Latest News

Road Rebuilding to Receive Hundreds of Millions in Funding

Date: April 16, 2021

The Department of Transportation and Public Works plans to spend about $200 million on roadway repair projects in Puerto Rico this year. FEMA spent $400 million after hurricanes damaged roads on the island in 2017 and earthquakes hit last year. Currently, 25 projects are planned and requests for bids will be issued soon, with another 17 planned for later in the year, according to worldhighways.com. In total, the Federal Highway Administration estimates $575 million in damages were done to Puerto Rico’s roads in 2017 alone.


Widespread Renewable Energy Possible in 15 Years, Report Says

Date: April 16, 2021

Seventy-five percent distributed renewable energy on the island is possible by the year 2035, with little to no upgrades to current infrastructure, according to a new report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.

Equipping 100% of homes with solar panels and supplementing with installations at commercial sites would cut imported fossil fuel costs to $430 million per year and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 70%, the report states. Also, IEEFA reports that the solar collection and storage technology could be deployed immediately, rather than dedicating resources to increased natural gas infrastructure, which is vulnerable to natural disasters.

Road and Bridge Improvements are Underway

Date: March 18, 2021

Thanks to nearly $37 million recently allocated by the Department of Transportation and Public Works, repairs to roadways and bridges that had already begun with $729 million from FEMA will continue with renewed momentum.

Work made possible by the added funding will include road reconstruction projects such as asphalting, stabilizing retaining walls, and replacing guardrails, the Weekly Journal reports. Utuado is the municipality with the most projects, totaling 256 approved for $53.6 million.


Biotech Firms Opening Manufacturing Plants

Date: March 18, 2021

Two biotech firms are investing a total of $228 million to open manufacturing facilities in Puerto Rico, NimB reports. This will create 400 jobs on the island. The plants will produce various biotech products, including a COVID-19 vaccine. Puerto Rico has 20,000 jobs in medical device manufacturing and has a concentration of expertise in this area at 5.5 times the national rate.

Study: Less Centralized, Renewable Power Safer As Hurricanes Increase

Date: February 11, 2021

Research that used Puerto Rico as a test case demonstrates that using scattered renewable energy sources will modernize power grids and be less costly than repairing hurricane damage to a centralized grid. The research, done in part by University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, was recently published in the journal Nature Energy.


Board Initiates Transportation Changes

Date: February 11, 2021

The Puerto Rico Oversight Board approved measures to reorganize the governance of the transportation sector, improve the management of the sector, and increase its funding. This could have a major effect on the central government’s and the Highway Transportation Authority’s debts. Board staff advocated reorganizing the different Puerto Rico government transportation entities so they each manage only one class of transportation, BondBuyer says.

FEMA Awards $313 for Earthquake Emergency Measures, Rebuilding

Date: January 27, 2021

A year after several earthquakes wreaked havoc in central, southern, and western Puerto Rico, the Federal Emergency Management Agency approved nearly $313.5 million for emergency measures, rebuilding public facilities, and to assistance for thousands of survivors, the Weekly Journal reported. About $71.5 million was approved for 14,000 survivors who lost their homes or whose homes suffered catastrophic damage.


Puerto Rico’s Ocean Energy Development Enters Next Phase

Date: January 27, 2021

WSP USA Building, a more than 130-year old company with expertise in engineering large infrastructure projects, and Puerto Rico-based Marvel Architects have been chosen to lead development of the Puerto Rico Ocean Technology Complex. The $300 million project will be located in Yabucoa on Puerto Rico’s southeast coast and will be based around a 5-10MW ocean thermal energy conversion plant, PEi reports. The project’s goal is to make the state a leader in the development of OTEC and spin-off technologies and products.


Partnership Brings Clean Water to Community

Date: December 16, 2020

Two emergency water backup systems are being donated to a school for special needs children in Barcoleneta. The systems are coming from a Virginia firm, Constant Water, and a nonprofit, United DMV, also from Virginia. Their partnership is in part of an effort to demonstrate water resilience methods to local communities.


Manufacturing Improves on the Island

Date: December 16, 2020

An uptick in manufacturing in Puerto Rico has been reported by the Statistics Institute, the Weekly Journal reports. The Purchasing Management Index reported in September indicated that production rose to 50, while employment levels rose to 52.8 after falling in August. A threshold of 50 represents the growth of manufacturing on the island since the previous month. The PMI had dipped to 48.1 in August, the lowest since April.

The Department of Economic Development and Commerce reports that there are 1,730 manufacturing companies in the island, which contribute over 48% of Puerto Rico's GDP. They provide about 74,500 jobs altogether.

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.

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