The Coolest Legos in the Universe

Scientists in the UK have reported that they cooled a Lego figure and 4 Lego blocks almost to absolute zero (minus 273.15 Centigrade) and made an awesome discovery. You have to wonder if someone was just messing around and found some surprising results!

Not only did the Legos survive the temperature drop, in the process the scientists discovered that those blocks may be valuable as low cost insulators due to their interlocking shape. As you can see in this video, the researchers used a special machine called a dilution refrigerator to cool the Legos, which lost no structural integrity and had extremely low thermal conductivity. These special properties mean Legos could be useful in development of the next generation of dilution refrigerators and in quantum computing. The team’s next steps are to design and 3D print a new thermal insulator based on the results. You can read their scientific report to see the details. Who knew those blocks really were so awesome! – Beth Sciaudone, DTC Civil Water Resources & Environmental Instructor

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The DTC Team – Committed to Your Success

This is the DTC Team. Each one of us has a stake in the success of every participant in our courses. If you’re successful, we’re successful. We know how life changing getting your PE license can be, so we work hard every day to make sure we’re offering the best Civil and Mechanical PE Exam review courses possible.

Dr. Tom is the founder of and visionary behind DTC. Driven by his passion for helping people get their PE license, he created the Dr. Tom Method and teaches our Mechanical Reviews.

Dr. Tom has assembled an amazing team of instructors to teach our Civil PE Exam reviews: Shannon Warchol – Structural, Jason Savage – Construction, Mike Batten – Geotechnical, Beth Sciaudone – WRE, and Daniel Findley – Transportation. They are all passionate about teaching in addition to being very skilled their field of expertise.

And then there’s our support team – Jimm Barnes, Neil Howell, and Kim DeCoste – working to make sure your experience with our courses runs smoothly.

Preparing for the PE Exam is a daunting task and one that no one wants to do alone. We can’t be there with you every minute of the day, but we can be there when you need us. And we pride ourselves on our responsive, friendly and helpful support. Whether you need tech support or instructors available to answer your questions, we are with you every step of the way.

“I was happy to find people who cared about me and my success on the exam. The structure and support that I received from Dr. Tom’s Classroom was paramount to my success during the exam. I truly appreciate the efforts put forth by Dr. Tom and all others that make this review possible.”
– Chris, PE, Toms River, New Jersey

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PE EXAM PREP TIP – Two Calculators are Better than One

Make sure you are using an approved calculator. The NCEES Calculator Policy on the NCEES website lists the approved models.

I recommend that you purchase two identical models and use both calculators during your review. You should have a back up during the exam, and you need to know that both of them are working correctly. So alternate calculators regularly throughout your review to make sure they both get a work out and you are confident they will both work for you on exam day. – Dr. Tom

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Is It Time for a New Way to Measure Hurricanes?

This past hurricane season was an active one, tied with 1969 as the fourth-most active Atlantic hurricane season on record, and included the exceptionally strong Hurricane Dorian. Dorian made landfall in the Bahamas with sustained winds of 185 mph and gusts up to 220 mph, making it a strong Category 5 storm. Category 5 storms on the Saffir-Simpson scale are defined with sustained winds of 157 mph or greater.

An opinion piece in Scientific American suggests that this scale may be inadequate and makes an argument for adding a Category 6 (and even 7!) to the scale—converting Dorian to a category 6 storm.

The article also discusses the difficulty in communicating a hurricane’s threat to coastal (and inland) residents. It notes that the Saffir-Simpson scale that most of us are familiar with does not include storm surge or rainfall information, which for most hurricanes represent the greatest threats. While the National Hurricane Center does provide surge predictions and local weather service offices endeavor to provide detailed maps with relative threat levels from different hazards, it can be difficult to synthesize all this information into an easily-communicated threat level.

This article’s author questions whether we need a new system altogether, and made me think. I’d like to see an index that takes into account how fast the storm is moving (to evaluate rainfall/riverine flooding potential), the wind speed (to evaluate wind loading on infrastructure), and the storm surge (for coastal impacts). I’ll keep thinking about this – do you have any ideas? Leave them in the comments! – Thanks, Beth Sciaudone, DTC Civil Water Resources & Environmental Instructor

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FEATURED TESTIMONIAL – More Than Ready to Take the Exam

“I took the PE machine design exam for my first time and passed. I took the DTC course and thought it was well worth it. I walked out of the exam confident that I had passed. DTC was virtually my only resource for preparing for the exam. I found that the organization and schedule of the course to be important in my success.

Before taking the course I started studying on my own and found the material to be too broad for efficient studying. The course kept me on track and provided the structure needed to identify and solve the types of problems that are likely to be on the exam. 

I took the FE exam 12 years ago and Dr. Tom brought me back up to speed and more than ready to take the exam in only 3 months. In addition to teaching the material seen on the exam, the course also prepared me for the format of the exam and the best strategies for success. The Dr. Tom method works for success on the PE exam!”
– Thomas Ross, Skytrac, Salt Lake City, Utah   

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7 Future Wonders of the Transportation World

There are the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World and the 7 Wonders of the Modern World. Someday the following trends in transportation technology, listed in a recent ASME article, might very well be the 7 Wonders of the Transportation World.

1) Smart Bicycles, bicycles that respond to voice commands, sense obstacles, and maintain balance.

2) Maglev Trains, while not a new innovation, that these newer designs could reach 350 mph is indeed innovative.

3) Multi-directional Elevators, elevators that not only move vertically but also horizontally allowing a continuous loop of travel.

4) Next-Generation Lithium-Ion Batteries, batteries that can last significantly longer than existing batteries.

5) Safer Autonomous Navigation, safer through communication between autonomous vehicles and therefore not requiring a human driver to monitor travel.

6) Enhanced Drones, drones that could be the foundation of a whole new way to respond to the needs of society especially in response to medical emergencies.

7) Hypersonic Air Travel, speeds reaching Mach 5 using advanced propulsion technology and materials.

These are certainly not a complete list of the innovations that are taking place in the world of transportation, but they sure spark the imagination. – Dr. Tom

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Lower Prices AND Better Courses

Don’t let our lower prices fool you. DTC has the best PE Exam review courses out there. And you don’t have to take our word for it. Listen to our many successful participants.

“With better than competitive prices, effective teaching ability, and proven results, Dr. Tom’s Classroom is undeniably the best value in PE exam preparation, thanks Dr. Tom!”
– Andrew Lipetzky, PE, Duke Energy, New Hill, NC

“Why choose Dr. Tom over the other courses available? 1. Easy to understand instructors. 2. Concise study plan. 3. Cost. Compare it to other courses out there like I did. I think you will be glad you saved several hundred dollars and got a better review course.
Evan Tinker, PE, Argus Consulting Inc., Overland Park, KS

The cost of the program is well worth it.  Dr. Tom’s plan is extensive, intensive, and organized. The online lectures are perfect for the professional that must do his/her best to put the hours in during their “free time.”
– Motes, PE, Blythewood, SC

Dr Tom’s course content alone is worth the price, but the real value for me came from having a rock solid structure that I know is absolutely tailored for the PE exam.”
– Tommy S. PE, Las Vegas, NV

“DTC gave me a plan, helped me prioritize the key areas of study, not get bogged down into too much subject-matter detail, and spend my time effectively. I would absolutely recommend DTC to others preparing for the PE Exam. It’s priced right, and has great content.
– Lance Way, PE, Chevron Phillips Chemical, Texas

“DTC’s step by step course really did make all the difference! The course is one of the most reasonably priced courses I could find and discovering that it was also so amazing was really a pleasant surprise.
– Erica Kerr, PE, North Las Vegas, NV

How do we do it? We are small company that is laser focused on one objective – to make our courses the best preparation possible for the Civil and Mechanical PE Exams. Everyone at DTC has a stake in your success, because your success is our success.

We’re always looking for ways to improve our courses and make them more accessible to our participants. That’s why we’re creating all new courses for the CBT Mechanical PE Exam and offering lower prices, new payment options and longer access to our courses. We want to help you become a PE, and we hope to see you in a course soon.

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FEATURED FREE CIVIL VIDEO – NCEES Civil AM Practice Exam Problem 129 – Transportation: Traffic Volume

Enjoy one of the most popular videos on the DTC YouTube Channel, with over 6,200 views!

Problem 129 involves an evaluation of traffic count data in a way that is non-typical (a single day of traffic counts is used to represent a month). The key for this problem is to read and understand the problem clearly (the NCEES improved the wording of the problem through an errata). The problem is looking for a seasonal factor that can be used to multiply the Average Daily Traffic (ADT) to arrive at an estimate of the peak or seasonal daily traffic volume. Try it on your own, and then watch the video to see how you did. – Dr. Daniel Findley, DTC Civil Transportation Instructor

Daniel’s Solution to NCEES Civil AM Practice Exam Problem 129 – Transportation: Traffic Volume

DTC recommends that anyone taking the PE Exam purchase the NCEES Practice Exam for the exam they are taking. It is an essential exam review resource. https://account.ncees.org/exam-prep/

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Green Cement

A new electrochemical process for making cement has been developed by researchers at MIT. Although the process isn’t ready to scale yet, the potential to reduce greenhouse emissions from this critical building material is immense.   

Cement is currently responsible for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions because the typical process for making Portland cement requires coal to heat a limestone, sand, and clay mixture. This new process uses an electrolyzer and carbon sequestration to substantially improve the environmental impact of cement. 

Cement has been an essential part of civil engineering works as a foundational building block used in the subdisciplines of civil engineering to construct large projects, provide structural support for buildings and bridges, carry traffic volumes on roads, and countless other applications. – Daniel Findley, DTC Civil Transportation Instructor

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New Trains Run on Hydrogen Fuel Cells – Only Waste Is H2O

I saw recently that a company called Alstom has created working trains that run on hydrogen and produce only water and steam emissions. Right now, the company’s trains have started a pilot program in Germany with two trains currently running. They plan to add 14 more by December 2021 and have announced expansion plans to the UK and the Netherlands. It is amazing to see the innovations that are being made to reduce environmental impacts and provide clean energy  while improving infrastructure! – Beth Sciaudone, DTC Civil Water Resources & Environmental Instructor

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