Engineers Without Borders USA Spotlights Seattle Volunteer Eset Alemu

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In honor of National Volunteer Month, Engineers Without Borders USA (EWB-USA) put the spotlight on engineers who give their time and talents to improve infrastructure in communities around the world. Their blog post features an interview with Eset Alemu, a Seattle-based engineer who is co-leading the Puget Sound Professionals of EWB-USA for several projects in Nicaragua. She also is the current president of the ASCE Seattle Section and is helping with transition for the President-Elect, Aspect’s Principal Geotechnical Engineer Henry Haselton, who will step into the role in September.

Read EWB-USA’s full post here.

Aspect’s Principal Geologist Dave Cook, who has volunteered with Engineers Without Borders USA since its inception, says, "EWB-USA is engineering with soul. I, like many, still believe in founder Bernard Amadei's ethos and why this organization was originally founded. Engineers, scientists and other professionals should all be able to work in harmony to deliver technical skills that are so hard to come by in the developing world."

In addition to Dave’s contributions to EWB-USA, Aspect has supported EWB-USA financially over the past several years.  Aspect supports all volunteers, particularly those whose mission is capacity building around Earth + Water problems.  https://www.ewb-usa.org/donate/

Helping Power Seattle's Tech Sector

Seattle City Light is about to unveil its new state-of-the-art substation that will transition this South Lake Union site from a Greyhound bus maintenance facility and parking lot into an “architectural marvel.” From property acquisition and contaminant remediation through design and construction, Aspect completed a full range of environmental and geotechnical services to support the redevelopment of a sleek electrical substation wedged in the heart of Seattle’s tech sector.

Check out this great Seattle Times article on the new substation and peruse some photos of the truly impressive facility.

Aspect's Henry Haselton and Dave McCormack to Co-Chair Upcoming Landslide Seminar

Principal Geotechnical Engineer Henry Haselton, PE, PMP, and Principal Engineering Geologist Dave McCormack, LEG, LHG, will serve as co-chairs on the upcoming Landslides program for The Seminar Group on Thursday, October 25, 2018, at 9 am the Washington Athletic Club. This seminar covers the science behind slope movement and landslides in Washington and discusses the liability concerns for a wide audience of attorneys, claims professionals, and real estate experts. Henry and Dave’s presentation will focus on the science of landslides, including the different types, their causes, and methods for stabilization.

Register to attend today.

Henry Haselton named President-Elect of ASCE Seattle Section

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) – Seattle Section has a new President-Elect: Aspect’s Principal Engineer Henry Haselton.

Henry was voted in by the Seattle Section in June. He will serve as President-Elect under incoming President Eset Alemu this year, and then transition to President in October 2019. Henry has been a member of the ASCE since joining the student chapter 26 years ago and has served on several committees, most recently as Program Co-Chair, where he was tasked with brainstorming meeting topics and recruiting speakers for the section’s monthly dinner meetings.

As part of his transition to President-Elect, Henry attended the ASCE Region 8 Fall Assembly Meeting in Spokane, where he met leadership from all the western states and ASCE National President Kristina Swallow. Attendees were treated to an “engineers tour” of the Grand Coulee dam, where they learned about the inner workings of the dam from an experienced operator at the facility.

Henry also recently attended the ASCE President and Governors Forum (PGF) Event in Washington D.C., where he participated in trainings with ASCE leaders from around the world. The PGF training provides best practices to effectively lead a Section/Branch.

Henry is joined by other Aspect colleagues in the ASCE Seattle Section. Project Geotechnical Engineer Spencer Ambauen, EIT, is taking over Henry’s position as Program Co-Chair. Staff Engineer Mari Otto, EIT, is in her second term as Host and Hospitality Co-Chair, where she coordinates with the host venue and oversees meeting registration.

Aspect’s ASCE team kicked off the 2018-2019 season earlier in September with presentations on the upcoming demolition of the SR99 Viaduct and the Pier 62 Replacement, a project where Aspect is the geotechnical engineer-of-record. The ASCE Seattle Section Geotechnical Group’s first dinner meeting of the season was on Thursday, September 27 in Seattle. Professor Russell A. Green, PhD, a Professor of Civil Engineering at Virginia Tech, spoke on region-specific probabilistic liquefaction hazard analyses through a pilot study done in the Netherlands due to induced seismicity from natural gas production. Learn about upcoming events here.

Aspect’s Henry Haselton and Dave McCormack Join October Landslide Seminar

Aspect’s Principal Geotechnical Engineer Henry Haselton and Principal Engineering Geologist Dave McCormack will participate as faculty at The Seminar Group's Landslides program on October 25, 2018 at the Washington Athletic Club in Seattle. This seminar covers the science behind slope movement and landslides in Washington and discusses the liability concerns for a wide audience of attorneys, claims professionals, and real estate experts.

Register to attend today.

Setting the Stage for Alaska Airlines’ 128,000-Square-Foot Groundbreaking

Alaska Airlines recently deepened its local roots with a groundbreaking for a new 128,000-square-foot corporate facility in SeaTac.

Aspect is helping set the stage for this by providing environmental and geotechnical services to prep the property for development.  Our team evaluated property-wide environmental conditions and is serving as the geotechnical engineer of record, which includes designing foundations and shoring walls.  Aspect pilot tested and designed a deep stormwater infiltration system to sustainably manage stormwater and get it back into the ground in a more native/natural way. This helped achieve the sustainability goals of the project. We will be on hand to perform construction observation as that kicks off. 

The “Hub” will be a 6-story office building scheduled for construction and then move-in for first quarter 2020.

The “Hub” will be a 6-story office building scheduled for construction and then move-in for first quarter 2020.

The May 3rd groundbreaking ceremony was attended by various city, county and state dignitaries, including governor Jay Inslee, Congressman Adam Smith, King County Executive Dow Constantine and Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden, as well as Alaska employees and members from the surrounding community.

The May 3rd groundbreaking ceremony was attended by various city, county and state dignitaries, including governor Jay Inslee, Congressman Adam Smith, King County Executive Dow Constantine and Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden, as well as Alaska employees and members from the surrounding community.

Staff Meeting at 6200 ft.

An impromptu Aspect staff meeting took place atop Mount Townsend (ele. 6,260 ft.) on the Olympic Peninsula last weekend. Staffers Henry Haselton and Dave McCormack were hiking along one of the trails when they ran into their colleague Na Hyung Choi, who had started up from the Upper Trailhead earlier in the day.

Items on the agenda included the gorgeous array of wildflowers and various streams created from the melting snowpack. But the main topic of discussion was the breathtaking view, which included Mount Baker, Glacier Peak, Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, the faintest hint of Mount St. Helens, and Puget Sound stretched out like a cat at their feet.

Rebuilding Around the World: Henry Haselton’s Ongoing Volunteer Work

Principal Geotechnical Engineer Henry Haselton is providing pro bono engineering services to help rebuild and protect schools, villages, and farms affected by natural disasters in Nepal and Tanzania.

Henry has been working with All Hands Volunteers to rebuild schools that were destroyed after the massive earthquake in Nepal in April 2015. Most recently, he helped with site development and foundation recommendations for the East Point Academy in Melamchi, which is about 25 miles north of Katmandu. The Nepalese government prepared standard school designs, and they need engineering help to make the structures work at particular locations. He also designed an earthquake-resistant retaining wall to support the school in its new location. Henry is now embarking on work for another school project higher up in the Himalayas.

photo courtesy of All Hands Volunteers

Earlier this year, Henry provided geotechnical consultation for a sugar cane producer who is affiliated with a non-governmental organization south of Moshi, Tanzania to help alleviate flooding of villages and farms in the area. The engineering work was led by master’s students from Tu Delft in the Netherlands. Henry’s work focused on extending levees and installing weirs to mitigate flooding, and included recommendations on geotechnical field and laboratory testing, slope stability analyses, and general geotechnical recommendations for the levees.

Walking and Talking the Seawall


One way Aspect encourages cross-pollination of ideas across the company is our monthly firm-wide “Technical Exchanges”. One part deep-dive into the technical challenges that face our clients and one part team-building opportunity, these meetings give us a chance to gather and talk shop with colleagues. September’s exchange was led by Principal Geotechnical Engineer Henry Haselton, who covered the history, design, and current status of the Seattle Seawall replacement project. Prior to his position at Aspect, Henry served as the deputy Project Manager during the planning and preliminary design stages of the Seawall from 2009 to 2013. 

As the largest infrastructure project in Seattle’s history, this massive undertaking is striving to protect the “front porch” of Seattle. Henry’s presentation covered both the history of the original Seawall and the design and ongoing construction of the current one.

The original seawall was built between 1916 and 1934, mostly supported by wooden piles. This timber was all that stood between the waterfront and Puget Sound. As the years progressed, it was in increasing need of repair as sinkholes, tidal influences, waves, and marine foes like gribbles taking millions of tiny bites out of the wood took their toll. The 2001 Nisqually earthquake caused the adjacent Alaskan Way Viaduct to settle and increase pressure on the already stressed wall, thus spurring the City of Seattle to make seawall replacement a priority.

The new Seawall has a complex mix of pieces and players to coordinate: design and construction of a brand new earthquake-resistant seawall; navigating around a complicated lattice of preexisting in-water structures—including around 30,000 wood pilings—and utilities; enhancing marine habitat and environmental quality; and addressing public safety. They had to do this atop one of the busiest waterfronts in the country while managing and minimizing impact to tourism, businesses, roadways and bike/pedestrian passages—and taking into account concerns from a vocal roster of affected parties.

After Henry’s presentation, he took the Aspect crew on a walking tour to see the ongoing work. Here are a few of the project’s innovations we saw in action. 

Jet Grouting

Jet grouting is currently happening between Marion Street and Yesler Way, including the section in front of the ferry terminal. Jet grouting can effectively improve ground around obstructions like utilities, sewer outfalls, and the some 30,000 piles that are still in place from previous waterfront structures. 

Freeze Walls

Freeze walls minimize the groundwater entering the construction area by literally freezing the soil. They require a large amount of refrigeration—hence the frost that gathers around the pipes. 

Fish-Friendly Corridor

This corridor will one day be traveled by fish making their way through Elliott Bay. Young salmonids thrive in shallow waters with minimal light contrasts. The corridor will direct them into these friendlier waters separate from the deeper, darker Elliott Bay. Bumps and grooves on the inside wall are conducive to algae growth, so the fish can stop and snack during their trip. The small “speed bump” in the middle of the picture above accommodates the University Street Combined Sewer Outfall. 

Light Penetrating Surfaces

Closer to the Seattle Aquarium, the new seawall is in place and the sidewalks are already in use. These little windows in the waterfront promenade will allow sunlight to reach the young salmonids and other marine life in the fish corridor below. 

Learn more about the project's background, current status, and next steps at Waterfront Seattle.