A Day in the Life of a Civil Engineer – Day 30

Day 30

Jury Duty

Not sure if anyone realized I never uploaded an article yesterday, but I didn't post because I was called for jury duty. So I had to take the day off to go to that. It was interesting – I got as far as being questioned as a possible juror, but the defendent's attorney said I wasn't acceptable or whatever the term is when you are rejected. The case was in criminal court, and the defendent was accused of possession and sale of a controlled substance. I figured they didn't want me because I work with police and attorneys all the time, but who really knows.

Driveway Paving

Anyway, when I returned today to work, I tried to catch up on emails. Then another engineer and I went out to inspect the installation of an asphalt driveway. Normally we don't get too involved in something like this. But in this case, we have been trying to help out with a drainage concern, and because the situation is not ideal, we wanted to be there to do the best we could to improve the situation. The contractor ended up doing a good job considering what we had asked him to do by hand with asphalt. One of these days I'll try to get a photo and put it up so you can see the end result. 

Road Project

That ended up taking most of the morning, so then in the afternoon I came up with a preliminary list of roads to resurface next year so the project engineer can begin measuring to calculate the quantities and cost. We still are not done driving all the roads, but we wanted to get started on something. 

Our intern was also in today so I started him on helping me calculate a preliminary estimate for another job. He did fairly well for his first time using an engineering scale and working with a set of old plans of the area.

Smoke from Minnesota in Illinois?

We also had a lot of people calling to complain about all the smoke in the city and the smell. I had noticed it when I walked home for lunch and just thought someone was illegally burning. But we eventually found out it's from fires that are burning in Minnesota. That's amazing that smoke can travel that far. And it makes me wonder how bad it must be in Minnesota for those people if it's this bad down here. I hope everyone up there is ok and safe. Here's the link to the weather report because it's just so unbelievable: NWS Special Weather Report Sept 13, 2011 Geneva

Tomorrow I will be at a seminar, but will still try to post something online about it at the end of the day.


A Day in the Life of a Civil Engineer – Day 4

Day 4

Safety Meeting

The Fire triangle created by Gustavb

Once a month the public works department holds a safety meeting for everyone in the department. Today's topic was fire safety. We learned about the fire triangle: oxygen, heat, and fuel. We also learned that there are four classes of fire:

Class A: Ordinary combustibles such as paper

Class B: Flammable liquids and gases

Class C: Electrical

Class D: Combustible metals

The key to prevention is to keep the three elements of a fire separated and to keep your work area organized and equipment in good working order. If a fire does start, we were taught the types of fire extinguishers that can be used. 

A Class A Extinguisher is typically filled with water and only should be used on Class A fires

A Class ABC Extinguisher is typically filled with a dry chemical and can only be used on Class A, B, or C fires

A Class D Extinguisher can have sodium carbonate and should only be used with Class D fires

Learning about fires was helpful, but last year they taught us to actually use the extinguishers. I liked that much more because it was more of a hands-on experience.



Later in the morning, several staff members met with someone asking about several potential developments. People interested in developing property or opening a business in a city eventually need to meet with city staff to discuss their project and learn what regulations or requirements can affect their project. At this stage plans are usually very preliminary, but if meetings like this don't take place, the developer can put a lot of time and money into a plan that might not work. So meeting before too much work is done is important and saves everyone a lot of time later in the process. 

I also received an inquiry from a real estate person who needed to know the general location of a private sewer service for a home that will be sold. Again, this is a common type of request received in an engineering office. I was able to look up the area on our sewer maps and found that the sewer service was shown. We discussed the location, and I was able to send the caller a copy of the map book page.

In the afternoon I arranged for a staff member to scan a set of plans for a subdivision in our city that has not been fully completed. Even though the majority of work has been done, the final surface on the roadway still needs to be placed. And from what I understood, the current owner is interested in trying to place this surface and complete the subdivision. But they needed the plan set to begin arranging to have the work done.

Miscellaneous Tasks

The rest of my day was spent on several miscellaneous tasks:

Organizing my email inbox (a never-ending job).

I arranged to have our interns review some of our signs that have become obsolete and develop a plan to either remove, replace, or relocate the signs.

I also worked with GIS to try to figure out why our web map on our Intranet stopped working. We tried creating a new one which worked. So we decided to just delete the old one and set up a replacement map.

Box Culvert

I arranged for a consultant to prepare a rough estimate of cost for stormwater management of the retention pond we've been researching.

And I met with an engineer from another consulting firm who had stopped by to drop off material about his company. 

Our staff spent some time discussing different issues related to our road project currently under construction.

Finally, I left early to attend a meeting of the education committee for our local APWA branch. We have a Bridge and Culvert seminar coming up on August 18th so if anyone reading this is located in the suburbs west of Chicago and interested in attending, you can head over to our website and sign up for the day.