What Is Low Impact Design (LID)?

Apr 11, 2019

Elliott Richter, RLA

Low Impact Design (LID) refers to managing stormwater runoff at the source (on-site) using green infrastructure techniques. Keeping water on-site reduces the need for much larger and more costly management systems. It also helps prevent flooding by reducing the amount of water that enters surface waterways during flash flood events. Conventional stormwater management uses a pipe-and-pond technique which replaces natural systems with concrete, pipes, ponds, and extensive infrastructure. These systems channelize the water and increase its velocity; thereby greatly increasing the risk of erosion. The goal of LID is to replace these pipes and ponds with soft engineering practices that: filter, infiltrate, store, and evaporate the run-off on-site. Incorporating LID early in the planning and design of a project has proven to be much more cost-effective while also providing a community benefit and a much better-looking project. Each of these major components of LID is discussed below. View Full Post

Working with Terrain

Apr 11, 2019

Shawn Massock, RLA

As land planners, 7gen starts every project looking at the opportunities and constraints provided by the land along with the related regulating government authorities’ (RGA’s) codes and ordinances. The land’s terrain plays a major role in the project’s design when these opportunities and constraints are considered along with the RGA’s codes and ordinances. Extreme flat or steep slopes increase the challenge of the design. Relocation of dirt, rock, or other land materials and construction of retaining walls and/or extreme building foundations increase construction costs of development. In today’s environment of limited attainable housing costs, development and building costs must be an important consideration when planning a neighborhood.  View Full Post

Environmental Constraints Aren’t Always Bad

Apr 11, 2019

Elliott Richter, RLA  

One of the first steps of every project is analyzing the site’s existing environmental conditions. Some of these conditions are regulated by city, state and/or federal agencies and can potentially kill your project before it ever begins. Too many existing protected or heritage trees may prevent a building from being able to fit on site. Too steep of slopes can also prevent buildings as well as roads from being constructed, or greatly increase the cost to build. Wetlands are an extremely regulated feature and must be protected or mitigated for. Other conditions such as depth to water table, depth to bedrock, soil composition, endangered species, karst features, and floodplain can all decide the fate of your project. View Full Post

Working with Nature – Outside of Your Job Description

Apr 03, 2019

James Parker, P.E.

In the field of land development, we typically take abandoned or previously farmed land and develop it into picturesque neighborhoods for families to have beautiful homes. During this process, we utilize many ponds and waterways that are natural habitats for numerous species of animals. Usually, we are prepared to deal with what nature has in store for us, but sometimes we get hit by surprise.  View Full Post

Lifelong Learning as An Engineer

Apr 02, 2019

Dustin O'Neal, P.E.

So, you’re fresh out of TAMU, U of H, Texas Tech, or one of a hundred other ABET accredited universities with a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering. You’re full of energy, new ideas, and motivation to take on any task thrown at you. You’ve spent at least four years learning about fluid dynamics, concrete design, and geotechnical properties of materials. You are a lean, mean, engineering machine. View Full Post

Financial Adulting

Apr 02, 2019

Daniel Cruz

Ah, you have arrived. You’ve spent the better part of the last five years, six in most cases, working to get to this point…to land your first job right out of college! You have your ideas of what this day and the future will be like. As you think back to your first day of freshman orientation, the freshman Dean creates visions of what awaits you. In a voice that could rival Thano’s from Infinity Wars, and with the wit of former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz, the Dean begins to paint the tapestry of your future. “You will have an office that will overlook the city, a personal parking space, keys to the Partner’s restroom and last but most important…monetary reward, moola, cha-ching, and old fashion money!! The Dean continues, "You will no doubt be captains of your industry, way makers, big-baller shot-callers. Your name will be mentioned in the same breath as Buffet, Jobs, Gates, and Stark.”  View Full Post

Industry Collaboration

Apr 02, 2019

Harry B. “Hal” Walker, P.E.
You’ve heard the phrase “If you ain’t wit us, yore agin’ us!” which probably has its roots in the dialog from numerous old western movies or novels. Or perhaps the following meme has a familiar ring, “I’m an Engineer, to save time let’s just assume that I’m never wrong.“ Although I take it as a means to poke fun at ourselves, have you ever met a fellow engineer who believes in that statement? While I personally have not come across an engineer with such a lofty attitude, I have had stories relayed to me by non-engineers over the years of such individuals.  View Full Post

Leaning In: Women Mentoring Women

Sep 28, 2018

Pamela B. Puckett, P.E.

When I began working for Steve Costello in 2004, I had women come in and ask me for professional advice. I was a little overwhelmed since I was just returning to the industry after an 18-year sabbatical!! Realizing I didn’t have all the answers, I sought to provide a forum for our young women to ask those tough questions of other, more experienced women in the industry. View Full Post

Tips for a Successful Career Fair

Sep 27, 2018

Cameron Shoaee, E.I.T.

To some, the thought of attending a career fair is a dreaded task. It always seems to fall in line with the time you have two tests to prepare for, a project due, and when you need to prepare for the rest of the responsibilities that come with being a college student. I have compiled a few simple guidelines to follow that will prepare you to land the dream job you’ve always wanted. View Full Post

ABC's of Leadership - A Is For Awareness

Sep 22, 2018

Guest blog by: E. Elizabeth Carter

Before one can become a leader, it is imperative to be aware of one's own self. Too many leaders are not aware of how they behave and then are surprised when their interactions and relationships with others are not as fruitful as they can be. In addition, the way these leaders perceive themselves under normal circumstances and under stress are not necessarily the way others perceive them. View Full Post

Party Like a Professional

Nov 30, 2017

Chad Hartmann, P.E.
Most people enjoy a refreshing adult beverage from time to time, especially when that is coupled with good company at an organizational or corporate event. Other times, it is a means to escape with your friends and relax from the stresses of the day, and to use a buzz word, manage that “work-life balance”. As such, although some of you probably think you were a professional party goer in your college days (I plead the Fifth) you haven’t had the experience of Partying Professionally. Let’s take a look at some aspects of what it means to Party Professionally.
 View Full Post

Structures - Part 2

Oct 18, 2017

Corbett Freeman, P.E.

In part one of my two-part blog series on structures, I discussed rehabilitation of structures as a cost-effective solution to prolong the life of infrastructure. By stretching our infrastructure dollars, we can do more to improve our systems and replace structures that are beyond repair at least in an economic sense. View Full Post

Being Conscious About Your Social Media Presence

Sep 07, 2016

Andrew Swynenberg, E.I.T.

By now, it's safe to accept that social media has irretrievably integrated itself into almost every aspect of our culture. It has altered the way we meet people, redefined “friendship”, and even contributed to additions to our dictionary with now commonplace words such as “selfie.” There are two primary camps that people generally find themselves in regarding their outlook on social media. The first group cringes at the thought of the impact that social media has had on our society, displeased with the thought of the extra push toward an even more superficial culture that did not exist twenty years ago. The second (and generally younger) group, views social media as a place to express themselves, share moments with their peers, and keep up with their friends. Whether you find yourself in group one, group two, or somewhere in the middle, it is important to realize that social media is continually moving toward the center of our society. As such, it is equally important to realize the positive aspects of social media and utilize it as the tool it has the potential to be. View Full Post

ITS Equipment is Making the Tollbooth Obsolete

May 03, 2016

Ruben Q. De La Rosa, P.E.

The use of intelligent transportation systems (ITS) for tolling purposes is aimed to mitigate congestion, decrease wait times at toll plazas, and reduce environmental effects.

But what exactly does that mean to you? View Full Post

Subsurface Utility Engineering 101

Apr 21, 2016

Trisha D. Frederick, P.E., MBA, LEEP AP
Utility Engineer

Need to learn more about Subsurface Utility Engineering, commonly referred to as SUE?

Imagine this. You are the project manager for a roadway project. It was advertised to the public that the roadway would be done in January, and it is now June. Six months behind schedule and the project is not complete. Home and business owners are upset because of the backed up traffic, and everyone is looking to you for an answer. View Full Post

Remote Sensing Applications in GIS

Apr 16, 2016

Chris Shannon, P.E., CFM
Division Manager - Geographic Information Systems

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) provide the ability to build and maintain an inventory of anything on the earth or any information that is tied to a location. One may ask the question – Why is GIS important? Simply put, because location matters.  View Full Post

Focusing On Leaders Bridges the Gap to Client Satisfaction

Apr 05, 2016

John Geddie
President, Geddie & Associates Inc.

It is the individual leader who has the most impact on whether employees thrive and become productive or are discouraged, de-motivated and disengaged. The work environment created by a leader’s style can result in a disengaged workforce of clock-watchers and marginal performers who slow forward momentum and spread discontent – or create a motivating workplace where employees thrive. View Full Post

Time for an Emotional Intelligence Check Up

Feb 03, 2016

Marie Watts, SPHR

Are you looking to move up in the company or find the perfect job? If so, it’s time to check out your emotional intelligence quotient and see whether there is room for improvement. A strong emotional intelligence improves your ability to lead, work in a team, and provide outstanding customer service. Without these skills, moving up in any organization is difficult, if not impossible. View Full Post

Benefits of a Corporate Wellness Program

Feb 03, 2016

Julia Horié, P.E.

Happy New Year, everyone! With the arrival of each New Year, health is usually one topic that is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Thanksgiving and Christmas were filled with celebration and gluttony, and many promise themselves to wipe the slate clean and start anew with the New Year. However, within a couple months, most people’s enthusiasm dwindle and soon return to the old bad habits until the next year. View Full Post

Smart Corporate Giving

Dec 03, 2015

Dustin O'Neal, P.E.

In 2013, corporate giving in the US topped $16 BILLION. That’s over $100 given per worker in the US. Imagine if that money was put to use in a way that not only benefited those receiving that money, but also in a way that would engage employees.  View Full Post

Structures Need Rehab - Part 1

Oct 14, 2015

Corbett Freeman, P.E.

Money for infrastructure always seems to be scarce, but our great “Bayou City” continues to grow and, at the same time, continues to age. Without needs-based programs like ReBuild Houston that prioritize replacement of crumbling infrastructure, a full eighty percent of drainage structures and streets will outlive their useful life in the next 20 years. Nationally, the last increase in the gas tax, which generally pays for our transportation system, was over 20 years ago. That bill, however, was passed to balance the budget, not to pay for new and replacement infrastructure.  View Full Post

So You Think Your Vote Doesn’t Matter?

Oct 14, 2015

construction management services engineering and surveying
Pam Puckett, P.E.

Early voting begins next Monday, the 19th. This isn’t a Presidential election year and therefore, turnout is expected to be low. What a shame. We are blessed to live in a country where we have the freedom to vote for those who will determine our future. In many ways, this election is far more important than a presidential election because it affects us locally. View Full Post

How to Ace Your Interview

Sep 08, 2015

full service engineering and surveying firm
Pacee Bean, E.I.T.

It is career fair time! Whether you are looking for an internship or a graduate position it is time to update that resume and practice for your interviews. This can be a stressful process, but it doesn’t have to be. Knowing a few tips ahead of time will help ease your nerves. This will not only bring more confidence in yourself, but the interviewer will notice. View Full Post

When It Floods In Houston, The Aquifers Are Recharged…Right?

Sep 08, 2015

full service engineering and surveying firm
Michael J. Turco
The Houston area receives more annual rainfall than nearly all of the other large cities in the State of Texas. With nearly 50 inches of rain a year as the norm, you would think that, since our rivers, streams, and bayous flood frequently, some of that extra runoff would make its way to the aquifers in the region. Unfortunately, that is not the case…to understand why that is, we have to discuss the hydrogeology, surficial geology, and where our groundwater comes from. View Full Post

Municipal Utility Districts (MUD) 101

Sep 02, 2015

full service engineering and surveying firm
Jon VanderWilt, P.E.
Why create a MUD? We all know the answer to that question. Property taxes from developed land pays for water, sewer and drainage improvements. Lately, the list has grown to include roads and parks, too.

There is no place in the world I would rather be than Houston, Texas. It is the greatest place in the world to live, work, and raise a family. All of us involved in the business of working with MUDs are the privileged few that have the opportunity and honor, on a daily basis, to create neighborhoods from farmland, pastures, and forests, making it possible for others to live in the greatest place in the world. I thank God every day for this opportunity and enjoy it so much that I can't call it "work." View Full Post

Benefits of Successful Team Building

Sep 02, 2015

full service engineering and surveying firm
Chad Hartmann, P.E.

Team building – does it really make a difference? YES! Why? Glad you asked. Whether you belong to a large global corporation or small shop with a handful of people, team building can prove to be a valuable component to the success of your workforce. Let’s explore some reasons why team building events should be a common part of your business.  View Full Post

Environmental Due Diligence

Sep 01, 2015

full service engineering and surveying firm Environmental Due Diligence 
Susan Alford - President of Berg Oliver Associates, Inc.

The first question most folks ask about environmental studies in the due diligence period of a project is...WHY do I need to?

To address WHY is simple: compliance with State and Federal Law. President Nixon signed the Environmental Policy Act of 1969 on January 1, 1970. Subsequently, federal and state regulations to protect natural resources such as wetlands, waters, and threatened species, to protect cultural resources, and to protect human health from hazardous material exposure were enacted. I won’t bore you with all of the acronyms, chapter, verse or title of each Code of Federal Regulations or Texas Administrative Code. View Full Post

Detention 101: Detention vs. Retention

Jun 22, 2015

full service engineering and surveying firm Detention vs. Retention
Lacey Bodnar, E.I.T., CFM
While detention and retention may sound the same, the terms cannot be used interchangeably. Detention and retention both refer to storing rain water on-site during a storm event, when the risk of flooding is highest. The difference is that when water is detained, it is slowly released into a stream or river and leaves the site. When water is retained, it is not intended to leave the site. Instead, it is infiltrated into the ground or evapo-transpired into the air.  View Full Post

Standing Out and Climbing The Ladder of Success - Young Engineers Series

Jun 22, 2015

full service engineering and surveying firm 
Guy Humphrey, P.E.

Time sure does start to fly once you leave behind the relaxed college lifestyle for a reoccurring routine in the workforce. Before you know it, one year has passed - maybe even two. You have gone through the review process, seen a raise or two, maybe received a bonus, or perhaps even a promotion in title. Those can all come just by performing the standard tasks asked of you.  View Full Post

The Stereotyping Conundrum

May 26, 2015

The Stereotyping Conundrum in engineering and surveying 
Marie W. Watts, SPHR

Just before Christmas I decided to dump my iphone for a Galaxy Note 4.  A new AT&T store just happened to be opening in my small town and I was one of the first customers through the door.  I was determined to learn all I could about the Galaxy before making the switch.

As I stepped inside, a man I took to be in his 70's approached me with the familiar “May I help you?”

My brain begin yelling, “Go away, I don’t want to talk to you.  You don’t know anything about smart phones!”  I caught myself, thank goodness, and realized I was stereotyping.   View Full Post

Do You Live in a Flood Plain?

May 26, 2015

Do You Live in a Flood Plain 
Greg Frank, P.E., CFM

"I’m not in a flood plain…or am I?"

Unfortunately this question is way too timely. Many Houstonians may have thought they were not in a floodplain, and yet found their homes underwater this past week.  I attend several flood plain related conferences each year and this question is asked by any number of speakers.  Each time, only a few of us raise our hands, after all we ARE flood plain managers and flood control engineers, so we should know better, right?  But the brutal truth is that we are ALL living in a flood plain of some sort.  I like to use the analogy ‘Noah built the ark for a reason… it rained for forty days and forty nights’. View Full Post

The Importance of Getting Involved - Part 2 of our Young Engineers Series

Apr 30, 2015

 The Importance of Getting Involved Young Engineers Series
Yvonne Rivera, P.E.

As an engineer-in-training just out of college, I was under the impression that being involved in organizations was only for old engineers (or at least professional engineers). I would hear of some of the engineers going to meetings, but it seemed that it was not something I should concern myself with at the time. No one really discussed being in an organization, much less their role within that organization.  View Full Post

Too Much of a Good Thing: Nutrient Pollution

Apr 14, 2015

 Too Much of a Good Thing, Nutrient Pollution in engineering
John Lacy, P.E.

Take a deep breath.  Almost 80 percent of what you just inhaled was nitrogen.  It's too bad that you can’t use it – the bonds are too strong for us to break -- and yet we’d die without it!  So where do we get a usable form of this vital nutrient?  Well, it’s part of the cycle of life; rain carries it from the air to the soil, soil carries it to the plants, animals eat plants, and we eat plants and animals.  Thanks to waste and bacteria, the limited amount of usable nitrogen returns to the air and soil to begin the process again.  If nitrogen doesn’t make it back to the air or soil, fewer plants can grow and that means less animals and people can survive.  In order to prevent this, a German chemist figured out in 1909 how to create nitrogen fertilizer from air to feed plants.  Today, hydrogen from natural gas and nitrogen from air are combined to make nitrogen fertilizer using this same basic process. View Full Post

So You’ve Got Your BS In Engineering – Now What’s Next? (Part 1 of our Young Engineers Series)

Mar 18, 2015

You’ve Got Your BS degree In Engineering What’s Next 
Chad Hartmann, P.E.

Welcome to the first edition of real world advice from real world engineers! This blog is the beginning of a series of blogs that will provide advice to graduate engineers on various aspects of the engineering world such as advice on your first year as a graduate engineer, professional organizations, and tips to help you prepare for the PE exam. This first edition focuses on the importance of senior staff to your career development, asking the right questions, and relationships with local agencies. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy the read.  View Full Post

Hidden Biases in the Workplace

Jan 07, 2015

 Hidden Biases in the Workplace

Marie W. Watts, SPHR


So, I’m guessing, like me, you probably ate and drank too much over the holidays.  Furthermore, as I have, you may have a New Year’s resolution to exercise and eat healthy.  I’m challenging you to one more resolution.  Vow to not allow your hidden biases guide your business decisions during 2015.

 View Full Post

Irrigation and Conservation

Oct 14, 2014

 Irrigation and Conservation

Dustin O'Neal, P.E.


Ever wonder how much water your lawn needs at any given time?  The amount of irrigation needed for a healthy, drought-resistant lawn fluctuates weekly due to rainfall and temperature dependent evapotranspiration.


 View Full Post

Using GIS to Facilitate Development within Floodplain

Aug 29, 2014
Using GIS to Facilitate Development within Floodplains

Lacey Bodnar, E.I.T., CFM  

and Chris Shannon, P.E., CFM

Using GIS to Facilitate Development within Floodplains


The demand for new homes is increasing as Houston’s economy continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Locations next to a creek, stream, or lake are attractive sites, as access to water provides many recreational and enjoyment opportunities. However, these days it’s nearly impossible to find land that does not contain a floodplain within its boundaries.  GIS is utilized to facilitate safe and cost-effective development on lands encumbered by flood hazard risks, allowing for safe and sustainable growth in our region.

 View Full Post

Our Future Water: Trends and Challenges

Aug 21, 2014

John Lacy, P.E.

Our Future Water: Trends and Challenges

We all take for granted that water will appear when we turn on the tap. But did you know that much of our water infrastructure is 50-100 years old and at risk of failing with a D grade, according to the ASCE? Unfortunately, repairing or replacing this vital infrastructure all too often gets neglected. So what does this mean for you and me?

 View Full Post

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