ACEC Recognizes Multiple Projects with 2021 Engineering Excellence Awards

April 5, 2021 | Awards

The American Council of Engineering Companies recently honored multiple KCI projects during their virtual 2021 Engineering Excellence awards ceremonies across the nation.

ACEC/MD recognized the I-270 at Watkins Mill Road Interchange project and the Virtual Design and Construction Mechanical Room Upgrade with honor awards, while the Bloede Dam Removal and Patapsco Interceptor Relocation project received the local organization’s highest honor, the Grand Award, in addition to recognition with an Honor Award on the national level. The Pennsylvania Partnership for Mobility Reports project won ACEC/PA’s Diamond Award in the Studies, Research and Consulting category and the Beaver Ruin Wastewater Pump Station Digital Twin Pilot project was selected for an Engineering Excellence State Award by ACEC/GA.


With the combined need to reduce traffic at a nearby interchange and connect two halves of a community bisected by a major highway, a new interchange was designed along I-270 at Watkins Mill Road. KCI joined the team at semi-final design, and our team had to quickly familiarize themselves with not only the project’s history but also inherited design plans, which required verification and adjustments. Other challenges included moving an existing utility, stream relocations and a 30-inch pipe which was jacked and bored underneath the interstate. On top of a sprawling team of consultants and a complex design, the $124 million project was completed under an extremely accelerated schedule and opened to traffic six months earlier than expected.


A world-renowned institute located in Baltimore was in need of a complex mechanical upgrade to replace its original air handling units. Considerably past their useful life, the units were consuming nearly twice as much energy as a comparable new system. The centralized location of the mechanical room, complex piping within the space and a small access door created significant challenges for replacing the large units. KCI used virtual design and construction (VDC) to design and develop a complex phasing plan that would meet technical specifications, logistic restrictions and operational requirements. Using VDC, our team was able to address a complex building process and seamlessly coordinate the replacement of the hospital’s outdated air handlers. The result was an updated system that will meet the needs of patients and staff for years to come.


Bloede Dam was built across the Patapsco River more than a century ago to provide hydroelectric power but quickly became obsolete. Since that time, it has served as a barrier to fish passage and river function and became a public safety hazard. American Rivers set out to remove it. At 34 feet high and 200 feet wide with a cost of 17 million dollars, it is one of the largest dam removal projects on the east coast. KCI provided construction oversight, administration and management, design services, structural and geotechnical engineering, environmental monitoring, and was the engineer-in-charge for the dam breach. Our team overcame a host of unexpected site and technical challenges to successfully address a long-time safety hazard, address public infrastructure concerns, and restore the surrounding area to its natural state.


The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) and the Port Authority of Allegheny County (PAAC) partnered with KCI to engage regional stakeholders across Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and form the Sustainable Transportation Funding for Southeastern and Southwestern Pennsylvania advisory councils in order to create a long-term funding plan for statewide transit. While utilizing statewide solutions that were successful across Pennsylvania as well as throughout other states, the partnership and advisory council members also included legislation to allow localities to make their own determination on which solutions were the best approach for their region. Our team is working with local, regional and statewide stakeholders to identify additional paths that will deliver more sustainable funding for all modes of transportation moving forward and continue to provide shared benefit to all Pennsylvanians.


After surveying Gwinnett’s wastewater pumping station in one day, including the structure and mechanical/electrical/wastewater assets, KCI developed a 3D Building Information Model (BIM) spatially accurate to within 1 inch using Autodesk Revit. Using the county’s SCADA system, our team then incorporated pressure, flow, temperature, vibration, and volume sensor outputs from their equipment into an Azure Data Lake. KCI asset management consultants then paired the 3D GIS model with a web-based Microsoft Power BI dashboard to provide a dynamic display of the performance of each asset. With the data available through a web browser, stakeholders have access to the information 24/7 on their platform of choice, including desktop, tablet or mobile devices. The dashboard metrics provide valuable insights that can be used to reduce maintenance issues, extend life cycles and achieve new levels of optimization.

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