5 Things We Can Do Today To Improve Civil Engineering TomorrowIn his latest post from the Uncontained series, construction quality assurance (CQA) expert Glen Toepfer writes on 5 things we in the geosynthetics and affiliated geotechnical and civil engineering fields can do to improve our practices.
Toepfer’s columns come for a unique place of experience. He has been at the forefront of the “zero leaks” approach to CQA with geosynthetic containment applications and how CQA, installation, and civil engineering professionals can work together to ensure geosynthetic installations that please not only the client but serve the industry well at the same time and help elevate the next wave of professionals.
His company, CQA Solutions, has even developed a certification platform to support the many CQA-related workers in the field who are not included in other CQA-oriented training programs.
Of the 5 things to think on, Toepfer writes:
5. Step forward, not backward. In recent conversations with two accomplished installation firms, the reoccurring theme was: “The containment industry is in a race to the bottom, as far as quality is concerned.” With all the advances in technology for materials and installation equipment, combined with technologies capable of finding pinhole size holes, there simply is no reason to settle for substandard quality. Set your expectations above industry standards. “A rising tide raises all boats.” Let’s move the tide together.
4. Stagnation. When is the last time you actually had a clear moment to evaluate your core business practices? It is so easy for civil engineering businesses to keep doing business as usual, such as using the same vendors, keeping the same procedures, and even believing that certain roadblocks are immovable. Stagnation usually comes with a fairly hefty price tag! Here is a quote from our office wall:

“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, in either case you are right.” – Henry Ford

What do you want to believe this year?
3. Safety. Sometimes we just want to scream at all the safety blah, blah, blah. The reality is that safety is such a poignant subject. We all want to keep our loved ones healthy and safe. However, sometimes we stay in places of safety when we need to take some risk in order to get to our future. If only for one day, evaluate ways you keep your co-workers, friends, and family safer. And, analyze your corporate life. Where do you need to take some calculated risks to leap into your future?
2. Crazy Fireman Syndrome. This year, take some time away from the all too heavy “fire fighting” and take some “corporate me time.” Write a list of your personal career goals. Then, proactively make plans with measurable steps and timelines on how you are going to achieve at least one of these goals this year. Move forward into your future, because while you are busy saving one tree you might be losing the forest!
1. Recycled Specifications. Every year—honestly, it seems like almost every week—we see ramshackle projects from recycled specifications, many of which show significant failures. These out-of-date specs, too often merged from multiple projects, almost always fail to meet the needs of the fieldwork they should govern. Recycled specs often do more harm than good. This year, leave recycled specs behind and move forward into specifications that are designed to properly manage your field projects.
These points and much more will be explored upon in sessions Glen Toepfer is leading at GeoAmericas 2016, the 3rd Pan-American Conference on Geosynthetics. The conference will be held 10 – 13 April 2016 at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel. More than 40 countries are already represented in the registrations. (The room block at the Loews is nearly sold out, as of March 1.)
Toepfer will conduct a short course on “Geomembrane Seams: Key Factors to Obtaining High-Quality Geomembrane Welds.”
He will also lead a panel discussion on “Geosynthetics Specifications: Limitations & Deficiencies That Need to Be Addressed.”
Learn more at www.GeoAmericas2016.org.
Visit CQA Solutions’ website, www.cqasolutions.co, for more information about the company’s services, CQA certification, and various resources on construction and engineering with geosynthetics.
Glen Toepfer’s columns can be read on LinkedIn and Uncontainted.
See also:

GeoAmericas 2016