You guys do that?

By Dan Kilbert

GRAEF Healthcare – How can we help you?

Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, VA in which GRAEF provided Master Planning, Site/Civil Engineering, Structural Engineering, Landscape Architecture, Traffic Planning, Environmental Engineering, and LEED Evaluation.

One of the statements I hear from my clients from time to time is “I didn’t know that you offered that service.”  That’s always a bit of a surprise.  (Even if it is an understood one.)  We offer many services in a lot of different markets to both private and public clients.  So I understand how all of our services and markets are not always known to all of our clients.

I’ve been at GRAEF for 15 years now with most all of those years being spent in the Healthcare market working as a structural engineer.  Now as the Market Team Leader for the Healthcare Group it is my responsibility to educate our clients about the services we offer in that market so I never have to hear one of them say, “I didn’t know you did that.”  If I hear that, either, haven’t done my job or I have to do my job, depending on how you look at it. 

With this being my first blog on Life is GRAEF (first blog ever as a matter of fact,) it felt like a good opportunity to give you a brief synopsis of GRAEF Healthcare and what we can do to help you.  We offer healthcare services in structural, civil, mechanical and electrical engineering, plumbing design, parking structure design and layout, traffic studies, landscape architecture, environmental services, commissioning, sustainable and field services and all of the subspecialties within those disciplines.  (Quite a list!)

Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox, IL in which GRAEF provided Structural Engineering services.

In future blogs, I intend to use this space to answer some common healthcare design questions, share our successes, review our lessons learned and share other interesting topics in the world of healthcare design.  In the meantime, if you have any healthcare engineering related questions please feel free to contact me at dan.kilbert@graef-usa.com, see me on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/dkilbert and follow me on Twitter @DKilbert.

Legos, Legos, Legos

By Andrew Slater 

This R2D2 is one of many scuptures featured at this years legofest

My family attended Legofest last weekend. This event was really a lot of fun! The day was filled with activity and featured very interesting Lego sculptures constructed by the master builders. The scupltures included characters from Star Wars, Harry Potter, and many super heros such as the Hulk and Batman. The event provided an opportunity for everyone to build their own creations and to walk around to observe the various stations. One station for the kids focused on building & racing their own lego car, while another station was set up to create something using only a single color. I am pretty amazed how this toy can bring some creative and beneficial possibilities. 

My creation with the single color legos atLegoFest

Being a newer Dad, I am thrilled that I have the opportunity to share one my favorite childhood past times with my children. At home, we are only building with Duplos. Currently, I am the tower creator and my son, Evan, plays the role of Godzilla destroying them. Eventually my kids will move on to the “big boy” legos and then we can have some real fun! I am also hoping their interest grows enough for us to maybe move on to the Lego automation series. I think it will be pretty cool to build a rube goldberg machine. It is amazing how these interlocking bricks can let the imagination grow. My childhood lego adventures led me to create futuristic worlds for spaceships, space stations, and intricate objects such as the robot character “John 5” from the movie “Short Circuit“. The endless pieces, options, and accessories allowed me to continuously expand my creativity.

My oldest son, Evan, playing with his creation

I always wondered if Ole Kirk Christiansen, the Lego Creator, had any idea that his toy would be this popular when he designed them in 1940. Would he have been considered a visionary in 1940 similar to today’s computer tycoons like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates? I am sure Ole did not visualize that his toy would bring so much fun that included so many positive benifits. Many researchers indicate that legos refine detail motor skills and open the worlds of imagination. I want to believe Legos probably had some influence on my career choice as an engineer. I would like to believe my creativity for finding solutions to difficult challlenges was enhanced with my childhood hobby of legos. I look foward to taking my old lego collection and adding to it with new collector sets that are now  available. Legos are a timeless hobby that my kids, and millions of others, will continue to enjoy for years to come.

An Engineer's Fish Story

by Matt Bednarski

East Branch Milwaukee River at Mauthe Lake

I was camping at the Mauthe Lake recreational area with my wife and some friends this past weekend. The weather was fantastic; hiking and swimming were perfect; the star gazing was phenomenal; and the company made the weekend. For those who don’t know where Mauthe Lake is, it’s in the North Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest in Fond du Lac County just north of Kewaskum; and it’s only about an hour north of Milwaukee. Mauthe Lake also happens to be very near the headwaters of the East Branch of the Milwaukee River. Although I didn’t partake, Mauthe Lake is also home to very good fishing. When two of our companions decided to fish from the bridge at the outlet of the lake into the Milwaukee River, it gave me an opportunity to tell them about a project I was part of on the Milwaukee River in Ozaukee County (as if an engineer needs a reason to talk about a project he worked on – just ask my wife).

Fishing on Milwaukee River at Mauthe Lake

In 2009 I participated in the design and construction management for a fishway around the Mequon-Thiensville dam near the most downstream portion of the Milwaukee River in Ozaukee County. The fishway is a manmade channel in what was once a mill pond just to the north and east of the dam. It allows fish to swim around the dam and the six feet of difference between the upstream and downstream sides of the dam by navigating a 1,200-foot long channel with riffles and resting pools. This project is part of a larger program of fish passage projects throughout Ozaukee County and into Washington County all along the Milwaukee River and its tributaries. The program benefits fish by opening up over 158 river miles of habitat to them. It also benefits humans by returning fish species to parts of the southeastern Wisconsin creating better fishing throughout the region. You can find out all there is to know about the program at Ozaukee County’s website.

Last week Ozaukee County went live with a webcam that was installed underwater at the Mequon-Thiensville fishway. And much to the chagrin of the naysayers (and there were naysayers), we now have pictures and video proving that fish (and other wildlife) will indeed use this fishway.

East Branch Milwaukee River Downstream of Mauthe Lake

I am proud to say I was a part of this project. People smarter than me were able to define the science and suggest the design of the fishway. I simply took their ideas and turned it into a public works project. I was quite privileged to work with some brilliant people throughout the process. A project like this spans across all levels of government from the Federal level to the State, County, and local levels. It requires input, design, and construction expertise from private industry like engineering consultants and contractors. It also benefitted from a high level of cooperation from the private property owners affected by the construction. The individuals who helped make it a reality are too numerous to list (and I certainly don’t want to leave anyone out). However, Andrew Struck and Matt Aho from Ozaukee County have made the Fish Passage Program their passions for the past five years. Their labors are becoming everyone’s realities through the eyes of the webcam.

Now this program moves forward at another Milwaukee River dam I am quite familiar with – the Newburg Dam. This dam is scheduled to be removed before the end of 2012, connecting fisheries and fishing in Washington County to that in Ozaukee County. And as my friend, Mike Heili, the Village President in Newburg, handed me some salmon fillets from his fishing expedition on Lake Michigan last week, I couldn’t help but think I did my part to help sustain fishing for another generation.

An Engineer’s Fish Story

by Matt Bednarski

East Branch Milwaukee River at Mauthe Lake

I was camping at the Mauthe Lake recreational area with my wife and some friends this past weekend. The weather was fantastic; hiking and swimming were perfect; the star gazing was phenomenal; and the company made the weekend. For those who don’t know where Mauthe Lake is, it’s in the North Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest in Fond du Lac County just north of Kewaskum; and it’s only about an hour north of Milwaukee. Mauthe Lake also happens to be very near the headwaters of the East Branch of the Milwaukee River. Although I didn’t partake, Mauthe Lake is also home to very good fishing. When two of our companions decided to fish from the bridge at the outlet of the lake into the Milwaukee River, it gave me an opportunity to tell them about a project I was part of on the Milwaukee River in Ozaukee County (as if an engineer needs a reason to talk about a project he worked on – just ask my wife).

Fishing on Milwaukee River at Mauthe Lake

In 2009 I participated in the design and construction management for a fishway around the Mequon-Thiensville dam near the most downstream portion of the Milwaukee River in Ozaukee County. The fishway is a manmade channel in what was once a mill pond just to the north and east of the dam. It allows fish to swim around the dam and the six feet of difference between the upstream and downstream sides of the dam by navigating a 1,200-foot long channel with riffles and resting pools. This project is part of a larger program of fish passage projects throughout Ozaukee County and into Washington County all along the Milwaukee River and its tributaries. The program benefits fish by opening up over 158 river miles of habitat to them. It also benefits humans by returning fish species to parts of the southeastern Wisconsin creating better fishing throughout the region. You can find out all there is to know about the program at Ozaukee County’s website.

Last week Ozaukee County went live with a webcam that was installed underwater at the Mequon-Thiensville fishway. And much to the chagrin of the naysayers (and there were naysayers), we now have pictures and video proving that fish (and other wildlife) will indeed use this fishway.

East Branch Milwaukee River Downstream of Mauthe Lake

I am proud to say I was a part of this project. People smarter than me were able to define the science and suggest the design of the fishway. I simply took their ideas and turned it into a public works project. I was quite privileged to work with some brilliant people throughout the process. A project like this spans across all levels of government from the Federal level to the State, County, and local levels. It requires input, design, and construction expertise from private industry like engineering consultants and contractors. It also benefitted from a high level of cooperation from the private property owners affected by the construction. The individuals who helped make it a reality are too numerous to list (and I certainly don’t want to leave anyone out). However, Andrew Struck and Matt Aho from Ozaukee County have made the Fish Passage Program their passions for the past five years. Their labors are becoming everyone’s realities through the eyes of the webcam.

Now this program moves forward at another Milwaukee River dam I am quite familiar with – the Newburg Dam. This dam is scheduled to be removed before the end of 2012, connecting fisheries and fishing in Washington County to that in Ozaukee County. And as my friend, Mike Heili, the Village President in Newburg, handed me some salmon fillets from his fishing expedition on Lake Michigan last week, I couldn’t help but think I did my part to help sustain fishing for another generation.

Triathlon Resonates Importance of Helping Your Team

Kevin Henning, structural engineer with GRAEF, during the run portion of the Alcatraz Triathlon.

by Kevin Henning

I spent the past weekend in San Francisco preparing for and racing in the 2012 Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon. In the sport of triathlon, the Escape from Alcatraz is an iconic race. Staged for the last 32 years running, the race consists of a 1.5 mile open water swim in the icy water of San Francisco Bay from Alcatraz Island to shore, an 18 mile bike ride through the hills surrounding the Golden Gate Bridge, and an 8 mile run that includes narrow trails, steep uphill climbs, winding narrow descents, dirt trails, and a climb of over 200 feet up a “sand ladder” cut into a bluff on the Pacific coast.

After completing 14 prior triathlons and countless running races the experience was unlike any other race I have competed in. The course was punishing, the scenery was breathtaking, and the high of crossing the finishing line was worth every ounce of suffering. What I will remember most, however, was the deep and genuine camaraderie among the 2,000 athletes. I met men and women from Australia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, Canada, and points all across the USA. Every one of them was there not only to mark their own accomplishment but to enjoy the company of and offer whatever help and encouragement they possibly could to their fellow athletes.

Henning during the bike leg of the triathlon.

Henning takes the leap to start the swim leg of the Alcatraz Triathlon.

As I fly back to Chicago and return my mental focus back to work and family I hope to bring as much of that positive energy with me as I can. At GRAEF, that will mean never losing sight of the firm’s collective goals, sharing the benefit of my experience with my colleagues, being open to learning from the experiences of others, and offering support anytime, anywhere, and to anyone in the firm. If perfect strangers are willing to lend a spare pair of swim goggles, help another athlete change a flat tire, and take the time to cheer each other on as they make their way up that last hill, we can all do a little more every day to help each other accomplish something great as professionals.

Life is GRAEF!

John Kissinger, P.E., President & CEO of GRAEF

Welcome to Life is GRAEF!

This is our brand new blog from GRAEF.

In the coming weeks and months, you should be seeing a number of blogs from GRAEF staff. Some of these will be about the work we do and love, some will be about hobbies we love. I can’t promise that you will find all of these blogs to be interesting, but I am sure there will be some new information in each of them.

We are going to try and have some fun with this blog. While many of the topics will be technical or business related, a few will be whimsical, topical, opinion pieces, or just plain silly.

I’m looking forward to our upcoming blogs to see what springs up…I hope that you will stay engaged and involved, and please give us your feedback when you can.

Remember, Business is Good, but Life is GRAEF!              

John Kissinger, P.E.