Shareable Electric Scooters – For or Against?

As the saying goes, “There are two kinds of people.” When the topic is shareable electric scooters, the line between “for” or “against” is clearly defined. Not many people are on the fence. A recent ASME article summarized the arguments for both sides very nicely. In fact, it might serve as a starting document for taking a fresh look at all the issues involved.

One of the key issues scooters have the potential to address is called the “last mile” or the “first mile,” or for most people both. Mass transportation only gets people just so close to their home or office. It’s the last mile that is the problem. So far, solving that problem means driving your own car and parking close to your office. Growing air pollution tells us that everyone driving their own car cannot be the long term solution. Shared electric scooters might not be either, however, it is an interesting alternative.
 
What I see is an opportunity. An opportunity for all disciplines of engineering, not only mechanical, working together with city officials and planners to solve the “last mile” problem. The long term solution might look very different than anything we see today, however these kinds of challenges always provide great pride in those who contributed to the solution. – Dr. Tom

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“I passed the Civil Geotechnical PE Exam with a score of 79. Thank you for providing excellent tools for taking the test. It really was the best method to help me prepare well. I will be telling my colleagues about your course and how well it worked for me. Thanks again!”
– PE, Texas

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Earthquake Hydrogeology

A new study shows earthquakes can shake up permeability and change groundwater behavior. Groundwater systems generally are made up of layers of permeable rock called aquifers separated by low-permeability layers called aquitards. When an earthquake shakes things up, the structure of these layers can change and cause an increase in stream flow as water is released from the aquifer.

A new study of the effect of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake in Japan on groundwater systems in China investigates how earthquakes can change aquifer properties. Monitoring wells provided data that enabled researchers to quantify changes in the properties of the aquifer layers as well as the aquitard. This has implications for water quality, if after the earthquake, increased permeability causes contaminants to be released.

A commentary on the study notes that more research is needed and that available monitoring wells worldwide have the potential to provide insight into these types of changes. We often think of permeability as a static or slowly changing property – but this research shows that seismic events can cause big, far-reaching changes. -Beth Sciaudone, DTC Civil Water Resources & Environmental Instructor

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PE EXAM TIP – Units, Units Units!!!

If I wasn’t Dr. Tom, I’d be Dr. Units. I cannot tell you how many times units are the reason someone gets the wrong answer to a problem. It might be as simple as inches needed to be converted to feet, or the other way around. Or, it is a combination of units like gallons per minute converted to cubic feet per second, and something doesn’t cancel. As I say as often as I can, if the units are not right it doesn’t matter what the number is. And if it is a predictable error associated with units, then there is a very high probably that the NCEES will make that incorrect answer, answer A, and you now have one less point in your column.
 
And what makes matters worse, is that most of the solutions in the NCEES Practice Exam have no units, so trying to figure out how the units come out can be very frustrating. And some numbers in these solutions are combinations of unit conversions that I have spent more time than I’d like to admit trying to decipher what they have done. My strongest advice: stay with the basic unit conversions!
 
There is one thing you typically do not have to worry about relative to units and that is converting between systems, like converting meters to feet or the other way around. About the only time I have seen this required is when horsepower must be converted to kilowatts.
 
Again, before even thinking about picking up your calculator, make sure the final units are such that they match the units in the exam answers. Then just be careful making the calculation. Remember, you always have time to work the problems you know how to work. – Dr. Tom

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Cactus to the Pollution Rescue

Could the humble cactus be the solution to our plastic waste problem? Chemical engineering professor Sandra Pascoe Ortiz is beta-testing an edible, biodegradable packaging material made from the juice of prickly pear cactus leaves. The juice “is a natural polymer that can be improved by combining certain substances to give it a similar appearance and properties to those of some petroleum-derived plastics,” she says.
 
I found a video posted on the BBC News site that explains the discovery and the process developed by Dr. Ortiz. With all the news lately about how much plastic waste there is on the planet, especially in our oceans, this is a dramatic ray of hope for a material that could literally change the earth. – Dr. Tom

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FEATURED TESTIMONIAL – Instrumental in Passing the Exam!

“After taking your course, I sat for the PE Civil Transportation Exam. I graduated from The Ohio State University in 1990. I have worked in the field for 27 years and this is my first time taking the exam. I received my NCEES results and I passed. Your course was instrumental in passing the exam.
– Brent Tucker, PE, Pennsylvania

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Concrete – The Most Popular Man-Made Material on Earth

I’m not surprised that concrete is the most used building material, but I was surprised to find it’s the second most used substance behind water. I don’t think I’ve ever had a construction project where we didn’t use concrete. A fascinating article talks about the past, present and future uses of concrete. – Jason Savage, DTC Civil Construction Instructor

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Now is the perfect time to start your PE Exam preparation with our 20-Week Reviews, and we’re giving you another whole month to take advantage of our $100 discount. Activate your super powers with discount code: civilhero20W.

Armed with the preparation, strategies and resources you get with a DTC Civil PE Exam review, you can achieve the extraordinary. DTC’s targeted, structured review will help you focus your efforts and make the most of the ideal 20-week exam preparation window, all with the support of a team that is dedicated to your success. Let us help you triumph over the PE Exam.

“With DTC’s help I finally passed the Civil PE exam after several previous attempts! The organization of the course material helped me out tremendously.”
– PE, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

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Sign up by September 30 using the code civilhero20W to get your $100 discount, and now is the perfect time to start your preparation for the April 2020 PE Exam.

DTC’s targeted, structured review will help you focus your efforts and make the most of the ideal 20-week exam preparation window, all with the support of a team that is dedicated to your success. Let us help you triumph over the PE Exam.

“I passed the Civil Geotechnical PE Exam with a score of 79. Thank you for providing excellent tools for taking the test. It really was the best method to help me prepare well. I will be telling my colleagues about your course and how well it worked for me. Thanks again!” – PE, Texas

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FEATURED FREE CIVIL VIDEO – NCEES Civil WRE PM Practice Exam Problem 510 – Water Resources & Env: Open Channel Flow

Enjoy one of the most popular videos on the DTC YouTube Channel, with over 6,000 views!
 
Problem 510 is found in the PM practice exam for Water Resources and Environmental—but don’t be afraid to try it if you are just taking the AM portion as it’s a great problem to practice open channel flow computations!

This problem involves a channel and overbank area which need to convey a given design flood. The unknown in this problem is the width of the overbank needed such that the depth in the channel does not exceed a certain value. There are two given Manning’s n values for the channel and overbank area.

HINT: Separate the main channel and overbank areas into two rectangular cross-sections, and be careful when you compute the wetted perimeter, including only the parts of the channel and overbank that are wetted. – Beth Sciaudone – DTC Civil Water Resources & Environmental Instructor

Beth’s Solution to Civil WRE PM: NCEES Problem 510 – Geotechnical: Retaining Wall Stability
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