Month: July 2022

Employee Spotlight: David Langlais

David Langlais photo

David Langlais, PE – Massachusetts Regional Business Manager & Lifelong Scouter

1. What drew you to Hoyle Tanner?

Early in my career, as a then budding structural engineer, I was introduced to Matt Low through a mutual friend. Sometime afterwards, Matt reached out to me with an opportunity to fill-in on a temp assignment for staff who were away. I spent about five or six weeks handling assignments both in the field and office, and I got to know a handful of people. I liked the people here, and the way things operated. The assignment ended, and I went on to do temp work for another firm, hoping that a full-time opportunity would present itself. It took about four months, but then that opportunity came, and the rest is history.

2. What’s something invaluable you’ve learned here?

Adaptability. When I came to Hoyle Tanner, I was a structural engineer with some diverse field inspection experience. In the span of two years, I became a roadway engineer through both field and office experience. Over the course of the next 10 years, my field experience out-paced my office experience and I thought that I was set on being a resident engineer for the rest of my career. Then in 2018, the opportunity arose for me to change course and serve the Massachusetts market through business development. I wouldn’t be where I am now if I did not adapt and remain open to new opportunities.

3. What’s your favorite time of year to work at Hoyle Tanner & why?

Christmas. It’s my favorite holiday, and I love how the groups come together to compete in the decoration contests.

4. What’s the coolest thing you are working on & why?

Obtaining my drone pilot’s license. Another instance of my career turning in a direction that I never could have predicted. There are so many uses for drones to support the work we do, and we’ve barely scratched the surface with their capabilities.

5. What’s the best thing that’s happened to you so far this week?

I got news that my new desk is arriving!

6. How many different states have you lived in?

If you count working at a summer camp, then three states: Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Michigan.

7. If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life what would it be?

Shepherd’s pie.

8. What kind of pet do you have & how did you choose to name it?

Unfortunately, I don’t have any pets anymore, but I have lots of plants spread throughout my office. They are named either after their physical traits, or from a creative spin on their plant name (except for Martha, who was named by my son, Ben). The rest are Ray, Wilhelmina, Shuma, Francine, Robert, Jean and Sal.

9. What is a fun or interesting fact about your hometown?

Scenes from “Grown-ups 2,” “The Fighter” and “School Ties” were filmed in Lowell.

10. What are three things still left on your bucket list?

Visit every state, see a Red Sox game from every stadium and write a fictional novel.

11. Name three items you’d take with you to a desert island.

A sturdy pair of hiking shoes, a magnifying glass for starting fires and a Gerber multi-tool.

12. What characteristic do you admire most in others?


13. How old is the oldest item in your closet?

I have a sweatshirt from when the Red Sox were in the 2004 World Series.

14. Words to live by? Favorite quote? Why?

“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”  It’s better to not say anything than it is to offend someone. It fits right in with “Think before you speak/act,” “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and “Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone.”

15. What did you want to be when you were growing up?

An engineer (the kind that drives trains).

16. If you were to skydive from an airplane what would you think about on the way down?

“Why did I jump out of a perfectly good airplane?”

What Top Gun Can Teach Us About Emergency Projects

Hoyle Tanner partnered with Amherst’s Department of Public Works and Continental Paving, Inc. to complete an emergency culvert replacement on Boston Post Road. The previous crossing consisted of two corrugated metal pipe (CMP) culverts with stacked stone headwalls. During an inspection of the culverts on October 28, 2021, we observed that the upstream headwall had partially collapsed. Upon closer observation, we noted that the CMPs were in critical condition and immediate action was needed on this heavily traveled route. Boston Post Road services the Amherst Middle School, Souhegan Highschool, and the many businesses on NH Route 101A, so a prolonged closure of the roadway to allow for a traditional bridge design process was not acceptable to the Town. Hoyle Tanner was able to help the Town obtain an emergency wetland permit and subsequent permit extension to replace the crossing; however, this permitting required the project to go from zero to complete in only 60 days.


So, what does this have to do with Top Gun you ask? Well, Tom Cruise’s character, Maverick, is said to be loosely based on the actions of Air Force pilot and military strategist, John Boyd. As a strategist, John developed a decision making framework called the OODA Loop which can be used to solve any complex problem. OODA Loop Stands for:

  • O – Observe: Collect data from every source possible.
  • O – Orient: Analyze & synthesize the data to formulate what the problem is.
  • D – Decide: Determine a course of action based on your current perception of the problem.
  • A – Act: Perform your course of action.

Of course, while the OODA loop is unfolding, facts may change or new data may become available. If this is the case, you must be open to accepting feedback and using this new information to cycle back through the OODA loop.

On a traditional bridge project, the goal is to complete one very large OODA loop where much time and effort is taken to observe all the existing conditions and orient based on past projects, best practices, etc. before key decisions are made. However, when working on an emergency project, the team must be capable of making many small and fast OODA loops based on partial or unfolding information so that you can go from zero to complete as quickly as possible. Some OODA loop examples from the Boston Post emergency project were:

During construction
  • Pipe Sizing: Due to Covid-related supply chain shortages, the design team observed that our options for replacement culverts were going to be limited. We quickly oriented ourselves by inventorying the available pipe sizes and calculating what was required hydrologically before we decided on a final culvert configuration.
  • Buried Utilities: After the available pipe sizes were known, the design team discovered (observed) that there were buried gas and water utilities on the site. This feedback required us to cycle back to the start of our OODA loop and within days, we oriented to the situation by excavating test pits to locate the utilities. Based on this new information, we decided the final configuration and elevation of the culverts to fit the site constraints. The solution we acted on was to install two adjacent 48” HPDE pipes with a 24” HPDE overflow pipe.
  • Headwalls: To meet the aggressive schedule for this project, we observed that constructing a cast-in-place concrete headwall or a mortared rubble masonry wall was not feasible. We oriented ourselves to the available options we had and decided to specify precast concrete headwalls.

Through many quick OODA loop decision cycles, the team was able to complete final construction plans one month after the emergency project began. Continental Paving completed construction in 14 days and Boston Post Road was re-opened to traffic on December 14, 2021. The total duration of the project from discovery to completion was 47 days or nearly two weeks less than the permit limit of 60 days.


Hoyle Tanner provides bridge design, evaluation, safety inspection, capacity rating and emergency response services to public and private clients throughout New England. Our expertise includes all types of bridges such as steel, concrete, and prestressed concrete girders, stone arches, historic metal trusses, timber covered bridges, precast concrete rigid frames and box culverts, metal pipes and others. If your municipality needs bridge engineering expertise, reach out to me.