EWeek Interviews with Our TeamPosted on Wednesday, February 19th, 2020 by Affinis Corp
In Culture, tagged in Tags: eweek, nspe
Founded by the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) in 1951, EWeek is dedicated to ensuring a diverse and well-educated future engineering workforce by increasing understanding of and interest in engineering and technology careers. In celebration, we asked PE’s on our team to share their favorite projects and the coolest problems they’ve solved over the course of their careers. Find those answers, as well as others, below.
What is your favorite project you’ve worked on at Affinis?
Linda Rottinghaus: It would be the I-470/Route 50 Interchange project
Chris Farney: My favorite project that I have worked on at Affinis is the Mill and Overlay project on 67th Street in Merriam. I grew up in Merriam, in a neighborhood just off 67th Street, so it was really interesting to work in an area that I had a lot of familiarity with. The project itself was relatively straightforward, but we ended up adding a pedestrian bridge over the creek, which turned out really well.
Maeve VanLandingham: My favorite has been the Overland Park 2020 Major Storm Repair Project. The project has seven unique sites, so I’ve learned a lot from the site diversity.
John Spell: Meadowbrook Park is a large multi-use park at the south end of Prairie Village. There was a lot of collaboration between owner, architect, landscape architect, and contractor. While the engineering of the project was rather straight forward, the results were fantastic. The large hill at the north end of the project was used for soil stockpile and removed for the building excavations to the south. By shaping it nicely and seeding it well, it transformed into a sledding hill. After taking a very long lunch on a snow day recently to go sledding with my 6-year-old, this will probably be my favorite project for a long time. There were a least 100 other kids zooming down the hill.
Jason Davis: I would say the L-385 levee system located in Riverside. I started from the beginning and was part of the project through construction and now post-construction. The levee project had all the engineering disciplines involved. Great seeing an $80M levee project from start to finish!
What is the coolest problem you’ve solved for a client?
Linda: Reconstructing the main street through an old downtown district while providing ADA access to all the buildings. The doors to the businesses were accessed by stairs, so the design incorporated ramps and retaining walls to elevate the sidewalk to the doors. We had to work around the old building foundations when excavating for the retaining walls.
Maeve: Getting to help solve flooding issues for a local nursing home was really rewarding.
John: Solutions to flooding problems are sometimes simple, like installing a bigger pipe. Other times, they are require creativity. For a project in Olathe, KS, the flooding across a major street was severe. One solution was a bridge improvement. However, a bridge doesn’t address home flooding downstream, so instead of buying out flooded homes and building a bridge, the design team came up with a series of dams. Ponding water in a controlled manner reduces flow rates and helps lower the water surface elevation downstream. The hydraulic benefit from the dams is enough to leave the existing roadway and also protects the downstream homes from flooding.
What has been different about being an engineer than you expected?
Chris: When you are in school, it seems like engineering will be a lot of difficult math and lots of solving equations. In reality, quite a bit of my job is just problem solving. Trying to find solutions that solve the problem and work well for a city.
Maeve: The number of civil “specialties” a typical project involves is far more than I expected. Getting to coordinate with structural, geotechnical, traffic and other engineers to solve stormwater problems adds so much value to the design.
Jason: College doesn’t prepare you for the business side of engineering. It’s great for the technical, but the business aspects you learn through on the job training mostly.
Linda: That there is no simple project. Each one is totally different, and they all have small challenges that always have to be solved.
Which new trends or technology are you excited to integrate in future designs?
Maeve: I’m excited to integrate new erosion and sediment controls to our future designs. Having adaptive BMPs (Best Management Practices) in the design helps the consultant, client, and contractor execute the project if/when challenges arise during construction.
Jason: I would like to use more geophysical methods for subsurface investigations on my projects. The geophysical technology has improved quite a bit over the past few years. This information would be great for providing better or more information.
John: Recently, I have been doing a lot of hydraulic modeling. We use GIS and storm design software to tackle complex regional flooding issues. I look forward to expanding into 2-D stormwater modeling. Once water overflows out of a pipe or culver, a 2-Dimensional model uses LIDAR surface data to predict hydraulic movement over land. I hope this can really bring some value to our stormwater studies.