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|April 27, 2016 ||
Vol. 47 No. 1
Laura R. Reinbold, P.E. (Terracon) is the new GBA president, accepting office during ceremonies at GBA's Annual Meeting in Dallas, Texas. Ms. Reinbold is the 46th individual to serve as GBA's president and chair the group's board of directors. Other officers and directors-at-large who will serve during GBA's 2016-17 fiscal year are:
Ms. Reinbold is Director of Client Development for Terracon, a 150-office, 3,500-employee firm that specializes in geotechnical and environmental engineering, facility assessment and asset management, construction observation, and materials testing. She has been in the engineering industry for more than 30 years, gaining experience in operational management, project management, professional development, and business development She is a recipient of the Nashville Business Journal's 2016 Women of Influence Trailblazer Award, and, in 2013, was appointed by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam as the first female engineer or architect to serve on the state's Architects and Engineers Licensing Board.
- President-Elect Charles L. Head, P.E., P.G. (Sanborn, Head & Associates, Inc.);
- Secretary/Treasurer Woodward L. Vogt, P.E., D.GE, F.ACI, F.ASCE, F.ASTM (Paradigm Consultants, Inc.);
- Thomas W. Blackburn, P.E., G.E., F.ASCE (Blackburn Consulting);
- Arthur G. Hoffmann, P.E., D.GE (Gannett Fleming, Inc.);
- Kenneth R. Johnston (GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc.);
- Kimberly F. Morrison, P.E., R.G. (Morrison Geotechnical Solutions, Inc.); and
- Alex Sy, Ph.D., P.Eng. (Klohn Crippen Berger, Ltd.).
As president of GBA, Gordon M. Matheson, Ph.D., P.E., P.G., D.GE (Underground Technology Group, LLC), had one of the most impactful years in office. It was his job to oversee GBA's transition from being a managed association (for 43 years!) to becoming a self-managed association, with its own staff and offices. And what a great job he did, witness the tremendous progress GBA has made this year and is sure to continue in the months and years ahead. As Gordon said in his concluding remarks at the GBA Spring (Annual) Conference in Dallas, "The transition is behind us. It is now time to look forward and continue to enhance the services and products that GBA provides its Member Firms. To this end, we have been hard at work updating materials that are useful to Member Firms. In fact, 18 of the top 25 member-downloads of our materials were produced since 2014. So we have been, and will continue to, actively update our materials so that our members will be able to manage their risk and enhance their firm’s performance.
"We have a few other things in the pipeline that will benefit members. First, we developed a formal relationship with the Geo-Institute where we will collaborate on developing joint programs with the ultimate goal of developing GBA chapters. This is something we have talked about for many years and we want to thank Kord Wissmann for his hard work to make this possible."
Reuters via Business Insurance
A federal jury has ruled that Cabot Oil & Gas Co. owes more than $4.2 million in damages to the last two of more than 40 Pennsylvania families who alleged that Cabot’s fracking operations contaminated their ground water. A Cabot spokesman said that the verdict surprised the company, given that no evidence linked contamination of the two families' wells to fracking. A Cabot lawyer argued in court that the methane occurred naturally and the ground water was safe to drink. The spokesman said that "Cabot will be filing motions with the court to set the verdict aside based on the lack of evidence as well as conduct of plaintiff's counsel calculated to deprive Cabot of a fair trial." The other families settled with Cabot in 2012.
Polytechnic University of Valencia researchers have designed intelligent sensors that enable the immediate detection and delimitation of even small quantities of toxic waste, diesel, and hydrocarbons in any body of water. The sensors can also identify the exact size and location of the polluted area. According to research-team head Jaime Lloret, "Different chemical pollutants require different techniques for their clean-up. But the single most important factor for minimizing the impact and damages to the affected area is how quickly they are detected. This is particularly critical in the case of oil spills..." The sensors are embedded in small floating devices — nodes — that move independently through the spill in search of its outer limits. "The nodes use the real-time data collected via their hydrocarbon sensors and their relative positions to seek out the edges of the spill, the point where it meets non-contaminated water."
|Ownership of Instruments of Professional Service
Some clients insist on taking ownership of a consultant’s instruments of professional service. The danger in acquiescing is the potential for converting the instruments into products that are bought and sold. Product defects are subject to strict liability; i.e., if the product doesn’t work as it's supposed to, and someone is damaged, the "manufacturer" is liable; proving negligence is unnecessary. Given that situation, you might want to consider a provision such as the following sample, both to discourage your client from pursuing the practice and to protect your firm if you must go along. Do not use this or any other contract provision without your attorney's prior review and approval.
CLIENT agrees that, by assuming ownership of CONSULTANT'S instruments of professional service, CLIENT feasibly would convert CONSULTANT'S instruments of professional service into products that could be subject to product-liability claims. Because such conversion is inappropriate for instruments of professional service, and because such conversion was not contemplated by CONSULTANT, and because CONSULTANT has no insurance able to protect CONSULTANT from product-liability claims, CLIENT agrees that, in return for CLIENT receiving ownership of CONSULTANT'S instruments of professional service, CLIENT shall not file a product-liability claim against CONSULTANT, and shall defend, indemnify, and hold CONSULTANT harmless against any other party's product-liability or strict-liability claim for damages or injuries due to alleged defect in CONSULTANT'S instruments of professional service.
Western Daily Press
"We wanted to find a way to treat this waste that, when dumped in landfills, can produce methane — a powerful greenhouse gas — and when dumped in water bodies, can create major water-treatment problems." So said a leader of the research team that has developed a microbial electrochemical cell that can extract electricity from tomato waste — rotten or damaged tomatoes that are unfit to be sold or processed. The cell targets tomatoes' lycopene pigment, which acts as a source of electrons. The process derives 0.3 watts of electricity from 10 milligrams of waste. The researchers say that, with development, efficiency will improve.
The Huffington Post
Displaying at a trade show is expensive. Get the biggest bang for your buck by doing the planning needed to maximize the value your firm derives. Six suggestions:
- Set realistic goals: These depend on the company's situation; e.g., a new company or a new service being offered.
- Create a system to measure goals: What's your ROI? If you don't know how to measure it, rely on someone who does.
- Collect feedback: Surveys can be valuable. Do you want to conduct one?
- Create a memorable experience for your audience: Actually, some fairly simple means are readily available to you.
- Integrate social media into your event: Many techniques are available for doing this, by creating a memorable #hashtag or searching Twitter to find others attending the event.
- Invest in your booth: Make it a colorful, interesting, and on-brand display that is friendly and attractive.
If you haven’t signed up to attend GBA's upcoming Spring (Annual) Conference, now's the time! And while you're at it, mark your calendar for all the other outstanding GBA get-togethers on the horizon.
For a complete list of upcoming events, click here.
The year was 1902. Divers exploring a second-century BC shipwreck off the coast of Antikythera, a Greek island, found what is now known as "The Antikythera Mechanism," a device so advanced, contemporary scientists decided it could not possibly be what it appeared to be. But it was, and today The Antikythera Mechanism is recognized as the world’s first computer, built 2,000 years before Macs and PCs arrived. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution's Dr. Brendan Foley called it "a very complex gear train. On one face, there are two interlocking spirals and, as you turn one main drive handle, it sets this whole thing in motion. If you turn it clockwise, it moves you forward in time. If you turn it counterclockwise, you move back in time. As you turn that drive handle, on the two faces, indicator needles show the possibilities of lunar and solar eclipses on these two interlocking spirals on the back side. And on the front side, there are five indicator needles that are showing the positions of the five known planets." Other gear arrangements account for the Earth’s retrograde motion in relation to other planets, meaning some of the indicator needles will move in the opposite direction of others.
|DR. ENGLISH: Watch Your Step-Down
If you were taught the "step-down rule" as a kid, chances are you still follow it, even though it can create just the kind of ambiguity, some plaintiffs might allege, that caused the confusion that led to the loss. If you're unaware it had a name, the step-down rule holds that the final element of a list should be separated by a shorter pause than the others. In other words, if you separate your list entries by commas, the final element would have no punctuation before it. Were you to separate them by semi-colons, the final element would be indicated by a comma; e.g., "...apples, oranges, nectarines and figs." or "...new theories for litigation; tired, old rules, and a refusal to get contemporary." Abandon the rule! Maintain the same separation punctuation throughout to avoid misunderstanding; e.g., "...nectarines, and figs." and “...rules; and a refusal to get contemporary."
I never thought I'd say this, but, I tried some rosé wine a few weeks ago. And I never ever thought I'd say, "I really liked it!" But I did. It makes for great sipping in warmer weather, especially when you're sipping a good one. Hundreds of rosés are “out there," relying on dozens of grapes from wine-growing regions worldwide. You'll be best off, for the most part, with 2015 wines; rosés tend to have a one- or two-year drinking window, for the most part. You'll probably also do well to keep the price under $18 or so. A few faves:
- County Line Rosé Elke Home Ranch 2015,
- Puech-Haut Coteaux du Languedoc Rosé Prestige 2015,
- Domaine Lafage Miraflors Rosé 2015,
- Chateau Miraval rosé Cotes de Provence 2015,
- Prieure de Montezargues Tavel 2014, and
- Charles & Charles Rosé 2015.
The National Law Review
Drone use by design firms and constructors has taken off; more than one-third of all FAA drone-use applications list construction, real estate, or utility/energy/infrastructure as the intended mission. With good reason: Drones can safely provide valuable project data by going where people or heavy machinery shouldn't. And drones' data-collection abilities are just now being realized: High-quality aerial photos, thermal imaging, traditional surveying data, 3D scanning, object recognition, and data cataloguing are some of the better-known abilities they possess. They can even be programmed to follow specific flight paths and deliver daily site reports for tracking construction progress, measuring stockpiles, managing resources, and reducing downtime. But that doesn't mean drone use is risk-free. It's not, which is why, among many other things, you need to make sure you have insurance coverage before putting a drone into service. (Drones are specifically excluded by most CGL policies.)
| || 2016-2017 GBA BOARD OF DIRECTORS|
Laura R. Reinbold, P.E.
(Terracon / Nashville, TN)
Charles L. Head, P.E., P.G.
(Sanborn, Head & Associates, Inc. / Concord, NH)
Woodward L. Vogt, P.E., D.GE, F.ACI, F.ASCE, F.ASTM
(Paradigm Consultants, Inc. / Houston, TX)
Thomas W. Blackburn, P.E., G.E., F.ASCE
(Blackburn Consulting / Auburn, CA)
Arthur G. Hoffmann, P.E., D.GE
(Gannett Fleming, Inc. / Harrisburg, PA)
Kenneth R. Johnston
(GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc. / Norwood, MA)
Kimberly F. Morrison, P.E., R.G.
(Morrison Geotechnical Solutions, Inc. / Denver, CO)
Alex Sy, Ph.D., P. Eng.
(Klohn Crippen Berger Ltd. / Vancouver, BC)
7701 Las Colinas Ridge, Ste. 800, Irving, TX 75063