Archives for Our Industry

Five famous female engineers

In honour of the Queen’s birthday, we thought we’ll revisit history and highlight some of the most famous female engineers of our time.

Emily Warren Roebling (September 23, 1843 – February 28, 1903)

Emily Warren Roebling was responsible for one of the USA’s most famous landmarks – the Brooklyn Bridge.  Her husband, Washington Roebling was a civil engineer and the Chief Engineer during the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. He unfortunately succumbed to caisson disease and the task of completing the bridge fell upon Emily. She was able to relay information between her sick husband and the workers. But she also studied intensively (and learned from her husband) and soon developed an extensive knowledge of strength of materials, stress analysis, cable construction, and calculating catenary curves. For the next 14 years Emily oversaw the bridge project, dealing with politicians, competing engineers, and all those associated with the work on the bridge. The Brooklyn Bridge was finally completed in 1883 and Emily Roebling was the first person to cross it by carriage.

elmina wilson

Elmina Wilson (September 29, 1870 – June 4, 1918)

Elmina Wilson is known as the “first lady of structural engineering”. She was the first woman to receive a Bachelor of Civil Engineering degree at Iowa State University (ISU), and the first one to complete her master’s degree in the field.  Professor Anson Marston, a man of progressive values who was also the Dean of Engineering at ISU became her mentor. She collaborated with him to build the 168-foot-tall Ames, Iowa, water tower, the first raised steel tower west of the Mississippi.

Nora Stanton Blatch

Nora Stanton Barney (September 30, 1883 – January 18, 1971)

Nora Stanton was the first female member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. She was born in Basingstoke, England on September 30, 1883. As a small child, her family moved to New York. In 1905, she was the first woman to graduate from Cornell University with a Civil Engineering degree. That same year, she became the first female member, with junior status, of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and began work for the New York City Board of Water Supply. Nora, like her grandmother Elizabeth Cady Stanton, was involved in work for world peace and women’s rights. In 1915, she became the president of the Women’s Political Union. She participated in the efforts for a federal Equal Rights Amendment. In her later years, she remained politically active, writing pamphlets such as Woman as Human Beings and World Peace Through a Peoples Parliament.

Olive Dennis

Olive Dennis (November 20, 1885 – November 5, 1957)

Olive Dennis was the first woman to become a member of the American Railway Engineering Association. She was one of the first women to obtain a Civil Engineering degree from Cornell University. She strived hard and eventually began working for the Baltimore and Ohio (B & O) Railroad. Since half of the railroad’s passengers were women, it was felt that a woman would be better suited to handle engineering upgrades in service. Thus Olive Dennis was made the railroad’s first “service engineer” and assigned the responsibility of improving passenger service. In a career spanning over three decades, she worked hard to make travelling as comfortable as possible for the passengers.

Elsie Eaves  (May 5, 1898 – March 27, 1983)

Elsie Eaves was the first woman to be a full member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. In 1920, at the age of 22, she graduated from the University of Colorado with a Civil Engineering degree. After graduating from college, she worked for the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads, the Colorado State Highway Department, and the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. In 1945, she became the manager of Business News and continued there until she retired in 1963. After retiring, she became an advisor to the National Commission on Urban Affairs on the subject of housing costs. She also advised the International Executive Service Corps about construction costs in Iran. In 1957, she was the first woman to join the American Association of Cost Engineers, where she eventually became the first woman to be awarded an Honorary Life Membership.

Read more

Why build higher?

First, the exploding population, largely urban, creates an increasing demand for tall buildings. The ever increasing population and growing economies in major cities of the world mean increasing urbanization globally and the continuing rise in population density in urban areas. Arable land areas are constantly being eaten away by urban spreading through suburban developments. The tall building can accommodate many more people on a smaller land than would be the case with low-rise building on the same land. A tall building is in effect a vertical transformation of horizontal expansion.

Second, it is generally [acknowledged] that there has been evident neglect of the human factors in urban design at the expense of livability and quality of life. The outward expansion of cities into the suburbs has resulted in increased travel time and traffic gridlock. The prospect of traveling for a long time, to and from work, is detrimental to social well-being of the commuter and results in losses of fuel and productivity. Clustering of buildings in the form of tall buildings in densely built-up areas is the opportunity for creating open spaces like playgrounds, plazas, parks, and other community spaces by freeing up space at the ground level. Besides the impact on the city skyline, tall buildings thus influence the city fabric at the level where they meet the ground. The improvement of the “ public realm ”has become a necessity exerted by planning authorities in major cities.


Read more

Top 10 tallest buildings in Australia

Australia has more skyscrapers per person than any other country in the world with a population greater than five million and was one of the first countries in the world to play host to the skyscraper boom along with the United States and Canada. The vast majority of Australia’s buildings which exceed 150 metres in height are located in the eastern states of New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria, with a smaller number in Western Australia. {via Wikipedia}

1 . Q1 (Queensland Number 1)

tallest building in Austrlia

Vital Statistics

Height: 322 m
Floors: 78
Construction started: 2002
Location: Gold Coast, Queensland

2. Eureka Tower

Vital Statistics

Height: 292 m
Floors: 91
Construction started: 2002
Location:  Southbank, Victoria

3. Rialto Towers

Rialto Tpwers

Vital Statistics

Height: 251 m
Floors: 55
Construction started: 1982
Location:  Melbourne, Victoria

4. Infinity Tower

Infinity Tower

Vital Statistics

Height: 249 m
Floors: 81
Construction started: 2009
Location: Brisbane

5.  Prima Pearl

Prima Pearl

Vital Statistics

Height: 244 m
Floors: 72
Construction started: 2009
Location: Southbank, Victoria

6. Soleil

Soleil, Brisbane

Vital Statistics

Height: 243 m
Floors: 74
Construction started: 2009
Location: Brisbane

7. Citigroup Centre

Vital Statistics

Height: 243 m
Floors: 50
Construction started: 1998
Location: Sydney

8. Deutsche Bank Place

Vital Statistics

Height: 240 m
Floors: 39
Construction started: 2002
Location: Sydney

9. Brookefield Place

Vital Statistics

Height: 234 m
Floors: 45
Construction started: 2008
Location: Perth, Western Australia

10. World Tower

World Tower

Vital Statistics

Height: 230 m
Floors: 75
Construction started: 2001
Location: Sydney

Read more

 Tips for up and coming engineers

Let me start by saying that being an engineer is an incredibly rewarding yet demanding career choice.

As ‘corny’ as it sounds, you will make a real difference in people’s lives, and as cliché as this sounds, ‘engineers really do make ‘it’ happen’.

Unfortunately when you’re first starting out, it can be an incredibly daunting and frustrating time for a young engineer, so here are five tips for my ‘brethren’ beginning their engineering journey.

  1. For A Short Period of Time It’s Going To Hurt

Graduating with a degree in engineering is an accomplishment in and of itself. Unfortunately the reality is that your degree is essentially a piece of paper that verifies you know how to use a calculator and chew gum at the same time.

Of course I am being facetious, but the end of your degree is actually the first step on a very long road ahead. You need to accept that for the first three to five years you will be confused and shrouded in self-doubt, constantly second guessing yourself as you struggle to make sense of the monumental amount of information you will be asked to absorb and comprehend.

Fight through that self-doubt. You’re going to be fine.

Grit your teeth, keep your eyes and ears open, commit to your growth, focus on your development and absorb as much as you can as quickly as you can, and before you know it you will have set the foundations of your career.

  1. Site Experience, Site Experience, Site Experience

In case it wasn’t emphasised enough, you’ve got to get site experience. It is unbelievable how important working in the field can be. Get on site and get dirty. For the first six months to a year, work as a labourer if you must, it doesn’t matter, just get out there. Site work will give you incredible insight that an office environment simply can’t, plus it will enable you to think beyond the numbers and formulas and expose you to factors and parameters you won’t learn from a text book.

  1. A Strong Work Ethic Is Mandatory

As an engineer, you will encounter countless variations of never ending problems from demanding clients that set ‘yesterday’ deadlines in an industry where competition grows exponentially, thanks to the wonders of ever changing technology.

There is simply too much information to process, and of course there never is enough time, so believe me when I tell you that 9-5 won’t cut it. Success requires early starts and late finishes, so forget about looking at your watch and repeat this mantra over and over:

  1. Modern Tech is A Double Edge Sword So Measure Twice Cut Once

One of the great things about modern engineering is the vast number of advanced tools we have at our disposal. Computers and modern technology have allowed us to tackle complex problems, communicate big ideas and share results faster and more efficiently than ever before.

In fact this piece was typed on a laptop connected to the internet via my Australian mobile phone connected to the Chinese network whilst sitting in a bullet train travelling at 305km/hr heading to Shenzhen to meet with Chinese engineering colleagues to discuss new concrete and steel technology.

Unfortunately, surrounded by all the modern tools, an engineer can become lazy and too trusting of the solution on the screen. Whether it’s a complex FEM program or a simple spreadsheet, you must develop a full and comprehensive understanding of the input ‘language’ to properly interpret the output results.

Do not rush to the keyboard before first developing your understanding of engineering philosophy and a ‘feel’ for the numbers.

My advice is simple, respect technology, don’t be afraid to use it, but apply a healthy dose of scepticism when reviewing the output file, and if it doesn’t ‘feel’ right, then check it with a hand calculation. Then check it again.

  1. Money Money Money Money Money

Do not let money be the main factor which determines the course of your career, because when you’re starting out, you will not be impressed by your pay cheque.

Don’t worry about money during the early stages.

First choose the branch/sector of your engineering discipline which most interests you, then focus on developing your skills and technical abilities.

It’s no secret or special advice, love your job and it won’t feel like work, and before you know it your knowledge base and ‘abilities’ will start expanding exponentially and you will become more ‘valuable’ to an organisation.

That’s when you start seeing the bigger numbers and that’s when other options start to appear.

Read more

Never step on a crack again!

Paved roads are nice to look at, but they’re easily damaged and costly to repair. Erik Schlangen demos a new type of porous asphalt made of simple materials with an astonishing feature: When cracked, it can be “healed” by induction heating. Amazing!

Why you should listen?

Erik Schlangen is a Civil Engineering professor at Delft University of Technology and the Chair of Experimental Micromechanics. His areas of research include durability mechanics and “self-healing” materials, like the asphalt and concrete he and his team have developed that can be repaired with induction. This special asphalt is made with tiny steel wool fibers, which, when heated with induction, extends the life of the material. Currently Schlangen and his team are testing the asphalt on the A58 road near Vilssingen in the Netherlands, with the hope that it can be used in future roads all over the country.



Read more

Top ten most impressive civil engineering projects

1) The Great Pyramid of Giza – This incredible creation consisted of two and a third million stone blocks, which required the constant labor of thirty thousand laborers to build. Initially at 146.5 metres (481 feet), the Great Pyramid was the tallest man-made structure in the world for more than 3,800 years.

great pyramids

2) Great Wall of China  The Great Wall of China was created to protect the Chinese states and empires against the raids and invasions of the Huns. What many people do not know about this enormous five thousand and a half mile long wall is that the mortar used in its construction is made of rice flour.


3) Aqueduct of Segovia – The Aqueduct of Segovia is a Roman aqueduct in Segovia, Spain. These amazing aqueducts are made without the use of mortar, and are so well preserved that it is still in use today.

aqueduct of segovia

4) Brooklyn Bridge – The Brooklyn Bridge is a hybrid cable-stayed/suspension bridge in New York City and is one of the oldest bridges of either type in the United States. Completed in 1883, it connects the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn by spanning the East River. It has a main span of 1,595.5 feet (486.3 m) and was the first steel-wire suspension bridge constructed.

brooklyn bridge

5) Panama Canal   One of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken, the Panama Canal shortcut greatly reduced the time for ships to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Panama canal

6) Hoover Dam  Named one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the dam generates four billion kilowatt hours of electricity for use.

Hoover dam
7) Golden Gate Bridge – The bridge is one of the most internationally recognized symbols of San Francisco, California, and the United States. It has been declared one of the Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

golden gate bridge

8) English Channel Tunnel – A thirty-one mile long tunnel, the English Channel Tunnel currently contains the longest portion of any tunnel housed under the sea.

channel tunnel

9) Burj Khalifa – is a megatall skyscraper in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It has a roof height of 828 m (2,717 ft), and with its antenna included, it stands a total height of 829.8 m (2,722 ft), making it the tallest building and the tallest structure in the world.

burj khalifa

10) Jiaozhou Bay Bridge –  It is currently the world’s longest spanned bridge over water and was specially designed to withstand earthquakes and typhoons.

Jiaozhou Bay Bridge


Read more

What is geotechnical engineering?

Geotechnical engineering deals with many types of infrastructure – tunnels, bridges, dams, buildings, roads, railways, ports and landfills – that are built on the ground. The ground nearly always has a complicated behaviour, whatever the type of soil or rock it is made of.

What does a geotechnical engineer do?

All construction takes place in or on the ground, so it is easy to see how geotechnical engineering plays a crucial role in all civil engineering projects. Before any construction work takes place, it is vitally important to do a site investigation. Failure to carry this out often has had negative and expensive consequences on construction projects.

Geotechnical engineers guard and maintain the earth’s physical environment during the development of major public and private projects. Combining their expertise in civil engineering construction and design enables them to safely investigate and analyze sites and determine their present and future stability. Projects like these typically involve major changes to the physical environment, and can include tunnelling and construction of major structures like buildings, bridges, dams, airport runways, and towers.

Geotechnical engineers perform the following functions within the framework of the following jobs:

  • Geotechnical or Geological Engineers (General) – provide analysis and mapping of technical results obtained from seismic surveys, and investigate subsurface conditions and materials to determine their properties and risks.
  • Geotechnical or Geological Engineer (Oil Sands Projects) – design open pit walls, mine waste dumps and dam structures used in oil sands mining, and analyze slope stability, seepage and hydraulic separation on dam structures.
  • Hydrogeological Engineer – provide design and analysis of ponds containing discarded oil sands materials, water extraction from soil and sand, and steam injection into wells; and evaluate underground water layers trapped in rocks (aquifers). They also provide advice on environmental restoration.
  • Reservoir Geomechanics Engineer (Oil & Gas Operations) – analyze the strength of soils, drill hole stability, stress constraint, permeability of rock formations and the degree of trapped hydrocarbons in underground reservoirs.
  • Geomechanics Engineers (Marine Operations) – analyze the relationship between physical structures and marine geology, anchoring systems, sediment erosion, slope stability, and foundations for offshore and coastal structures.

What makes a good geotechnical engineer?

A good geotechnical engineer must clearly understand the behaviours of soil and rock mechanics. They need to know soil-rock-structural components, behaviours and interactions. And how these components work together to support structural buildings, roads, rails, tunnels, dams etc. Geotechnical engineering is a constantly evolving  field, they need to keep up with the latest research works and technologies.

Geotechnical engineers make our world a better and safer place.

Beyond their construction role, the geotechnical engineer will also deal with geological hazards like landslides, soil erosion and, in some extreme conditions, earthquakes.

Read more

What is civil and structural engineering?

There are many fields of engineering but today we’re focusing on our specialty here at ACSES Engineers, civil and structural engineering.

Firstly let’s look at the term Engineering. It is derived from the Latin ingenium, meaning “cleverness” and ingeniare, meaning “to contrive, devise”. Engineering has been around since the ancient times. From the aqueducts built by the Ancient Romans to the Great Pyramids to the Great Wall of China fast forward to Burj Khalifa, currently the world’s tallest building.

Engineering makes our world infinitely better.

But what exactly is civil engineering? Simply put, civil engineering deals with the design, construction, and maintenance of the physical and naturally built environments. Every structure that is on or in the ground is the work of civil engineers. They build dams, bridges, pipelines, roads, towers and buildings. They are responsible for the design and construction of all our transport systems, the design and management of our gas and water supply, sewerage systems, harbours, airports and railways. Pretty awesome, right?

What about structural engineering? Structural engineering involves the analysis and design of structures such as buildings, bridges, towers, marine structures, dams, tunnels, retaining walls and other infrastructure. Structural engineering underpins and sustains the built environment, where structures must be safe, serviceable, durable, aesthetically pleasing and economical. In other words, structural engineers are the guardians of public safety. Pretty big task.

Although our core business here at ACES Engineers is consulting structural and civil engineering design, we have an extensive range of design skills and construction site experience, with particular expertise in residential/commercial developments. We are proud experts at coordinating with other design disciplines in order to provide critical design input that will minimize costly design changes during the construction phase of the project.

But enough of us talking about ourselves, we’ll let some of our clients tell you how we do things here at ACSES Engineers.

Read more