Onward to 2018

Pfefferkorn Engineering & Environmental devotes this holiday season to family and friends.  We call our clients friends.  We hope your 2017 was filled with rich memories.  May 2018 bring forth continued prosperity and personal growth.  Even if Mercury is in retrograde, Pfefferkorn can ensure that grade has a suitable Manning roughness coefficient.  Cheers, friends!

Sustained by Design

First it was an interesting concept.  Then it morphed into a notable consideration.  Sure enough, it became a bona fide professional certification.  Now it is a full-flown career path.  Sustainability.  Continued human habitat on the physical earthen landscape.

Sustainability Degrees & Rising

Within the last decade, academic institutes offered courses in sustainability topics.  Now entering freshman at several universities can pursue a Bachelor of Science in Sustainability.  This is the time when employers say, “Sounds neat.  But what do I expect of a sustainability graduate?”  Biological systems engineers and computer engineers experienced a similar phenomenon.  Explaining to employers how to utilize their hard-earned skills in a traditional work force.  Yet where there is need, the fit comes organically.

Designing for Longevity

The earth’s atmosphere, landscape and biological systems are continually in flux.  However, the steep incline of that exponential curve is within sight.  Tilt the atmospheric norms a smidge and see how well 1960’s design criteria hold up for changing conditions.  It is time to reassess infrastructure assumptions.  Pfefferkorn’s engineers approach infrastructure design for the long term as well as the changes ahead.  Partner with PE2 to give your infrastructure design solid footing for sustained communities.

Not So Plane & Simple

Roasterie Coffee Company’s Douglas DC-3 airplane in front of the downtown Kansas City MO skyline at dusk, summer 2013.

Builders and designers shape communities.  With this great privilege comes great… ETHICS debate.  This is currently playing out in Kansas City.  The Kansas City International (KCI) airport infrastructure is ready for an upgrade to business class.  Interested parties submitted Design-Build-Finance proposals in hopes of being selected.


Project delivery is how prospective builders or designers are to accomplish the goal.  Project delivery typically adheres to one of two methods: Design-Bid-Build or Design-Build.  There are a host of metrics to follow so that the project proposals are compared methodically.  When another facet is added for comparison, like financing, anything can happen.  Equitable proposal comparison can be challenging even without comparing finance options.  Committees attempt to compare apples to oranges to pork chops.

Finding the Right Fit

The top two characteristics of ethical proposal selection are transparency and fairness.  However, selection rests on a landscape of competition, exclusivity and even prominence.  It is enough to make even the most level playing field riddled with fierce juggernauts.  The system can be built to appeal to logic and ethics.  Yet the appeal triangle of Ethos-Pathos-Logos does not exist without emotion.   Mayor Sly James has indicated that “who” builds the airport is not as imperative as getting the actual airport infrastructure piece fitted into the Kansas City puzzle.  Kansas City voters will have the opportunity to cast his or her own opinion of the city council’s selection in November 2017.  This is where the rubber meets the tarmac.  Standby.

Smells like STEM Spirit

Back to School.  What a great education system we have!  Kindergarten through twelfth grade for every boy and girl.  During this time each year, we reflect upon the educational opportunities that stand before our youth.  We engineers start with a strong foundation when designing a structure.  Something sturdy from which the rest can depend.  Societies depend much the same way on youth as the foundation for a promising future.  Pfefferkorn is passionate about fostering interest in science and mathematics in our youth.  However, each student has different strengths and learning styles.  We are not child development experts.  But we WERE young once.  And thoroughly confused by symbols and graphs.

During the great journey of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) courses, it wasn’t all talent and brilliance shining through at opportune times.  There is a dirty little secret that should not be overlooked in STEM education.  Even students who are not math whizzes or science geeks CAN and DO excel in technical professions.  You see, it’s not the actual score a person gets on a math test that indicates potential.  It’s the amount of time he or she is willing to spend at one problem.  How long an individual will stick with it.  Simple put, TENACITY.  This secret is further detailed in Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers: the Story of Success.

So as this school year starts up, resist the tendency to use grades as the only measure of potential.   A significant risk to advancing STEM education is a child declaring prematurely he or she is not “good” at it.  Let’s retrain our perception.  Demonstrate empathy of learning challenging material, and encourage even just a few extra minutes on a tough problem.  STEM education relies on teachers, parents and mentors all nurturing a strong future.  We at PE2 are passionate about STEM education and fostering youth to be the next generation of problem solvers and designers.

PE&E-More than Just a Box Checker

PE&E More than just Box CheckersA site supervisor gave Pfefferkorn Engineering and Environmental (PE&E) one of its best complements last week. He said, “You guys don’t just check the boxes! We hired you for an inspection and we thought we would get the standard person with a clipboard, pen and paper with check mark boxes and instead, Kate came out and really inspected. She looked beyond the expected check marks and really made sure we were safe and doing things the right way. She made recommendations that ended up saving us some money and possible heartache down the road.” He went on to iterate about how refreshing it was to have someone who recognized the possible repercussions and costs to a job done incorrectly.

Inspections should be more than just checking the boxes. No one person can see all. Having another set of eyes on a project can help find inefficiencies, reinforce good plans and correct unsafe behavior or practices. If all you want is someone to just “check the boxes” PE&E is not your firm. PE&E is interested in safety and desires to improve the quality of construction. Utilizing our years of engineering and inspection experience, we can interpret contract plans and specifications; project record keeping and reporting; construction surveying; field inspection and testing procedures, techniques, and equipment; and supervisory techniques, and help you make the right decisions.  We have the knowledge to understand what is required within the documents, plans, and ultimately provide the best solutions to any issues that would arise at the construction site.  We can use our knowledge and training to help find answers that aren’t always in the plans.

Our inspection and permit services include but are not limited to:

  • Structural Analysis and Inspection
  • Asphalt Inspection
  • Concrete Inspection
  • Drilled Shaft Inspection
  • Construction Inspection
  • Storm Water Pollution Prevention Planning and Inspection
  • Storm Water & Sanitary Sewer Inspection
  • Hydrological Investigation & Planning
  • Geomorphic Fluvial System Analyses
  • Floodplain Development Permitting
  • Flood Prevention Restoration of Levees
  • Section 404 Clean Water Act Permitting

Contact Pfefferkorn Engineering and Environmental to learn more.


Core Sampling- More than Just Dirt Play

Core sample pic

We admit it. Pfefferkorn Engineering and Environmental (PE&E) likes to play in the dirt. We were the kids at recess playing in the sand box. There is something therapeutic about running sand between your fingers, building tunnels in the mud and sifting through dirt… not to mention building castles and tearing them down.

Now that we are all grown up, we do more than just “play” in the dirt. Core samples are an excellent tool for construction, civil road and bridge developers and environmentalists to figure out what the properties of a particular section of ground are and how they will react to certain developments.

According to encyclopedia Brittanica , a core sample is a roughly cylindrical piece of subsurface material removed by a special drill and brought to the surface for examination. Such a sample is needed to ascertain bulk properties of underground rock, such as its porosity and permeability, or to investigate the peculiar features of a given zone of strata (e.g., to compare strata at a given level with those known to bear oil or gas).

According to Wikipedia most core samples are obtained by drilling with special drills into the substance, for example sediment or rock, with a hollow steel tube called a core drill. The hole made for the core sample is called the “core bowling”. A variety of core samplers exist to sample different media under different conditions. More continue to be invented on a regular basis. In the coring process, the sample is pushed more or less intact into the tube. Removed from the tube in the laboratory, it is inspected and analyzed by different techniques and equipment depending on the type of data desired.

Core samples can be taken to test the properties of man made materials, such as concrete, ceramics, some metals and alloys, especially the softer ones. Core samples can also be taken of living things, including human beings, especially of a person’s bones for microscopic examination to help diagnose diseases.

Do you need professional “dirt work”? Environmental analysis? Contact Pfefferkorn Engineering and Environmental for an assessment of your needs and a demonstration of our capabilities. Let us play…. No… strike that…. Professionally Work in the dirt.