The Governing Body You’ve Never Heard Of

Forget the NSA.  Disregard what you have heard about the FBI.  The CIA, too.  Congratulate your region’s MPO for accomplishing the most without a single news headline.  Impressive considering topics like “funding” and “infrastructure” can be easy media targets.

Cities and counties are well defined with political scenes just as hot as in D.C.  Regions, however, are more conceptual.  Adding “greater” to a metropolitan area forms a hazy boundary around a dense population.  Enter the metropolitan planning organization.  MPO’s to give definition and organization to the urban haze.  They are federally mandated and funded transportation policy-making organizations.  Regional cooperation in transportation planning is the end game.   Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1962 created the concept.  Current criteria stipulate a population greater than 50,000 people is eligible for an MPO.

The MPO hosts open forums for municipal representatives to nominate and prioritize transportation infrastructure improvements.  Transportation and planning professionals administer metrics and structure, so all the efforts culminate into tangible improvement.  The best part is that much of this happens without a single news mention.  This is pretty freakin’ amazing.  Dozens of humans actually gathering and agreeing on something to benefit thousands.  Right on.  Keep it up, MPO.  We could use more governmental organizations like you.

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!

HUGE Milestone for Small Business

The hard-working team at Pfefferkorn Engineering & Environmental is taking a moment to CELEBRATE.  We crossed a huge threshold as a small company.  For TWO years now our signature compass and pencil hallmark has represented top notch engineering and environmental service for the Kansas City region and beyond.

“To look back and see how far we’ve come is incredible.  We continually see new growth opportunities and are fired up to pursue them.”  – Kate Pfefferkorn-Mansker, PE

Our portfolio is now packed with specialty structural design, custom stormwater management solutions, traffic design improvements among other fine services.   It goes beyond deliverables.  The peace of mind from solid technical support is what our clients expect and appreciate most.  The team is poised for growth and ready to meet the needs and challenges of current and future clients.

Contact PE2 today to set up a consultation.

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.