself. To him, it’s ‘just allergies’ or a ‘tickle in my throat,’ but to the rest of us, it’s a contagious common cold.
I am not a doctor, but with a little research or Googling, I offer you the following tips to help prevent you from getting sick or spreading your ‘allergies’ to the rest of us:
- Don’t try and be a hero and come to work when you ‘feel like you got hit by a truck.’ Do us all a favor and stay home, rest, and recover.
- If you still want to be a hero and try to impress with your dedication to the job. Go into your office and put yourself into isolation. And don’t come out at lunchtime and ask if anyone wants to go to lunch.
- Hand Sanitizer and lots of it! Here at D.L. Howell, we have hand sanitizer in every room you go in. Some of us use more than others, and some like to bathe in it.
- Fist bumps instead of handshakes (or hugs).
- Cover your mouth with your inner arm, not your hands. This will ensure sanitary fist bumps.
- Wipe down your work area. It’s incredible what you wipe off your mouse, keyboard, and phone.
Hopefully, we can all follow these steps and keep everyone healthy and working hard through the cold and flu season. And don’t worry next week we will provide you with an ‘engineering’ newsletter that you have all come to enjoy!
With the demand for complex consulting related to Homeowners Associations on the rise, DLH has made efforts to ensure that a small team of HOA savvy engineers within their already experienced technical staff are available to address the most complicated of Homeowners Association concerns.
Homeowners Associations, commonly referred to as HOAs, first came on the scene in the mid 1800’s but didn’t gain popularity until the 1960’s when the post-World War II housing boom resulted in the construction of major subdivisions outside city limits. While HOAs were initially used to limit the type of person who could buy in a particular development, in 1963 the number of legitimate HOA’s spiked when the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) offered home mortgage insurance only to homes within subdivisions that had a viable HOA. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 eliminated HOA based racial discrimination and in the 1970’s the Homeowners Association became more about the maintenance of common spaces within residential subdivisions and land developments. It didn’t take long for local municipalities to realize they could more easily make their budgetary “Ends Meet” by eliminating the need to assign taxpayer dollars to amenity maintenance services now provided by the HOA.
Enter the Clean Water Act of 1977. With the ratification of the Clean Water Act, all new residential developments were required to provide adequate stormwater runoff control by reducing the post development runoff rate to the pre-development runoff rate. And so the detention basin was born! As we know, basins tend to take up a fair amount of real estate and that (coupled with the fact that those same basins serve multiple dwellings) led municipalities to require that the maintenance associated with the detention basins and other non-dedicated “common” site amenities be controlled by a single entity as opposed to a private lot owner.
Why is any of this important you ask? It is important because during the construction phase of a residential development, the developer sets up the HOA and acts as the majority member, i.e. he owns the most number of lots and controls the most number of votes. Once enough homeowners exist to elect an HOA Board of Directors, the power transitions from the developer to the homeowners. There are laws that govern how and when this occurs which are beyond the scope of this newsletter. The main point here is that HOAs need to understand that at the time of “transition” from a developer controlled HOA to homeowner controlled HOA, there are several areas of responsibility that get lost in the shuffle. Those responsibilities, if not clearly defined and addressed, can result in massive negative financial impacts to the HOA.
Stormwater facility operations and maintenance after initial transition and the evaluation of functioning NPDES sanctioned stormwater facilities at final transition are two of the main pitfalls missed by HOA once transition occurs. In short, the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions governing how an HOA operates should clearly define who is responsible for the post construction stormwater management operations and maintenance of all stormwater facilities and when in the transition process that entity becomes responsible. Things start to fall apart when neither the developer nor the HOA take responsibility for maintenance of these facilities because each thought it was the other’s responsibility. This is a common occurrence when the HOA takes majority control of the HOA Board. The disregard for required maintenance of stormwater facilities in the latter stages of construction leads to the second pitfall which is ensuring all of the stormwater facilities actually operate as the approved development plans intend PRIOR to final transition (all things developer get handed over to HOA), release of municipal escrow funds and….most importantly, Termination of the developer’s NPDES Permit. In the end, if the termination of the NPDES Permit occurs prior to all stormwater systems functioning as designed, the HOA can find themselves on the hook for the cost to make repairs. That can mean big $$$ in construction costs or fines for not terminating the NPDES Permit in a timely fashion.
DLH routinely works with Developers and Homeowners Associations to make sure each knows their role and responsibilities during all stages of this very complicated process. Look to DLH to help you with the following:
- Civil Engineering Consultation Services for Developers and HOAs to clearly define roles and responsibilities
- Work with Developers to guide them on site improvements may or may not be required to get a site to “Transition Ready”
- Perform inspection of stormwater facilities, Best Management Practices and site infrastructure to ensure the HOA is inheriting a sound development site that meets all regulatory agency requirements
- Act as a liaison between the HOA and the regulatory agencies including the Municipality – we speak their language!
- Develop post transition regulations on how HOAs and associated Architectural Review Boards govern the installation of impervious surface and stormwater facilities that may fall outside Municipal review authority
- Attend HOA Board meetings to help educate residents on why certain expenditures or capital improvements are necessary
- Provide professional engineering services to address site improvements deficiencies that arise after transition has occurred
We are excited to announce that D.L.Howell and Associates and Howell Kline Surveying has expanded into New Jersey!
We are providing the following Civil Engineering and Land Surveying services:
Subdivision and Land Development Design & Approval
Erosion and Sedimentation Control Design
FEMA Map Studies and Revisions
Building Permit Plans
Pool Permit Plans
Boundary & Lot Surveys
ALTA/ACSM Land Title Surveys
FEMA Floodplain Elevation Certifications
Please contact us at (609) 301-5481
What happens when a civil engineering project is started but never completed? It enters a purgatory, neither alive nor dead. A monument to the mistakes of yore. A relic of what could have been, but never was.
OK, enough with the dramatic introduction. I’m talking about infrastructure that began construction but just was never completed. Maybe due to insufficient project funds, politics, public opposition, or one of many various unforeseen circumstances. Some of these projects you can still find remnants of even to this day if you know where to look.
One such example is the Schuylkill Parkway located in Bridgeport, PA. Originally designed in the 1960s to be a freeway bypass of PA 23 between US422 and US 202. The goal was to alleviate the anticipated congestion in Bridgeport by creating a direct route to 422 rather than traveling south on 202, past the recently opened King of Prussia Mall, and eventually merging onto 422. In 1972, the interchange at PA 23 and US 202 was built, along with a short freeway stub and traffic signals. Construction came to a grinding halt when PennDOT ran out of funds (surprise surprise). This “Road to Nowhere” now sits unused except for the occasional commercial driver’s license tests’ and emergency vehicle training exercises, firmly entombed in the project graveyard.
Coincidentally, this next project was also another proposed freeway bypass of PA23. This one, however, is located in Lancaster County. Designed in the 1960s, plans were made to build a freeway for PA 23 between US 30 (East Walnut Street in Lancaster City) and PA 772. Construction began in the 1970s. Several bridges were built, the preliminary road grading was completed, and an interchange located at PA 772 was well on its way towards completion. But when PennDOT canceled all expressway projects not part of the Interstate System in the 1970s, this project became an infamous casualty. Subsequently, the road alignment was planted over and leased to adjacent farms and the would-be road became known locally as “The Goat Path.” Every decade or so a proposal emerges to rejuvenate this project but as of 2019, nothing has gained any real traction. It remains in the project graveyard.
So if you don’t want your project to become part of the project graveyard, give D.L. Howell a call. Every state interstate system project we have ever designed has been fully completed….which is none.
Large projects can take quite a long time to build. Some of our smaller projects may only last a few months or even a year, while other larger projects could last multiple years. Many things happen on the jobsite during that time, such as earthmoving, stormwater management, and road and foundation construction.
Keeping track of all of the jobsite changes over time can be difficult. The limiting factors are what you’re able to see from the ground and the time that a construction site manager may have to take photos of the jobsite for record-keeping. Jobsite construction processes and documentation is now becoming a lot easier with the use of D.L. Howell drone services to document your project.
In the example project below, D.L. Howell & Associates has been keeping records of the construction progress by flying the jobsite on a monthly basis. The jobsite images are always captured at the same altitude using the same flight plan every time. This provides the construction company with a standardized set of images of the construction site on specific dates.
Construction companies utilize these images to check their project jobsite to make sure the job is moving along at the scheduled pace. These images also provide information about assets in the field as well as construction material location.
During the construction process, volumes of topsoil stockpiles can be calculated for a better understanding of the amount of dirt that has been moved or still needs to be moved. Also, the images can provide information about on-site stormwater facilities, assisting contractors and designers in making sure that volumes are correct and stormwater facilities are designed correctly.
Below you’ll find a quick one minute video of all of the images that were captured over the last two years showing the image and date of the program’s flight. This will give you an idea of how the jobsite progresses over a two-year period.
Below the video are the actual images of the jobsite for you to click on in view.
If you feel that D.L. Howell & Associates can assist you with your construction project utilizing our professional drone services, please contact us and we will be happy to discuss your project needs.
Last Friday, members of the D.L. Howell and HowellKline teams participated in the 2019 Annual Sporting Clays Invitational. The event, held at Lehigh Valley Sporting Clays, benefited the Scout programs of the Chester County Council, Boy Scouts of America. The Scouts BSA vision is “to prepare every eligible youth in America to become a responsible, participating citizen and leader who is guided by the Scout Oath and Law.” The council serves almost 6,000 youth each year with the help of many adult leaders. To date, the Sporting Clays event has generated over $214,000 for Scouting programs in Chester County Council.
D.L. Howell and HowellKline would like to thank the Chester County Council, BSA for hosting this event. It was a great day out for a great cause!
To learn more about the Chester County Council BSA, visit www.cccbsa.org.
Back in the middle of the summer we took over a job that was in the middle of the review process. iRoy Sport and Fitness is a gym located in East Norriton Township owned by Yori Adegunwa. Taking over a job from another engineer is always a challenge, and on top of that, the new site for iRoy has provided us with some interesting engineering challenges.
The proposed gym will be located along Germantown Pike in Lower Providence Township. Existing conditions at the proposed site include a rundown bridal shop, a few deteriorating buildings, a ton of overgrown vegetation, and some dying trees. It’s quite an eye sore.
The new location is a little over 4 acres and has a grade change of about 32 feet across the site. Finished floor elevations, retaining wall heights, stormwater drainage patterns, and driveway slopes, are all factors that we need to consider during the design phase to balance cuts and fills. Two retaining walls and a steep hill in the front of the building had to be incorporated into the design to make the layout work.
Shallow weathered rock and bedrock were encountered throughout the site during geotechnical investigations. Infiltration was almost nonexistent during testing. How are you supposed to satisfy Township and County Conservation District infiltration requirements if your soils won’t let you? Thanks to the newly released managed release concept (MRC) (https://www.dlhowell.com/blog/pa-dep-releases-guidance-for-managed-release-concept/) you can now achieve the requirement without actually infiltrating. This may seem like an easy fix, but you will most likely need a waiver from the Township to do this and need to do extensive infiltration testing to prove there are no other options.
For this project, we had to design an MRC system, which is more complicated than it might seem. Although there is no “infiltration volume,” there is a volume that needs to pass through water quality features and a volume that needs to pass through the small “slow-release” orifice. Discharge rates must be below a certain value, but you also need to make sure the system will fully dewater within a certain time period. It’s a balancing act to make sure the discharge rate is slow enough, but also fast enough.
Despite some struggling with the new MRC design and the large grade change across the site, the iRoy Sport and Fitness job has been an interesting project to work on. We here at DL Howell are always ready to take on a challenge!
Do you have a boss? Have you ever worked a long workday? Then you need an ice-cold beer to wind down after those long days. What better way to enjoy that beer than with a group of good people that work in the same industry as you?
The Chester County Commercial Industrial Investment Council (CII Council) is a membership organization for professionals involved in commercial and industrial real estate in Chester County, Pennsylvania. The group is not-for-profit and works closely with the Chester County Economic Development Council. This past Thursday CII Council held their end of the summer happy hour at Chop House in Exton. These happy hours are a great way to meet and build relationships with people in our industry. CII Council also holds monthly breakfast meetings. Visit their website to learn more and join a great organization.
Another great organization is Chester County Engineers (CCE). CCE was formed in 2006 by Denny L. Howell II P.E. to promote excellence, encourage cooperation with reviewing agencies and create educational opportunities among the civil engineers in Chester County and throughout southeastern Pennsylvania. CCE holds monthly meetings to go over leading topics in the land development industry. The meetings are usually held in the mornings and more educational than CII Council’s happy hours. So, beer is not usually present. However, you can bring a beer or two; I’d respect it. Please visit the CCE website to learn more.
Go Birds and Roll Tide,
In today’s world, technology has become an integral part of our everyday lives. You can’t go into a public space without seeing someone with their head down in their phone. As technology becomes more accessible, and with the ever-growing population, energy consumption continues to increase. As a result, alternative sources of energy continue to be researched and developed in order to offset these energy demands. The energy industry has come up with alternatives such as fossil fuels, nuclear, thermal, hydro, and solar. Another source that is being looked at is the energy that we as humans produce in kinetic footfall.
One of the most common human functions that we perform everyday is walking, which in the process generates a lot of energy. Each step that we take causes pressure when the foot hits the floor and all the energy goes unused. If the ground surface you are walking on was engineered to harvest that energy, power could be generated from those steps and then used as a power source or stored and sent to a power grid. As an example, a person dancing on one of these floors can generate 5-10 watts. In a packed club, all of the people dancing in there could account for up to 60% of the total energy required for the club. This technology is continually being researched and improved, but there have been some applications of this technology that have already been used. This was used back in 2012 during the Olympics in a high foot traffic area, and trials have also been used in Las Vegas as well. As a way of marketing this technology and to try to get their product out there, companies producing these products are also adding different features than just being able to generate energy. One company is connecting their floors to streetlights that have phone chargers and that also serve as Wi-Fi hotspots so that your walking can also keep your phone going. This technology is also being looked at to be incorporated for different sports. The tiles that are used to capture the energy could be placed under whatever playing surface to generate energy, and they are also developing it so that it could track the player’s steps for data purposes. Advancements in technology are continually under development and they are making everything smarter from phones, to cars, to roads, to even the ground that we walk on.
Lately here at DL Howell our newsletters have been taking a look at the Civil Engineering /Surveying field from the past (A Look Back), the present (A Quick and Abrupt Lesson in Civil and Environmental Engineering), and today we’ll be providing some insight on what the future might have to offer. In the upcoming years expect to see the rise in use of 3D printers, Augmented/Virtual Reality, Material Physics, Drones, and Smart Roads in the industry. While some of these advancements are already in place, they have limitless potential to grow and become part of everyday life for a civil engineer and surveyor.
3D printers allow for the creation of a physical object from a digital model. They can create objects by laying down a series of thin layers (plastic, metal, or ceramic) in succession over a period of time to build objects layer by layer. 3D printing is often applied to create models for early designs of projects so that engineers and clients can get a rough idea of what a proposed land development might look like. Engineers are starting to use 3D printed models now to help bridge gaps between proposed visual designs/concepts and planning/drafting that might need to be done. This will allow our engineers to bring scaled-down proposed 3D models to clients or township meetings to get a better idea of the proposed project. A Chinese construction company has already started building houses made from concrete with a large 3D printer and can build up to 10 in one day.
Augmented and Virtual Reality
Augmented Reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are now starting to be utilized in the engineering field for multiple reasons. AR and VR are being used to analyze proposed structures before construction begins on a project. AR is being used to envision how a building will look on a site, even before the site is starting to be developed. Civil engineering technicians are starting to use VR to analyze the placement of utilities, roadways, and sewage for a project. These technologies will aid in the visualization of how a project will or won’t work for structural, architectural, and civil engineers.
In the future look to see and hear more about Material physics and the use of metamaterials. Metamaterials are materials which are designed to have specific properties for specific situations or occurrences. The versatility of materials that civil engineers have allows them to design and create more innovative projects than ever before. One of the more well-known examples of these types of materials is graphene. Graphene is about 100 times stronger than the strongest steel. It conducts heat and electricity extremely efficiently and is nearly transparent. Who knows what other metamaterials will be created in the near future with limitless capabilities and properties!
I know, I know we talk a lot about drones, but while drones aren’t the newest thing ever to Civil Engineering and Surveying in the upcoming years, they really are going to make leaps and bounds in both fields processes. For surveying, drones will be able to provide land-related services to surveyors such as subdividing land, finding property boundaries, and surveying sites for possible placement of buildings. Drones can also produce topographic maps, volumetric calculations for stockpiles, and assist with flood insurance maps with the right equipment. Right now, drone technology isn’t quite as accurate as the current method for proper surveying, but it does allow our surveying team to get a rough estimate of an area.
With more and more people buying electric cars, it’s only a matter of time before we get rid of the dumb roads and upgrade them to smart roads. While it’s still an idea that needs to be fully tested and figured out a New Zealand company has started on a concept of a road that could possibly wirelessly charge your electric car while you drive. The road would work as a bunch of solar panels that would then charge your car as it was driving. Who knows if this will ever happen, or what headaches it might cause if it happens for civil engineers when designing a road, but it would be interesting if it becomes possible!
In the meantime, if you need some present-day land surveying, or civil engineering work done contact us and we’ll be more than happy to assist!
Once a survey proposal is signed, most clients typically ask, “When can I expect the plan?”. Time is money, and surveys take time. For large projects, it can take weeks or even months to complete the fieldwork, reduce the survey notes, assemble the job data, and draft that information into a useful and reliable plan. In the past, the traditional method of surveying large areas was to hire a photogrammetric mapping firm that would use a fixed-winged plane. That method can be expensive, and typically takes multiple days or weeks before the client receives the final product.
Today, drones are rapidly reducing the turnaround time of our surveys. They allow us to set up a date, fly the job site, upload the data, and receive the survey files back from Drone Deploy as quickly as the same day.
One of the best examples of just how much time the use of drones can save on a large project is a boundary, topography, and physical improvement survey completed for the United Sports Training Complex in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. The entire 91.4 acre site was completed using four flight logs, totaling just over one hour. Without the use of drones, this would have taken our field crew over two weeks to ground survey. Our crew then had plenty of time to concentrate on locating sub-surface utilities, hidden features below canopy lines, and property monumentations.
The below is an orthomosaic-produced high-resolution aerial photo of the sports complex:
If you would like to learn more about the benefits of drone surveying, contact HowellKline Surveying, LLC anytime. Our friendly, helpful staff would be happy to speak with you.
My job here is a Civil Designer and a Junior Engineer/Engineer-in-Training. I work under registered Professional Engineers, who typically manage different projects and then pass tasks on their projects down to me. No day here seems to be the same, but the majority of the time, I am drafting plans on AutoCAD Civil 3D, performing Stormwater BMP Inspections, Infiltration Testing in the field, preparing Inspection Reports, or doing a variety of calculations. Throughout this newsletter, I have some pictures that describe my experience here so far.
Lot 24 Wrights Lane Stormwater System Inspection – In this case, I was looking for any obstructions or excessive sedimentation in the Terra-Kleen system, which is part of the Stormwater Management network and serves the purpose of removing pollutants before the water is discharged or infiltrated.
In four months, I think I have learned more than I did in four years of engineering school. The same principles of success still apply here, like respecting the people you work with, being dependable and communicating, but actually taking engineering concepts and applying them to the real-world projects provides a much deeper understanding than just talking about it in a classroom.
Tri-M Group Sketch Plan – The Tri-M Group is a long-standing business in East Marlborough Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania that services the tri-state area as an electrical contractor. The Tri-M Group provides our community with approximately 500 jobs and is continuing to grow, and this preliminary sketch is for a building addition at their headquarters that will serve as a new safety training area. This site is currently in the process of being surveyed and the next step will be land development plans.
There have been some situations I’ve been put in here that I wasn’t exactly comfortable, like talking to three attorneys on the phone at one time, but that is how you learn and grow. There have been times that I have really enjoyed here as well, my favorite being operating the excavator for infiltration testing.
Chester Community Charter School Infiltration Testing – View from the back of the International Commercial Towing Truck that is used to transport the mini-excavator. The truck weighs approximately 25,000 Pounds without the excavator loaded.
On a typical day that we are going to perform infiltration testing, I would meet Dave DiCecco, DL Howell’s Environmental Specialist, around 7:30 AM to head out with the equipment (Yanmar ViO 35 Mini-Excavator and an International Commercial Towing Truck) to do some digging. During two days on site at the Smith Property, a 19.4 Acre Site in Kennett Square, Dave and I completed ten infiltration tests in different areas of the property that are of interest for stormwater management.
The Smith Property Infiltration Testing– View from the cockpit of the excavator. In this case, we first dug until we met groundwater and to record the soils, which was to a depth of about six feet. Then, we dug out a smaller area to do our infiltration testing at a depth of about two feet. Typically, the infiltration testing would be done around four and a half feet, but, because the groundwater level was high, we decided to do our testing a bit shallower.
The Smith Property Infiltration Testing – Side view of the excavator in another area of the property. The excavator weighs approximately 7900 pounds and has a maximum digging depth of 11.25 Feet.
While digging for infiltration testing looks like fun and games, it serves as an important part of the stormwater management system design process. When you are building something, there is going to be impervious that creates runoff, and a certain amount of this runoff (dependent upon the township your project is in) has to be infiltrated into the ground on site.
The Smith Property Infiltration Testing – At this infiltration testing site, the groundwater level was about nine feet, so we were able to do our testing at about six feet.
To infiltrate your runoff on site, there are typically two main tools used, one of them being an infiltration basin and another being an infiltration bed. Basins are often used in developments where there is more open space, while beds are used where there is less open space, like in an urban area under a parking lot. By doing infiltration tests, the rate at which the water will seep into the ground can be determined (hydraulic conductivity is the fancy name), this is important to know when sizing your basin or bed to dewater within the required 72-Hour PADEP period.
Manfredi Cold Storage Infiltration Bed Inspection – At this location, an underground infiltration bed is being constructed. After this infiltration bed is completed, a parking lot will be constructed above it. G & A Clanton, Inc., out of Avondale, Pennsylvania was the contractor on this job. My main purpose for going out to inspect this bed was to ensure that it was being built to the specifications noted on the proposed plan.
Above, an infiltration bed can be seen. In this case, the infiltration basin was chosen to mitigate stormwater runoff due to space limitations. Below, an infiltration basin and detention basin can be seen. Infiltration basins are meant to infiltrate runoff while detention basins are meant to slow down and control the flow of runoff. Detention basins are often used to protect floodplains and creek beds from unhealthy increases in flow and sediment.
Oakcrest Stormwater Management Inspection – This is an infiltration basin; there is an inlet structure on the right side of the basin that allows water collected by the inlets along the street to flow into the basin. There is an outlet structure, without an orifice, that allows the water to flow out of the basin in the case of a massive storm event when the basin is completely full.
Sage Hill Stormwater Management Inspection – This is a detention basin, there is an inlet structure on the right-hand side of it that again allows water collected by the inlets along the street to flow into the basin. The main difference in a detention basin when compared to an infiltration basin is that the outlet structure contains an orifice that allows water to flow out of the basin in a controlled manner during smaller storm events. In this case, there is a creek over the berm at the other end of the basin, so this basin was most likely put in place to protect it. There are some maintenance issues with this basin that are currently in the process of being remediated.
Camphill Village Kimberton Hills – An AutoCAD Civil 3D sketch of a proposed 6210 SF building with 26 parking spaces, the two closest to the building will be handicapped spaces, which is required by the West Vincent Township Ordinance. The green dashed line surrounding the building and parking is the limit of disturbance, while the solid yellow line is the drainage area that will be used for stormwater management calculations.
Because I have been out in the field so much during my time here so far, I have learned that it is important to listen to the construction workers/contractors and be humble when doing so. They are the ones out there everyday building what has been designed, so they may have some input that you did not necessarily anticipate during the design process. Sometimes, builders will look to you for answers to their questions, and because there is so much to learn in this industry, you won’t always know the answer at first, but you can almost always work to figure it out. For all of these reasons, civil/environmental engineering is a pretty tough industry to enter, especially when you are a younger person just coming out of school, but I look forward to the future and think it will be worth it in the long run.
After Receiving the last of the approvals needed back in June, construction of the Ducklings Early Learning Center has begun. Located at 1302 Wilson Drive in East Goshen Township, this site is within half a mile of St. Peter & Paul Parish Catholic School Religious Education Center, as well as multiple business parks and the local QVC Facility. D.L. Howell has been working closely with Shippee Engineering and Tamora Building Systems to bring the site one step closer to being completed.
The site will consist of 13,815 S.F. Learning Center containing multiple classrooms for kids up to pre-kindergarten, an indoor Gym, and a 3,500 s.f. outdoor play area for the kids. The location is ideal as working parents can drop their kids off on the way into work and pick them up on the way home. Stay tuned for further updates in the weeks to come!
On a regular basis we receive calls from property owners who have searched for their property on the County Geographic information system (GIS) known as ChescoViews and discovered that their neighbor‘s driveway is on their property or some other gross error is apparent.
Anyone who has worked with surveyors and GIS professionals may perceive a well-known stigma that goes along with the two. It’s a touchy subject, and both sides can be pretty stubborn about it. Surveyors may feel that GIS professionals are careless with the way they use their data. GIS professionals may insist that surveyors don’t welcome innovation. Any party who holds either belief is greatly misinformed. The fact is that when spatial data is well documented and used for the application that it is suited, conflicts and misunderstandings regarding these two geospatial practices fade. Furthermore, one may contend that there isn’t a better partnership than surveying and GIS.
The first thing we tell the owner is GIS is not a survey, but county tax parcel information overlaid onto an aerial image. Counties have had tax maps for many years. Now these tax maps are overlaid onto an aerial image and accessible online. These maps are meant to be used as a tool for the county and its residents. That neighbor‘s driveway that appears to be on your property in most cases may not be. The best way to clear up any questions about the true location of property lines is to hire a surveyor to perform a boundary survey.
What is involved in performing a boundary survey? There are several steps involved in properly performing a land boundary survey: First, we obtain copies of the record legal documents from the county Recorder of Deed. As a matter of course we obtain not only the deed for your property, but also the deeds for all the properties that adjoin yours. Many times, the deeds we obtain reference subdivision plans, if the plan was recorded, we retrieve a copy of those as well. Second, we enter the descriptions of those properties into our Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) software and piece them together like a giant, mathematical, jig-saw puzzle. Third, we send a crew to your property to look for and recover any existing property markers in your neighborhood. Once the crew has found sufficient evidence of where the property lines are, they will set any missing corner markers on your property and set stakes along the lines.
If you see one of our surveyors with a copy of a ChescoViews map out in the field do not be alarmed. We use this information as it is intended, a representation of your tax parcel and your neighbors tax parcels. We can often see why the client has concerns. We can see that driveway is “over your property line”. This helps us be sensitive to property owners’ concerns. After the survey is complete and the true boundary line is established, we can compare the ChescoViews representation and the survey lines with our client.
GIS is a valuable tool when used for the applications for which it is intended. A professional survey is the only way to determine boundary issues.
The end of this month will mark my 18th year with D.L. Howell & Associates. I thought it would be interesting to look back at all the changes that have occurred during that time and the evolution that has occurred in the industry and in technology.
On August 27, 2001, I started my first day with Denny. Up until that time I had spent most of my working career in the construction industry. Having just turned 30 and two weeks away from marriage, I figured it was a good time to make a career change, as my body was already feeling the effects of a blue collared life. At that time AutoCAD was quickly becoming the go-to program in the industrial world, replacing Terra-model (or as we like to call it, “terrible-model”) and Micro Station. Digitally, we had very little information available and many architects and engineers were still drafting plans by hand. I can remember calculating drainage areas with a device called a planometer, which rolled around on wheels and was calibrated to the drawing using a triangulation of points. Looking back, the accuracy was probably only 90% to 95%. Our computers had 500MB’s of RAM and we had to print single sheets of plans (which took about 3 minutes per page), then run them through a photocopier and collate. Putting together 10 sets of 25 sheets was an all-day endeavor. At that time, faxing was still the best way to send documents and phones were still analog. Nextel flip phones were the rage, with the “push to talk” button that worked like a walkie-talkie.
Flashing forward about a half dozen years, everything was changing fast. Our computers had a lot more RAM and processing speed, our plotters were now pumping out a sheet or two a minute and you could plot a whole set of plans with no need to use that photocopier. That same set of plans now could be plotted in just a few hours. The internet had come a long way as well and we now had access to imagery online, thanks to Google Earth, that we could screen capture and insert into our drawings. The iPhone with touch screen was introduced to the world, arguably the greatest invention of all time behind fire, the wheel, electricity and of course sliced bread! (Why is sliced bread such a marvel??) During this time, I also bought my 1st home and had a couple of kids. My life was now changed forever!
From then until now it all blurs together. I’ve endured many sleepless nights with my kids and experienced the worst economic crash since the Great Depression, but have experienced many things, mastered many skills and met many amazing people in this industry. We now have a plotter that is capable of plotting 6 to 8 pages a minute and in color. We can access recorded plans, deeds, high resolution imagery, street views and elevated topography, all online and for free, making our once archaic sketch plans so detailed that they often get confused for approved engineered plans. Everything is digital and accessible from anywhere and our phones allow us to do work and email clients while sitting on the beach with our feet in the water, if we so choose. I’m excited to see what the future will bring and can only imagine drafting will be performed with mind controls rather than keyboards and mice.
To be continued…