Category Archives: Pare Engineers

#PareTimeRunners

Eleven Pare engineers and one environmental scientist (AKA the #PareTimeRunners) took off on a 192-mile relay race that stretched from Hull, MA to Provincetown, MA.  They started at the Foxboro office in two vans…

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L to R: Chris Webber, Keith Black, Sarah Antolick, Victoria Howland, Matt Alford, Lauren Gluck

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L to R: Tim Thomson, Tim Thies, Andrew Chagnon, Lindsey Machamer, Danielle Goudreau, Keith MacDonald

The #PareTimeRunners ran all through the night.

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Keith Black passing the baton to Tim Thies

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The struggle was real.

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However there was light at the end of the tunnel!

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For the most part…

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They saw the sights.

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They even got some work done! #PareTimeRunners #FullTimeEngineers

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They finally made it! IMG_4108

Congratulations to the #PareTimeRunners on their 192-mile weekend. To view even more photos and tweets from the #PareTimeRunners, head on over to the @Pare_Corp Twitter page. If you’re interested in running a 200-mile relay race this summer, check out the Ragnar Relay website.

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Take Our 3-minute Climate Change Survey!

Over the past month we have all heard a variety of updates, opinions, and developments regarding the Paris Climate Summit and the Global Climate March, a gathering that produced significant awareness and opened the dialogue between hundreds of thousands of people. Although there is still much debate about the causes of climate change, there is growing evidence that storm severity may be increasing, and sea level rise and coastal erosion are well documented, especially in the Northeast.

As one of our founding fathers Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Sparked from the interest of our employees and in an effort to stay up to date with the possible ramifications climate change could pose, Pare’s Climate Change Committee (PC3) was born. Active for almost a year now, the committee has become a critical clearinghouse of climate change-related information and includes representatives from each division at Pare. PC3 includes committee chair Ryan McCoy from the Geotechnical/Waterfront Division, Chue Kue from the Transportation Division, Travis Johnson from the Environmental Division, and Briscoe Lang and Marc Gabriel from the Civil Division.

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Committee members Travis Johnson, Briscoe Lang, Ryan McCoy and Marc Gabriel (missing from photo: Chue Kue)

It has become more and more apparent that the A/E/C industry will hold a crucial role in responding to climate change through innovation, adaptive design, and proactive planning. Pare believes it is imperative to integrate proactive measures into our projects to better protect the public and our clients. In addition to collecting information and advising staff and clients, PC3 is continuously adding to our extensive in-house library so Pare can provide our clients with best practices for their projects. In most cases this will mean creating resilient or adaptive designs that minimize infrastructure and environmental damages resulting from severe storm events, flooding, and sea level rise. By doing so, Pare can better ensure post-storm continuity of business and reduce the amount of maintenance and repair that may be required from storm damage.

To help us understand how climate change impacts you, we invite you to complete the following short survey. We promise it will only take about three minutes of your time, and all who complete the survey will be entered in a drawing for a solar and hand turbine-powered American Red Cross Emergency Radio (which will even let you charge your cell phone when the power goes out!)

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Results of the survey will be posted in a future Pare Blog. The survey also allows you to provide an email address if you would like us to send you the results. If you have any questions about the survey or PC3, please send us an email at mailto:PC3@parecorp.com. Thank you in advance. Your input is greatly appreciated!

I Thought GIS Was the Newest Primetime Crime TV Show!

By Kailyn Corrigan, Marketing Coordinator at Pare

As a non-engineer/scientist, there is a lot of unfamiliar language I’ve come across since my introduction to the A/E/C industry in May 2014. For example, there is an entire division at Pare Corporation dedicated to geotechnical engineering – a term I’d never heard before I visited the company website. In order to be a successful marketing contributor, I try to notice which words come across my desk or within office earshot most often, and I ask a lot of questions. In 2015, I began to notice the term “GIS” more and more often, and so I realized it was time for me to investigate what GIS means and why its mention is on the rise.

In December 2014, Pare hired Sarah Pierce, a recent graduate of Westfield State, to join our Environmental Science group. In June of this year, Sarah was promoted to a full-time GIS Specialist and Environmental Scientist, so I asked her if she wouldn’t mind giving me a quick tutorial—a “GIS for Dummies,” if you will.

Wikipedia weighs in

Before meeting with Sarah, I made sure to check what GIS stood for, seeing as that was my first question, and nowadays one is expected to “Wikipedia” the basics. I learned GIS stands for “Geographic Information System.” Well that was a relief! At least I was familiar with the three words that comprise the acronym. I’m not always so lucky. I perused the resources Sarah provided me before the interview to develop a basic understanding, and I noticed that GIS is not exclusive to the A/E/C industry. Excited to share something in common with GIS already, I prepared my questions.p3p2-lg

I sat with Sarah, and asked for the less technical explanation of how GIS is used in our industry. Sarah explained that “GIS allows you to view data as a geographic representation.” For example, before GIS, location and project data was entered and viewed in list form, using software such as Microsoft Excel, and then data was applied to a map in a two-part process. GIS has made it a one-step process, which Sarah credited as one of GIS’s biggest benefits, “GIS has cut fieldwork time in half.”

A Growing Technology

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Now that I understood a little bit more about what GIS actually accomplishes, I was interested in learning why it is a growing technology. According to my Googling, GIS has been around since the 1960’s. GIS consists of an electronic display map, where the information you upload is associated with the corresponding geographic coordinates. When I asked how the growth spurt in GIS usage started, Sarah showed me the computer tablet she uses. While GIS has always been a helpful tool, prior to the development of portable computer tablets, GIS was restricted to desktop computers…which obviously aren’t as compatible with working in the field. The tablet has enabled engineers and scientists to enter and review data, whether they are in the office or knee deep in swamp land. Software companies like Esri have increased the mobility of GIS and the reasons for using it through tablet apps, such as Collector, which syncs information with ArcMap Online, the GIS software used on desktops.

Moving Forward

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A Pare project illustrating the visual components of data mapping.

I asked Sarah about Pare’s specific GIS expansion and which projects have benefitted the most from GIS technology. Currently it is used most often in feasibility studies, setback (a term commonly used in floodplain management) maps, and asset management in hydraulic modeling. However, Sarah hopes to utilize even more opportunities, and has developed a plan to do so. Sarah will be holding Lunch & Learns open to all staff. By providing the newest developments in GIS information and resources to staff members, our engineers will find new ways to integrate GIS into their projects. When I asked for an example of an area where GIS isn’t being used but should be, Sarah mentioned that it can be used as an alternative to computer aided drafting (CAD) in some cases. She hopes that Lunch and Learns will spark ideas among staff members and ultimately alleviate the workload of our very busy CAD department.

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A Pare project that used GIS to map components of a Town’s water system.

As a recent graduate, Sarah hopes to stay ahead of the ever-evolving GIS technology and remain at the forefront of the field. GIS software is updated on a yearly basis, so this will be no easy feat, but she looks forward to making GIS her professional priority. Since I learned a bit about GIS, Sarah also shared her ideas of how the Marketing department may be able to benefit from data visualization in proposal making and through our web presence. I am looking forward to working together and exercising my newfound understanding of yet another really cool engineering tool. For more information on GIS, its capabilities, and how you can apply it to your work, visit the GIS resource website that one of Sarah’s college professors created.

Pare Gets Resilient!

Pare’s Ryan McCoy Presents at the ASCE COPRI Coastal Structures Conference in Boston

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From September 9-11, 2015, Ryan McCoy, a project engineer with Pare’s Waterfront/Marine team and co-chair of the Pare Climate Change Committee (PC3), attended a 3-day conference in Boston, Massachusetts hosted by ASCE-COPRI (Coasts, Oceans, Ports, and Rivers Institute). The “Coastal Structures and Solutions to Coastal Disasters Joint Conference” highlighted resilient coastal communities focusing on coastal protection and the vulnerability of the coastal infrastructure to coastal storms. In addition to attending technical sessions with topics ranging from coastal storms and flood mapping to tsunami response and protection to climate change and sea level rise, Ryan presented on day 2 at the conference’s poster session. Ryan discussed the Salisbury Tide Gate project, highlighting the resiliency of the structure which was designed by Pare with construction completed in 2014.

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Oxford dictionary defines Resilient as “able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions.”   The Salisbury Tide Gate project exemplifies the resiliency that is required when future sea level rise and the intensity of coastal storms are unknown. Pare reviewed available data including FEMA flood maps which indicated a 100-year flood elevation several feet above the embankment’s crest. In lieu of raising the crest elevation of the entire embankment (over 1 mile long), Pare incorporated resiliency into the embankment and tide gate design by allowing the site to be overtopped during significant storm events. Pare’s engineers designed the structure to be reliable and robust in order to preserve the structural integrity and water control required for post-storm recovery.

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The reconstruction of the site included the reconstruction of the embankment, replacement of the single culvert with twin culverts, and the installation of new tide gates. In order to make the site resilient, the new design included the installation of a steel sheet pile core wall driven to effectively eliminate seepage through the embankment, installation of armor stone on both sides of the embankment to reduce the effects of erosion potentially caused by flood waters, setup of remote water level sensors upstream and downstream of the embankment to alert DPW employees to rising flood waters, and new tide gates designed as combination sluice/flap gates to provide additional water level control during predicted flood events. In addition to these hard and fast solutions, proper tidal exchange and flushing of the sensitive salt marsh was reestablished, which restored the health of the resource area and provided a natural buffer during storm events.

These types of design considerations are going to be required as coastal communities look to improve public or private infrastructure across the country. Pare’s Climate Change Committee has worked diligently to understand the effects that climate change may have on future projects and the civil engineering industry as a whole. By remaining current with the science and policy of climate change, PC3 and Pare will provide our Clients with knowledgeable recommendations to mitigate the potential impacts of climate change through resilient design that is adaptable to a dynamic environment.

Behind The Scenes: The Making of Pare’s First Aerial Drone Video

In recent years the word “drone” – once associated solely with sci-fi movies and the military – has become more frequently mentioned in the news, on Christmas lists, and within the work place. While some of the regulatory issues of droning (is that a verb yet?) are still being considered, businesses and marketing departments have watched this burgeoning technology take off—literally.

It has always been important to Pare’s designers that we share up-to-date photos and videos documenting the progress of our projects. However, due to the size and scope of civil, transportation, environmental and geotechnical projects, it has often been difficult to get an accurate image or video of what was being accomplished without the use of a helicopter. That was until… the video drone.

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The Inspire1 is a flying platform designed to capture 360 degrees of aerial video with unrestricted views and much control

Several of Pare’s senior leaders met with Sean McVeigh, Director, Cinematographer and Photographer at Sean McVeigh Media, for an introduction to the Inspire1 drone, and to witness—through Sean’s past projects—the amazing opportunities aerial video footage can provide. The team was duly impressed, and began discussing potential projects worthy of aerial drone photography.

On May 1st, we ventured to Barrington, Rhode Island to film a key construction milestone on the Central Bridge Replacement project using the Inspire1 drone with Sean McVeigh and his partner, Seth Fandetti. Seth piloted the drone, watching out for power lines and birds, while Sean focused on the drone’s camera and capturing the best possible footage. Sean would explain to Seth the desired angles and shots he needed, while Seth communicated flight path options.

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Sean McVeigh and Seth Fandetti prepare the Inspire1 drone and flying equipment for takeoff. You can view Central Bridge in the distance.

We initially took off from a flat grassy area downstream of the bridge. However, to avoid electrical power lines and maintain the best view, we soon moved to the foot of the bridge. It was amazing to watch the Inspire1 remain steady and controlled, despite the windy and cloudy conditions.

Once construction filming wrapped, we interviewed Vice President and Managing Bridge Engineer, Kevin Viveiros, to provide project insight and narration for the completed video.

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Behind the Scenes with Sean McVeigh Media, Kailyn Corrigan, Marketing Coordinator at Pare, and Kevin Viveiros, VP and Bridge Engineer at Pare.

It was exciting to watch the different parts of filming come together in the final video. We hope this video will give you a unique perspective and insight regarding bridge engineering and construction. To view the completed video, please visit our YouTube channel, here. The full project story and details are located in the video description.

Central Bridge Replacement, Barrington, RI – VIDEO

Pare Corporation recently worked with Sean McVeigh Media to capture video footage of a current construction project using an aerial video drone. It was an exciting day for Pare to witness the opportunities this new technology can provide for viewing and sharing current and completed projects.

Project details are located in the video description on Pare’s YouTube Channel.

And The Winner Is…..

“Back to Nature” by Allen Orsi, P.E., a Managing Engineer in Pare’s Geotechnical Division, is the winner of the 5th Annual Earth Day Photo Contest. This year, Pare employees were asked to submit a photo inspired by the Earth Day 2015 theme: Take a stand, so that together we can show the world a new direction. It’s our turn to lead. Our world leaders will follow.

The 2015 photo contest was incredibly close. There was a tie between photos for most of the week, but in the end, “Back to Nature” won by two votes!

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The Bartlet Pond Dam, originally constructed in 1814, was a barrier to the natural ecology of the Wekepeke Brook for nearly 200 years. During that time, the presence of the dam resulted in increased water temperatures, lower Dissolved Oxygen, disconnected environments, and other environmental detriments. In 2014, the dam was removed, restoring the area to a natural stream channel and allowing for the natural healing of the ecosystem to begin, which will benefit both the Wekepeke as well as the Nashua River, located shortly downstream. In recognition of this achievement, state and local officials gathered to celebrate the project and other environmental initiatives being supported financially through programs being offered by EOEEA. Attendance at the event demonstrated the state’s commitment and progress in restoring our natural environment; the new growth embodies the power of nature to overcome man’s interference in the cycle of nature.

Congratulations to our winner, Allen Orsi. Allen will receive a gift card to Briggs Garden & Home.

You can check out the rest of the photo entries here.

A special thanks to all who contributed to this year’s Earth Day Photo Contest. This year’s entrants were:

#1 Andrew Chagnon – Synthetic Turf Field, Marshfield
#2 Allen Orsi – Back to Nature
#3 Dave Easterbrooks – Save the Bay Swim
#4  Marc Weller – Eco-Machine
#5 Lauren Hastings – Tread Lightly
#6  Tim Thies – S-s-s-s-s-s-springtime Buddies
#7  Dave McCombs – Solitude
#8 Nick Romano – Koi Pond
#9  Victoria Howland – Living Machine
#10  Mel Hebert – Aurora Borealis
#11  Brandon Blanchard – Do You Know Where Your Food Comes From?
#12  Cari Orsi – Living Green
#13 Scott Lindgren –  Follow us, together we will lead.

Pare’s 5th Annual Earth Day Photo Contest – Vote Here

It’s that time of year!  Photo entries for Pare’s 5th Annual Earth Day Photo Contest are posted below.

This year, Earth Day’s challenge is to: Take a stand, so that together we can show the world a new direction. It’s our turn to lead. Our world leaders will follow. The request to redefine what progress looks like prompted our photo contest challenge. Pare staff was invited to submit photos with a short description that demonstrate what progress means to them; how we are leading; and how we can do better.

Please enjoy the following photos, submitted by Pare’s staff, and vote using the poll located at the bottom of this post. The winner of the 2015 Earth Day Photo Contest will win a $25 Gift Certificate to Brigg’s Garden & Home. Voting will close Tuesday, April 28th.

Photo 11. “Synthetic Turf Field, Marshfield”

Is this just a field…???….
This is the reduction of runoff
This is promoting infiltration of stormwater
This is the elimination of the application of pesticides, nutrients, and herbicides
This is the elimination of geese waste
This is stabilization of exposed soil from overuse, which is susceptible to erosion due to wind and runoff
This is a facility that can handle three times the use as the one it replaced, eliminating the need for development elsewhere
Is this just a field…???….
This is progress.

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2. “Back to Nature”

The Bartlet Pond Dam, originally constructed in 1814, was a barrier to the natural ecology of the Wekepeke Brook for nearly 200 years. During that time, the presence of the dam resulted in increased water temperatures, lower Dissolved Oxygen, disconnected environments, and other environmental detriments. In 2014, the dam was removed, restoring the area to a natural stream channel and allowing for the natural healing of the ecosystem to begin, which will benefit both the Wekepeke as well as the Nashua River, located shortly downstream. In recognition of this achievement, state and local officials gathered to celebrate the project and other environmental initiatives being supported financially through programs being offered by EOEEA. Attendance at the event demonstrated the state’s commitment and progress in restoring our natural environment; the new growth embodies the power of nature to overcome man’s interference in the cycle of nature.

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3. “Save the Bay Swim”

Earth Day is always a timely reminder about our need to be good stewards to Mother Earth – we only get to enjoy her for a short time (relatively speaking) before making way for the next generations. And where we can, it’s gratifying to see us turn back the clock and create a cleaner and healthier planet than the one that existed when we were born. Narragansett Bay is a good example of this, where the work of the Narragansett Bay Commission and non-profit organizations like Save the Bay have resulted in dramatically cleaner, healthier water. Considering the amount of bay water I swallowed during last summer’s Save the Bay Swim from Newport to Jamestown, I am personally thankful for the efforts of so many good stewards!

Photo 4 4. “Eco-Machine”

During a recent visit to the University of Vermont, I was shown a former students Master’s degree project: the “Eco-Machine”, which is essentially a small wastewater treatment facility containing aquatic life that collects and treats all of the wastewater in a large building located on campus. The buildings wastewater is collected and treated by the Eco-Machine through six primary steps: primary settling, closed aerobic reactors, nutrient uptake through open aquatic vessels, wetlands, bio particulate filtration, and UV disinfection. While the finished water is not intended for drinking, it is reused as all the water for flushing the toilets in the building. It has been reported that the finished water discharged from the Eco-Machine is cleaner than the outflow from Burlington’s sewage treatment plant that discharges into Lake Champlain. The Eco-Machine is an excellent example of redefining what progress looks like – environmentally sustainable, cost effective wastewater treatment system alternatives that provide similar or better treatment efficiency compared to multi-million dollar facilities that consume enormous amounts of energy.

Photo 55. “Tread Lightly”

The tiny Woodland Jumping Mouse can propel itself up to 6 feet in one leap! While these elusive little critters live throughout the northeast, it is rare to ever see one as they silently hop through pine forests, feeding on fungi and insects.

With today’s fast paced lifestyle full of digital distractions, it is more important than ever to lead our children to connect with the natural world. Fostering an appreciation for the diversity, complexity and fragility of our ecosystems will help shape the next generation to live consciously and tread lightly.

Photo 66. “S-s-s-s-s-s-s-springtime buddies”

Our leaders are like the tail of a snake, they don’t always point in the direction of the head, but give them time and they will arrive at the same place. If we show our leaders the way, they may not look like they’re going to in the right direction, but they will eventually get there.

Photo 77. “Solitude”

We lead by example. By following square foot gardening techniques, a relatively small area with not a lot of effort can produce a surprisingly bountiful crop of fresh vegetables. This garden is ready for a spring preparation and can also be a welcome visual addition to the rural scenery.

Photo 88. “Koi Pond”

A backyard koi pond brings nature to the city. The sound of the water filters out the noise pollution of the busy city and provides a relaxing outdoor recreational space.

Photo 99. “Living Machine”

Pictured above is the modern day wastewater treatment plant: the Living Machine. Wastewater is treated through a series of 7 steps (settling, equalization, anoxic tanks, constructed wetlands, aerated lagoons, sand filter, and dispersal field) and without the use of any chemicals. The aerated lagoon phase is pictured in the photo and consists of 4 cells each about 10 feet deep. Wastewater enters the lagoons and is converted to ammonia and other harmless base elements by the plants, fungi, and microorganisms that thrive within the lagoons. Once wastewater passes through the lagoons, it is piped to a sand filter for final particulate removal before being released back into the ground. The Living Machine truly goes back to the basics and treats our “waste” as a precious resource.

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10. “Aurora Borealis”

Auroras occur in both hemispheres, and the aurora in the northern hemisphere is called the aurora borealis, or northern lights. The aurora borealis is most often seen during the months of September, October, March, and April.

One myth says that the aurora borealis is telling stories of what happened in the past and what will happen in the future.

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11. “Do You Know Where Your Food Comes From?”

Every day, more and more people can say that they do. Today, farmer’s markets are an important part of many of our communities, giving us access to healthy, locally grown food and a way of connecting to the farmers and purveyors that produce it. They have even helped solve the problem of “urban food deserts” that plague many of our largest cities, neighborhoods and other areas where people lack reasonable access to fresh healthy food – something most of us take for granted. More information on urban food deserts from the United States Department of Agriculture can be found here.

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12. “Living Green”

We can all lead by example and make living green a part of our lives. These good examples will turn into the average way of living. For example, bringing your own bags to the grocery store was pretty much unheard of when I was a child going to the store with my parents. Today I fairly consistently use my own bags and I see a lot of others doing it too. The other day when I forgot my bags at home and went to check out, my child actually noticed the lack of bags and asked, “where are our bags?”. It has become such a normal activity of shopping that even at a young age children pick up on what we do in our life and will make it a part of their normal activities when they grow up. Something that seems like we need to put so much effort into now will become part of our life’s in the future without effort. Every effort we make to lead now results in change for the future.

Photo 1313. “Follow us, together we will lead”

It is through our children and the younger generation that we are being shown the importance of environmental stewardship. Respecting the environment and the planet we live on so that it will be possible for future generations to enjoy life and the wonders that our planet has to give is now at the forefront of the conversation. They are the real leaders of the future.

Please submit your vote below. Thank you!

Snow Loading and Roof Collapse Safety

By Mike Rongione, Managing Structural Engineer at Pare

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Scenic icicles and snow-capped rooftops can be striking and charming, but their elegant beauty can be cause for concern. Snow can possess significant weight and becomes heavier when combined with rain, ice and sleet. Ice and snow on roofs are often forgotten until a leak develops – or worse.

With the numerous snowstorms we have experienced recently, excessive ice and snow loads can overload a building’s structural members and sometimes even cause roof collapse. Drifting snow conditions can also cause excessive snow loads. Generally, these drifts are common at pitched roofs, roof valleys, lower levels of multilevel roof areas, and on roofs adjacent to projections. Snow drifts are usually the result of wind-blown snow piling up in discrete areas. Larger roofs are more prone to excessive snow drifting because there is more snow available to form the drifts.

As snow might continue to accumulate or heavy rains and melting could add to the weight on buildings and houses, you need to be aware of the potential hazards and important safety measures you can take. If you suspect imminent roof failure, evacuate the building and call 911.

THINGS TO LOOK FOR

Generally, buildings will show signs of distress prior to roof collapse. The following are some warning signs of roof distress that should be recognized:

  • Loud popping, cracking and creaking sounds from the structure.
  • Sagging ceiling tiles.
  • Severe roof leaks indicating potential torn roof membranes and/or ice damming.
  • Cracked or split wood members.
  • Bends or ripples in metal supports.
  • Cracks in walls or masonry.
  • New cracks in wall or ceiling drywall/plaster.
  • Sprinkler heads pushed down below ceiling tiles.
  • Water ponding in areas it never did before.
  • Doors that pop open.
  • Doors or windows that are difficult or no longer can be opened/closed.
  • Bowed utility pipes or conduit attached at ceiling.
  • Cracks in welds of steel construction.
  • Sheared off screws from steel frames.
  • Sagging roof members including steel bar joists, metal decking, wood rafters, wood trusses and plywood sheathing – visually deformed.

REMOVING SNOW FROM ROOFS

When snow removal is necessary, remember that unsafe procedures may cause a collapse and injuries. Anyone working on a roof must have adequate fall protection and keep in mind that workers and others nearby can be injured by snow or ice being dumped from a roof.
Once it has been determined that the snow must be removed, there are several options for snow removal:

  • Consider hiring insured professionals to do the job.
  • Be aware of large accumulations of snow build-up or snowdrifts on your roofs.
  • If snow can be removed with the use of a snow rake (available at most hardware stores), do so.
  • Try to avoid working from ladders, as ladder rungs tend to ice up. Snow and ice collect on boot soles and metal ladders.
  • Use caution when removing snow off roofs to avoid damage to roof membranes or shingles. Use plastic shovels or wooden rakes to avoid damage. Consider leaving a few inches of snow on the roof instead of scraping the roof clean.
  • Flat roofs can be shoveled clear, but only if it is determined that the roof is safe to stand on. Start from the edge and work your way towards the center of the roof. Do not pile snow in local areas.
  • Remove snow evenly from both sides to avoid unbalanced roof loading conditions.
  • Flat roof drainage systems should be kept clear to minimize the risk of excess roof ponding in the event of subsequent heavy rainfall or melting.
  • Exercise care when on the roof to avoid potentially dangerous falls.
  • Large icicles can form on roof overhangs, but do not necessarily mean ice damming is occurring. Icicles overhanging doorways and walkways can be dangerous and should be carefully removed.

Professional structural engineers can assist with building assessments if you believe your structure is at risk.  Local building officials and your local fire department are also familiar with snow-loaded roofs and the signs of a potentially overloaded structure.  If you have concerns, they can answer many of your questions before taking the next step and hiring a professional.

GoldieBlox Toy Inspires Future Female Engineers – Pare’s Women Engineers Share Their Story

For those who watched the 89th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, you may have noticed a new, blonde, school-age girl with a passion for math floating down 34th Street.  Her name is GoldieBlox, and she has brought a new twist to the predominantly pink girl’s toy aisle. GoldieBlox toys, projects, books, videos and phone apps encourage problem solving in a way that was previously exclusive to boy’s toys.

Debbie Sterling, 30, is a Lincoln, RI native and the CEO of GoldieBlox, Inc.  Debbie was disappointed by the lack of women in her chemical engineering classes while attending Stanford University.  This prompted Debbie to consider why there are so few women pursuing careers in engineering.  As you can see in the pie-chart below, the engineering industry is made up of 86% men.

 

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Debbie earned her Mechanical Engineering and Product Design degree from Standford in 2005, and worked as a brand consultant for companies all over the country before founding GoldieBlox in 2012.  Debbie identifies as a “girly-girl,” but always felt the toys in which she was most interested while growing up were marketed for boys.  She came to the conclusion that the male-biased marketing for these design and construction type toys creates an intimidation factor that makes girls feel that in order to succeed at math, physics or engineering they will have to outperform men.  She describes her theory in detail during a Ted Talk presentation you can watch here (a very worthwhile watch).  Debbie created a video and Kickstarter campaign that was featured on the viral video sharing site, Upworthy.com.  Debbie used her marketing experience to time the release of the video with the Kickstarter campaign before the holidays, and the Kickstarter campaign far surpassed its goal, soon filling the shelves with a frizzy blonde in denim overalls, looking to share her love for building and problem solving with other young girls.

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When I began working at Pare Corporation, I was impressed by the number of female engineers who work in both our Lincoln, RI and Foxboro, MA offices.  Each time I heard about GoldieBlox, whether it was on the Today Show or after making Super Bowl commercial history, as it did last year, I wondered how the female engineers I work with found themselves in this predominantly male career, without the help of Goldie. Were Pare’s engineers natural born math geniuses (as Debbie implied they likely had to be), or did they reach into the boy’s toy aisle as a child?

GoldieBlox-craftstruction

A few of Pare’s female engineers shared with me their engineering journeys.  They were inspired and guided by real life mentors—not a childhood toy.  Victoria Howland and Lindsey Machamer, both civil engineers at Pare, grew up with parents in the engineering industry.  Victoria had the unique experience of having both her mother and father working as engineers.

Both my parents are engineers, as is my grandpa, and as was my great grandpa (I would have been 4th generation if I went to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute!) although they all specialized in a different discipline than me. My mom was one of few women in her 100+ person program, and since then she’s been a hardcore women-in-engineering advocate. I always heard about (and attended a few of) her events, conferences, and engineers week presentations that encouraged women to get into engineering. It was pushed on me so much growing up that I thought, no way, I am NEVER doing that. Then came high school, when I realized math was my thing. It also helped that the math teachers in my school district were, in my personal opinion, the best they come! After a certain point, my parents sat me down and asked, “What do you like the most?” I liked math, buildings, and architecture (I actually wanted to be an architect for a while), and they encouraged me to look into civil engineering. My aunt actually told me about this evolving field called “green engineering,” and as a 14-year-old I thought it was the coolest thing. And here I am today.

Lindsey knew her father was an electrical engineer since she was a young girl, however she didn’t know exactly what that meant.

My dad was an electrical engineer so I sort of always knew what engineering was even if I didn’t fully understand it. In my freshman year of high school (age 14), I asked my physics professor about careers that involved math and physics. He sent me on a field trip geared toward women in engineering. The field trip had different presentations that gave students an overview of all the different types of engineering. It took me a little while after that to nail down what type of engineering I wanted to do, but when I was 14, I knew I wanted to be an engineer.

Cari Orsi, a Senior Project Engineer in Pare’s Civil Division, was introduced to her future career through a high school summer camp.

I first heard about engineering my junior year in high school from a chemistry teacher promoting summer camp for the Pulp and Paper Foundation of Maine at the University of Maine. I applied to the summer camp since I had an interest in math and science. I had thoughts of becoming an architect and thought it would be valuable to get a degree as a structural engineer. During my time at the University of Maine, I had an internship for a site engineering company and realized that I liked the site side of things better than the structural design and I have never looked back.

Amy Archer, a Project Engineer in Pare’s Transportation Division, also discovered engineering while in high school.

I’ve always had a strong interest in designing and building things, and math was always a strength of mine. When I learned that being an engineer would allow me to utilize math to take ideas or concepts and make them come to life, I decided it was definitely the right career path for me.

Back to Debbie and GoldieBlox –

GoldieBlox’s mission states, “In a world where men largely outnumber women in science, technology, engineering and math, girls lose interest in these subjects as early as age 8.  Construction toys develop an early interest in these subjects, but for over a hundred years, they’ve been considered ‘boy’s toys.’  GoldieBlox is determined to change the equation.  We aim to disrupt the pink aisle and inspire the future generation of female engineers.”
It’s clear that education and hands-on experience played an important role in helping Pare’s female engineers make the decision to pursue engineering.  As a writer, I am very aware that math doesn’t come easily to everyone.  It is a special skill that is necessary to find solutions for needed improvements in the world.  Creating a problem-solving/building/construction experience for young girls opens their minds to pursuing that interest sooner, and these valuable skills should not be wasted.

If you have young girls to shop for this holiday season, consider GoldieBlox!  For every dollar spent today, December 1, 2015, each dollar will be matched by GoldieBlox for children in need.  For a future blog, I think it would be interesting to see at what age some of Pare’s male engineers became aware of this career path and what influenced their decision.  Please feel free to share your experience in our comment section.