Canadian Consulting Engineer

News (March 01, 2003)

INTERNATIONALToronto's IBI Group helps in London traffic tollIBI Group of Toronto, under the leadership of Mario M. Bozzo, has designed and set up the control centre for the new traffic toll area in c...

March 1, 2003   Canadian Consulting Engineer

INTERNATIONAL

Toronto’s IBI Group helps in London traffic toll

IBI Group of Toronto, under the leadership of Mario M. Bozzo, has designed and set up the control centre for the new traffic toll area in central London, U.K. The London Traffic Control Centre located near Victoria Station controls 700 surveillance cameras and 4,500 traffic signals.

The controversial toll, which applies to an area covering 20-kilometres around Westminster and the City, means that motorists have to pay five pounds (approximately Cdn. $12.50) to travel within the area during business hours Monday to Friday. Cameras, similar to those on the Highway 407 toll road north of Toronto, scan licence plates to generate the charges.

WATER

Greater Vancouver Regional District water system

The Greater Vancouver Regional District continues a major program to improve the quality of its water supply. Engineers are busy designing a massive $500-million new system to treat the water from two of its three major reservoirs in the North Shore Mountains: Seymour and Capilano. The region has to reduce turbidity levels in the water in order to meet higher Canadian and regional health standards. The third source, Coquitlam Lake, had a new plant built three years ago using ozone disinfection.

The Seymour-Capilano Filtration plant will service about 70% of the region by 2007, filtering and treating 1,800 million litres of water a day. It will be located in the Seymour Conservation Reserve near Rice Lake. Water from the Capilano Reservoir will be pumped east to the Seymour plant through 7 1/2 kilometres of new hard rock tunnel burrowed 50-200 metres below the surface. The treated water will return to Capilano by gravity through a parallel tunnel.

The list of consulting engineers hired for the project include Pacific Liaicon (a subsidiary of SNC-Lavalin) to do project management, SSBV Consultants (a joint venture between Stantec, AMEC and Black and Veatch) to design the pump station and filtration plant, Hatch Mott MacDonald for the twin tunnels, and Golder Associates to do geotechnical work.

PROFESSION

Quebec engineer questions role of advocacy organization

Engineers in Quebec are questioning the effectiveness of their new advocacy organization. SERVIQ (Corporation de services des ingnieurs du Qubec) is similar to OSPE (Ontario Society of Professional Engineers), in that both organizations were recently established to serve the interests of engineers. The proponents of these new organizations argue that they are necessary because the established licensing professional engineering associations — Ordre des Ingnieurs de Qubec (OIQ) and Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) — cannot serve two masters i.e. they can’t adequately promote engineers’ interests at the same time as they are protecting the public.

Giuseppe Indelicato, ing., vice-president of corporate affairs at OIQ and a director of SERVIQ, expressed doubts about SERVIQ’s current role in an article in PLAN magazine’s January-February issue. He wrote: “Many engineers still wonder why it [SERVIQ] was created and what its real purpose is.” He continued, “In 2003, it must be said that the results achieved by SERVIQ are not particularly impressive.”

According to Indelicato, the number of SERVIQ members has stagnated and the organization is “scarcely known.” He noted that it has not instituted any regular form of communication with engineers or non-engineers beyond some promotional advertising, and the services offered — insurance and banking — are not much different from those offered by OIQ.

One problem, he suggested, may be organizational, in that the election of directors to SERVIQ is not transparent enough.

Indelicato wrote that there should be a review of SERVIQ’s role before the OIQ renews its contract for 2004. SERVIQ receives a “generous inheritance” from OIQ.

AWARDS

Consulting Engineers of Alberta give awards

Consulting Engineers of Alberta dressed up in medieval costumes to celebrate their 2003 awards. The awards were given on February 1 at McEwan Hall, University of Calgary.

In total 21 awards of merit and excellence in eight categories were given. The awards of excellence went to the following:

Keen Engineering for North Division Police Station in Edmonton (buildings); UMA Engineering for Coalbanks Crossing Pedestrian Bridge in Lethbridge (transportation); Associated Engineering for the Anthony Henday Water Treatment Plant Expansion in Innisfail, and UMA Engineering for the Gold Bar Wastewater Treatment Plant BNR Retrofit in Edmonton (water resources & energy production); EBA Engineering Consultants for Site Remediation of Heating Fuel Release in Fort Smith (environmental); Stewart Weir Group for Rotary Breaker Precise Alignment at the Muskeg River Mine oil sands (natural resources, mining and industry); Clifton ND Lea for Crowchild Trail Corridor Improvement (project management); Golder Associates for Flood Management Optimization for Sihu Basin in China (international).

MAILBOX

Don’t pigeonhole into specialties

I enjoyed the editorial “Comment” in the January-February issue “Who is an engineer?” In the case of the Queen Street Bridge [in Toronto] you were correct with the words of Heraclitis, but the whimsical element was added in 1990, with our company doing the fabrication.

It is called “Time and a Clock” and the artist is Eldon Garnet who also added inscriptions in the sidewalks at the four corners of Broadview and Queen. We have also had the pleasure of working with other noted artists on over 25 large sculptures that we have fabricated in the Toronto Area.

This also goes along with 960,000-lb. heat exchangers shipped to California last summer, 16-ft. diameter filter pressure vessels shipped to Sweden, titanium autoclaves to Brazil and venturi tubes to Singapore.

This begs the question relative to [specialized] licensing to practice engineering. After over 40 years of design engineering involvement with numerous types of fabrications, would I be categorized as a P.Eng. (ASME Pressure Vessels); P.Eng. (Flow Metering), P.Eng. (Bus Bar Systems); P.Eng. (Machine Design); or maybe even P.Eng. (Sculptures)?

As engineers we have been blessed with a sound basic education and inquiring minds to learn every day of our lives. We must watch that we do not create a bureaucratic nightmare by having a pigeon square hole system set up for all rounded pegs.

Wm. A. Dunsmoor, P.Eng., President

All-Weld Company, Scarborough, Ont.

CONSTRUCTION

Low profits hamper progress

A committee of eminent people from the construction industry’s public and private sectors is charged with finding ways to stimulate innovation and spearhead a national strategic plan for the 21st century.

The National Steering Committee for Innovation in Construction was formed in 2001 and will meet again in late May at a forum in Calgary to present a proposal.

A report of the committee’s preliminary findings pointed out that the productivity of the construction industry in Canada was lagging behind the rest of the country’s business sectors by more than 50% since 1960, with the greatest lag happening in the past two decades. It also noted that low profit margins, poor dissemination of knowledge and a lack of cohesion hamper construction’s effectiveness in world markets.

However, the committee’s preliminary findings highlighted several new opportunities opening up for the industry. Notable are new contracting practices such as public-private partnerships and design build, and especially the trend towards sustainable development, which requires new technologies, energy efficiency and an increasing focus on the longevity of buildings and infrastructure.

The committee — which is transitional and will be superceded by a permanent body — is co-chaired by Dev Fraser, president of PCL in Edmonton, and John Westeinde, president of the Westeinde Group of Ottawa. Representing the consulting engineering sector on the committee are Dale Craig, P.Eng., president of J.L. Richards of Ott
awa, and Ali Ettehadieh, ing., president of Gnivar of Montreal.

POWER

Clarington could be site for $12 billion fusion research centre

Clarington, east of Toronto, is one of four sites being considered as the location for a $12 billion research and development centre for fusion power. The ITER project will be the second largest international cooperative research and development project next to the Space Station. It involves Canada, the U.S., China, Russia, Japan and the European Union.

If the Canadian site is chosen, AMEC Canada would manage the initial environmental assessment and monitoring over the lifetime of the project. The other sites being considered are Vardellos in Spain, Cadarache in France and Rokkasho-mura in Japan.

Research into fusion — the same energy that powers the sun and the stars — has been conducted since the 1920s, but recent advances have intensified in making it a major source of electrical power. In fusion, the nuclei of light elements, such as hydrogen, fuse together to make heavier elements, such as helium, giving off tremendous amounts of energy. ITER will use tritium as fuel and a doughnut-shaped magnet coil to create the conditions for controlled fusion reactions on earth.

BOOKS

Women Becoming Mathematicians: Creating a Professional Identity in Post-World War II America

By Margaret A.M. Murray, MIT Press, Cambridge, 2001

Review by Monique Frize, P.Eng. and Nadine Faulkner

Women Becoming Mathematicians is based on the lives of 37 women who received their Ph.D.’s in mathematics in the 1940s and 1950s at American universities.

The time period chosen by Murray is of particular interest, not only because the number of women receiving Ph.D.’s during these two decades dropped to almost half of what it had been in the 1920s and 1930s (the numbers recuperated only in the 1980s), but also because of the ultimately positive effect the war had on mathematics in general. While the number and prestige of mathematicians increased in parallel with government funding, the number of women in the discipline decreased substantially. Within this social and political context, the success stories are all the more intriguing and useful for women today.

What stands out in the life stories of the women interviewed is that they did not succeed without help, and surprisingly often, not without help from men (be they fathers, teachers, husbands or faculty), as well as with help from some institutions. All the women faced many biases, but one important lesson for us to draw is that a little support from the right people can go a long way. Individuals willing to give women encouragement, a recommendation, or take them seriously, sometimes made the difference between success and failure. Without such helpful and concerned people — and many of them were men in positions of power that women could not then occupy — these determined women’s efforts may have been in vain.

It is true that the academic and cultural climate has substantially changed in its attitudes towards women compared to the 1940s and 1950s. Women today count for approximately one-quarter of the Ph.D.’s in mathematics. While we should feel proud of that improvement, we need to remember that the percentage of women in mathematics today is only slightly higher than it was in the 1920s and 1930s, and that in other related areas such as engineering and physics the number is considerably — and embarrassingly — lower.

Murray’s book about women who succeeded during the roughest of times provides us with clues as to how to improve things. Today, there is still a prevalent view that women cannot do mathematics or science. Rectifying this bias is important in order to increase the participation of women pursuing mathematics, engineering, and physics degrees. Other issues raised in the book are the importance of positive school environments, the need for mentors, and the effects of cultural stereotyping.

The book does not focus on the details of the technical contributions made by these mathematicians. Instead, it highlights the pioneering roles that some women played in young fields such as computer programming and statistics. It also broadens our understanding of what it is to be a mathematician. A third of the women, for example, are categorized by Murray as “scholar-teachers.” Scholar-teachers challenged the traditional dichotomy between research and teaching by combining the two in a unique way. In particular, they drew attention in their work to the historical context of mathematics and also presented information in lay terms to explain it to non-mathematicians.

Murray also explores what she calls “The myth of the mathematical life-course,” the idea — still dominant — that a true mathematician discovers his talent early, continues through school to his Ph.D. without a break, and does his best work before he is 40 years old. Murray contrasts this career pattern with those of the women who became mathematicians in the 1940s and 1950s; they had diverse interests, lengthy periods between the completion of their undergraduate degrees and Ph.D.’s, and often did their best work when older. Importantly, the myth was not even an option for these women and it is not really an option for many women and men today, given financial constraints and the changing roles of parenthood.

On the whole, Murray’s book is a refreshingly optimistic work about fascinating women in a difficult but interesting time. It is a book we can both learn from and enjoy.

Monique Frize, P.Eng. is a professor in systems and computer engineering at Carleton University and at the School of Information Technology and Engineering at the University of Ottawa. Nadine Faulkner is a Ph.D. candidate at Oxford University. Together they are writing a book on women in science and engineering.

TECH-NOTES

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Structural Engineering Institute has issued a report on how the Pentagon building behaved after it was struck by a hijacked plane on September 11. The Pentagon Building Performance Report concludes that the building’s robust structural features such as short spans and redundant load paths helped to minimize the impact of the terrorist strike.

Major organizations in the U.S., like the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), are collaborating to produce a comprehensive set of construction codes. Known as the “C3 Set,” the Comprehensive Consensus Codes will be available in May. They are developed according to ANSI procedures and combine several existing electrical, mechanical and fire codes, as well as the centrepiece NFPA 5000, Building Construction and Safety Code. Enquiries to Sean Tracey, P.Eng., Canadian regional manager for NFPA at stracey@nfpa.org

BACnet, the building controls standard developed by the American Society of Heating and Refrigerating Engineers, is being published as an international and European standard. ANSI/ ASHRAE Standard 135-2001 “BACnet, a Data Communication Protocol for Building Automation and Control Networks,” will be published as international standard ISO 16484-5 and European standard EN/ISO16484-5.

MISCELLANY

Conflict and the environment

The United Nations Environment Program has said environmental restoration must play a major part in the reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. Just over 80% of Afghans live in rural areas yet their basic resources — water, trees and fuel — have been lost in a generation due to warfare and drought. In urban areas, fewer than 12% of the people may be receiving safe water.

Weighty problem

In order to test a baggage handling system at its new terminal under construction at Pearson International, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority is appealing for 10,000 pieces of old luggage. So far they have collected 1,000 old briefcases, hold-alls, golf bags, skis, etc.

Engineering humour

To the optimist, the glass is half full. To the pessimist, the glass is half empty. To the engineer, the g
lass is twice as big as it needs to be.

Q. What is the difference between mechanical engineers and civil engineers? A. Mechanical engineers build weapons. Civil engineers build targets

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