Engineering Inc. - July/August 2008 - (Page 4)

NEWS & NoTES Engineers Seek to Help Homes Withstand Nature’s Destructive Forces M aybe the Big Bad Wolf should have tried to suck the house down. That’s the hypothesis, at least, of the Three Little Pigs project at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. Engineers at the university’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering believe pressure differences cause more structural damage than raw wind speed, and they have designed an innovative hurricane simulator to prove it. By documenting how dangerous winds, such as those in a Category 5 hurricane, damage or destroy a house, researchers hope to recommend substantive changes to existing North American building codes. Most hurricane simulators use scale models in wind tunnels. The most advanced work has been done at Florida International University’s Wall of Wind project, which can blast 140-mile-per-hour winds and horizontal rain against the side of a one-story house. Engineers for the Three Little Pigs project, being conducted at the multimillion-dollar Insurance Research Lab for Better Homes testing facility, have built a full-scale house with nearly 100 “pressure boxes” that can switch from blowing to sucking air as frequently as seven times per second. The switch produces pres- Studies Show Personal Preference May Explain Engineering Industry Gender Gap T sures on the house ranging from -15 to 5 kilopascals. Researcher Michael Bartlett says such changes mimic the buffeting of hurricane winds of up to 155 miles per hour. Study results will be used to save people’s homes from the destructive forces of nature. Practices will include modifying building codes to advance safer houses; working with insurers and the government to create implementation strategies; developing cost-effective mitigation devices for retrofitting the existing housing stock; and developing quality-control strategies to minimize human error in construction. Mike kelly/Getty iMaGes A 4 Member Firm Historical Photos Needed for ACEC 100-Year Anniversary Publication CEC is planning a commemorative publication to celebrate the Council’s 100-year anniversary in 2009. The publication will depict how ACEC Member Firms have been responsible for America’s major engineering achievements over the past century—and how the Council protected and advanced the industry’s business interests during the same time. If your firm has any historical photos it feels would enhance the anniversary publication, please contact Alan D. Crockett, director of public relations and communications, at or 202-682-4301. All submitted materials will be returned to the firm once the project is completed. wo recent academic studies show that sexism or aptitude have little impact on why the engineering industry is so overwhelmingly male. The studies conclude that the disparity might be due simply to the fact that many highly qualified women just don’t want to be engineers. Government and industry statistics show that approximately 11 percent of the nation’s 2 million engineers are women. But the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth at Vanderbilt University, which has been tracking the lives and careers of 5,000 mathematically gifted men and women for more than 30 years, finds that simple preference is a key determinant for a woman’s career path. The study shows that while men and women score similarly on the SATs and achieve advanced credentials in equal numbers, mathematically precocious males are more likely to go into engineering or physical sciences, while equally qualified women tend to choose careers in medicine, biological sciences, humanities and social sciences. Just as important, women participants in the study say they are not discouraged from pursuing certain career paths. In another study at the University of Kansas, researchers interviewed nearly 600 men and women in the male-dominated information technology field and fields that are more gender-balanced. Researchers say personal preference is the largest determining factor in career choices, accounting for about two-thirds of the gender imbalance. “On average,” says Joshua Rosenbloom, who led the University of Kansas study, “men and women value different aspects of work and therefore make different career choices.” ENGINEERING INC. JULY / AUGUST 2008

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Engineering Inc. - July/August 2008

Engineering Inc. - July/August 2008
2009 EEA Call for Entries
Table of Contents
From ACEC to You
News & Notes
Market Watch
Legislative Action
Congressman Kendrick Meek
Going Global
2008 Professional Liability Insurance Survey
Institute for Business Management 2008 Fall Course Catalog
Bridging the Gap
2008 Convention Wrap Up
2008-2009 Executive Committee
2008 Fall Conference Primer
Business Insights
Members in the News
One on One

Engineering Inc. - July/August 2008