Article Prepared By Gerard Hillenbrand, P.E
The annual Engineers Week reception, kicking off the celebration of Engineers Week – 2012, was held Thursday evening, February 16, 2012 at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University in the Metrotech Center in downtown Brooklyn. This activity is sponsored by the Metropolitan Engineering Societies Council (MESC), an umbrella organization coordinating and promoting the professional activities of 26 member engineering societies in the New York City metropolitan area. This event was also sponsored by prominent engineering organizations including Mueser Rutledge Consultants, Kiewit Infrastructure co., D & B Engineers and Architects, STV Co., Con Edison, the Port Authority of NY & NJ, and AICHE Metro Section.
Left to Right: Evren Azeloglu, Mr. Sherbansky, Wasyl Kinach, Gerard Hillenbrand
After a tasty and enjoyable dinner and networking session, the attendees reassembled at Poly’s Dibner Library auditorium for the technical portion of the reception. MESC Chairman Wasyl Kinach, P.E., welcomed the guests and briefly summarized his organization’s purpose to break down the sometimes frustrating barriers impeding cooperation among the various constituents of the engineering community and to increase engineer’s involvement in civic and political affairs. MESC’s current activities include sponsorship of the future cities annual competition, Engineers Week promotion with banners displayed at the Port Authority bus terminal and along the belt parkway outside Kennedy Airport, professional development efforts, promotion of licensure for all engineers, and lobbying activities to broaden the scope of engineering education and ethics.
Mr. Kinach next introduced Dr. Theodore Rappaport, newly appointed Professor of Electrical Engineering at Poly, who was invited by Poly’s president, Dr. Gerald Holten, to welcome all attendees on his behalf. Prof. Rappaport and his family are new to New York and thrilled to be part of our city’s culture and expanding engineering community and its multiple opportunities. For example, Dr. Rappaport, in addition to his teaching responsibilities, is studying a doctoral program in Biomedical Engineering at a local medical college. Dr. Rappaport summarized recent developments at the Poly campus including the new Gaming Laboratory, magnetic imaging progress, expansion of NYU wireless Communications and Electrical Engineering program. Dr. Rappaport concluded his remarks by thanking MESC for its efforts and expressing his thanks for the opportunity to participate in this Engineers Week reception at Brooklyn Poly.
Mr. Kinach next referred to the recent passing of two distinguished engineers associated with MESC and its member societies, Dr. Esmet M. Kamil, P.E., Professor of Mechanical and Architectural Engineering at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, and George Golovchenko, P.E., past programs chairman at MESC and a 35 year veteran engineer at Con Edison. In memorium, Mr. Kinach asked all attendees to stand for one minute of respectful silence in recognition of the engineering accomplishments of these two worthy citizens. In addition, Mr. Kinach introduced two special guests to the assemblage, Mr. Golovchenko’s daughter and grand-daughter, who were presented with an engraved vase “In honor of George Golovchenko, P.E., for his dedication, service and contributions to the engineering profession.” In her very gracious response, Mr. Golovchenko’s daughter recalled her father’s life – long dedication to the engineering profession and his many years of volunteer service on his local community board in the Bronx. Mr. Kinach remarked that the kindest thought that engineers could make in memory of Mr. Golovchenko is to emulate his years of active service to his local community.
Left to Right: Salvatore Galetta, George Golovchenko granddaughter and daughter, Wasyl Kinach
Next, Salvatore Galetta, P.E., MESC’s newly appointed programs chairman, introduced Eric McFarlane, P.E., Deputy Commissioner of NY City’s Department of Design and Construction, who read Mayor Bloomberg’s impressive proclamation of Engineers Week – 2012. Briefly, Mr. McFarlane also summarized the DDC’s crucial engineering efforts and infrastructure maintenance programs, budgeted at more than $35 billion with 132 engineering employees on staff, and with enhanced public safety the paramount objective.
This year’s keynote address was delivered by Colonel John R. Boule II, NY District Commander of the US Army Corps of Engineers, and a 1986 graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. He also earned two master’s degrees at Stanford University and is a licensed professional engineer. He also taught hydrology at West Point and is a graduate of several federal government colleges including the US Naval Command and War College. His past accomplishments have included tours in Germany, Korea, Somalia, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, and several domestic locations including Texas, Florida and Washington, D.C. Colonel Boule is a much decorated combat veteran of the Desert Storm and Iraqi campaigns and has been in charge of the NY District since July, 2009, where he functions as supervisor of NY harbor. The NY district is in charge of water resource development, navigation, and the design and construction of environmentally efficient federal installations in New York state, New Jersey, Connecticut, Long Island, Virginia and Greenland, an area covering 37 different congressional districts.
The colonel began his presentation by thanking the sponsors for their invitation and by remarking it is a privilege to help celebrate Engineers Week at Brooklyn Poly with the recognition that engineering work creates solutions for human problems and promotes community programs to solve local, regional, and world crises. He stated that he is proud to be an engineer and derives great personal satisfaction from his chosen profession. He reminded the audience that the US Military Academy at West Point was created during President Jefferson’s administration and was the first official engineering school in the United States. He also recalled that the army’s engineers corps played a vital role in our nation’s development and westward exploration and expansion.
Colonel Boule discusses storm surge modeling
Colonel Boule’s address was entitled “Flood and Storm Surge Modeling”, all in support of hurricane planning and preparedness. This subject is not merely an intellectual and academic exercise but was an important component in Mayor Bloomberg’s decision to order mandatory major evacuations and flood control orders in NY City’s five boroughs during the recent Hurricane Irene last fall. For planning purposes, potential evacuation zones have been designated related to expected storm intensity. For example, for a Category 1 hurricane, Zone A containing 291,000 people may be affected. Similarly, for a Category 2 storm, Zone B with 714,000 people, and for Category 3 & 4 storms, Zone C containing 1,382,000 people would be in jeopardy. Any risk-based decision on major storm preparedness must be based on a model which takes into account historical storm surge data, meteorological records, forecasts of storm scenarios, and even possible cyclone probability, which is typically subject to high uncertainty levels. Development of such a model is obviously complex and difficult.
Colonel Boule discusses modeling using SLOSH
One such model is the Sea, Lake and Overland Surge Hurricane physical equation and numerical model (SLOSH ) based on input from the national weather service and hurricane center, air pressure data, wind direction and speed, analysis of landfall topology, and bathymetry studies measuring depth of the surrounding water. This model is used for evaluation of potential storms and can be run in minutes on a personal computer and a cost of at least $10,000. A more advanced model, developed in the late 1980’s, is designated as ADCIRC, and also takes into account such variables as the continental shelf, coastal contours and estuary locations. It is largely based on flood patterns recorded from Hurricane Ivan in Florida. This model requires the facilities of a super computer, requires hours of running time at a cost of at least $100,000.
Another relevant model is the Critical Surface and Subsurface Hydrological Analysis (CSSHA) which takes into account hourly rainfall data, flood surge records and water inundation records and is particularly applicable to low lying areas such as downtown Manhattan, southern Queens and Staten Island. In addition, the USACE model, based on previous storm records, provides predictions of new housing needs, roofing repairs due to high force winds, and volumes of debris created and requiring demolition or removal. For example, 45 hours before landfall, the usage model projected 54 million cubic yards of debris requiring removal in New York, and 47 million cubic yards of debris in New Jersey. New York debris would require more than 10,000 truckloads to handle this volume with Long Island requiring more than 400 truckloads. This usage model can also provide color diagrams on projected flood areas and those areas estimated to require more than one million cubic yards of debris removal, along with those areas requiring temporary housing provisions.
All of these computerized models are also used by the federal government’s Energy Resource Development Center (ERDC) which has six locations nationwide with 2500 employees, and specializes in life cycle and risk management studies. Risk is always present even though plans including area preparation, coordinated response, complete record keeping, and mitigation efforts are completed. This agency has carefully studied the lessons of Hurricane Katrina and other serious storms in developing its computerized knowledge and shared its conclusions and recommendations with the US Army Corps of Engineers.
The alternatives for risk’s ever present threats to serious storm damage are ever expanding cooperation between federal, state and local organizations designed to reduce risk, along with promoting uniform code, zoning, and insurance regulations among sensitive storm locations. Of course, improved coordination with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is also essential for reducing risk. A preliminary plan for reducing risk for flooding and storm damage in the NY City area consists of constructing barriers protecting such low lying areas as lower Manhattan, south Brooklyn and LaGuardia Airport. Such barriers have been successfully constructed along the Thames River in London, at substantial cost. One proposal would fabricate three such barriers: one at the entrance to NY harbor (i.e. from Rockaway to Sandy Hook in New Jersey), one along the Arthur Kill between New Jersey and Staten Island, and one at Throgs Neck and the Bronx at the entrance to Long Island sound. In the event of an eight foot flood surge, the required barriers would cost about 5 to 10 billion dollars each, but would prevent potential damage estimated at 58 to 84 billion dollars. All such proposals would have to pass the rigors of an environmental impact statement and take into account projected long range weather changes. Further studies on these proposals are obviously needed. The worst case flood scenario was a recorded 32 foot surge in the Hawaiian Islands in 1993 which caused an entire island to permanently disappear. Category 3 storms frequently impact Suffolk County in Long Island and the Corps of Engineers is now constructing barrier islands there and in Jamaica Bay for protection of the natural habitat there. So concrete efforts are now underway to minimize local risk, but they must be expanded.
Many thanks to Colonel Boule for an excellent and thought provoking keynote address for Engineers Week – 2012.