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Recent Happenings from Drexel CAEE Alumni

February 25, 2014 — Drexel University’s Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering (CAEE) alumni have and continue to be on the forefront of engineering advancements throughout Philadelphia and beyond.  Below are some recent stories from CAEE alumni.

CAEE Alumnus, current CAEE doctoral student, and Philadelphia Water Department’s (PWD) Energy Program Manager Paul M. Kohl spearheaded the PWD in the completion of a $47.5 million dollar project to transform the excess methane produced at Philadelphia’s Castor Avenue sewage treatment plant into heat and electricity.  PWD has taken a leadership role of large municipalities in pioneering this energy efficient reuse of sewage solids into resources while drastically reducing the plant’s carbon emissions.    These efforts produce 43 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year, enough to power more than 4,000 typical homes – or enough to meet 85% of the power needs of the sewage treatment plant.  More information on this project can be found in the philly.com article: New use for sewage: producing heat and electricity.

CAEE Alumnus and University of Pennsylvania Associate Professor Douglas Jerolmack, along with a group of mathematicians from Budapest University of Technology and Economics, have recently completed a study that answers a question wondered by many geologists: why are the rocks that line riverbeds tend to be smaller and rounder further downstream?  The research team developed a mathematical model which identifies abrasion as the key role and it works in a two-phase process. First, abrasion makes a rock round. Then, only when the rock is smooth, does abrasion act to make it smaller in diameter.  Prior to this study most geologists tend to point to size-selective transport as the explanation - small rocks being more easily transported downstream.  More information about this study can be found in the following release: Penn Geophysicist Teams With Mathematicians to Describe How River Rocks Round.

Drexel recently caught up with the Peirce family, a family full of alumni.  John J. Peirce, PE (BS 1973, MS 1978 civil engineering) has three (of four) children who graduated from Drexel, two from the College of Engineering. John and his wife started their company Peirce Engineering (Phoenixville, PA), in 1992.  Peirce Engineering has played an important role in various Drexel construction projects and the company supports the CAEE Department’s Concrete Canoe team.  More information about the Peirce family can be found in the Alumni Spotlight.

Richard Hangen, who received his Masters in Civil Engineering from Drexel in 1967, was recently featured in an online article in CE News titled Richard Hangen: Paving the WayRichard is senior principal and co-founder of the engineering and planning consulting firm Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc.

Elaine Elbich, ‘88 who received her B.S. in Civil Engineering from Drexel was recently awarded the Pennsylvania Society of Professional Engineers Delaware County Chapter Engineer of the Year Award.  Elaine is currently a Portfolio Manager at PENNDOT.  In this role, Elaine oversees PENNDOT, DVRPC and consultant staff involving more than 3,600 roadway miles and 2,800 bridges in the Greater Philadelphia Region that includes Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties and the City of Philadelphia.