Structural Engineering

Structural engineering — a specialty within the field of civil engineering — focuses on the framework of structures, and on designing those structures to withstand the stresses and pressures of their environment and remain safe, stable and secure throughout their use. In other words, structural engineers make sure that buildings don’t fall down and bridges don’t collapse.

Structural engineering is among the oldest types of engineering, dating back to the first instance of tree branches being lashed together with vines to make a shelter. Throughout recorded history, people have been designing and building increasingly larger and more sophisticated structures, from primitive huts to the International Space Station.

The names of the earliest practitioners of structural engineering are lost to antiquity. We will never know who designed the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Parthenon or the aqueducts of the Roman Empire. Some of the latter-day practitioners in this field are known, although often not as well as the structures they designed. Prominent structural engineers include Gustave Eiffel (Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty) and Eero Saarinen (Gateway Arch). However, most designs for famous modern structures such as the Large Hadron Collider and the James Webb Space Telescope are attributed to companies and government organizations.

What does a structural engineer do?

Structural engineers often work alongside civil engineers and architects as part of a construction team. “In a nutshell,” according to the Institution of Structural Engineers, “if a structure was a human body, then the architect would be concerned with the body shape and appearance, and the structural engineer would be concerned with the skeleton and sinews.”

Structures must be able to deal with the conditions in which they are built. A house in Canada must have a roof that can bear the weight of heavy snow and a stadium in California must be able to withstand earthquakes, for example. When building bridges, designers must take into account the conditions of terrain, wind, and traffic volume. Structural engineers consider all of these factors and provide technical advice about the project.

Structural engineers “design roof framing (beams, rafters, joists, trusses), floor framing (floor decks, joists, beams, trusses, girders), arches, columns, braces, frames, foundations and walls,” according to the National Council of Structural Engineers Association. “In bridges, they design the deck — or riding surface, girders or stringers, and piers. The materials they use include steel, concrete, wood, masonry, and aluminum. Engineers design the structure to resist forces from gravity, earthquakes, high winds, water, soil, collisions and blast explosions.”

Most structural-engineering jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree in engineering. Many employers, particularly those that offer engineering consulting services, also require certification as a professional engineer. A master’s degree is often required for promotion to management, and ongoing education and training are needed to keep up with advances in technology, materials, computer hardware and software and government regulations. Additionally, many structural engineers belong to the Structural Engineering Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

 

The GE 90-30 series PLC

The GE 90-30 series PLC was introduced in 1991. Last year on 10/1/15, the 90-30 series was moved to “Mature” status. Per GE policy, the 90-30s will be discontinued 2 years after becoming mature. This means that on 10/1/17, it will be obsolete and GE will only offer repair services, but no new parts. The RX3i series is the replacement for the 90-30 or it may be time for the user to move to another manufacturer. PSE is prepared to help in either migrating to a new manufacturer or upgrading with GE to deal with the 90-30 series becoming obsolete.

Food Processing Engineering

Food Processing engineers utilize the latest innovative technology to process, package, preserve and improve food products. This type of engineer works in combination with the agricultural and food processing industry to ensure food safety, supply, nutrition and value.

A minimum of a bachelor’s degree in agriculture, life sciences or food sciences is typically required to acquire an entry-level position in this field. Higher level degrees offer greater job opportunities and higher compensation.

Food engineers begin by acquiring a bachelor’s degree. A variety of undergraduate degrees may lead to a food engineering career including: natural sciences, agricultural sciences, life sciences or bioprocess engineering.

This profession offers excellent opportunities for growth and salary, but requires at least a bachelor’s degree and certification. Many national colleges note that 100% of their food engineer graduates acquire immediate employment upon graduation. Some universities state that they cannot keep up with the demand for food engineers.

Food Engineer Job Description

This type of engineering professional utilizes a wide variety of capabilities even beyond those acquired through education. Food engineers generally need strong problem-solving skills, effective verbal and written communication and well-developed organizational abilities. Food engineers should be knowledgeable about process engineering, the chemical and physical properties of foods, microbiology and have an understanding of how machinery works with food products.

Depending on the specific job, a food engineer may do some or all of the following:

  • Create new techniques for processing, packaging and preserving food
  • Test the process and the utilization of food equipment
  • Develop and design new food equipment
  • Research and create new foods and pharmaceutical products
  • Offer marketing and technical support for food manufacturing companies
  • Problem solve to develop solutions for food challenges related to supply and preservation throughout the world

Food engineers often work for major corporations such as Frito-Lay, Kellogg, Nabisco and Kraft. Careers may also be found for food engineers within the government for agencies like the Food and Drug Administration or the Center for Disease Control.

 

Food Engineer Salary

According to the 2006 Census, food engineers earned an average of $62,400 per year. Upon graduating from college, most food engineers earn between $40,000 and $45,000 annually. With experience, it’s for this type of engineer to earn upwards of $90,000 to $100,000 per year. The Department of Labor anticipates that chemical engineering will grow faster than average over the next decade. In a very unlikely scenario, food engineering is considered one of the fastest developing professions for chemical engineers.

You begin your day with your project manager, reviewing all that has progressed so far in your current project.  After reviewing various options, you are ready to move on to phase two of your design.  

You then email other members of your design team and tell them about what was discussed with the PM, and let them know a new drawing will be available to them within a day or two.  

shutterstock_181375247Then you call your client, and give them a report on the progress of the project, and share with them information about the concept.  

Following this phone call, the rest of the morning is spent fleshing out the concept with sketches and calculations.  Many times you meet with the Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) Operator to let them know what needs to be included into your drawings, and figure out a time when your drawing will be ready.  

After lunch you visit the site where your project is going to be constructed.  You meet with the Inspector and go over any new issues that may have come up since you last spoke, and if there are problems that must be addressed or changes that need to be made to your design.  

Heading back to the office you swing by City Hall and visit with the Engineer that reviews your design and the involved drawings.  You give them a heads up on when you expect to give them the drawings to review, and if that works within their schedule.  This is a good time to find out more information on what new projects the city is planning, and put into a good word for your firm to do the design work for their next project.  

When you return to the office, you update your Project Manager, check emails, and follow up with the CAD Operator and close for the day. 

Electrical Engineering

Electrical Engineer

An electrical engineer is someone who designs and develops new electrical equipment, solves problems and tests equipment, and shutterstock_280867157ensures power reaches all devices that need it. They work with all kinds of electrical devices, from the smallest of chips to large power producers.

Electrical engineering deals with electricity, electro-magnetism and electronics. It also covers power, control systems, telecommunications and signal processing. These engineers are usually concerned with large-scale electrical systems such as motor control and power transmission, as well as utilizing electricity to transmit energy. Electrical engineers may work on a diverse range of technologies, from the design of household appliances, lighting and wiring of buildings, telecommunication systems, electrical power stations and satellite communications. They may plan their designs using computer-aided software or they may also sketch ideas by hand.

What does an Electrical Engineer do?

They ensure that the correct current reaches the correct component with the most efficient current. Electrical engineers work on a variety of projects, such as computers, robots, cell phones, cards, radars, navigation systems, wiring and lighting in buildings and other kinds of electrical systems.

In some cases electrical engineers start out a project by defining what new electronic devices should be able to do. They will then design the circuits and parts of the electronics using a computer. They will create a prototype and test the product to improve it. Most products do not work initially or have some bugs that need to be fixed. The electrical engineer needs to figure out the problem and make the product work. In other cases they ensure the transmission lines flow into a substation from which the power then gets distributed throughout the plant.

There are many sub-disciplines of electrical engineering. Some electrical engineers specialize exclusively in one sub-discipline, while others specialize in a combination of sub-disciplines. The most popular sub-disciplines are:

Electronic Engineer

– deals with electronic circuits such as resistors, capacitors, inductors, transistors and diodes

Microelectronics Engineer

– deals with design and micro-fabrication of tiny electronic circuit components

Signal Processing Engineer

shutterstock_288245942– deals with signals, such as analog or digital signals

Power Engineer

– deals with electricity and design of related electrical devices such as transformers, generators, motors and power electronics

Control Engineer

– deals with design of controllers that cause systems to behave in a certain way, using micro-controllers, programmable logic controllers, digital signal processors and electrical circuits

Telecommunications Engineer

– deals with transmission of information via a cable or optical fiber

Instrumentation Engineer

– deals with the design of measuring devices for pressure, flow and temperature. This involves a deep understanding of physics

 

shutterstock_282896444

Here are some quick ideas on drone services for the construction industry.

Surveying:
You can use drones to quickly survey your job site and build maps.

Tracking Progress:
You can easily demonstrate progress on site with pictures from above with a drone.

Monitoring Job Sites:
Daily Drone use would provide excellent job site monitoring and status.

Inspecting Structures:
Drones can go where humans cannot. Drones can inspect towers, flare stacks, smoke stacks, wind turbine blades, and other tall or difficult to reach structures.

Bulk Material Tracking:
Drones can create volumetric calculations to track bulk material usage.

Safety Review:
By getting a different perspective and different ability to inspect, drones can contribute to safety reviews of facilities.

Mining in the Western US

Written by David Brown P.E., Vice President of Engineering

The first exposure that many of us had to mining was through Western movies or television shows. Some of us remember scenes of the twenty mule teams hauling Borax out of Death Valley; or the cranky old prospector wandering the desert mountains of the west, with his trusty mule or burro, looking for and then following geological formations, hoping to find the mother lode gold seam. Or in the mid nineteenth century adventurous young men making their way to the streams and rivers of California or Alaska hoping to pan or sluice the gold that lined them.

True stories, or close to it. More often than not, though, finding precious metals or minerals was always much more difficult and scientific than that. Early prospectors were geologists and civil engineers, many were well educated. Miners were often experienced immigrants, from Eastern Europe, Western Europe, Wales or Ireland. Descendants of these early miners still live in the Western US mining towns.

As placer and free gold was panned out, chemists, engineers along with geologists were needed to develop new processes for preparing ore and extracting metals and minerals. Early chemical extraction processes were crude and inefficient and often left significant residual materials.

An acquaintance worked as a mining engineer at Homestake Gold Mine in the Black Hills of South Dakota starting in the early 1930’s. He had a degree from South Dakota School of Mines in chemical engineering and was an expert on extractive processes used in separating precious metals from ore. He bought a mine property that had been worked in the 1930’s and 1940’s. It was complete with processing equipment, a bunk house and a chow hall. It was an underground mine in very poor (you might say dangerous) condition. The metals that were mined were gold and silver. He had inspected the mine and found that the gold seams had been mined out and there was very little high grade gold or silver ore left to be mined. That, combined with the dangerous conditions of the mine shafts, convince him to change directions and use current technology with his extensive experience to make the mine worthwhile. One of the tests he performed was to assay the waste dump materials (tailings) from the original mining activities. He found that gold content was good and his approach, therefore, was to re-process the tailings using technology that was current in the 1980’s.

He retired from Homestake, bought a small used crusher, a ball mill and a couple small process tanks and spent his remaining years making a very decent living reworking his gold mine tailings dump. In his spare time he operated a floating placer vacuum barge that would suck up mud and sand from cracks and seams in river bottoms and separate out placer gold. He hoped to be able to access places that could not be reached by miners who panned and sluiced these rivers. His design is still being used today.

Most mined products are commodities and value is determined by demands that fluctuate. This has created a history of boom and bust that is more dramatic than most other hard commodity markets. As a result, mining has evolved drastically over the years, although the roots remain the same as in the early days. Processes and equipment are largely more efficient versions of earlier ones.

In the early days of mining in the Western US, environmental and safety considerations were not high priorities. Mining was considered a very risky occupation and significant damage was done to rivers and mine sites with toxic residual materials.

The mining industry has become more sensitive to environmental considerations. Processing facilities that have been in service for years are upgrading their systems to have less effects on air and ground water. New mines are designed with latest technology and equipment to minimize environmental impacts. Most operating mines have detailed renovation plans to restore the mine sites to original conditions.

Mines and processing facilities have adopted rigorous safety policies and procedures and safety features are designed into them. Safety is a high priority for all mines. MSHA is the regulatory entity for mine safety and OSHA is the regulatory entity for most processing facilities, and most mines and processing facilities strive to exceed regulatory requirements. Process Safety Management (PSM) is widely adopted as the methodology for safety programs at most processing facilities. One of the elements of this method is Process Hazard Analysis (PHA), which is a rigorous and systematic way of evaluating process safety. PHAs are performed at least every five years on every process system.

Much of the prospecting for new mines and mine expansions is now done by satellites and aerial photogrammetry to determine potential mining sites. The extent and quality of ore is determined on-site with seismic and sonic testing. Verification is performed with boring samples that are lab tested and quantified. Large quantities of data are collected and used to create three dimensional ore body and quality boundary limit models, then, in the case of underground mines, to prepare three dimensional mine shaft alignment drawings and mining plans, and in the case of open pit or combination mines, to prepare mining plans and mine haul road alignments.

Processing facilities are designed and controlled by sophisticated use of data specific to the ore and metals or minerals being extracted. The physical design of these facilities is largely done with three dimensional modelling of the entire processing facility, including material handling, processing, equipment and piping, structures and foundations, site leveling and drainage and electrical equipment. Most control systems are computerized and are fed continuous data from instrumentation on equipment and piping that measure every aspect of the process systems. Process systems can be computer simulated remotely and verified prior to integration and commissioning. This can prove out the process designs and minimized process field problems.

Metals and minerals mining in the Western US has come a long way and still has a long way to go. Mines and Process facilities are becoming more and more efficient, safer and environmentally friendly.

Precision Systems Engineering
In-house Expertise to Serve Heavy Industry Worldwide

US Article

Based in Sandy, Utah, Precision Systems Engineering (PSE) has been providing a strong suite of engineering services for industrial clients for 25 years. Founded with a strong team including Brent Maxwell, current president, the business incorporates in-house expertise and strikes a balance between personalized services and broad capabilities.
“We are large enough to handle good-sized jobs,” says Maxwell. “But we are small enough to be nimble. What sets us apart is being full service; we handle whatever our clients throw at us.”

Read the rest of the article here: US Builders Review – PSE