Bridge Scouring

Scouring is one of the most common causes of bridge failure. This process is the removal of sediment such as sand and rock from the area around bridge abutments or piers. I recently conducted research to gather data that will help to better understand this phenomenon. I ran tests using a flume, two pumps, and a 50 mm hollow plastic cylinder which served as a model pier. I adjusted the total pump speed and water level for each trial and then measured the resulting scour for evaluation. I then drafted a 3-D model of the scour hole from the data points collected when measuring and determined a batch of new trial criteria based on the number of trials that failed in the previous batch. The results I obtained from these trials will be helpful when determining the likeliness of bridge piers failing in the future. I then used what I had learned in a GIS (Geographical Information Systems) course to help determine what bridges in Worcester County Massachusetts were at risk of failing due to scouring. After finding enough useful data, I was able to identify at least eight bridges that were at risk. Conducting research was very interesting and I was able to learn a lot but getting the chance to then use that research and apply the knowledge I had gained from one of my classes helped me learn a great deal more about my research topic as well as the GIS program for my class. As I near the end of my time at RIT, I look forward to applying more of my knowledge to my future career.

~Tatianna Auguste


Plain Language in Construction

As I continue my education in Civil Engineering, Construction Management specifically, I am realizing just how important plain language is. In the construction field, information gets passed around constantly and it can be sent out to several different parties at any given time. A set of plans will go through at least three separate departments before it reaches the contractor. Engineers and project managers must be able to communicate clearly with clients, peers, supervisors, and contractors. Often times, the project manager serves as the liaison among all groups which is why communication is a vital skill in the construction field. If an unexpected change needs to be made on a job site, it is the project manager’s responsibility to fully comprehend the issue and then translate that problem to the design engineers so that a solution can be devised. The project manager must also inform the owner/client of the change in a way that makes sense to them. This sometimes requires them to simplify the problem because the owner is not always someone who understands construction terminology. Finally, the project manager must update their supervisor on any decisions that have been made or are under consideration. Since project managers must communicate with so many distinct groups, they usually benefit from using plain language with everyone involved; this ensures everyone is on the same page and no information is misinterpreted. As I take the next step toward my professional career, I will be sure to make clear communication a top priority in all my work.


~Tatianna Auguste

Updating Mapping Information for a Construction Project

In construction, it is the responsibility of the field engineer to take note of all the changes the contractor makes to a site. All the notes taken will later be turned into what is called an ‘as-built’ drawing. An as-built drawing consists of every component that has been installed whether it was called for in the plans or not. This drawing must be to scale, and several measurements must be included as well. The drawing must be submitted along with valve, water service, and hydrant cards which are individual cards for each component installed that has enough measurements to guide anyone with a measuring wheel directly to the specified valve box, water service box, or water hydrant. Upon completion of a project, the field engineer must gather all their data, including offsets to the center of roads, varying depths of pipe, and at least three measurements to each bend, and piece together their cards and drawing. As soon as they are all complete, the drawings are submitted to the mapping department for review. Once reviewed, the drawings are returned to the field engineer so that corrections can be made. After all necessary corrections have been made, the mapping department updates the company database with the latest information.

The process sounds simple; however, it can be a rather long and frustrating one. While it takes a good amount of time to construct the as-built drawing, it takes even more time for the mapping department to review it. Every time the drawings are submitted, a new set of corrections are found, and the field engineer must resubmit everything again, hoping that was the last time. I do understand accurate measurements are necessary for an accurate representation, but most of the corrections are either easily determined based on all the other measurements that were provided or they are no longer attainable since all the components were buried months ago.

Another issue with the process of updating the company database is that many of the cards that are created end up being used as blow-up images on the as-built drawing so when the first round of corrections is returned to the field engineer, they often have to remake many cards and adjust some of the pages on their as-built drawing. The overall process can take anywhere from four months to a year after construction has been completed depending on the size of the project. I believe the procedure could be shortened if the cards were submitted before the field engineer began working on the as-built drawing. This way there would be fewer rounds of corrections. I also believe the as-built should be returned to the field engineer in sections so they can work on corrections for half of the drawing while the mapping department continues to make corrections on the other half. This would leave less waiting time for both parties.

Understanding Proposals In the Construction Industry

A typical stereo type of Civil Engineers is that they do not know how to effectively write. Eleven weeks into my Technical Communications class, we have conferred on a number of quality aspects that can be used in any career. From the basis of proper Technical Communications to creating effective infographics, the understanding of communicating effectively is crucial in any career field. Being a Civil Engineering student at RIT with a future career in the heavy highway industry, the most important aspect of this class has been the understanding of proposals.

When it comes to bidding proposals in the construction industry, it is crucial to understand how they are written, whom they are addressing and ensure that they are directed to the proper audience. Being the basis for most State and Federal job bidding, these “Solicitations”, are made to gain potential bidders. When a potential contractor looks at a solicitation they would expect to see a number of things like, a general description of the work, bidding documents (General to specific), and the jobs plans (if applicable). If a contractor were not to understand this proposal or if the proposal were not created adequately enough, that could cause both a loss of work or cost the contractor of government moneys.

Thankfully the semester is not over and there are plenty more concepts to grasp a general understanding of in my Technical Communications class. For any person who has hopes in pursuing a career in the construction industry, it is crucial to comprehend the idea and concept behind proposals. Through the content, I have learned in this Technical Communications class I have learned how to comprehend and compose a proper proposal.

Composed by,
Chris O’Brien