Drones Set to Take Off

Drone-4Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), popularly known as drones, were originally designed to carry out military missions that were deemed too dangerous for humans or for which manned aircraft were impractical. What we would recognize today as drones were jointly developed by Israel and the US during the 1980s and deployed against Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War, and have since become a staple of modern warfare and antiterrorism activities. However, due to ongoing improvements in technology and miniaturization and decreasing costs, the use of drones has since expanded far beyond the military sphere to many other applications, including science, recreation, aerial photography, product delivery, agriculture, law enforcement, surveillance, and even protecting elephants from poachers. Continue Reading…

Airborne Trains Traveling on Strings

Unitsky String Transport (UST) is a transportation system developed by Russian inventor Anatoly Unitsky as a railway consisting not of steel tracks bolted to ties but rather elevated high-tension concrete- and steel-enveloped wires strung between towers, thereby offering rails that can traverse uneven terrain, forests, or water without the prohibitively expensive infrastructure required by conventional transit systems. Furthermore, UST can traverse obstacles in a straight line, thereby obviating the need to circumnavigate impediments or build switchbacks and considerably reducing the distance between two points.

Unitsky began developing the concept back in 1977. His design uses high-tension steel wires inserted into a concrete-resin core and enveloped by steel shells and elevated from three to 30 meters from the ground (or potentially even higher, if the terrain necessitates it). While this might sound like a conventional ropeway (like a chairlift or the Roosevelt Island Tramway), it differs in its much higher cable tension with sag of less than an inch between support posts, allowing vehicles to travel along the wires with a minimum of drag and at speeds, according to Unitsky, of between 200 and 300 mph. “In fact,” according to newatlas.com, “it’s more accurate to look at a UST track more or less as a tiny pre-stressed concrete bridge, built for a fraction of the cost of a ground rail system or even a motorway.” Continue Reading…

Defensive Walking

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photo-1423853978401-35df4077ff7dIn October, the de Blasio Administration announced that New York City was redoubling its efforts around Vision Zero as the City enters what is traditionally the deadliest time of year for pedestrians on New York City streets. Pedestrian incidents increase by nearly 40 percent in the early evening hours compared to crashes outside the fall and winter. Lower visibility during the dark hours of the colder months leads to twice as many crashes involving turns.  In 2015, the year with the fewest traffic fatalities in New York City’s recorded history, 40 percent of pedestrian fatalities occurred after October 1. Continue Reading…

Engineering the Cities of the Future

downtown-nySmart Cities use data, information, and communications technology to streamline urban infrastructure activities such as transportation and traffic management, water supply networks, waste and wastewater management, and power plants to improve the lives of their residents. Smart Cities not only present challenges to the A/E industry, but opportunities as well. Smart buildings can utilize building management systems to save energy; transportation systems designed for autonomous vehicles can be designed with a streamlined footprint and more effective flow of traffic; municipal management systems can incorporate sustainable materials and green infrastructure; and affordable and efficient ground transportation can increase convenience and quality of life. Continue Reading…

Philadelphia Remembers: The June 5th Memorial Park

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Courtesy of Scott Aker, AIA

The City of Philadelphia is turning a tragedy into an opportunity for the community to commemorate those lost and remember the paramount importance of job safety.

On June 5th, 2013, the demolition of a vacant building at 2138 Market Street in Philadelphia collapsed a party wall, destroying a Salvation Army Thrift Store and resulting in six fatalities and many injuries. To ensure that this tragedy would not be forgotten, the City of Philadelphia decided to provide a contemplative respite for visitors while preserving the memory of those lost and projecting its commitment to public safety. Continue Reading…

2016 Interns Learning the Ropes

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HAKS’ Summer Internship Program is once again under way. The program engages deserving students and gives them the opportunity to gain experience in the industry. By providing internships to eligible youth, HAKS is helping these young people prepare for the future; determine whether they would choose a career in engineering and architecture; or, if they are already studying these subjects, gain valuable, on-the-job, real-world experience that will make them much more attractive to potential employers once they graduate. Continue Reading…

Looking Beyond Safety Week

SafetyWeek logoThis year, more than 40 national and global construction firms comprising The Construction Industry Safety group and the Incident and Injury Free CEO Forum joined forces to create and celebrate Safety Week from May 2-6.  As a follow up, our blog this month looks at safety regulations and practices in the construction industry.  The numbers are jarring: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4,679 workers were killed on the job in 2014. Out of the 4,251 worker fatalities in private industry that year, 874 (or 20.5%) were in construction.  According to OSHA, the leading cause of worker deaths on construction sites was falls, followed by electrocution, struck by objects and “caught-in/betweens.” During safety week, OSHA held a National Safety Stand-Down to raise awareness of fall prevention. Continue Reading…

Declaring “War” on Homeless Shelters

Earlier this month, Mayor de Blasio released the results of his aggressive program to inspect and repair violations in New York City’s homeless shelters. The numbers are impressive: in just two months, the city and shelter providers repaired almost as many violations as were fixed in all of 2015 and, in two months, the city conducted one-third as many inspections as it did in all of 2015. The February Shelter Repair Scorecard, which allows tracking of conditions and results, reported that:

  • The 2,660 inspections conducted in just two months in 2016 is almost one-third of the 8,665 inspections conducted in all of 2015. These inspections identified 11,125 new violations and conditions.
  • The two-month total of 12,026 repairs completed is almost as many as the total 12,934 violations cleared in all of 2015.
  • Of the 330 non-cluster city homeless shelters, 157 sites had ten or fewer violations; 90 of those sites had five or less. (A cluster shelter refers to groups of individual apartments in larger buildings, and the violation total includes all violations in each building, not those solely relating to the cluster units. The city plans to phase out the use of such cluster shelters and return them to the market to serve as low-rent housing.)
  • The 303 cluster shelters, which house only 23 percent of the total shelter population, had 14,054 violations, or 68 percent of the total.
  • The Scorecard lists 26 cluster buildings with 315 units designated for closure this fiscal year.

Continue Reading…

ACEC New York Recognizes Two HAKS Projects For Engineering Excellence

This year, ACEC New York has recognized two high-profile transportation projects—one in New York and one in Connecticut. The Gowanus Expressway (I-278) in Brooklyn, New York, is a critical component of New York City’s highway system, connecting the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel, a distance of approximately six miles. The approximately 200,000 vehicles that utilize the Gowanus Expressway each day will undoubtedly benefit from the New York State Department of Transportation’s (NYSDOT) extensive improvements to this transportation corridor.BeFunky Collagebl

I-95 between Interchange 14 and 15 in Norwalk, Connecticut, had been referred to as “the worst highway choke point on the I-95 corridor” prior to recent upgrades by the Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT). Continue Reading…

Building Technology into Protective Clothing

blog 1Accidents (unintentional injuries) are the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), 4,679 workers died on the job in 2014. OSHA mandates the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) on the work site, which includes face shields, safety glasses, hard hats, safety shoes, goggles, coveralls, gloves, vests, earplugs and respirators, based on the work environment. The next generation of PPE offers the means to monitor a worker’s vital signs, warn of oncoming traffic, display work instructions via augmented reality, and much more, thereby increasing safety, productivity and accuracy. Some of these garments are already on the market. Continue Reading…