Blog

Category: Issues

October 24, 2017

Engineer vs. Professional Engineer

You might be surprised to learn that not all engineers are licensed professionals. While many people graduate with engineering degrees, they cannot claim the title of “Professional Engineer” (PE) unless they have completed the multiple necessary steps to earn this designation as competent and well-trained engineers.

Engineers were not required to become licensed until the early 1900s. The Wyoming Legislature passed the first-ever law mandating that professional engineers become licensed. While the bill was met with opposition, it ultimately was passed and signed into law in 1907 with other states soon following suit.

According to the National Society of Professional Engineers, PE licensure is the engineering profession’s highest standard of competence, a symbol of achievement and assurance of quality. In South Carolina, PEs are licensed through the State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Surveyors, which is under the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

Why does it matter if engineers are licensed? Engineers are responsible for most everything around us. There are not many people who would knowingly drive over a bridge, enter a commercial or public building, or drink from a public water supply designed by an unlicensed professional. These projects require the highest level of quality and competency in the practice of the profession as lives depend on it. Likewise, people would not want to purchase, sell, or dedicate rights to real property without the work having been performed by a licensed surveyor. In South Carolina, the statute states, “In order to safeguard life, health and property and to promote the public welfare, the practice of the profession of engineering and surveying in this state is subject to regulation.”

Once the certification is earned, it also must be maintained through continuous professional development throughout the PE’s career. It is certainly beneficial to the engineer to do so. Many private companies and federal, state, and municipal agencies require that higher-level engineering management positions be filled only by licensed PEs and, while regulations vary from states to state, many also require individuals be licensed in order to teach higher education affiliated with a particular practice.

When working with engineers, take the time to confirm they are licensed professionals. It could save your project time, money, and potentially lives.

June 29, 2017

Evolution of Industrial Sites

Industrial sites and parks, which are large areas of land developed for industrial purposes, have had a major impact on South Carolina’s economy for years. After World War II, there was a concerted effort to attract more diverse industries to the state to provide jobs for returning veterans. Some may remember the State Development Board – the predecessor to what we currently know as the Department of Commerce. Part of their long-term mission was and is to assist communities prepare for industrial investment and the resulting job creation. Historically, as a state, we have been identifying and developing industry-ready properties for many decades, but the process has evolved.

In the early days, this type of development moved much slower than it does today. There was ample time to identify a suitable piece of land for an industrial site, survey the land, and if utilities weren’t there, providers and developers had plenty of time to get them there. Sadly, that’s not the case today. We move fast and so do our projects. In today’s world, manufacturing companies have to avoid risks associated with moving or opening an entirely new facility. Risks are usually in the categories of time and budget.

It’s easy to assume that a large area of land would make a great industrial site, but that’s not always the case. There are many factors that must be weighed, but two to consider when identifying an industrial site include:

1. Identify an existing site where operations have closed and repurpose the land. One benefit is that the required utilities typically are already in place. A challenge generally lies in existing environmental issues from previous operations that need to be mitigated.

2. Identify property that has been undeveloped that would be suitable for industrial development. For undeveloped property, there are many important factors to consider, including if utilities exist on the site or if they need to be brought in. If it’s the latter, that adds risk in both time and money. Not only is there a large cost involved in bringing in water, power, etc. to a site, but it takes more time due to coordination with various utility providers.

While there are many more details that go into developing an industrial site, these keys items are crucial in the beginning of the process and so is having the right team in place from the beginning to help evaluate the viability of a site. It’s important to work with a consulting engineer that understands not only land development, but also utilities, regulatory agencies, transportation, environmental issues, etc. At Davis & Floyd, our experienced industrial team has assisted in the development of sites and parks throughout the state and stands ready to help in the development process from start to finish.

Upstate South Carolina Industrial Site - April 2017

Upstate South Carolina industrial site – April 2017

Upstate South Carolina Industrial Site - June 2017

Upstate South Carolina industrial site – June 2017

June 19, 2017

Flood Risks Remain for SC Communities

Running from June 1 through November 30, the Atlantic hurricane season has begun. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasters predict an above-normal 2017 hurricane season with the predictions showing a 70 percent likelihood of 11 to 17 named storms of which 5 to 9 could become hurricanes and 2 to 4 are predicted to be Category 3 or above.

As we contend with the 2017 season and reflect on the devastating flooding events many in our state experienced in 2015 and again in 2016 because of Hurricane Matthew, it’s hard not to stress over the possibility of encountering such an event this year. Davis & Floyd has witnessed the challenges faced by those experiencing flood damages and those providing public services spanning from emergency responses through recovery and into mitigation, where possible, in advance of our next event.

As an engineering firm that provides stormwater management and flood hazard mitigation, Davis & Floyd recognizes the need to bring awareness to the risks associated with flooding. While we would like to find a simple solution to removing such risks, there are practical limitations in what truly can be accomplished in protecting our property against the forces of nature. Whether it’s increasing rainfall rates and depths or sea level rise along our coast and tidal systems, there’s little doubt that our challenge in becoming a better prepared and more resilient community will be ever increasing.

We recommend that everyone seek a basic understanding of flood risks to life and property. Be “Flood Smart” and review your insurance policies since flood coverage is not part of most and there is a 30-day waiting period for coverage to take effect. Visit the National Flood Insurance Program at www.FloodSmart.gov for more information on flood insurance coverage.

Finally, heed the guidelines and directives provided by the South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD) http://scemd.org/ and local agencies when a storm threatens your area.

Additional resources to assist in your hurricane season preparations and understanding of flood hazards may be found by visiting:

2017 South Carolina Hurricane Guide
SCDOT Evacuation Routes
National Hurricane Center
FEMA Flood Map Service Center
South Carolina Flood Mitigation Program

Tide overtopping Broad Street at Lockwood Drive in Charleston, SC (Photo - Jared Bramblett)

Tide overtopping Broad St. at Lockwood Dr. in Charleston (Photo – Jared Bramblett)

November 11, 2016

Honoring Our Veterans

South Carolina Army National Guard clearing sand from Edisto Island's Palmetto Boulevard following Hurricane Matthew

South Carolina Army National Guard clearing sand from Edisto Island’s Palmetto Boulevard following Hurricane Matthew

At Davis & Floyd, we see our work as a civic service and honor those who give the utmost in service to our country – our veterans. As we spend today thanking our veterans for their service, 28 of which are Davis & Floyd employees, we wanted to share the story of one of them who exemplifies community and professional service.

When Hurricane Matthew rolled through South Carolina, we were on alert for infrastructure damage and flooding that would warrant a Davis & Floyd response. At the same time, certain South Carolinians were watching in a more official capacity once Governor Nikki Haley gave her State of Emergency declaration. One such respondent was US Army National Guard Capt. Chris Huber, PE and 1221st engineer clearance company commander.

Chris is based in our Columbia office and trains yearly for situations like this as part of the South Carolina Army National Guard.

“We have pre-set areas with a set mission tasking that we are to support in the event that they need help, however if another area is in need we can move to support other missions. As soon as a State of Emergency is declared we begin officially alerting the unit to possible activation, however during Hurricane season we pretty much just stay on alert,” Chris explains.

His unit was sent to Edisto Beach and assigned lead command, allowing him to request equipment to assist his team’s mission to clear roadways. The company’s wartime mission is to conduct route reconnaissance, minesweeping, minefield-clearing operations, and more. After the storm, the team used similar skills to clear the way using dump trucks, skid steers, and chain saws to make room for larger equipment to come in and continue recovery efforts.

Before Hurricane Matthew, Chris’s company was integral in October 2015’s flood response. They helped restore the City of Columbia’s drinking water supply.

“Being a company commander is like being a project manager on a bigger scale, you are responsible for everything that happens and fails to happen in your unit,” said Chris. “I also believe that being an engineer requires a great deal of attention to detail and that’s one thing the military is very big on.”

For Chris, Veterans Day is a day for reflection on experiences (good and bad) and friends made along the way.

“It is also a day to remember those who are no longer with us to celebrate how far our country has come and reminder that we are still at war and the fight continues every day. “

To Chris and our other veterans, we thank you for your service. We’re so grateful to have you working on behalf of not only Davis & Floyd, but South Carolina and the United States of America.

October 28, 2016

(Re)Building for Hurricanes and Other Natural Disasters: Part 2

Market Street drainage

Market Street drainage

Last week, we wrote about how proper preparation and rehabilitation of structures go a long way to preventing loss of life and property in a natural disaster. In our half-century of work, we’ve engineered safe solutions for historic structures, large industrial-purpose buildings, towns and neighborhoods, and transportation needs. Yet each of these projects comes with different requirements and sets of best practices.

In particular, transportation planning and project execution are highly affected by weather events.

For example, when we work on bridges, we design for resiliency, accounting for the extreme conditions that are brought about by natural disasters such as flooding, impacts from debris, high winds, and earthquakes.

Transportation infrastructure and its ability to perform at its best is as much a need before and after as during natural disasters. As we saw during Hurricane Matthew’s evacuation of the South Carolina coast, the sudden increase in travel needs and potential for dangerous weather can be an instant game-changer after the call is made by the governor.

On our construction projects, we are in close contact with local and SCDOT representatives and in the event of incoming bad weather, all barrels, cones, and temporary signs that can be removed from the project are removed to avoid the risk of becoming projectiles in high winds. For projects on evacuation routes, we always are prepared to meet protocols, which include stabilizing sites and staging the project to allow for no lane reductions as well as seeing that all possible lanes of traffic are opened.

We also maintain 24-hour monitoring of all projects for the duration of the storm. After the storm, we assess the damage and make any emergency repairs that are needed to keep the roadway open. Once the evacuation is complete, permanent repairs are undertaken to the roadway.

In Charleston, low-lying areas frequently are prone to flooding, but our work on the city’s drainage system improved much of the recovery. The City Market area notoriously has been waterlogged in previous storms, but thanks to our work in progress, installation of drop shafts and a new tunnel 120 feet underground, many businesses avoided incoming water and were able to open the day after Hurricane Matthew passed – an improvement over years past. The next phase of the project being designed includes completing the drainage project and improvements to the streetscape.

Steve Kirk, the city’s senior engineering project manager, said the pump station ran for hours and pumped over 50 million gallons of stormwater in total. The project is still yet to be completed, but we’re so pleased at the early successes of the project and grateful that the City of Charleston had a quick and safe recovery.