Thursday, September 18, 2008

Engineering notes

7 Wonders of Modern Engineering. My list would have a few different items (not the Bird's Nest or CERN {yet}). I'd include the Apollo program and the Dutch flood control works on my list. Probably some others but that's all I can think of right now.

Oil Engineers Strike It Rich. High demand, few engineers, even fewer professor equals high pay for those who do graduate. Tulane had one of the best Petroleum Engineering programs in the country, before they folded it back into Mechanical Engineering after the oil bust.

I-35W Bridge Reopens in Minnesota. Finished 3 months ahead of schedule and under budget. Workers worked 24/7, including during the Minnesota winter. The construction companies (Flatiron Constructors and Manson Construction Company) are also in line for a major bonus and good for them. When all engineers have to worry about is getting the job done, the results are breathtaking. Look at the incredible job Boh Brothers did repairing the Twinspans after Katrina.

When you don't have to worry about managing engineering hours or competitively bidding every little thing, you can get things done much quicker. I've seen penny-pinching clients triple the cost of projects because they insisted "project controls" that slowed the project down and kept engineers from getting the job done. The other thing clients do is complain about engineering hours. They can't complain if a valve costs, say, $80,000 when they budgeted $40,000. The valve costs what the valve costs. Take it or find another solution. But, if they think the engineering firm is taking too long or is spending too much time worrying about details, they won't hesitate reaming the project engineer in charge. Keep in mind total engineering costs might be 5% of total costs and a few hours of engineering can halve construction and purchasing costs on some items. Maybe you check through bids more closely or maybe you develop an easier erection order that saves minimizes the need for heavy equipment.

No comments: