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News Bits and Pieces - Send us your engineering related news!

Police Department Breaks New Ground · Nov 5, 2004

A groundbreaking ceremony was recently held for the construction of the new 48,400 square feet West Jordan Police/Justice facility in West Jordan, Utah. JRCA Architects, a Salt Lake City design firm, is the prime architect for a design team including Hayes, Seay, Mattern & Mattern, Inc. (HSMM), a Virginia-based architectural and engineering firm. HSMM provided professional architectural services for the programming and design of the facility, working in tandem with JRCA on police and court facility programming; conducting facility workshops; and developing conceptual plans.

Scheduled for completion in 2005, the project is programmed for future expansion to accommodate additional police office space.

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NIST Latest Investigation Findings Released · Nov 2, 2004

The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released the latest findings from its building and fire safety investigation into the World Trade Center (WTC) disaster of September 11, 2001. These include the leading collapse sequence for each of the two World Trade Center towers; details from the analysis of first-person interviews of nearly 1,200 WTC occupants, first responders and families of victims; and new information gleaned from the analysis of emergency response and evacuation procedures/actions. For additional information, www.nist.gov/public_affairs/releases/wtc_latest_findings_1004.htm

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Symposium on Tunnel Safety and Security · Nov 2, 2004

The National Infrastructure Institute Center for Infrastructure Expertise along with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), SP Swedish National Test and Research Institute (SP), the Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), The Infrastructure Security Partnership (TISP), and the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) will host the International Symposium on Tunnel Safety and Security on November 16-17, 2004 at the Greenbelt Marriott in Greenbelt, MD.

The program will feature experts from both Europe and North America speaking on today’s safety and security challenges. This Symposium will provide a forum for North American and European public and private experts to discuss, for the first time, the strategies, technologies, and procedures to significantly improve tunnel protection, safety and security. Target audience includes: fire, safety, and security responders & experts; tunnel managers, operators & designers; research organizations and public transportation administrators & regulators.

Call 603-766-3390 for additional information.

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VDOT Seeks Private Firm Involvement · Nov 2, 2004

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is asking private firms if they are interested in the possibility of entering into public-private partnerships to improve the Midtown Tunnel in the Hampton Roads region and to build the Western Transportation Corridor in the Northern Virginia region.

VDOT is seeking private-sector interest on the projects by posting a “Request for Information” on the agency’s Web site and in various publications.

VDOT will consider responses to the “Request for Information,” and determine whether to solicit conceptual proposals under the Public-Private Transportation Act of 1995 (PPTA). The PPTA is the legislative framework that allows VDOT to enter into agreements authorizing private entities to acquire, build and maintain or operate transportation facilities.

Responses to the “Request for Information” are due Jan. 14, 2005.

Neither of the projects below can be built unless they are part of a federally approved environmental study under the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA).

Midtown Tunnel
VDOT is seeking private-sector interest to build a new tunnel to ensure a continuous, four-lane crossing linking Route 58 between Portsmouth and Norfolk.

Western Transportation Corridor
VDOT is seeking private-sector interest to build a new road that would extend generally from I-95 in Stafford County north to Route 7 in Loudoun County.

The “Request for Information” on both projects is posted on www.virginiadot.org/busniess/rfi.asp

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New Technical Forum Announced · Nov 1, 2004

Flomerics Inc. and InterferenceTechnology.com announce a new technical forum at www.interferencetechnology.com that provides assistance at no charge in simulating electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) design problems. InterferenceTechnology com is the only online reference site that is completely devoted to EMC issues and Flomerics is the developer of FLO/EMC, the only software package dedicated to modeling and simulating EMC problems in electronic design. The forum allows EMC engineers and other interested parties to submit inquiries to Fred German, a product manager for Flomerics who holds a Ph.D. in computational electromagnetics and has over 15 years of experience in applying advanced simulation techniques to real-world design problems in the EMC/EMI and RF/Microwave areas.

“We are very pleased to welcome Flomeric’s participation in our “Ask The Expert” forum,” said Graham Kilshaw, Publisher of InterferenceTechnology.com. “Flomerics is the recognized leader in EMC simulation so they are in an ideal position to answer the tough technical questions submitted by visitors to the forum. In the last year, over 18,000 people have visited Ask the Experts, which demonstrates the thirst for technical solutions in this critical design area.” Dr. Michael Reynell, Director of Marketing for Flomerics, added that: “We made the decision to partner with Interference Technology because we believe that it is important to disseminate information on EMC modeling to as wide an audience as possible. Addressing electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) late in the design cycle is becoming less and less tenable as product complexity and densities increase while design cycles continue to shrink. More and more designers are moving towards the use of conceptual analysis to identify and fix problems early in the design process at much lower cost. This forum will help newcomers to EMC simulation get started and help those with more experience tackle the toughest problems.”

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Infrastructure Security Congress Scheduled · Nov 1, 2004

In these uncertain times, the answer to improving the security of the nation’s infrastructure often focuses solely on “more guns, gates and guards.” The Infrastructure Security Partnership (TISP) will examine expanded security solutions at the third annual TISP Congress on Infrastructure Security for the Built Environment (ISBE 2004), taking place November 7 – 10, 2004, in St. Louis, MO.

“Protecting our nation by countering terrorism alone is shortsighted,” said TISP Chair Ralph W. Johnson. “We also have to focus on ways to make new and existing buildings and other facilities more resistant to attack.”

The two and a half day conference brings together officials from federal, state and local agencies, professional associations and industry trade groups, as well as representatives from design firms, construction companies, codes and standards organizations, universities and service providers to discuss the latest developments in public policy, security and technology. Topics to be addressed in the plenary and panel sessions include:

The conference, co-sponsored by The Society of American Military Engineers (SAME), also features presentations by retired Navy Rear Adm. David J. Nash, former director of the Iraq Reconstruction Management Office in Baghdad, and Air Force Brig. Gen. Del R. Eulberg, director of installations and mission support for the Air Mobility Command at Scott AFB, MO. Moderators and panelists include Richard J. Capka, deputy administrator, U.S. Department of Transportation, Leonard Griggs and Eric Potts, Houston and St. Louis airports directors, Dr. James Hershman, Georgetown University Government Affairs Institute, Hans Van Winkle, director of the Construction Industry Institute, representatives from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Defense and State Departments, GSA and other federal agencies, law firms, law enforcement agencies, R & D specialists from federal and private sector labs, and executives from design, engineering and construction firms.

The Infrastructure Security Partnership (TISP) exists to minimize the effects of terrorism and natural disasters on the U.S. through effective and efficient planning, design, construction and operation of the built environment. Membership includes over 180 organizations and agencies representing over 1.75 million individuals and firms. For more information, visit www.tisp.org.

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'Digester' Converts Garbage · Nov 1, 2004

More than 14 million tons of high-moisture, organic waste are generated in California each year. Some of it is composted, but too much finds its way into landfills. UC Davis bioenvironmental engineer Ruihong Zhang sees a vast untapped resource in those lawn clippings, household table scraps and other biodegradable materials: enough energy to keep the lights burning in thousands of California homes, high-quality soil amendments for the landscape industry, even fiberboard for construction purposes.

One promising key to unlocking this potential is currently under study at UC Davis. Ms. Zhang is building a prototypical anaerobic digester, part of a $4 million project funded by the California Energy Commission and industry partners. The concept is elegantly simple—garbage in, good stuff out, including “biogas” to burn for electricity-producing turbines.

Previous biological conversion systems have failed because they required that the waste be ground up, which canceled the energy-production benefits. Ms. Zhang’s anaerobic digester should be better because, she said, it is designed to process waste materials in their “natural” form, easing material handling and converting the material into biogas at a faster rate.

The prototype digester at UC Davis should be fired up this fall. It
will consume about three tons of organic waste per day, delivered from collection facilities in Dixon and San Francisco. It will generate about 600 kilowatt-hours of electricity per day, enough to meet the needs of 15 typical California homes. The energy will go to the campus power supply.

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Titan Calling · Nov 1, 2004

Since it started orbiting Saturn last June, the Cassini mission has returned incredible images of the gas giant, its dazzling rings and its enigmatic moons. But its most dramatic chapter will come this January, when a European lander probe (Huygens) that has been piggybacking on Cassini for the last seven years is sent on a fiery plunge into the murky atmosphere of Saturn’s largest and most mysterious moon, Titan—a chapter that would have ended in disaster, save for an engineer called Boris Smeds.

Titan is completely covered by a thick orange smog of hydrocarbons, and scientists have speculated that oily oceans of methane and ethane may roil beneath the cloaking clouds. After slamming into the moon’s atmosphere at 21,000 km/hour, Huygens will take two-and-a-half hours to descend through the atmosphere, slowed by parachutes. On its way down it’s expected to transmit a scientific bonanza from its cameras and instruments, a bonanza that will be picked up by special radio receivers onboard Cassini and then relayed back to Earth.

But unbeknownst to anyone, a lurking flaw in Cassini’s receivers meant that the data received by Cassini were going to be hopelessly scrambled. Along with his allies, ESA engineer Boris Smeds developed and championed a rigorous test that revealed the flaw and its cause in time for corrective action to be taken. Doing this required Mr. Smeds to battle bureaucracy, travel from his desk in Darmstadt, Germany, to an antenna farm deep in California’s Mojave Desert, and use all his engineering insight and creativity to expose the flaw before time ran out.

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Compass Engine Helps Guide Deep Space Research Efforts · Nov 1, 2004

Discovering a new star, planet, or galaxy in our vast universe may well become a more common occurrence over the next decade thanks to a radical new approach to the design of radio telescopes. Seven international teams of astronomers and engineers are each developing concepts for “Square Kilometer Array” (SKA), a massive telescope capable of receiving even the faintest signals, which will hopefully make the process of probing deeper into space a much easier task. If fully constructed, the SKA would be one of the most powerful radio telescopes ever built. One of these teams, Dominion Radio Astronomical Observatory (DRAO), is proposing an innovative large adaptive reflector (LAR) design, which will use giant ground-based reflectors and balloon-mounted antenna feeds. To ensure that the balloons (or aerostats) are precisely positioned, the DRAO team turned to the C100 compass engine from KVH Industries.

The SKA design proposed by DRAO will consist of an array of 32 individual antenna stations, which will produce an aperture with a diameter of several thousand kilometers. Each antenna station will consist of a giant reflector composed of 1,500 triangular panels to accept incoming radio waves. Floating above each reflector will be a tethered, helium-filled aerostat, beneath which will be suspended an antenna feed. The antenna feed will be precisely positioned using six tethers attached to computer-controlled winches on the ground. The antenna feeds will collect the deep space radio signals as they are redirected by the reflectors on the ground. The signals from all 32 reflectors will then be combined to provide a unique look at the universe.

Both the aerostat and the antenna feed will have to be precisely positioned for this to work properly. To maintain the necessary precision positioning, the DRAO team is using GPS, tilt sensors, and an inertial measurement unit along with KVH C100 compasses to monitor and control the entire system. One C100 compass is mounted on the aerostat to record its heading. The other C100 is mounted on the receiver/feed platform along with an ultrasonic wind speed and direction sensor, allowing the computers to record platform orientation and wind direction. Together, these components provide a precise picture of the antenna array’s position in 3-D space and enable the computer-controlled winches to make the adjustments necessary to keep the aerostat and antenna feed within 1 centimeter of their target position at all times.

Testing for the prototype will continue this fall and final proposals for the SKA telescope are due in 2007. Selection of the final design of the SKA telescope will take place in 2008 and final construction is expected to begin in 2012.

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Dictionary – A Compendium About The Terms Of IT-Security · Nov 1, 2004

The newly released Information Security Dictionary (1st Edition) (published by Springer Science) offers information security experts, systems analysts, policy makers, managers and students a reference tool to find the most commonly used terms in the field. The dictionary defines these terms in easy to understand language, provides more detail in Tables and easy cross-referencing leading the reader to related terms if need be.

The dictionary is published both in electronic and printed form, thereby offering users easy online searches as well as finding the terms online. As Professor Urs E. Gattiker (Ph.D.) from the security portal CASEScontact reported, the idea of the dictionary was based on his experience attending various security conferences that often neither panel members nor the audience were always sure about the terminology being discussed.

In contrast to established disciplines, information security experts have the challenge to work in a rapidly developing field that has yet to find a shared vocabulary. In turn, it is often difficult for experts and users alike to be sure that one understands certain concepts fully without referring to a reference document. The Information Security Dictionary is a handy tool that provides one with the definitions of over 1,200 items most often used by system administrators, software engineers and security experts.

The Information Security Dictionary is published both in electronic as well as a hardover printed version. The electronic version provides for easy online searching while the hardcover copy can be used in one’s reference library. Besides providing the reader with information about related terms so additional information is easily found, the dictionary offers the reader extensive appendices providing links and information to: glossaries and news information regarding cybersecurity; tools and software sites enabling one to better protect critical systems; information about new regulation regarding e-commerce, privacy, and telecommunication; standards, and newsletters, alerts and skill development tools and tricks regarding information security. More information is available at www.springeronline.com.

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