A Day in the Life of a Civil Engineer – Day 71

Day 71

Culvert Lining Project 

Failure of HDPE Snap-tite Culvert Joint

Today the project engineer for our culvert lining project told me that the pipe joint had opened up in our culvert lining project. We had the pipe manufacturer, Snap-Tite, visit the site to look it over and offer a solution. But after seeing how it failed, I would not recommend in the future trying this type of pipe for this application. It's really unfortunate because up to this point the project had been turning out so well. Hopefully the manufacturer can come up with a method of making sure this does not degrade any further from what it has already done. I've included a photo we took to show how the joint moved open on the top and bottom. And I included a the name and manufacturer in this post so anyone considering using this method in the future is aware of the issues that can come up if they choose this method of installation. I can't say at this time what caused the joint to open so I am not sure if it is a construction problem or a manufacturer problem. But for me, it would not be worth taking a chance that this could happen again by specifying this method in the future unless we end up with an acceptable resolution.

Water Main Extension

We also met with the consultant who had prepared the incorrect easement for our water main project. Before meeting, I went out to the site to check their work. They definitely had missed the fact that the property owner had purchased part of a railroad right of way. So they took the 90-foot long easement we required and just moved it west. And instead of starting at what is actually the easterly property line and going west 90 feet, they started at the original property line and went west. This would have put the easement into the building. We also noticed during our meeting they had misspelled the word "Easement." Fortunately the consultant said he would check everything their subconsultant had done and fix it so it is right at no extra cost.

Email Issues

Last week our IT person notified a few of us we were using too much memory on the server for our emails. Of course I had the most because when I started working here, I asked if we had a limit and was told no. So I rarely deleted anything so I could easily find information. But this problem crashed our email server so now I have to bring the amount of storage I use to under 4Gb. So far I am down to 10 from 17 and have 6 to go! Seems like going to Google would be a good idea if we are operating this close to the limit! I can get almost 8 Gb of storage for free from them and 25 Gb for only about $50 a year! And lately it seems like everyone I talk to lately is moving their business or agency over to the Google Enterprise tools.

Development Meeting

We also had our development staff meeting. Today we discussed a few of the projects that we have been reviewing. For both, we have sent comments back to the developers and are waiting for responsed. We also discussed some sign regulation issues along with the expansion of our commuter parking deck and construction of the community gardens.


A Day in the Life of a Civil Engineer – Day 70

Day 70

GIS Group Meeting

Today started out amazing then in the afternoon went to total frustration. I had to leave very early this morning to meet a co-worker for a GIS meeting of IMAUG – Illinois Municipal Arc Users Group. If you are into GIS, this is a great group to get involved with. Today's meeting was in Vernon Hills so pretty far away from Geneva where we work. But it was well worth going to. I was scheduled to speak first thing about QR Codes. Not sure it was a subject many were interested in, but hopefully I was able to offer some insight into their use in our industry. Below this post is the presentation I gave.

The other presentations were much more amazing! Will Rockwell from the village of Vernon Hills explained to us how to use Google Fusion tables and maps to make incredible GIS maps. Wow – they turned out great looking with very little work. Here is a link to more information from Google about using this tool: http://www.google.com/fusiontables/Home/

We also heard from a few other speakers who talked about applications for checking properties with liens, ESRI certifications, and a county web map service.

Parking Lot Project

After lunch and after we returned, I went with a couple other engineers to meet with a few people to discuss the design of the alley that will connect our proposed parking lot with one of the main streets through our downtown. This was a good meeting, and we look forward to getting a landscape design from the person we met with.

Water Main Project

My primary frustration hit when one of the engineers gave me a copy of the easement plats we had arranged to have prepared for our water main project. We had purposely hired a local firm to provide the surveying services because they have always produced such good work for us in the past. Imagine my surprise when the engineer gave me the plat and said, "we have a problem – they left off part of the property." Sure enough they had missed the fact that the property owner had acquired additional property over which our easement should have run. And as the engineer pointed out, the surveyor had actually shifted our easement over from where we had shown it to be because of missing this additional parcel. Well, when I looked at who prepared the plat, it was not the firm we had hired but another that we had specifically chosen not to use exactly because of problems like this. So I called the firm we had hired to ask why they hired another firm to do the work we hired them to do. All they said was sometimes they do that. No apology – no "I guess we should have asked if we could sub out the work." Nothing. I am not even quite sure how to respond at this time because I have never even heard of a firm doing such a thing. We are supposed to meet on Monday to discuss where to go from here.





Traverse to LSU – the Online Land Surveying Community

Land surveying is a fascinating and challenging field. It's one of the few professions that involves the need to have a good understanding of a wide variety of topics. In one day, the surveyor is expected to juggle history, document and business management, searches of legal records, tree and plant identification, land development, drainage, investigative skills, dog and other animal avoidance, fence jumping, extreme weather, manual labor, understanding of property law, operation of technical equipment, geometry and trigonometry, and CAD/GIS. And this list could go on. What other profession demands such a wide variety of knowledge and skill?

I have to admit, because of these challenges, land surveying has always intrigued me. Since I first started working in this field as a surveying technician, I always dreamed of being a land surveyor. But even though I worked for many years in land surveying and even managed to get licensed as a surveyor in training, I reached a point where my opportunities were primarily in the civil engineering field. So I chose the professional engineer license instead. But land surveying has never failed to interest me, and many of my responsibilities still involve issues related to land surveying.

Fortunately there are some groups and resources online where I can still learn and stay current with the land surveying profession. The one group I would like to highlight today is the Land Surveyors United online group at http://landsurveyorsunited.com. This group was started up a few years ago using the Ning platform. Today I noticed they have a brand new look on their site. And based on an email I received from Justin Farrow, the group's creator, it looks like he is planning to add even more awesome features in the future such as:

  • Full-fledged Iphone/Android App
  • Some further performance enhancing platform enhancements for speed and features
  • Online training and certifications
  • Multilingual Sitewide versions of LSU dedicated to several languages other than English

So, if you're like me and are totally into land surveying, I would definitely recommend checking out this site and joining up as a member (it's free!).