Month: February 2018

Engineers Week: Girl Day

Girl Day Engineers Week

It’s no secret that there is an underrepresentation of females in the field of engineering. Here at Hoyle, Tanner, we recognize diversity and inclusion as an instrumental part of making sure we are developing the best solutions to our region’s challenges. That is why we are participating in Girl Day, a recognized day of Engineers Week that is specifically geared toward generating awareness and educating young females about the opportunities available to them within the industry.

In 2015, women made up roughly 47 percent of the workforce but only 24 percent were working in STEM careers. Studies from Engineer Your Life & Changing the Conversation indicate that the lack of female interest and presence in the field may be due to the fact that many girls:

  • Do not know what engineering is
  • Think engineers must be exceptional at both math and science
  • Believe engineering is difficult and challenging

The gender gap in the industry can also be attributed to a matter of confidence. Studies show that when asked to assess their math abilities, female students tend to report lower capabilities despite equal levels of class achievement compared to their male counterparts.

There are many ways to encourage young girls to learn more about engineering, whether it be hosting events at your firm, visiting classrooms, or providing extensive access to role models or mentors within the field. However, if we are going to be successful in closing the gap and boosting the number of female engineers in future generations, we need to shift the focus of the conversation.

According to Discover Engineering, the only way to change young women’s thoughts about engineering is to change the way we talk about engineering. It is important to explain to young women that there is no “type” of person who becomes an engineer, and that a potential successful engineer does not necessarily have to be someone who “excels at math and science.” Instead, leaders of the women in the engineering movement suggest we begin to define a good engineer as someone who:

  • Is creative and imaginative
  • Likes to collaborate with others
  • Is curious and persistent
  • Wants to make a difference
  • Enjoys solving problems

By participating in Girl Day, we at Hoyle, Tanner hope to play our part in encouraging young women to study engineering. As a firm, we are proud to celebrate our female engineers and recognize how diverse minds at work help to increase the success of our projects.

Written by Grace Mulleavey

Act Like a President, Think Like an Engineer

Presidents Graphic

The majority of our nation’s past presidents came from an academic or professional background — such as law, writing or education — rather than a technical or scientific one. In honor of President’s Day and as the kick-off to this year’s annual Engineers Week, we are celebrating five unique presidents who proved to have minds for engineering.

George Washington – (Presidency: April 30, 1789 – March 4, 1797)
Most famous for being the first President of the United States and cutting down cherry trees, many people are not aware that amongst George Washington’s many talents was a knack for both geography and cartography. In fact, Washington spent his early professional career as a surveyor before some of his more distinguished endeavors as a business man, war hero and president. History shows that when serving as a military officer during the revolutionary war, Washington preferred to create his own field sketches as opposed to having them drawn up for him.

Thomas Jefferson – (Presidency: March 4, 1801 – March 4, 1809)
Perhaps one of the most famous and influential figures in United States history, our third president, Thomas Jefferson, certainly thought like an engineer. Although classicism was his official expertise, Jefferson is often celebrated as America’s first great native-born architect. Even more impressively, Jefferson was self-made, gaining all of his architectural knowledge from books because of the lack of schools in colonial Virginia. Evidence of our founding father’s talent can be seen at the University of Virginia, or the state capitol building in Richmond, Virginia (both of which he designed). Jefferson’s work is uniquely American and still influences modern day architecture.

Abraham Lincoln – (Presidency: March 4, 1861 – April 15, 1865)
Most famous for abolishing slavery, our 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln is known as both a successful lawyer and politician. However, most people are not aware that Lincoln spent a great deal of time studying mathematics, which qualified him for his early career as a land surveyor. In fact, in fall 1833 Lincoln spent countless days and nights pouring over texts such as Gibson’s Theory and Practice of Surveying and Flint’s Treatise on Geometry, Trigonometry, and Rectangular Surveying, both of which prepared him for making measurements in the field.

Herbert Hoover – (Presidency: March 4, 1929 – March 4, 1933)
President Hoover is the only president who had an official background in engineering. In 1985, he graduated from Stanford University with a Bachelor degree in mining engineering. Before winning the presidential election by a landslide in 1928, Herbert Hoover had a colorful career. The 31st president of the United States built his foundation working around the world on mining and railway projects, participating as a member of several war boards and councils and also serving as the Chairman of the American relief administration engaged in children’s relief in Europe. President Hoover greatly enjoyed his work as an engineer and spoke of the profession in high regard.

“It is a great profession. There is the fascination of watching a figment of the imagination emerge through the aid of science to a plan on paper. Then it moves to realization in stone or metal or energy. Then it brings jobs and homes to men. Then it elevates the standards of living and adds to the comforts of life. That is the engineer’s high privilege.”

Jimmy Carter – (Presidency: January 20, 1977 – January 20, 1981)
Next to President Hoover, Jimmy Carter is the second closest of all 45 presidents to have an official background in engineering. He attended the Georgia Institute of Technology for one year before enrolling in the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis where he received a Bachelor of Science degree and became a submariner. While serving as a submariner in Schenectady, New York, he took graduate classes at Union College in reactor technology and nuclear physics. Carter served in the United States Navy for seven years on nuclear submarines. In fact, Carter was preparing to become the engineering officer in 1953 for the Seawolf before he abruptly resigned in the event of his father’s passing. Carter’s love for engineering is evident in the years following his presidency through his extensive work for Habitat for Humanity.

Written by Grace Mulleavey

Happy National Engineers Week!

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Engineers Week Poster

(Image courtesy of DiscoverE.)

In the United States, National Engineers Week is always the week in February which encompasses George Washington’s actual birthday, February 22; President Washington is considered the nation’s first engineer. It is observed by more than 70 engineering, education, and cultural societies, and more than 50 corporations and government agencies. The purpose of National Engineers Week is to call attention to the contributions to society that engineers make. It is also a time for engineers to emphasize the importance of learning math, science, and technical skills.

This year’s theme, “Engineers: Inspiring Wonder,” is a call to recognize the people who create today’s awe-inspiring wonders like cloud-busting skyscrapers and human travel to Mars. Our lives would be very different without daily marvels like clean drinking water, computers, and cars.

Over the next week, we will:

  • Celebrate President’s Day and kick off Engineers Week;
  • Share the passion our employees have for engineering;
  • Visit a local high school to demonstrate the skills engineers use every day;
  • Celebrate Girl Day, a worldwide campaign to introduce girls to the fascinating world of engineering by vising a local Girls, Inc.; and
  • Attend the Engineer’s Week Banquet to celebrate the 2018 NH Engineer and Young Engineer of the Year.

For additional information on engineering or Engineers Week, we encourage you to visit http://www.discovere.org/our-programs/engineers-week

Designing Bicycle Box Systems to Keep Cyclists and Motorists Safe

Green box painted on pavement with bicycle riding on it in traffic

Everyone knows about bicycles. Like any sport, they have a fandom following, from avid Tour-de-Francers to all those dedicated bike-to-workers. Not to mention, it’s practically a rite of passage to learn how to ride one, and it’s the quintessential comparison when talking about things you never forget how to do once you learn.

Despite their popularity around the world, America still shines with its youthful glow in comparison to many historic countries; we just don’t have the same bicycle-laden streets that other countries have grown to cherish. That’s not to say that America isn’t making strides to enhance its bike-ability. Major cities have hundreds of miles of bike lanes, while New York City tops the list at having 1,000 miles.

Though America has some catching up to do, cities have seen overall betterment in roadway safety when communities define where bicyclists should travel on the roads.

One innovative design that’s gaining traction is the bicycle box. From the NACTO website, “A bike box is a designated area at the head of a traffic lane at a signalized intersection that provides bicyclists with a safe and visible way to get ahead of queuing traffic during the red signal phase.”

Bicycle boxes are innovative because they address many safety concerns at once, such as: increasing visibility of bicyclists, preventing “right-hook” conflicts, provides priority for bicyclists, and groups bicyclists into one obvious area, making it easier for cyclists to clear the area quickly.

Recognizing these benefits, Hoyle, Tanner recently designed a bicycle box system on Farrell Street in South Burlington, Vermont, which will become the first approved installation in the State. As Farrell Street is part of the route of the Champlain Bikeway (a 363-mile scenic loop around the lake), the City is dedicated to improving access and safety in this location and throughout the City. At the Farrell Street/Swift Street intersection, the City was particularly concerned that southbound cyclists looking to make a through or left turn would conflict with vehicles turning right to access US 7 & I-189. A bicycle box was the perfect solution. Hoyle, Tanner worked with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and gained interim approval for the City’s use of this valuable tool, which is required for new traffic control devices that have not yet been formally adopted. Partnering with Howard Stein Hudson, Hoyle, Tanner designed the bicycle boxes which will employ special highly visible green pavement markings and thermal or video bicycle detection to reduce collisions and improve safety at the intersection. With this experience, Hoyle, Tanner will look to aid other municipalities and state agencies with this and other emerging traffic control technologies, with a goal of improving the recreational and commuter transportation experience for all users.

Stephanie Bishop: Experiencing Civil Engineering First Hand

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Hoyle, Tanner recently partnered with Milford (NH) High School & Applied Technology Center to host Stephanie Bishop, a high school senior, for the fall semester so she could further her passion for engineering.poster

What are your career goals after high school: Civil and Environmental Engineer

What inspired/influenced you to choose this career path: I love hands-on work. The whole design process from an idea to a sketch to an object seemed appealing to me. After taking the first engineering course at my high school, one project particularly stood out: paper bridges. I always wondered how bridges were able to hold so much weight. That curiosity combined with the knowledge gained from that unit in class, influenced my decision that civil engineering was the right path for me.

Provide a short description of the steps you are taking while in high school to pursue your career path: To start, I took all of the engineering courses available at my high school to make sure I liked it

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Stephanie shares her internship experiences with her high school classmates.

and wanted to continue with the subject. I got involved with STE(A)M nights as a student ambassador and got to share my knowledge and potentially spark an interest in younger kids. I wanted to know what other types of engineering were like so I joined the Women in Technology program with BAE Systems. This helped me gain an understanding of other options available should I decide that civil isn’t a right fit for me. I am currently in an internship with Hoyle, Tanner which is an amazing opportunity at the high school level to experience civil engineering first hand.

 

Tell me about your internship, what it involves, and who it’s with: My internship is with a private civil engineering firm called Hoyle, Tanner & Associates located in Manchester. I’m currently in the structures group which focuses on bridges but there’s also highway, environmental, and aviation groups within the firm. Being a structural engineer involves looking over blueprints, CAD drawings, quantities, load calculations, etc. To get out of the office you can also visit a job site and make sure everything is in check, which I’ve had the amazing opportunity to do within this internship.

We wish Stephanie the best in her college career and look forward to potentially having her return to Hoyle, Tanner, as a full-time employee.

Celebrate World Wetlands Day on February 2, 2018!

Body of water with green algae

February 2, 2018 has been designated as World Wetlands Day by the International/Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, with a focus on Urban Wetlands. What are urban wetlands, and why are they important?

Wetlands are land areas that are flooded with water, either permanently or seasonally, and include rivers, streams, floodplains, marshes, estuaries and bogs. Urban wetlands are these same bodies of water, but are found in or around cities and their suburbs.

Preserving urban wetlands is an important step to providing a sustainable future as our global population grows and becomes more urbanized. Currently, 50% of the world’s 4 billion people live in urban areas, with that number proposed to increase to 66% by 2050. The need to provide land for building and basic services should be balanced between the need to preserve and restore natural resources like wetlands in order to make cities more livable.

Historically, wetlands were viewed as land that should be filled in to create usable land. As upland or dry areas have been mostly built-out in our larger cities, wetlands are under more pressure to be filled and converted into “usable” space. Why is this a problem?

Wetlands perform valuable services in our landscape in six major ways:

1) They are the source of almost all drinkable water consumed by urban populations. Wetlands filter water before it enters groundwater aquifers, helping to replenish this important water source.

2) They support the plant life that acts to filter waste, absorb harmful toxins (including agricultural pesticides and industrial waste), treat sewage and improve water quality.

3) They improve air quality by increasing humidity and providing oxygen (from plants) into the local atmosphere, the combination of which results in natural cooling.

4) They act as sponges to absorb flood waters and then release water slowly to reduce flooding and storm surges.

5) Wetlands are often an important part of parks and conservation areas that offer space for recreation (kayaking, fishing, walking or jogging, etc.) and access to a diversity of plant and animal life, which has been shown to increase happiness and satisfaction in residents. Studies have confirmed that interacting with nature reduces stress and improves the overall quality of life.

6) They offer a way for citizens to make a living by providing opportunities for fishing and agriculture or collecting plants for weaving, medicine, and food products. Wetlands can also provide tourist attractions, such as recreational fishing, diving, and sight-seeing that enable local citizens to make a living from secondary service opportunities such as restaurants and hotels.

Man cutting tree branch to volunteer

Sean James, PE, Vice President, cuts branches along a walking trail as part of a recent community volunteer event.

Wetlands are important to our ecosystem. Here are some ways you can protect wetlands: get involved in local planning efforts and speak out in support of preserving new parks and conservation areas; volunteer to restore or clean-up existing parks, streams and wetlands that have been neglected or run-down; organize a volunteer day or event in your community to pick up trash, plant trees or flowers along your local river or stream bank; stay informed on proposed land-use changes in your community; support legislation that protects or preserves wetlands; reduce water consumption to reduce the demand on groundwater aquifers; reduce or avoid pesticide use, which can run-off into streams and wetlands and be toxic to fish, plants and wildlife; reuse or recycle natural materials; and reduce your waste where you can.

Integrating wetland preservation and restoration into urban policy and planning efforts is key to improving urban life now and in the future.