Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day

We hope you have a safe and fun St. Patrick's Day!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Noise Studies and Mower Man

Have you ever been relaxing in your backyard, enjoying the warm sunshine of the spring day, listening to the chirping of birds, admiring the new buds on the trees and—BAM—your tranquil oasis has been invaded by your neighbor, aka, the Mower Man?

You know the guy—he mows the lawn at least twice a week, whether it needs it or not, and seems to time his noisy yard maintenance perfectly with your personal enjoyment of your usually serene outdoor sanctuary.

If you’re mad, you’re totally right to be: the noise created by Mower Man’s lawn ritual is roughly equal decibel-wise to the amount deemed loud enough by Federal law to negatively affect quality of life.

Ouch, right? Though those laws aren’t in place to imprison Mower Man (darn), they are there for a reason much more frustrating to outdoor serenity than poorly timed lawn maintenance: highway noise.

If you live next to a highway, your backyard might see the equivalent of Mower Man 365 days per year. So loud, in fact, that if you were sitting on your deck during peak hours, trying to have a nice after dinner conversation with friends, you would struggle to hear each other.

You’ve got to admit, that’s way more annoying than Mower Man.

Which is exactly why those laws—including two key Federal ones—are in place. And those laws lead to noise studies. These studies are completed by qualified engineers like those at GBA—our engineers are recognized by the Missouri Department of Transportation and others as experts in Traffic Noise analysis.

When conducting these noise studies, engineers collect existing data in the study area like topography, surrounding land use (homes, schools, commercial property), traffic information (volume, speeds, types of vehicles) and existing noise. After existing data is collected, future noise levels are predicted and impacts are evaluated. If the noise is deemed excessive, abatement options would be identified and could be recommended for implementation. 

If your backyard is included in the area determined to be impacted by excessive highway traffic noise, there are a variety of ways it can be shielded, but the most effective tend to be noise walls and berms.

They can’t do anything about Mower Man and his habits, but if you’ve got more on your plate than his John Deere, they might just return your backyard to Zen-level peacefulness.

Monday, March 2, 2015

10 Years of Autodesk Civil 3D!

Nearly ten years ago, GBA made the investment to become an early adopter of Autodesk Civil 3D.  This software took the civil engineering deliverables from 2D designs on paper to 3D models in the computer.  Once a 3D model is created, any data referenced from it is instantly calculated. If the model is refined or changed, the same data updates automatically.  Once completed, these models can be shared with contractors for use in machine controlled earthmoving equipment or for quantity take-offs.  

Being an early adopter was not easy.  Our in-house Civil 3D project team worked with consultants to develop standards and processes for the new software.  We frequently found ourselves in meetings with software engineers who had flown across the U.S. to meet with us to evaluate the software performance in the real world. 

The transition to 3D modeling software saved significant time on tasks like earthwork calculations - operations that once took several hours of computer processing now take mere minutes.  Additionally, we have an ability to run design scenarios for projects while seeking to reduce overall development and construction costs.  Most importantly, referencing data from a completed 3D model results in fewer errors in design documents translating to fewer delays during construction. 

We have continued our investment by sending key team members to attend Autodesk University (AU) each year.  AU is a gathering of engineers, designers and technology teams that teach, share and learn about Autodesk products. By providing our team members with opportunities to learn and engage with their peers, we believe they will be best equipped to serve clients with innovative solutions.

In a design world where 3D modeling has become common place, GBA is positioned as a leader in the application of design technologies.  You can read about GBA’s early adoption efforts in an Autodesk Whitepaper titled “Implementing AutoCAD Civil 3D: Three Case Studies” at this link.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Celebrating Engineers during E-Week 2015

This week we celebrate engineers and all they do to make our world a better place. In the past 25 years alone, the world of engineering has changed dramatically. Visiting with a group of engineers who have worked at GBA for more than 25 years, I was amazed to hear their stories. They reminisced about using drafting tables and T-squares to draw plans with ink pens and electric erasers.  Have you ever seen an electric eraser?  The drafting tables they spoke of are no longer seen in the office. They’ve been replaced by computers that create 3D renderings and store them in “the cloud” for our clients to see.

Engineers have always been problem solvers and through the advancement of technology, they are able to use their problem solving skills to make our lives better. For example:

  • Our water environment group is currently working to help repair sewers that have been in place for more than 100 years.  Did you know we now can line a sewer pipe with a fabric while it’s still in place to avoid having to dig it up to stop leaks which add to the volume of water being treated?
  • GBA transportation engineers are involved in design/build highway projects. The design/build method creates a shorter overall project schedule and construction period, saving drivers from extended traffic headaches.
  • Structural, mechanical and electrical engineers now design projects in BIM, a building information modeling software that shows in 3D an entire building and all utility systems together to identify and remove any conflicts in construction before they happen.
  • The AutoDesk Civil 3D Software helps our engineers prepare construction documents that are automatically updated as design changes are made. The 3D surface data generated from the software can be populated in “the cloud” and then readily downloaded to earth moving equipment fitted with machine controls allowing for more efficient site grading operations.
  • Autonomous cars are an engineering feat being created and tested around the world. These cars are being touted as safer and more energy efficient because they remove the human-error element of driving. GPS will become more prevalent to help these cars get you to where you need to go. How will this change how our transportation engineers design roads, bridges and traffic signals?

The list goes on and on about the advancement of technology and how engineers are solving problems to make our world a better place. Where will we be in the next 25 years? Will computers be a thing of the past? Will we commute in cars that drive themselves? With the rapid rate of technological advances, it’s difficult to predict but it will be interesting to sit around a table in 2040 and reminisce about how we used to use Twitter and actually drive ourselves to work.

Whether you are a civil, chemical, computer, electrical, mechanical or any other type of engineer, you’re problem solving skills have helped to make the world a better place. Engineers truly are creating remarkable solutions for a higher quality of life.

Monday, February 9, 2015

GBA Recognized as a Healthiest Employer of Kansas City

GBA has been recognized as a finalist of the 2015 Healthiest Employers, an annual award program presented by the Kansas City Business Journal.

Select employers from Kansas City were named winners at the awards program, held on February 6, 2015. Organizations were honored for their commitment to employee health, with exceptional corporate wellness programming.

Applicants were evaluated across six key categories: Culture and Leadership, Foundational Components, Strategic Planning, Communication and Marketing, Programming and Interventions, and Reporting and Analysis. Completed assessments were ranked with the proprietary Healthiest Employer Index, a 1-100 metric for wellness programming.

Wendee Woodson, Director of Human Resources, accepted the honoree award on behalf of GBA.

To see more, please read the Business Journal article.

Healthiest Employers is an innovative awards program that recognizes organizations that proactively shape the health of their employees. To date, Healthiest Employer has served as a resource to over 4,000 U.S. employers that represent 60 million employees, and offers Springbuk health analytics. Learn more at www.HealthiestEmployers.com and www.Springbuk.com.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Announcing a New Member of the GBA Life Sciences Group

Shaun Mc Carthy has joined GBA’s Life Sciences team, adding more than 25 years of experience in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. He brings extensive experience in process engineering and project management and excels when challenged with fast-track schedules. After more than two decades of hands on experience with all aspects of API manufacturing, he brings the significant knowledge gained to the GBA Life Sciences team. In particular, an expertise in containment associated with high potency product handling facilities, having worked extensively over the years with technology leaders within this highly specialized field. His first assignment with GBA will be working as part of our team on a large equipment design and installation project within a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant. 

"We are eager to welcome Shaun to the GBA team. His expertise will greatly enhance the services we offer clients in the pharmaceutical industry," - Michael Glasker, Principal-in-Charge of Life Sciences.

GBA is growing rapidly in the Life Sciences sector and is excited about the opportunity to add depth to our team. Shaun has a strong technical background and has been recognized as a team leader, having led multiple cross-functional teams on small and large projects.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Future City Competition

Volunteers Dave Mennenga, Tim Ross and Dennis Cantrell.

GBA participated in this year’s Great Plains Region Future City Competition held in Manhattan, KS on Saturday January 24th.  61 teams from 39 schools  participated in this years’ event.  GBA sponsored an award in the essay portion of the competition for Best Technical Writing.

During the fall semester, Future City teams work on a variety of tasks, and then compete at the regional competition in January.  This year the event was  held on the campus of Kansas State University.    Each team does a research paper and writes an essay and a narrative. They also develop a Sim City model, as well as a physical model that they take to the competition.  On the day of the competition each team presents their concepts for an amazing city in the future to a panel of volunteer judges who then rank teams to help determine the ultimate winner.

This year the winning team was from Southwest Middle School in Lawrence, KS.  The GBA award for best technical writing went to the team from Republic County USD 109 in Belleville, KS.   The name of their future city was “Agritopia”.