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Alaska's engineering wonders.

Across this northern frontier, from a new elementary school in Barrow to a remodeled salmon hatchery near Juneau, engineering marvels are improving the quality of life for Alaskans.

Drive down a highway to the grocery store. Watch a plane land at the airport. Switch on a computer.

You do dozens of routine tasks like these every day, but have you ever stopped to think of the engineering innovations that made your chore easier?

Here in Alaska, the cold, rugged climate forces engineers to create new technologies to solve old problems. In the list below, you'll view a panoramic picture of the diverse projects done by Alaska's engineering companies -- and get an idea of how these innovations made life in Alaska a lot more enjoyable.

The August 1992 eruption of Mount Spurr showed that Anchorage needed more water. The multi-million dollar Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility Airport Water Project will come on-line in late 1993, providing access to a 5-million gallon steel reservoir located at Kincaid Park. FPE/Roen Engineers Inc. served as the prime consultant for engineering design, specifications and construction support of the project.

To solve the floor problems at the Sullivan Arena, Golder Associates investigated soil and groundwater conditions and recommended solutions. The repair alternative: Build a new floor slab on pipe piles, and leave a gap between the slab and ground to allow for runoff of soil and water.

The Federal Aviation Administration's Anchorage air traffic control tower promises to be an engineer's dream. It will contain fiber optic cables for communication, new generators that provide five times the current power, high-resolution terminals to track aircraft, and two new satellite stations for communicating with remote sites.

The Usibelli Coal Mine in Healy is Alaska's premier coal mine. By 1995, the facility will operate with a state-of-the-art coal-fired power plant, which will be one of the cleanest coal-burning power plants in the world.

Looking for new ways to clean up arctic oil spills, Arco Alaska Inc. asked Woodward-Clyde Consultants to try bioremediation -- tiny micro-organisms -- to do the job. A three-year study showed that the process can be performed on-site and may be the most efficient and cost-effective choice for cleaning fragile tundra soil.

Only at Anchorage Reprographics Center can customers find a new DocuTech Production Publishing system, which scans and reshapes photos in seconds, or a new laser plotter that offers fast, quality image plotting. This new network system gives customers increased power and use of the scanning and plotting services.

The Ballyhoo Port project at Dutch Harbor uses a new "open cell" sheet pile technology developed by Peratrovich, Nottingham & Drage Inc. of Anchorage. Open cells consist of flat sheet piles driven in a circular arc and held together by tail walls. The technique offers cost and construction advantages over traditional closed-shell sheet pile technology.

In remodeling operations at a salmon hatchery near Juneau, Raj Bhargava Associates of Anchorage designed a heat recovery system that decreases operating costs and allows for building a smaller central hatchery plant.

R & M Consultants

At Back Island near Ketchikan, R&M Consultants Inc. designed a self-contained acoustic measurement facility for the United States Navy's submarine program. The project may serve as an engineering and environmental prototype for similar projects in other remote, environmentally sensitive areas.

The underwater platforms supporting Skagway's ore terminal had serious underwater corrosion problems. R&M Engineering Inc. of Juneau developed a repair procedure that allowed Knik Construction Co. Inc. to fix the platforms without disrupting ore shipments.

CRW Engineering Group

As headquarters for continued clean-up of Prince William Sound, Valdez found that its sludge disposal system has been overtaxed in recent years. CRW Engineering Group of Anchorage developed a successful plan that increased effectiveness of the operation.

Tryck Nyman Hayes Inc.

King Salmon, in southwest Alaska, needed a simple, inexpensive disposal system to clean up its chronic sewage problems. Tryck Nyman Hayes Inc. of Anchorage designed a lagoon system and treatment facility that took care of the situation.

CH2M Hill

The Anchorage regional office of CH2M HILL received the 1992 Alaska Project Management Institute award for design and construction of the 117,000-square-foot Fred Ipalook Elementary School in Barrow. In Cordova, CH2M HILL helped repair the city sewer system, which was frequently overloaded by storm water.
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Engineers Week: Turning Ideas Into Reality; engineering achievements
Publication:Alaska Business Monthly
Date:Feb 1, 1993
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