Degrading Infrastructure

Latest engineers group report card again gives public works low marks

In the few months since President Obama took office, discussions in Washington, D.C., about reviving the troubled economy centered on a $789 billion stimulus package that will address, among other things, the country’s infrastructure needs.

Hoping to influence the debate on Capitol Hill, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) last month reported the nation’s infrastructure remains in poor condition and will require $2.2 trillion in fixes over the next five years. The society had planned to release its report later but moved the report up amid the stimulus talk.

"Our leaders are looking for solutions to the nation’s current economic crisis," said Wayne Koltz, ASCE president. "Not only could investment in these critical foundations have a positive impact, but if done responsibly, it would also provide tangible benefits to the American people, such as reduced traffic congestion, improved air quality, clean and abundant water supplies and protection against natural hazards."

In the 2009 version of Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, engineers assessed 15 infrastructure categories and compiled 15 grades. The grades ranged from a high of C+ in the solid waste category to a low of D- in the categories of drinking water, inland waterways, levees, roads and wastewater. A cumulative grade of D was given to the nation’s infrastructure.

Preliminary estimates of the $789 billion stimulus package had $47 billion going to transportation projects, including $27 billion earmarked for highway and bridge construction and repair, and $12 billion for mass transit and rail projects. The package also included $4.6 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers and $31 billion to build and repair federal buildings and other public infrastructure.1

Little has changed since ASCE’s last report card, released in 2005, The overall grade then was also a D then, although ASCE said there have been improvements in the energy category.

In addition to increased funding and federal leadership on the matter, ASCE’s report card recommended:

  • Developing federal, state and regional infrastructure plans.
  • Addressing lifecycle costs and ongoing maintenance.
  • Increasing and improving infrastructure investments from all stakeholders.

"The nation’s infrastructure faces some very real problems, problems that pose a real threat to our way of life if they are not address appropriately," said Andrew Herrmann, the chair of ASCE’s advisory council for the report card. "However, while it may not happen overnight, these problems are solvable if we have the right kind of vision and leadership."


  1. Foon Rhee, "Stimulus Pitch Stresses Infrastructure," Boston Globe, Feb. 11, 2009, www.boston.com/news/politics/politicalintelligence/2009/02/stimulus_pitch.html.


Banks Urged to Improve Risk Management

Despite the continued fallout from the financial crisis across the banking industry, KPMG International says it appears that not enough institutions are planning to make fundamental changes to their risk frameworks.

The claim is based on a new survey into apparent risk management failures. The results show that 90% of the 400 banking execs surveyed have carried out or plan to carry out reviews of the way they manage risk. Yet only 42% of respondents have made or plan to make fundamental changes to their risk processes.

The KPMG research highlights several areas in which changes will need to be made, including the lack of risk expertise at board level, communication between the risk function and the rest of the business, and the relative lack of influence exerted by the risk function.

The full report can be found at www.kpmg.com/global/pressroom/pressreleases/pages/banks-urged-to-grasp-nettle.aspx.


Survey: Engineering Has Image Problem With Youth

Eighty-five percent of young students say they’re not interested in pursuing an engineering career, maybe because they don’t know what engineering is about or they aren’t confident in their math or science skills, a recent ASQ survey revealed.

About one-third of the students said they would prefer "a more exciting career."

The survey among youths (ages 8 to 17) and their parents also showed that 97% of parents said they believe math and science knowledge will help their children be successful. But only 20% of parents said they have encouraged or will encourage their children to consider engineering.

"It’s clear that there is a low level of interest and knowledge about engineering careers for both parents and children," said Maurice Ghysels, chair of ASQ’s K-12 Education Advisory Committee. "Educators and engineers need to work more closely together to get students excited about the profession and spotlight interesting role models."

ASQ hosted a webinar for young students, parents and educators during National Engineers Week last month to raise awareness of engineering as a career choice.

For more information about the survey, visit www.asq.org/media-room/press-releases/2009/20090122-engineering-image.html.

ASQ News

SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY EVENT  Chris Jordan, a Seattle-based photographic artist and activist, will speak at an ASQ event April 22 in Milwaukee. Jordan is known for social commentary through the images and art he creates, and he has become a spokesperson for social change in many circles. His art will be on display at the event, which is part of ASQ’s initiative to promote and support social responsibility.

GREEN IN MILWAUKEE  ASQ headquarters has teamed up with local governments and a business group to form an initiative to advance social responsibility and sustainability. Through the Metro-Milwaukee Green initiative, ASQ and the other organizations hope to challenge businesses to reduce their waste and impact on the environment, while at the same time cutting costs and enhancing customer satisfaction. To learn more about the initiative, visit www.thesro.org, click on "Join the SRO movement," and look under "Groups."

FREUND SCHOLARSHIP  April 1 is the application deadline for the Richard A. Freund International Scholarship. The $5,000 scholarship is intended for graduate study of the theory and application of quality control, quality assurance, quality improvement and total quality management. Visit www.asq.org/about-asq/awards/freundscholar.html to find out more or download an application.

NEW CERTIFICATION  ASQ has unveiled a new certification for professionals in the pharmaceutical industry. Certification for the Pharmaceutical Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) will test the individual’s knowledge of GMP principles as regulated and guided by national and international agencies for the pharmaceutical industry. The first exams are scheduled for May 17 during the ASQ World Conference on Quality and Improvement, June 6 and Dec. 5. To learn more about application deadlines and other details about the certification, visit www.asq.org/certification/pharmaceutical-gmp/index.html.

PACT WITH FOOD INSTITUTE  ASQ has signed a collaboration agreement with the National Food Institute of Thailand. The scope includes exchange of information and joint programs.


QIHC Speakers Announced

ASQ has announced the keynote speakers for the Quality Institute for Healthcare (QIHC) Conference, May 18–20, in Minneapolis:

  • Rosalie Vlahutin of Allina Hospitals and Clinics in St. Paul and Minneapolis will speak on "Infrastructure for Improving Care."
  • Richard C. Karl, the founder and CEO of Surgical Safety Institute in Tampa, FL, will discuss using aviation’s crew resource management to reduce errors in a healthcare setting.
  • Glenn W. Bodinson of BaldrigeCoach in Richardson, TX, will talk about Baldrige best practices.
  • Heather Vass of SSGB Premier Inc. in Charlotte, NC, will discuss never events.
  • Robert E. Matthews of PriMed Physicians and Health First Physicians in Dayton, OH, will speak about clinical Six Sigma in outpatient medicine.

QIHC will be held concurrently with ASQ’s World Conference on Quality and Improvement.

For more information on QIHC, visit http://qihc.asq.org.


QP looks back on an event or person that made a difference in the history of quality.

March 7, 1964

Samuel Stanley Wilks, known in many circles as the "statesman of statistics," died at his home in Princeton, NJ. He was 57.

Wilks was born in Little Elm, TX. He earned a degree in architecture, but because of his poor eyesight, Wilks feared his career in that profession might stall. He later pursued a career in mathematics. He studied at the University of Texas and became an instructor before he was awarded a fellowship at the University of Iowa.

In 1933, he was appointed instructor of mathematics at Princeton University. There, his research revolved around multivariate analysis. One of his most influential papers was Certain Generalizations in the Analysis of Variance.

Over the years, he also worked with the U.S. government in the Department of Agriculture and was a member of the National Defense Committee.

In 1947, Wilks was awarded the Presidential Certificate of Merit for his contributing to antisubmarine warfare and for offering solutions to convoy problems.

Source: Turnbill World Wide Web Server, School of Mathematical and Computational Sciences, University of St. Andrews, Scotland, www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Biographies/Wilks.html (case sensitive).


IAQG Releases Revision to Aerospace Standard

The International Aerospace Quality Group (IAQG) has released a revision to the quality management system standard for the aviation, space and defense industries.

The standard is known as AS9100 in the United States, EN9100 in Europe and JISQ9100 in Asia-Pacific. Nearly 700 comments and change recommendations were reviewed and dispositioned by the IAQG 9100 team. Changes include:

  • Expansion of scope to include land and sea-based systems for defense applications.
  • Risk management.
  • Project management.
  • Configuration management.
  • Critical items and special requirements.

The IAQG has posted deployment support material at www.iaqg.org to accompany the release of the 9100C version. This includes frequently asked questions and a revision overview presentation.

The standard can be purchased from national and regional standards publication bodies, including SAE International in the United States. Visit www.sae.org/technical/standards/AS9100C.


Most ASQ Membership Dues Stay Put This Year

There will be no increases in individual ASQ membership dues this year, the ASQ Board of Directors has announced.

Individual full, senior and fellow annual dues remain at $129. Associate dues remain at $74, while forum or division-only membership dues stay at $31, and student dues continue at $25.

Dues for K-12 school and K-12 district members will not increase, either.

The board did approve increases for organization members: site members that renew will see a $50 increase to $850. New site members can join at $1,000. Changes take effect July 1.

Direct any questions about ASQ membership or these changes to mgdteam@asq.org.


Quick Poll Results

Each month, QP visitors can take a short, informal survey, and we post the results.

Here are the numbers from a recent Quick Poll:

"In light of the economy’s downturn, is your organization outsourcing:"

  • The same? 42.8%
  • Less? 39.2%
  • More? 17.8%

Answer the most recent Quick Poll question posted:

"How extensive are your company’s social responsibility efforts?"

  • We’ve made a few changes to become more socially responsible.
  • We’ve made major changes to become more socially responsible.
  • We haven’t done anything differently.

Who’s Who in Q

Name: Carl E. Floren.

Residence: Decatur, IL.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Southern California (USC) in June 1951.

Quality-Related Jobs: Floren began working for Mueller Co. in Decatur, IL, one month after he graduated from USC. He held many positions in research and development at Mueller, which makes infrastructure and flow control products for potable water distribution networks and treatment facilities. He retired in 1989 but stayed on as a consultant and was named corporate director of quality improvement. Floren coordinated ISO 9001 certification at several plants and also reviewed patent, trademark and liability issues. In December, he retired again.

ASQ Activities: Floren has been an active member of ASQ since 1962, and he has held numerous positions in Central Illinois Section 1200, including chairman of the section since 2004. Floren proctored exams for several years. He is a certified quality technician and certified quality engineer.

Other Activities/Achievements: Prior to his career in quality, Carl served in the U.S. Army’s 94th Infantry Division. He was wounded in Germany in 1945 and was awarded the Bronze Star. When he worked as an engineer at Mueller, Floren was involved with securing 72 patents, 27 of which were domestic. He was a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)—specifically, a member of ASME B16 standards committee—standardization on valves, flanges and gaskets and chairman of ASME B16’s subcommittee L on gas shutoffs and valves. Floren also served as president of the local chapter of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers.

Family: Floren and his wife, Kathryn, have three sons, Carl, John and Andrew.

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