Each year, CEC presents a trophy and cash award to individuals or groups of individuals who turn their innovative ideas into measurable value for CEC and our clients. The innovator(s) receive a trophy and a $5,000 cash prize.
This year, out of 24 nominations, four winning innovations were selected. Congratulations to the winners!
Confined Space Entry Solution
Mark Janssen and Matthew Skelton (of CEC Nashville)
In order to perform stormwater monitoring and sampling for a client, this team needed to install sampling equipment within a confined space, which happened to be a 6-foot-deep manhole! The team fabricated an elevated platform inside the manhole so that the sampling equipment was located directly below the manhole cover, making the equipment easily accessible and retrievable for the CEC team and more affordable for the client than if our team had purchased the materials at a commercial location.
Dual-Phase Extraction Well Piston Pump Optimization
Neil Kostelecky (of CEC St. Louis)
Replacement parts for pneumatic piston pumps (used for leachate pumping) are costly. Kostelecky constructed a more affordable pump base using more affordable seal materials, which saved the client money; changed the location of the check valves, which stopped the pump’s leak; and developed removable foot valve check assemblies, which made removing the system much easier and safer. Kostelecky’s collection of pump system innovations is projected to save the client approximately $200,000/year and can be used at other sites.
Converting Scanned Lab Reports and Data Analysis
Kevin Blackburn, Gerald Burnette, and Chris Sliger (of CEC Nashville)
This team needed to reformat data from hundreds of pages of lab reports for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). There was just one hurdle: the lab reports weren’t in the usual form of electronic data—they were scanned images as PDFs! This team put some innovative coding to work in scanning the lab reports, converting the scans to data using optical character recognition, and migrating the data into a database. This method allowed the team to address an extreme backlog while remaining on schedule and on budget.
Border Wall Web Application
Matt Bainbridge, Mark Turner, Dennis Miller (of CEC Bridgeport), and Chris Langley (of CEC Pittsburgh)
With so many internal and external teams involved in the Border Wall project, it quickly became apparent that the coordination of geographic data would be of the utmost importance for fieldwork coordination. To facilitate access to data about right-of-entry, geotechnical boring, cleared access routes, and archaeological dig sites, the CEC team developed and now maintains a geographic information systems (GIS) web application used daily by all parties.
After winning their award, some of the award recipients sat down to chat about their innovations!
Related blog posts
- Putting on Our “Fishing” Caps to Solve a Problem (June 18, 2019)
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to Integrate CEC Employee’s Software for Managing Water Quality Data (February 21, 2019)