Latest News

Arecibo Observatory Suffers More Damage

Date: November 18, 2020

A second cable has fallen at the Arecibo Observatory, which suffered damage when an auxiliary cable snapped and hit the dish in August, according to the Weekly Journal. In November, additional damage was done to the dish and other cables when a main cable broke and fell. Officials haven’t determined why the main cable failed, but they suspect it is related to the extra load being carried since August. Both cables that broke were connected to the same tower.

No one was hurt. A safety area has been set up and engineers are working to stabilize the structure. Repair work addressing the initial damage had been expected the begin in early November. The firms WSP, Thornton Tomasetti, and Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates Inc. were hired to do repairs at the facility, which is managed by the University of Central Florida in cooperation with Universidad Ana G. Méndez and Yang Enterprises Inc. for the National Science Foundation.

FEMA Funding to Improve Power Resiliency for Puerto Rico

Date: November 18, 2020

FEMA, in coordination with the Puerto Rico Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience, or COR3, allocated more than $26.2 million to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority under the Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. The funds will go toward the engineering and design phase for the installation of a new combined cycle generation plant at the Palo Seco Energy Plant, and the acquisition of eleven gas turbines for five additional PREPA facilities.

The project should cut down on the recovery time for power outages and shore up the island’s electrical grid, improving resilience during emergencies. After Hurricane Maria hit the island in 2017, it took 11 months for power to be restored.

Proposed Facility to Make Puerto Rico Leader in Ocean Tech

Date: October 28, 2020

A major government-led project has been proposed to make Puerto Rico a world leader in ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC), and to revitalize local economic growth. The Puerto Rico Ocean Technology Complex (PROTech) initiative would focus on OTEC, which utilizes deep ocean waters, and an air conditioning system for the required facility. Additionally, byproducts of the process can be used in manufacturing other products, such as food components, cosmetics, and bottled water.

The OTEC facility would be the world’s first large-scale plant of its kind, with a capacity between 5-10MW, according to Power Engineering International. This would make Puerto Rico a global leader in the technology. The government projects the project could provide considerable economic and research opportunities.

Puerto Rico’s east-southeast coastline and favorable ocean floor conditions off the coast made it the ideal location for the complex. The initiative was prompted by destruction from Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017, according to the project roadmap. The complex would cost an estimated $120 million, with at least half earmarked for the OTEC facility.

Repairing and Safeguarding the Arecibo Observatory

Date: October 28, 2020

Engineers have been working to restore the Arecibo Observatory, the world’s strongest radio space telescope and an iconic Puerto Rican landmark, which was seriously damaged in August.

A cable securing its radio antenna snapped for unknown reasons, leaving a 100-foot gash in the 18-acre reflector dish. Engineering design and structural repairs are part of the ongoing effort, in addition to cable buckling studies, the creation of a safety assessment plan, forensic analysis, and the installation of a facility monitoring system.

The observatory, owned by the National Science Foundation and operated by the University of Central Florida, also suffered significant damage from Hurricane Maria in 2017, after which two grants of more than $14 million covered repairs and upgrading. This incident was unrelated to that damage.

The facility is famous for the discovery of the first Earth-like planet in our solar system and for substantial astronomical research over the years, including a study that led to the 1993 Nobel Prize in physics for the discovery of a binary pulsar and the first evidence of gravitational waves by Russell Hulse and Joseph Taylor.

Are You the Next Federal Engineer of the Year?

Date: October 28, 2020

Honoring the commitment of federal engineers to innovation and service is the hallmark of the Federal Engineer of the Year Award. Nominations for the award, which attracts participation from more than a dozen federal agencies, are open until October 31.

The FEYA ceremony is scheduled for February 18, 2021, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Tickets will be available for sale in January and sponsorship opportunities are available.

NSPE 2018–19 President Michael Aitken, P.E., F.NSPE, recently visited the Puerto Rico Society of Professional Engineers.

Puerto Rico Society of Professional Engineers Photo

@NSPE @NSPEPrez May 8. NSPE President, Puerto Rico President and CIAPR President working together for the Professional Engineering profession in Puerto Rico. Collaborating for the protection of the public through Professional Licensure!

Puerto Rico Society of Professional Engineers Photo

@NSPE @NSPEPrez May 8. NSPE and the Puerto Rico Society of Professional Engineers collaborating for unity of the Professional Engineering Community in Puerto Rico. Thank you PRSPE, CIAPR President Ruiz and NSPE SE Region Director Carlos Gittens for your hard work.