Engineering Inc. - July/August 2007 - (Page 18)

Risky s the war wages on in Iraq, and conflicts continue to rage in Afghanistan and throughout the Middle East, many U.S. engineering firms must overcome being in the line of fire while attempting to design and construct highways, hospitals, communications networks and other critical infrastructure. n And on the domestic front, engineers routinely tackle projects in dangerous locales, from working underground in hazardous mines to maneuvering through rugged mountain terrain to rebuild roads taken out by landslides. n But with opportunity also comes risk, and as engineering executives and project managers tell it, operating under extreme conditions requires being totally prepared before the onset of the project, and most importantly, ensuring a safety-first mentality. n Michel Jichlinski, chief operating officer and executive vice president of The Louis Berger Group, Inc., whose firm currently has projects in Iraq and Afghanistan, says there is no “cookbook recipe” for managing these kinds of projects because local considerations— which are paramount—require a different set of strategies. Planning is important, says Jichlinski—so much so that Louis Berger often begins the process prior to bidding on major jobs. “By the time the [Request for Proposal] comes out, it’s too late,” he explains. “A lot of arrangements have to be made and you don’t have too many opportunities for making mistakes.” The company routinely sends an advance scout team to evaluate its potential job sites. The team is responsible for analyzing terrain, establishing relationships with the locals, securing adequate and safe accommodations and hiring contractors for security and life support. Visas, travel documents, the availability of commercial flights, lodging, security, 18 ENGINEERING INC. July / AuGust 2007 Engineering in extreme conditions requires special specific consular information on its International Travel page. But Smith cautions against relying too heavily on a single source. Local customers and other incountry resources should be consulted as well, he says. Collins Engineers creates three documents before embarking on a project under extreme conditions: a design execution plan outlining the team’s approach; a more detailed “Plan of Action and Milestones,” or POAM, laying out critical schedules; and a work breakdown structure detailing tasks and subtasks. POAMs are updated throughout the project “to mitigate risks as we go along that might have been unforeseen at the start.” explains Smith. Some jobs also require ongoing safety and environmental analyses to identify any hazards and develop a mitigation plan for each, he says. The process was tested in April 2007 on an oilrig project off the coast of A communications (especially in locales where cell phone coverage is unavailable), local transport, personal protective equipment, technology, support personnel (such as cooks, drivers and translators), access to local currency and medical care and cultural considerations all need to be addressed in advance. To fully understand all potential risks involved in international engineering, Perry Smith, assistant vice president of structures for Chicago-based Collins Engineers, Inc., says his firm culls the Internet for information on certain “hotspots,” or potentially troublesome locales. The U.S. State Department maintains a list of travel warnings and country-

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Engineering Inc. - July/August 2007

Call for Entries
From ACEC to You
News & Notes
Market Watch
Legislative Action
The Big Dig
Risky Engineering
2007 Professional Liability Survey
Institute For Business Management Fall 2007 Course Catalog
Roadside Technology
2007 Convention Wrap-Up
2007-2008 Excom
2007 Fall Conference Primer
Business Insights
Members in the News
One on One

Engineering Inc. - July/August 2007