Why are Steel Structures Used in Most Construction?

 

Steel Structure Buildings
Empire State Building
The Brooklyn Bridge
Burj Khalifa

 

Did you know that steel is a high-strength grade of construction material?

Steel, known for its reliability and cost efficiency, is considered the primary go-to material for construction purposes. How are steel structures cost-effective and at the same time the go-to material? Well, they require fewer raw materials, steel is lower-maintenance and inexpensive to manufacture, and steel structures are generally more durable than those constructed from other materials because the alloy can endure severe weather conditions. It also staves off rust and mold accumulation, giving the material a longer lifespan. For all these reasons, using steel is widely considered a great long-term investment.

Modern contractors and designers use the material for all scopes of structural engineering work. Steel can be shaped to accommodate each project’s unique specifications – some of the potential construction shapes it can made into include round tube (HSS), plate, an angle, and wide flange, among others. Its flexibility allows engineers and architects to bring their beautiful designs to life. So, if you’ve ever passed a modern bridge, building, or tower that caught your attention and wondered what it was made of, the answer is probably steel!

If you are curious about buildings and/or bridges built with steel structures, here are three famous examples:
1. The Empire State Building, located in New York City, was constructed in 1931. Prior to Burj Khalifa’s construction, the Empire State Building held the record for being the world’s tallest building. It was designed by William F. Lamb, who drew inspiration from art deco aesthetics. To learn more please visit the following link: https://www.history.com/news/10-surprising-facts-about-the-empire-state-building.

2. The Brooklyn Bridge, also located in New York City, was constructed in 1883. It is known for having been the first steel-wire suspension bridge in the world. The original designer was John Augustus Roebling, who sadly succumbed to injuries he obtained from an accident he had on the bridge. His son, Washington Roebling, continued his work, but also suffered an accident that led to him developing a sickness, and his wife Emily Warren Roebling subsequently stepped in to help him finish the bridge. To learn more please visit the following link: http://www.bridgesdb.com/bridge-list/brooklyn-bridge/.

3. Burj Khalifa, located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, was constructed in 2006. This building is currently the tallest in the world. It was designed by Adrian Smith, and according to the ruler of Dubai, the inspiration that led to its construction struck him during a previous visit to the Empire State Building. To learn more please visit the following link: https://thetowerinfo.com/buildings-list/burj-khalifa/.

What is Inspection Software?

 

Inspection software refers to programs that allow inspectors to digitally submit invoices, signatures, work orders, and other documentation while in the field. This type of software can be accessed via smart phones or through various companies’ web applications.

In addition, aside from enabling inspectors to submit work, inspection applications have many cool features that allow inspectors to organize and plan their work on a day-to-day basis. For example, inspectors can use the applications to manage their schedules, create workload checklists, and follow up on previously archived / submitted documents. Each program has its own unique capabilities, but most of them share common features such as reporting and scheduling recurring tasks, setting reminders, and inspection task management.

Because of their efficiency, many companies are using these programs to improve their businesses and help them stay up-to-date with their competitors. Inspection software not only helps companies and / or contractors save time by speeding up the work process, but also helps them adhere to regulations. For example, these programs can store information that can be requested by authorities if the company and / or contractor is going through an internal audit.

If you are interested in utilizing inspection software for your company or if you are an individual contractor who would like to download one of these programs to your smart devices, here are some tips you should consider before you decide to make a purchase:

  • Ensure the application is fully accessible from smartphones / tablets;
  • Confirm the vendor offers 24/7 support; and
  • Research which category of software buyers you fall into, such as a small, medium, or large business.

When selecting an inspection software vendor, the goal is to select the one that best suits your business, because the goal of inspection software is to ultimately improve the way a business operates.

KC’s inspectors utilize a variety of inspection software to track data, which enhances the level of detail provided in our reports and ensures our clients stay abreast of project progress.

July 2021 Company Newsletter

KC's July Newsletter features include KC staff perspectives on one of KC's largest projects as it draws to a close, a deep dive into the state of American infrastructure, and a look at an oft-overlooked civil engineering marvel that helped make the Apollo 11 mission a success.

Download KC’s Company Newsletter – July 2021 edition to keep up with KC’s latest news!

The Difference Between Septic and Sewer Systems

Did you know that plumbing processes date back between five to seven thousand years ago?

Ancient engineers developed irrigation caverns to supply water to agriculture-based societies. As towns and cities grew more congested, they began to use those caverns to redirect liquid waste away from settlements. The Romans are largely credited with having pioneered this technology ahead of The Dark Ages, when all progress towards the development of wastewater management systems ceased entirely.

Today, septic and sewer systems are our two primary wastewater management methods. Although both collect, process, and dispose of the harmful pathogens in human waste, there is one major difference between them: sewer systems are provided and maintained by municipalities, while septic systems treat wastewater on-site and are the responsibility of a private homeowner.

In a septic system, wastewater is directed from a home or facility into a septic tank, where solid and liquid waste is broken down and released into a drainfield, a network of perforated pipes laid in gravel-filled trenches. Drainfields typically measure between 18 and 36 inches wide and are located up to 100 feet underground, and without them, septic tanks would overflow and create unsanitary runoff. Wastewater flows into the soil through holes in a distribution pipe inside of the drainfield, destroying residual bacteria and sewage solids in the process. Septic systems are more common in rural areas, which typically lack centralized sewer systems.

Conversely, public sewage systems are connected to thousands of homes and businesses. In a sewage layout, a network of pipes carry waste from lots to a municipal treatment facility, where it gets purified before being released back into the environment. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “the majority of Americans – or four in five households – rely on sewer over septic.”

Civil engineers are closely involved in the wastewater management process from beginning to end, providing designs for domestic or industrial treatment plants, pumping stations, and sewage systems and overseeing their construction; restructuring outdated layouts; and conducting feasibility studies for various wastewater-related projects. Civil engineers also prepare environmental documentation, help wastewater companies obtain the licenses and permits they need to operate, and collaborate with state agencies to ensure that water treatment plants adhere to federal regulations.

For more information about the difference between septic and sewer systems, visit https://www.epa.gov/npdes/municipal-wastewater.

Picture: Cloaca Maxima, one of Rome’s ancient sewer systems. Courtesy of Science Magazine.

Celebrating the Women Behind International Women in Engineering Day

Wednesday, June 23 marks the 5th International Women in Engineering Day (IWED), and this year’s theme, “Engineering Heroes,” provides the perfect opportunity to recognize and honor some of the trailblazing women who paved the way for the female engineers of today.

IWED was initially created by the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) of the United Kingdom, which had in turn been established on June 23, 1919. Since the majority of male engineers had been called to military service during World War I, it became necessary for women to fill vacant positions in the field. It was the first time in modern history that women were actively encouraged to pursue STEM careers, but that incitement was short-lived.

After the war ended, government officials, employers, and trade unions pushed for women to relinquish their titles in favor of the returning servicemen, and the Restoration of Pre-War Practices Act 1919 forced many of them to do so, unwillingly. A stubborn few, refusing to go down without a fight, established the WES in defiance, and it has been continually inspiring, supporting, and serving women engineers for over 100 years – but who exactly were those founding women?

Rachel Parsons / electrifyingwomen.org
The Hon. Lady Katharine Parsons / en.wikipedia.org
Lady Margaret Moir / Mary Evans Print Online
Laura Annie Wilson / en.wikipedia.org

 

Rachel Parsons, first president of the WES: Daughter of Sir Charles Parsons and Lady Katherine Parsons, Rachel Parsons was a descendant of the Anglo-Irish earls of Rosse, who had long been known for their brilliance and ingenuity. Much like her ancestors, her iconoclastic nature preceded her. In 1910, she became the first woman to read Mechanical Sciences at Cambridge University, and she sailed the Atlantic aboard the Mauretania, a record-breaking ship designed by her inventive father.

As one of the founding members of the WES, Parsons designated herself the group’s maiden leader. She was later elected to the London County Council, and as a pioneer of feminism, stood for Parliament in the election of 1923, at a time when there were only two female Members of Parliament (MPs).

The Hon. Lady Katharine Parsons: Lady Parsons, nee Bethell, met her husband, the noted inventor Charles Parsons, while he was working as an engineer in Leeds. She took a keen interest in his work, eventually becoming an engineer in her own right. She was a suffragette of northeast England, and aside from co-founding the WES in 1919 (and later becoming its second president), she became the first female member of the North East Coast Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders (NECIES) that same year.

Lady Margaret Moir, Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE): Lady Moir, like her associate Lady Parsons, called herself “an engineer by marriage.” She worked in tandem with her husband, the renowned engineer Ernest Moir, whom she met during one of her frequent trips to see the Forth Bridge’s caisson foundations.

During the war effort, she organized a band of Women Relief Munition Workers and worked tirelessly as a founding member of the WES to set up training courses for women engineers. She was the president of the Electrical Association for Women, and also served the WES both as a vice president and a president, notably saying in her 1928 inaugural speech: “It is now relatively simple for the girl to go through the technical school or college education, and with her wits as bright as any man, obtain a degree in Engineering.”

Laura Annie Willson, Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE): Willson, who worked from the age of 10 in a textile factory, climbed the ladder to become a founding member of the WES and its president from 1926 to 1928; in addition to these roles, she was also the first female member of the Federation of House Builders and the branch secretary of the Women’s Labour League.

An unyielding suffragette, she was twice imprisoned for her political engagements: once in 1907 for “inciting persons to commit a breach of the peace” during a weaver’s strike at Hebden Bridge, and then again just a few weeks later, when she took part in a suffragette rally at Caxton Hall.

Banner courtesy of the Women's Engineering Society.