Honored to Sponsor the Indiana Historical Society’s “You are There” Exhibit

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American Structurepoint is proud to be a corporate sponsor of the Indiana Historical Society’s “You are There” exhibit on the Great Easter Flood of 1913. We are the only engineering firm participating, and some of our clients are co-sponsors with us.

“You are There” is not just historical entertainment; the ever-changing exhibit features living history experiences based on specific time periods in the state’s history, which provide visitors with the opportunity to learn about the unique struggles, challenges, and triumphs Hoosiers have faced in the past. “You are There” experiences give guests the opportunity to learn history first hand. They can touch, smell, see, hear, and interact with elements of real events, times, places, and people in Indiana history.

The entire experience is designed to make guests feel as if they have stepped into a photograph from that time period. Unlike scripted museum theater, this living history interpretation is an improvisation-based, visitor-led experience. No visitor ever has the same experience twice.

I was honored to attend the opening event for the exhibit with my wife, Penny. The overall experience was amazingly authentic and realistic. We felt like we had been transported back in time to the place where the impact of the flood was being felt, “talking” to people as they experienced it.

Natural disasters can be devastating and we, as engineers and architects, are the leaders who are charged with the responsibility to make sure we are as prepared as we can be.  We design our projects for “worst case” scenarios, never fully understanding what it might be like if they actually occurred, and seeing the 1913 Flood Exhibit helps put that into perspective.  Our sponsorship is one way we can help educate our community on the importance of the incorporation of disaster planning in our designs.

I encourage you and your family to visit the exhibit to understand the impact of the event, the way our community responded, and the lessoned learned.  Located at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Historical Society, at 450 West Ohio Street, the exhibit launched on March 26, and will run for one year, closing on February 2, 2014. Hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

To view exhibit details, click here.

A Look Into the Road to Increasing Returns

In a recent article from Transportation Builder called “The Road to Increasing Returns,” we examine the benefit of infrastructure funding. In order to do so, we must take a closer look at economics, historic examples, and political infrastructure.

Some interesting points gathered from the article include:

  • The scope of economics: Increasing returns are what you get when your investment or innovation yields up a positive return. While these investments can be private or public, at times they can yield up spectacular returns—over decades, centuries, and even millennia.
  • A noteworthy historic example: The famous Roman roadway, the Appian Way, which connected Rome to southern Italy, provided incalculable economic benefits to the whole region. This economic integration of Roman Italy helped greatly by introducing robust infrastructure to the region and making the ancient nation rich.
  • Variables in economic growth include innovation, followed by mass production, mass distribution, and mass consumption.
  • Political infrastructure: Political order and an enterprise-friendly environment are the factors that allow business to flourish. Increasing economic returns go hand-in-glove with the right sort of political system.
  • The importance of physical infrastructure: None of these infrastructural elements—political and economic based—occur by themselves; a wise system protects and improves both.
  • In our present day, we’ve discovered that “financial innovation” falls into the category of decreasing returns, so all political parties need to be looking ahead to seek the lead on economic investments that yield up increasing returns. This means more technology, more high-tech education, and more up-to-date infrastructure.

In summary, it’s important to realize that even with our new advances in the virtual world; we still need a firm foundation in the physical world. As long as people and their goods are tangible, they will need tangible infrastructure.

American Structurepoint Recognized as a Healthy and Fit Company

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Lack of regular physical activity raises a person’s risk for obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. American Structurepoint has been working toward improving the physical activity level and overall wellness of our employees. In 2011, we launched our Healthpoint wellness initiative. Healthpoint’s mission is to empower American Structurepoint families by providing them a resource for education and opportunities for healthier lifestyle choices.  Based on health assessments and employee wellness surveys, Healthpoint’s top priorities are mental wellbeing, nutrition, and physical activity. Since its implementation, we have seen Healthpoint participation grow, and staff achievements include a reduction in tobacco users and overall improvements in BMI, cholesterol, and blood pressure. We’ve come a long way in just two short years.

The Healthpoint programs we provide employees include:

  • Seminars on physical, mental, and financial topics;
  • Partnerships with area gyms for discounts on memberships and classes;
  • Fresh fruit deliveries;
  • Personal health coach;
  • Healthy lifestyle incentives;
  • Internal recruiting for local marathons;
  • Insurance discounts for improved health risk assessments;
  • And much more.

Because of Healthpoint’s initiatives, American Structurepoint has been recognized three times for helping employees eat better and move more. In 2012, Healthpoint was recognized as a Gold-Level Fit-Friendly Company by the American Heart Association (AHA). I am pleased to announce that American Structurepoint was again named a Fit-Friendly Worksite by the AHA in 2013. In addition, the American Structurepoint Columbus office has been selected by Columbus Business First magazine as the No. 2 medium-sized healthiest employer in central Ohio.

These are great achievements and show how American Structurepoint employees are driven to improve their overall health. Congratulations to our staff for making wellness a part of your daily routine!

AHA Fit-Friendly Honor Roll
Healthiest Employers: A new spin on wellness (Columbus Business First, March 29, 2013)

Information Technology Group Shares Its Best Practices for a Higher “IT IQ”

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American Structurepoint’s Information Technology Group recently released a free white paper for our clients on the methods used to “Sharpen Your Company’s IT IQ,” based on the “Ask the Experts” event on the same topic, hosted by the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, on March 27, 2013, during which Tony Valasek, executive IT director at American Structurepoint, spoke to participants interested in improving their IT knowledge and efficiency. His presentation focused on today’s hot-topic IT issues and divulged valuable best-practices for sharpening a company’s IT IQ.

What is IT IQ?

During the panel-discussion, Valasek defined IT IQ as “an organization’s intellectual ability in the information technology realm.” When running a business, the IT IQ of an organization can predict efficiency, productivity, and profitability.

American Structurepoint’s Information Technology Group prides itself on running an in-house team and a client services team on proven “best practices.”

Achievements of our in-house Information Technology Group include:

  • Eleven years in a row of no unplanned downtime
  • Unbelievable response time and personal attention by constantly “raising the bar”
  • Giving our production groups a competitive advantage
    • Understanding the company’s needs
    • Partnering to find solutions
    • Investing in our tools
    • Driving results through technology on par with our biggest national competitors

Achievements of our client services IT Group Include:

  • Providing a diverse group of IT professionals with experience across diverse markets and disciplines
  • Engaging clients
  • Providing support services much like our in-house team
    • Working on projects and higher-end strategic assignments

We are able to run both groups successfully based on similar best practices. By implementing our best practices, you can help your organization sharpen its own IT IQ. Some of the steps to follow are to:

  • Increase IT engagement in business practices
  • Use “Red Teams” to test your organization’s technology to learn more about your IT strengths and weaknesses and to successfully upgrade or implement a system or application
  • Make listening part of your IT culture to improve communication between employees and clients
  • Choose an appropriate IT Environment
    • Organic In-House Model: This IT environment often requires a significant up-front investment, because it’s cultivated from within. An IT director is hired; he or she establishes the forward-view technology plan and then hires an IT staff to implement the systems, equipment, software, and applications. This is the same model American Structurepoint implemented more than ten years ago, and it’s been tremendously successful. We have experienced zero downtime, and the technology is fully integrated into our business plan, which promotes efficiency, growth, and profitability.
    • Non-Organic Outsourced Model: In these instances, American Structurepoint becomes the IT department for the organization. From servers and desktop support to mobile device management, our experts help you take IT completely off your plate, allowing employees to focus on their core competencies, without technology being a distraction.
    • Blended Model: This IT environment can offer the best of both worlds. It allows you to pinpoint the perfect mix of in-house talent with outsourced expertise.

There are exciting business opportunities on the horizon when you decide to make technology a competitive advantage. American Structurepoint has seen it happen within our own company, and we’ve witnessed it with our clients.

To read more about the best practices used to sharpen an IT IQ, access our free white paper here.

Mimicking Solutions in Nature to Improve Structural Performance

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Engineers are always searching for innovative solutions to address the needs of clients and to answer global issues. Through the study of biomimicry, engineers apply sustainable design principles based on those already perfected in nature. Examples of this “bio-push” include the invention of solar cells inspired by plant leaves and the creation of high-strength fibers developed from spider silk, which may have applications in high-performance technical textiles, sporting goods, medical textiles, or surgical products.

Purdue University’s Pablo Zavattieri, assistant professor of civil engineering with a courtesy appointment in mechanical engineering, is studying marine life to find a solution for the creation of stronger structural materials. “Materials in nature not only satisfy a structural function in many remarkable ways, but they also sense, adapt, and self-heal,” Zavattieri says. “Nature builds strong and tough materials using modest building blocks.”

By studying how the nacreous (thick inner) layer of an abalone shell is able to have toughness, strength, and stiffness simultaneously, Zavattieri’s long-term goal is to create stronger walls and structural components of bridges, roads, and buildings that can save energy and “self-heal” or adapt during natural disasters. The concept for these multifunctional materials and other ideas were also inspired by his discussions with biologists, materials scientists, chemists, physicists, and other engineers working on structural challenges.

Zavattieri, who has a bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering and a PhD in aeronautics and astronautics, previously received a National Science Foundation Career award to explore some of the bold and innovative ideas regarding to biomimetics. I was fortunate to hear about his more recent research during the Purdue University School of Civil Engineering Advisory Council meeting on April 12, 2013. As a member of the Advisory Council, I provide advice and counsel to the School of Civil Engineering on industry trends and opportunities for civil engineering students, graduates, and faculty. However, at this particular meeting, it was I who learned some new and valuable information about advancements in engineering from Zavattieri, who spoke during the session.

During his presentation, Zavattieri discussed the lessons engineers can learn from marine life. The abalone shell, specifically, is composed of fracture resistant materials. The nacre of an abalone shell is a tough and ductile bio-composite that is optimized for tension through a well-designed microstructure based on sliding, locking “tablets” that distribute damage or strain while upholding their toughness. According to Zavattieri, such advanced, high-performance materials will be essential for future human well-being and will be the foundation for emerging technologies. The study of biomimetics helps address this critical need.

Read more about Zavattieri and other innovative engineers here.

Help DREAM Alive Win the Indiana Service Challenge!

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American Structurepoint strives to exceed expectations through our vision, creativity, enthusiasm, responsiveness, and dedication to quality. This company is filled with amazing people who do incredible things that make a big difference in our community. As a result, American Structurepoint is becoming known for the good things we do. As part of our continued support of DREAM Alive, we are participating in the Companies with a Mission Indiana Service Challenge 2013, which will be awarding $200,000 to corporate-charity teams for their community work, with prizes ranging from $2,000 to $15,000. DREAM Alive’s Community Day 2013 Food Drive is the perfect candidate for this challenge, and we need your help to win!

For more information about the Challenge award, visit www.cwam.com.

To help DREAM Alive win, click here and vote for American Structurepoint.

Every vote counts.
You are allowed to vote ten times a day with the same login. The team with the most votes through public voting will be awarded a $5,000 prize for their charity, so vote early and vote often!  Voting is open until May 17, 2013.

If you don’t have a Facebook account, you will have to create a login through wizehive, which is very easy to do. Just follow the prompt underneath the login.

Purdue Panel – Consulting in an Engineering Space

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On April 2, 2013, I was honored to participate on a panel at Purdue University, where I had the opportunity to speak to students enrolled in an elite capstone course called the Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program. The course, with 16 handpicked students consisting of mostly seniors, worked in teams of four and has been engaging with local business clients on a consulting project all semester.

My spot on the panel delved into my experience leading an engineering consulting firm. From this engagement, it was important for the students to note that with consulting the overall goal is to become the trusted advisor—for everything. A consultant should provide value, create things that make the client’s life easier or more profitable, produce results, and generate more value than the competition.

Lastly, the students also learned if an engineering consulting company like American Structurepoint wants to produce effective results, it must “think backwards.” Creativity and people skills are essential. Be likeable, trustworthy, innovative, make informed decisions, and gain experience. Put yourself in the clients’ shoes.

American Structurepoint Named Top US Design Firm

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Engineering News-Record (ENR) annually ranks the largest US-based designs firms, both publicly and privately held, based on design-specific revenue. In 2012, American Structurepoint reported $56.7 million in total revenue, with 52 percent of our market share in transportation alone. The Ohio River Bridges East End (ORB) project, one of the largest ongoing infrastructure improvement transportation projects in the nation, which costs $763 million and is scheduled for completion in October of 2016, is one of several major projects contributing to our success.

According to ENR, the companies on this year’s Top 500 Design Firms list totaled revenue of $61.86 billion in 2012 in the US, up 5.5 percent from the previous year. This marks the second year the Top 500 experienced revenue growth since the recession began. American Structurepoint is continuing its steady climb up the list, having been named No. 183 out of 500 total companies nationwide. Our comprehensive services complement one another, and that helps us reach more clients. In 2012, we laid solid groundwork for prosperity that will be realized in future years.

Nationally, transportation services (at 19.2 percent) and general building projects (at 20.7 percent) remain at the top of the markets’ share of total revenue. This has also been reflected in American Structurepoint’s success, as our firm has landed major transportation jobs in the past year, including having been selected on the team to design the ORB project, which was recently named the No. 1 project among the “Midwest Top Project Starts of 2012” by ENR Midwest, ranking the highest out of 50 projects across the region. We are serving as the subconsultant to the lead design firm, Jacobs, which is headed by prime contractor and developer team Walsh Construction, VINCI Concessions, and Bilfinger Berger.

Since having been founded in 1966, our success as a transportation engineering firm has enabled American Structurepoint to grow from just two employees to over 275 professionals across 11 disciplines, including architecture, civil engineering, construction inspection, environmental, information technology, investigative/ forensics, land surveying, planning, structural engineering, transportation, and utility infrastructure services.

I believe we’ve made great strides in building a strong company that can compete in this ever-changing market. We are built to deliver quality, built for speed, and built to deliver our client’s strategy.

For more information, view the full ENR Top 500 Design Firms’ list here:

Mainstreet Provides Hotel-Like Hospitality Environments for Senior Assisted Living Care

American Structurepoint would like to thank Mainstreet LLC for being our client. As an investment company focused on the acquisition and development of healthcare real estate properties and brands that bring a sense of independence, dignity, and pride to senior populations, Mainstreet’s residential and rehabilitation facilities for seniors are designed to function as the new look and feel for future health and wellness suites throughout the Midwest.

Together with Mainstreet as the developer, our architects have been designing cost-effective, state-of-the-art assisted living facilities for seniors within the context of “Main Street USA,” which are partnerships between Mainstreet, the operator, the senior community center, adjacent hospitals, and others. By focusing on a hospitality-oriented atmosphere and a sensory environment centered on wellness, these unique facilities offer a sense of community and comfortable healing space that residents are happy to call home.

Forbes Magazine Lists Top Ten Business Trends for 2013

As the business world evolves, it’s important to stay abreast on current trends. Forbes Magazine recently published the Top Ten Business Trends for 2013 that can notably be implemented into our everyday work at American Structurepoint.

In brief, the Top Ten Business Trends include the following concepts:

  1. The Power of Women is Growing. Remarkably, the number of women-owned businesses has increased by 54 percent in the past 15 years.
  2. The Middleman is Becoming Extinct. Distributors’ roles are changing quickly as business models are evolving.
  3. Entrepreneurs are Everywhere. Start-ups are becoming increasingly more abundant as young professionals fresh out of MBA programs are turning their hobbies into businesses.
  4. Off-label Use of Products and Technology is Creating a New R&D Department–The User. The booming use of technology through venues such as YouTube is changing the way we use products and services.
  5. Healthcare is in Turmoil. Ranging from where to treat patients to major payer procedures, new methods are escalating in need.
  6. Family Firms Claim the Greatest Part of America’s Wealth. It’s important to keep firms like this thriving because they play an integral part in fueling the economy.
  7. Culture Change is a Big Area of Concern. From hospitals to schools, it’s essential to engage citizens with the difficult decisions pertaining to shrinking venues and rising costs.
  8. Made in the USA is Catching On. US factories are becoming increasingly more popular due to their appealing production time and shipping costs.
  9. Blue Ocean Strategies are Really Working. The global marketplace is also thriving as industries across the board utilize their services for their unmet needs.
  10. Sustainability Directors are an Entirely New Market that Should be Tapped. Creating new, energy efficient ways of doing things is an implementation that isn’t going away.

For American Structurepoint, this is all information we can use going forward. I believe this article from Forbes illustrates the changing times we live in and some of the trends other executives are seeing in the business world.  This is all good information for us as we lead our companies.

The full Forbes Magazine article can be read here.