Latest News

Call for Nominations: Engineer of the Year and Young Engineer of the Year

Date: November 17, 2021

Planning for 2022 E-Week is now underway! As is the tradition, we will be honoring outstanding Vermont engineers and student engineers at the annual Engineers Week Banquet on February 25, 2022. As part of the preparations, each Vermont engineering society is eligible to nominate one candidate for Engineer of the Year and one candidate for Young Engineer of the Year. Nomination forms, selection procedures, and a copy of the evaluation sheet are attached to assist you in preparing your candidate packages.

Submit your application and nomination package electronically no later than Friday, January 21, 2022, in pdf format only to Greg.edwardsvt@gmail.com. Electronic transmissions received after the January 21, 2022, deadline will not be reviewed by the Selection Committee. Forms and details are available online.


Hydroelectric Facility in Bennington Back Up and Running

Date: November 17, 2021

North Bennington Hydroelectric, which purchased the old Vermont Tissue Paper mill hydroelectric facility, has brought one of its turbines back online and it is producing electricity, the Bennington Banner reports. A two-year hiatus was caused by a high air-pressure drilling accident in 2018, which dredged up a large amount of silt and debris near the turbine intake areas. Work to remove debris from the second turbine continues. A spokesperson said the company plans to have the facility fully operational by the end of the year.


Community Broadband Networks Receive $10 Million for Preconstruction Costs

Date: November 17, 2021

The Vermont Community Broadband Board, in coordination with the Governor’s office, awarded Preconstruction Grants to four Communication Union Districts. The Broadband Preconstruction Grant Program provides grants to Communications Union Districts for preconstruction costs related to broadband projects that are a part of a universal service plan. Eligible costs include expenses for feasibility studies, business planning, pole data surveys, engineering and design, and make-ready work associated with the construction of broadband networks, including consultant, legal, and administrative expenses.

The Vermont Community Broadband Board will issue grants for construction costs (materials, equipment, labor) early next year. Three of the four groups awarded in this first round of grants expect to begin construction in the spring of 2022.

A recent survey by Probolsky Research for Cisco revealed that local and regional government executives and managers consider broadband to be critical infrastructure on par with water, electricity, and telephone access. Additionally, the survey found that broadband gaps are most noticeable between suburban and rural communities.

Vermont Funds Brownfields Clean Up

Date: October 19, 2021

Vermont will spend $25 million to clean up old industrial sites in the state, the AP reports. The largest, the former Jones & Lamson Machine Co. building in Springfield, sits on 14 acres and contains a multitude of contaminants. Already, $2.5 million has been spent on assessment and preliminary cleanup on the site, according to The Valley News.

Typically, the EPA funds such brownfield clean up. In this instance, however, state funds will be used. The other sites for remediation are in St. Albans and Burlington.

“This presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to address longtime challenges and finally make good on the promise to increase economic equity from region to region and bring growth to all areas of the state, not just Chittenden County,” Governor Phil Scott said.


Report Models Future Efficacy of Climate-Friendly Energy Strategies in Vermont

Date: October 19, 2021

A recent report by the Energy Action Network says Vermont can meet its emissions reduction requirements for 2025 and 2030 using available technology and knowledge. The report asserts that equipment choices are an important factor in determining fossil fuel use. It also says clean vehicles and clean heating systems will need to be installed at a geometric rate rather than a linear rate because equipment-purchase choices have had an impact on emissions for decades, and also because Vermont’s emissions reduction requirements are not linear. Many markets also need time to build up in order to reach the level needed to achieve significant emissions reductions, the report found.

Finally, the report says each climate-friendly measure that is implemented will have different impacts over differing time periods: For example, the model the report’s authors used showed transportation efficiency improvements playing a big role in meeting the 2025 reduction targets, but its impact declines over time. Electrification of transportation, by contrast, plays a bigger role in meeting 2030 targets than 2025 targets, so its impact increases over time. “Also, some measures that have not been widely implemented yet will have to scale significantly and rapidly in order to meet 2030 targets, including transportation electrification and RNG in the thermal sector,” the report states.

Vermont’s Atkinson Elected NSPE Vice President

Date: September 13, 2021

Bill Atkinson, P.E., F.NSPE

Bill Atkinson, P.E., F.NSPE, of Williston, has been elected NSPE vice president for 2021-22 and will serve as the Society’s president in 2023-24. Bill, a past president of the Vermont Society of Professional Engineers, is engineering manager and lead engineer at Vermont Mechanical, where he has over 20 years of experience. During his tenure at VMI, he was appointed by the governor to serve on the Vermont Board of Professional Engineering and is on the UVM Mechanical Engineering Board of Advisors. He has also served as president of the Vermont chapter of ASHRAE and holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in mechanical engineering from Clarkson University.


Environmental Groups Oppose Sewer Plant Permits

Date: September 13, 2021

Environmental groups concerned about phosphorus build up in Lake Champlain say that pending permits for sewage treatment plants in Rutland County aren’t strong enough to keep pollution out of local waterways, according to VTDigger.com. Permits from the Agency of Natural Resources are currently pending for treatment plants in Rutland, Pittsford, Wallingford and Brandon.

The challenge comes from combined sewer overflows that result in untreated waste emptying into Otter Creek. Combined sewer overflows account for only 3% of Lake Champlain’s phosphorus load, VTDigger reports, and upgrades to the plants cost millions of dollars. Rutland City has been working to upgrade the facility, but officials say they may need $40 million more to fully upgrade the aging system.

Green Mountain Power Revolutionizing Its Power Grid

Date: August 11, 2021

To adapt to the extreme weather caused by climate change, Green Mountain Power in Colchester is transforming its grid, Time magazine reports. The company is transitioning from a grid based on fossil fuels, large generator plants, and long transmission lines toward a more decentralized approach emphasizing networks of utility-connected devices and battery storage.

One of the company’s newest effort to remake the electric system is taking place in rural Panton. In this isolated town, a “microgrid” attached to a solar power plant will distribute its electricity to parts of the community in case they get cut off from the main energy network. Engineers worked for two years modeling electrical scenarios and testing components. GMP’s VP of engineering and innovation said: “I can come up with 10,000 reasons why you wouldn’t pursue this. This won’t work. That won’t work. They’re all things that you’ve just gotta engineer through.” The Panton system will become the first US utility-built community microgrid able to run on renewable energy without a fossil-fuel backup.

But, as Time’s headline asks, “Will the Rest of the Country Follow Suit?”


A Bridge for Trail Lovers

Date: August 11, 2021

A 200-foot-long bridge was installed recently over the Winooski River, a key piece in a plan to connect a network of trails in the Montpelier area, according to VTDigger. When complete, the project will connect the Montpelier Recreation Path and East Montpelier Trails to the Cross Vermont Trail, which currently includes a busy section on Route 2. The new bridge will move hikers and cyclists off the road and onto the trail network.

Planning began in the early 1990s, but the project was anything but easy. The site touches four towns, and none wanted the job. The executive director of the Cross Vermont Trail Association said: “Just designing it, engineering it, getting it here — literally years of engineering and figuring things out.”

The bridge opening is expected this fall. Connecting the trails, however, will take more time.

Federal Funds Directed to Brandon Wastewater Plant

Date: July 21, 2021

The town of Brandon, in Rutland County, has received a $3.78 million loan and a $1.75 million grant from the US Department of Agriculture to rehabilitate its wastewater treatment plant, which had been fined by the state for polluting the Neshobe River in 2018, reports the Sun. Improvement will include decommissioning an abandoned flow measurement structure, implementing a facility-wide SCADA system, replacing gas-detection sensors, and refurbishing electrical, HVAC, and lighting systems. The plant serves roughly 3,900 people and 300 businesses.

The USDA is investing $307 million to modernize rural drinking water and wastewater infrastructure in 34 states and Puerto Rico, according to Water & Wastes Digest. The money will be aimed at 96 projects that address drinking water quality, storm water improvements, and water and wastewater improvements.


Broadband Takes Another Step Down a Very Long Road

Date: July 21, 2021

Vermont has taken another step in it “seemingly endless pursuit of universal access to high-speed internet service,” reports Vermont Business Magazine. A new law creates a board that will award grants to build out a telecommunications network that will provide 100 megabit-per-second download and upload speeds. Building the required infrastructure will cost about one billion dollars, or roughly $1,500 for every resident of the state. While fiber-optic technology can future proof the system, putting the fiber-optic cable down Vermont’s innumerable back roads will be costly and borrowing the money will be difficult.

Norwich University Moves South

Date: June 9, 2021

This fall, Norwich University will open the first civil engineering program on the Mississippi Gulf Coast—yes, Mississippi. The program will be offered at will be offered at the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport, specifically designed for Seabees, reports Mississippi’s WLOX. Until now, the Navy would not let enlisted sailors in construction trades become Navy Civil Engineer Corps officers without leaving the service. The new program will be offered to civilians, but it is designed to accommodate the strenuous schedule of Seabees and their families.

“Engineering is not an easy program and it’s even harder if you’re active duty, and then you’re going to try to add on going to classes, finding a program that will accept your credits and how you’re going to get everything done,” said Kevin Beal of Norwich University. “Building this pathway and having it right here on base at NCBC Gulfport that we hope will lead to sailors’ success in the program.”


Keep Your Leachate Out of Our Drinking Water

Date: June 9, 2021

Quebec legislators want Vermont to ban the discharge of leachate into Lake Memphremagog, which provides drinking water to more than 175,000 Canadians, according to VT Digger. In the fall, PFAS chemicals were detected in the lake. Environmental groups suspect the source is a Coventry landfill, the only operating landfill in Vermont. Landfill owner Casella Waste Systems says there is no evidence of a link.

Quebec’s National Assembly voted 118-0 to ask the province’s government to take a stand on “permanently banning discharging treated leachate into the Lake Memphremagog watershed and to solicit the Vermont government to ensure this is done.” Julie Moore, secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources has been in contact with Benoit Charette, the Quebec minister of the environment. ANR plans to collect data on PFAS concentrations throughout the Memphremagog watershed. “There isn’t a lot of data that’s available in order to have that kind of informed conversation,” she said of the debate around leachate in the lake.


A ‘Monstrous Project’

Date: June 9, 2021

A historic brick train depot in New Haven, built in the 1850s, will be moved to a new location about a mile away, reports WCAX. The move is necessary to make way for an Amtrak route.

Will State Infrastructure Get a Boost from Return of Federal Earmarks?

Date: May 12, 2021

Earmarks, which were banned in 2011 by then-House Speaker John Boehner, are returning to the federal appropriations process, and U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont will be leading the way. As chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Leahy is in charge of crafting spending bills and will sign off on requests from individual members of Congress to fund home-state projects, reports Vermont Digger. “If anybody’s got a project that they are working on that they want to make sure is on the senator’s radar, we would love to hear about it and see if there’s a way to single out funding for that initiative,” a Leahy aide said.

Among the precautions: senators may not request funding for projects in which they or an immediate family member have a financial interest, spending items must be introduced in writing, and the appropriations committee must make each request publicly available online.

Leahy’s office was expected to set a deadline of late May for organizations to make pitches to the senator.

Have you watched Committee Corner, NSPE’s new video series about legislative activity on Capitol Hall?


Bridge Repurposing Comes with Scary Price Tag

Date: May 12, 2021

Rockingham Selectboard members were hit with “sticker shock” after seeing the latest cost estimates to repair and repurpose the historic Depot Street Bridge, reports the Eagle Times. The estimate of $8 million - $9.2 million would involve repurposing the concrete arch bridge as a pedestrian walk and include the construction of an off-alignment vehicle bridge. The town would be responsible for 10% of the cost and VTrans would cover the remainder. The project managers said engineering challenges and related costs make the concrete arch design not economically viable. Instead, they recommend a steel truss design.

Bridge Debate Reignites

Date: April 21, 2021

A community debate in Bellows Falls has flared up again over the historic Depot Street Bridge, reports Construction Equipment Guide. The debate is over whether to replace the 112-year-old bridge at its current site or build an alternative, angled bridge that would shift the flow of traffic further north. The town’s plan to replace the bridge with a similar concrete arch design was determined to not be economically viable, due to engineering challenges and related impacts. In 2019, VTrans estimated a project cost of $3.4 million to raze bridge and replace it with a similarly designed replica alongside the existing location.

BridgeHunter.com describes the bridge as one of Vermont’s earliest concrete highway bridges and built for the sum of $12,056.83


Member Named Efficiency Vermont Director

Date: April 21, 2021

VSPE member Carol Weston, P.E.
VSPE member Carol Weston, P.E., has been promoted to director of Efficiency Vermont after nearly 10 years with the utility as director of operations. Efficiency Vermont, created by the Vermont Public Service Board, promotes and facilitates energy efficiency across the state. As director of operations, Weston helped the organization achieve all energy savings goals set by the Public Utility Commission in the 2018-2020 performance period and launch the highest-ever weatherization incentives for moderate income Vermonters, resulting in 1,175 comprehensive weatherization projects across the state. Prior to joining Efficiency Vermont, Weston served as city engineer and capital improvement program manager for the City of Burlington. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Vermont and a master’s degree in environmental engineering from Tufts University.

Is State’s Renewable Power Clean Enough?

Date: March 18, 2021

As Vermont attempts to boost its use of renewable energy, some critics are pointing out that the state’s renewable electricity standard allows utilities to rely too much on out-of-state renewable energy credits, reports Energy News. In 2019, about 66% of the state’s electricity came from renewables, but about 44% of the state’s electricity in 2019 was from Hydro-Québec. While the renewable requirements in other states are lower, their utilities aren’t allowed to buy renewable energy credits from large hydropower generators. Additionally, Hydro-Québec faces criticism for building a dam system that has caused environmental problems and displaced Indigenous populations.


Early Example of Industrial Engineer

Date: March 18, 2021

The state’s historic preservation officer says that the Bellows Falls Garage is under review for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, reports the Brattleboro Reformer. The unusual Art Deco era concrete structure appears to be a rare form of early modernist industrial engineering and architecture. Originally, the Windham Windsor Housing Trust planned to convert the building into apartments.

Mark Your Calendar for Virtual Career Fair at Vermont Tech

The Vermont Technical College Spring Virtual Career Fair will be on Tuesday, March 16, from 9AM-4PM. This virtual event will be hosted on the College Central Network portal.

To register for the Vermont Tech Virtual Career Fair, go to www.collegecentral.com/vtc and choose 'employer' and then sign in with your employer log in information. You can get user name and password assistance by clicking on the links for forgotten user name or password. Once signed into your employer account, you will see the virtual career fair announcement with a registration link.

Once your career fair registration has been approved, please upload job descriptions and company information you'd like to share with students and alumni.

Email Karry Booska if you have questions or need assistance.


Vermont Gas Pipeline Draws Scrutiny

Date: February 16, 2021

Vermont Gas failed to bury a natural gas pipeline through Addison County at the 4-foot depth required by a construction permit, and the company also failed to ensure a PE signed off on the construction plan, according to state regulators, reports VT Digger. Now area residents are raising concerns, particularly in light of the gas pipeline explosion in Lawrence, Massachusetts, in 2018. According to the article, Massachusetts utilities projects aren’t required to have an engineer sign off on construction plans, while in Vermont they are.


University Orders Hybrid-Electric Research Vessel

Date: February 16, 2021

A new research vessel featuring an emissions-reducing electric power and propulsion system is currently under construction for the University of Vermont, reports Marine Link. The 64-foot aluminum catamaran is scheduled to launch in April 2022. The catamaran will be able to run on all-electric power for trips under two hours and will two diesel engines as back up. “The future of vessel procurement will look quite different to its current form today, as operators worldwide begin to respond to increasingly stringent requirements for low-emission craft,” said Andy Page, naval architect and managing director for Chartwell Marine, the firm that designed the vessel.


Vermont Job Opportunity

Date: February 16, 2021

Quality Assurance Manager
Champlain Cable

See other engineering job opportunities on the NSPE Job Board.

Norwich To Unveil Lab Renovation During EWeek

Date: January 27, 2021

During Engineers Week 2021, Norwich University Construction Engineering will be opening a new $1.5 million laboratory renovation. This improvement was entirely constructed under COVID-19 Vermont state protocols. This renovation was made possible through a generous gift by Dr. Donald M. Wallace, a 53-year professor of Norwich engineering. Improvements are specifically focused to allow increased student experiential learning and hands on testing of soils and construction materials. Additionally, and outdoor concrete pouring facility was constructed, allowing competitive head-to-head student concrete mixing, testing, and pouring. We are looking forward to our ribbon cutting during EWeek 2021!


Keep It Real: A 100% Renewable Goal Will Take More Time

Date: January 27, 2021

Burlington and other cities and towns around the country are striving to meet all their electricity needs from renewable sources. But an article on Grist.org explains, “The reality is a bit complicated — and it shows the challenges of true, ‘deep’ decarbonization of electricity in the United States.” There are caveats. As a research associate at the University of Texas at Austin says, the goal to run 100% renewable is more like an accounting mechanism than accurate description. Additionally, delivery of clean electricity 24/7 requires technologies (like batteries, nuclear, geothermal, and hydrogen) that need further development. An engineering professor at Princeton said that if the US wants to zero out emissions, “we need to spend the next decade very proactively — pushing these technologies forward and seeing which ones succeed, how quickly they mature, and how fast we can scale them up in the future.”


New Train Station Coming to Brattleboro

Date: December 16, 2020

Construction of a new Amtrak station is slated to begin in the spring of 2022, reports the Brattleboro Reformer. The $4.5 million station will be part of an overall plan to revitalize the southern end of downtown. According to Amtrak, Brattleboro Station provided 16,765 customer trips to passengers in 2019.


Highways Show Signs of Decline

Date: December 16, 2020

Vermont’s highway system ranks 30th in the nation in overall cost-effectiveness and condition, according to the Reason Foundation’s Annual Highway Report. This is an 11-spot decline from the previous report, where Vermont ranked 19th overall, as the state dropped 21 spots in congestion and 7 in total disbursements per mile. The state’s best rankings are in urban Interstate pavement condition (1st) and urban fatality rate (3rd). Read the details in the state-by-state summary.

Vermont Landfill Faces PFAS Concerns

Date: November 18, 2020

As public concern about PFAS has grown, the solid waste industry is “growing more alarmed about financial implications, including the potential for dramatic changes to leachate costs and a wave of state and federal regulation,” reports Waste Drive. The article highlights Coventry Landfill, the only active landfill in Vermont. Casella, which owns and operates the landfill, is planning a 51-acre expansion but faces obstacles like state drinking water standards and local opposition. Casella’s vice president of engineering and compliance says the industry can address PFAS just as it would any other serious concern. “These waste materials do exist and are going to be handled over coming decades, so it’s very important that we handle them properly,” he said. “That needs to be part of our sustainable waste management practice.”


Federal Funds Designated for Water Infrastructure Improvements

Date: November 18, 2020

Vermont has been awarded over $19 million by the US EPA to help improve the state’s water infrastructure, reports Water World. The funding includes $7,780,000 for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and $11,011,000 for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. EPA has also awarded $295,000 over three fiscal years (2018 through 2020) to the Department of Environmental Conservation to improve lead in drinking water testing in schools and childcare facilities.

Earlier this year, Vermont designated $11 million in SRF money to Bennington to replace about 1,575 lead pipes that carry drinking water, at no cost to residents, according to VT Digger. The funding came as the result of federal legislation enacted in the wake of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. The law gave states a limited one-year opportunity to transfer money from their Clean Water SRF to the Drinking Water SRF. Construction in Bennington was expected to begin this fall and take several years.

Next Steps in State’s Global Warming Law

Date: October 28, 2020

Now that the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act has become law, the next step is naming the 23 members of the panel that will be responsible for proposing the policies and legislation to carry out the law, the Bennington Banner reports. The bill became law by legislative override on September 22, which means stakeholders have until late November to assemble the panel, and until late December to hold its first meeting.


Burlington Considers Requirement for All-Electric Buildings

Date: October 28, 2020

Burlington City Council is considering a proposal that would require all new buildings in the city to be all electric or pay a fee of $100 per ton of carbon emitted over 10 years, reports VT Digger. The city’s goal is to be carbon neutral by 2030. Currently, 95% of the heat in Burlington buildings comes from natural gas.