Well-Known Mesothelioma Medical Doctor David Sugarbaker Moving From Brigham And Women’s Hospital To Lung Disease Center At Baylor College Of Medicine

A leader in the care of pleural mesothelioma, Dr. David Sugarbaker, will direct the mesothelioma clinical and research program at the Lung Institute, a new comprehensive lung disease center at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas.

From a March 24, 2014 news report about Dr. Sugarbaker going to Baylor that was posted on BioNews Texas:

Sugarbaker comes to Baylor from Boston, where he served as professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School and chief of thoracic surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He will join the Baylor faculty this July and lead the new Lung Institute, multi-specialty center focused on lung disease, at Baylor College of Medicine…..

“Part of what attracted me to Baylor is the opportunity to build something that never has been done before,” he said. “I see a large role for clinical and translational research, with an eye to getting new treatments to patients as soon as possible. Baylor is a leader in genomic research and that will play a key part, as well as the personalized treatment of a patient’s lung disease. This program also will have a strong surgical presence.”…

Sugarbaker has led efforts in malignant pleural mesothelioma, including the banking of frozen samples of more than 1,500 mesotheliomas to help advance the research in molecular markers in the disease. He also has played a leading role in developing the clinical investigation of the role of surgery in cancer therapy trials.

We wish Dr. Sugarbaker the best in his new position at Baylor, and hope he has much success in finding new mesothelioma treatments for patients who have developed this tragic asbestos-related cancer.

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Chemical Engineering in the 21st Century

Are you a chemical engineer? or perhaps a chemical engineering student?
Chemical Engineering is a universal engineering discipline compared to electrical, mechanical, civil, mechatronic, robotic engineering. When I studied my first degree 18 years ago, I do not know that much about chemical engineering related work and discipline. Most of my friends also were not sure what this field is all about. Interestingly, that time, and probably still this time, students decided to choose chemical engineering because they love chemistry. Well, that is sadly not the case because this type of engineering is not merely about chemistry. In fact, there are more physics and mathematics involve with chemical engineering. I learn this fact not only from my own experience, but also when I asked new first year students who enrolled in my faculty. More than 75% admitted they choose this field mainly because of they loved chemistry!!! What a pity. As a result, we have to adjust their thinking and make them believe that they can excel in this course. They are also some chemistry that they can learn and enjoy.

Now, in the new borderless era, students and people new to chemical engineering can learn this discipline far better than those few years ago. With internet dominating the world, we have websites, blogs, Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn and others to explain and elaborate about it. All information is just seconds away from us. This, I can say is a new version or strategy of learning the so call online chemical engineering. With such tools, information and discussion related to this subject is easily and swiftly discussed, exposed and distributed. More and more lecturers are using web 2.0 in e-learning as a medium to enhance and stimulate chemical engineering teaching among the students. Perhaps not all universities has employed online education but my university has started adopting online engineering education few years ago.

An engineer in action on an offshore rig (image source)

A group of engineers visiting a boiler manufacturing plant (source). Can you identify me?

I have earlier created this blog related to my work in 2006 when I was working as a process engineer in an edible oil refinery. That time, I created my blog mainly because I have no medium to write and share my adventures experiences. I love writing and I have always been an editor of any newsletter or magazine in wherever I studied. That is the reason, when I discovered about blog, I immediately use it as a way to share my previous and present engineering experiences for the sake of young engineers and students. I never expected to receive numerous questions, feed backs and comments from engineering students and practicing engineers from all over the world. They can easily and comfortably ask question to real engineers like me. They can read stories and chemical engineers experiences. It is really a new way of learning this course or subject. Then, in 2008, I started Chemical Engineering Rocks Facebook Group and in 2011 Facebook Chemical Engineering World Page. Both platforms received phenomenal response and I am so glad. I strongly believe, online chemical engineering will be a major part of engineering learning curve. Early education can be catalyzed with web 2.0 and whether you believe it or not, you can not stop it. Do you think so?

For further technical knowledge, I have prepared a note in my Chemical Engineering World Page, that is a compilation of top 7 free resources (that you can register). Get it here.

Instead of reading, why not share your writing of chemical engineering knowledge and experiences here, in Chemical Engineering World blog? It will be interesting. It doesn’t matter if you are still a chemical engineering students or you just work as an engineer or you are a very experience engineer. Sharing your story would be great. I am also still learning and would like to learn something from you. Just email me to share something in this blog. You can share stories, articles, photos, infographics, podcast, videos etc. 

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Industrial Cables for Refinery

I still remember when I was a process engineer in my first working week, I attended an in-house training about “High Voltage” in our refinery. It was presented by my colleague whom is a “charge man” (a person who is a competent person handling industrial scale power/electricity (3 phase) and other electrical power related stuffs). From there, I learned that a refinery must have reliable power supplier, equipments, facilities and expert people such as charge man and qualified technicians to manage the power and control part of a refinery.

Among the fundamental element to this is the industrial cables. I still recall on the second floor of the control room of the refinery that I was in charged last time, there were numerous cables with various sizes, shapes, colour and quality. All this cables are imperative in connecting various digital input (DI), digital output (DO, analog input (AO), analog output (AO) signals to controllers/servers/power system such as Yokogawa and Siemens as well as cable for inverters and electrical current. Well, there were many more to this which I am not really an expert to share in depth about this. All of this aspect was often over looked by person like me (chemical engineer) because that time, I was mainly focus on process engineering part. In conjunction to that, I think it would be great to share briefly about industrial cables used in plants and refineries.

Numerous cables for variety of industries

Actually, industrial control cables such as the one available in my plant are just one of the different types of them which are used in modern industry. There are a wide range of them required by various industries including automotive, data transmission, information technology, telecommunications, data communication distribution, construction, military, mining, and many more. Companies dealing with them provide state of the art sophisticated technology in manufacturing and exporting cables of various designs and capabilities.

Types of cables

Among the different types of them are electrical control wire, fiber optic ones, house wiring ones, PVC ones, rubber ones, fire survival ones, instrumentation ones and control ones among others. There are leading industrial cable companies which design, develop, market and distribute copper, aluminum, fiber optic wire and cable products for energy, industrial, specialty and communication markets. Among them is Eland Cables. Companies like this offer great quality, distribution, logistics and operating efficiency. They have a global reach in the wire and cable industry. No Matter where you are in the world, they provide a product that more than meets worldwide standards. Their research and product range is formidable and their products only seem to be improving.

Each cabling product is manufactured to the highest standards using sophisticated technology to match international standards. Cables are manufactured to customer specific designs and requirements. High quality materials are used to ensure functionality and durability. Cables are manufactured to suit customer specific environments.

Saying all that, I think as a chemical engineer, we still need to know at least a little bit about all this types and uses of cables. I did my part when I assisted in the upgrading of the control power system in my plant. From that point, I appreciated the knowledge I obtained about this inter-engineering discipline. What about you?

Highly Recommended Reading Material

To learn more about industrial cable or information related to cables, I strongly suggest you to get hold of this following free magazine. Cabling Installation & Maintenance magazine delivers in-depth technical and business information to network and data center structured cabling professionals each month. For almost 20 years, they have delivered trusted and unbiased information focused exclusively on the needs of decision makers for cabling-related products and services at end-user, contractor, integrator and carrier organizations. If you are interested to get this magazine at no cost, click here.

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2014 International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma: Presentations From Recent Conference Now Online

The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (aka “Meso Foundation”) has made available videos of sessions and presentations from its 11th International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma, which was convened March 5-7, 2014 in Alexandria, Virginia.

From their March 30, 2014 press release, “Presentations from Mesothelioma Conference Now Available Online”:

Some of the available topics include discussions specific to mesothelioma on:
•chemo brain
•post-surgical recovery
•radiation oncology
•becoming an empowered patient
•mesothelioma survivorship
•the state of medical research
•pulmonary health
•cancer stem cells
•early detection

All conference content is available at: http://www.curemeso.org/symposium.

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My PhD Research Ramblings

Few years ago I was practicing my chemical engineering skill and knowledge in refineries and offshore facilities. Now that I am more focus in chemical engineering research and development, I must admit that I missed those moments. But hey, that’s fine. Being in the research field is not bad at all. I am now in the frontier of seeking, researching and developing new knowledge especially in the reaction engineering area.
Being in this field, I am keeping myself pretty much busy with new information, new research publications, new product prototypes, new patented technology/product and so on. Honestly, it is very interesting and amazing to get in touch with the advancement of technology. I’m developing and understanding the process of converting glycerol to olefins, a technology which is still in its infancy stage.
My wife in the other hand is also a researcher like me but she is specialized in separation engineering subject, an important topic under chemical engineering. For her PhD she studied a more focused topic under separation engineering which is progressive freeze concentration, a field which has not been touched by any researcher in our country. During her PhD she designed a crystallization chamber to study the rate and effectiveness of ice crystal formation.
It is tough to design an effective and efficient crystallization chamber (CC). Her first design of the CC looked neat, compact and small. However, after running several tests on the CC, the solute leaks and ice crystal failed to form. Several other unexpected problems emerged and it was finally concluded that the CC cannot be used. She was at the end of her 3rd semester at that time and having a failed CC is the last thing she or any PhD student want to happen.
This is the basic designed of the improved CC

She then studied the failed CC, held several discussions with supervisors, technology experts, suppliers etc and make numerous improvements on the CC design. She identified and engaged with a contractor whom provided a prototype very quickly. This is something that’s always amazed me: rapid prototyping services (such as this one from Omega Plastics). The speed and accuracy of the prototyping is like something from a sci fi film. The contractor studied her research and design requirements and later came out with a 3D design of the new improved version of the CC. The design is indeed a prototype of a new type of CC. After a month, the new stainless steel CC was successfully fabricated and tested. The new CC was proofed to be effective and excellent when applied for progressive freeze concentration study. The designed was then patented and my wife obtained her PhD in 2010 (besides publishing her work in various conferences and journals).

This is the improved version of the CC

My wife fought her battle and won it. I’m now in the same battle to complete my Ph.D. It is not easy and it requires serious efforts, sacrifices and hard work.  Why is that? Simply because we are studying something new and our output (discovery) is to contribute to the advancement of new knowledge to the academic and research community. My journey is almost there. I just need to work a little bit more to complete everything and submit my thesis.

If you are currently working on your doctorate study, I would like to wish you the best of luck and keep up the good work ethics + discipline. For those who plan to do so, be mentally prepared and plan your research work wisely.

Recommended White Paper & Magazine (FREE)
(1) Title: Physical and Digital Prototyping Belong Together

In this white paper, you’ll learn how prototyping needs evolve within each stage of the design process from form studies to visual prototypes to working prototypes, how to determine and evaluate which prototyping method is best suited for each design phase and how Cisco, Steeda Autosports and other companies streamline design with a combined approach. To get this informative White Paper, click here.

 (2) Title: Rapid Color 3D Modeling/Printing: Achieving New Efficiencies

Are you a mechanical design engineer looking for ways to cut time and reduce costs associated with prototyping? The merging of 3D printing technology with Windows-based computer-aided design represents a paradigm shift for the role prototyping will play in all product development disciplines to come. This paper explores the trend via Timberland, Black & Decker, and Continental Tire case studies. To get this FREE information, click here.

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Opportunities for Offshore Jobs

As a chemical engineering student, I must admit that I have always wondered how it feels like to work offshore in a petroleum company or any oil and gas servicing company. During my second year study in Bradford University (14 years ago), I was offered an internship with Exxon Mobile. I was so anxious and proud to be offered an internship by such a successful multinational company. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, I was not able to participate. It was such a disappointing moment. 
Myself on a boat in front of a small platform

6 years after that, I managed to set foot on an offshore platform in the middle of South China Sea. It was my first time flying in a helicopter to a Bekok C, a gas gathering platform owned by Petronas Carigali Berhad. That time I worked for a local oil and gas servicing company and my role was to investigate the reason why the hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) level was so high in its offshore facility. I traveled with our very experience principal from a Canadian Oil and Gas Servicing company. The first trip to an offshore platform was very exciting, interesting and simply amazing.

Few months after that, I regularly traveled to several other offshore platforms in South China Sea. This time my role was to conduct bottle test to understand the oil condensate problems and suggest suitable specialty chemicals to treat and stimulate the well. This is because after several years of operation, the offshore platform will face low production due to massive drilling of the oil. Some of the oil well produces more emulsion, more water, more unwanted compounds rather than the black precious oil. 
During my stay in those offshore platforms, I observed the work and life of people on it. I also observed the kind of work that were carried out on an offshore oil rig platform. There are numerous jobs that can be done by various level and skills of workers. Read on, this may interest some of you. You don’t need to graduate or be a chemical engineer to work on offshore oil rig platform.

In layman terms, let me briefly share the types of jobs available. In no particular order, there are chemist, chemical engineer, petroleum engineer, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, technician, fitter, welder, crane operator, cleaner, cook, chef, forklift driver, lab technician, domestic worker, manager, superintendent, medical officer, radio controller, pilot, captain/helmsman (drives boat/ship), safety/HSE officer,

Well, based on my experience and from some references, I can categorize the job scope or work on a offshore platform to be (1) Leasehand (2) Floorhands (3) Motorhand (4) Derrickhand (5) Driller (6) Rig Manager (7) Etc.

Leasehand offshore oil rig positions are entry-level. The position exists to help inexperienced individuals become familiar with the activities around an oil rig. The requirement for this position is very minimum that I believe having secondary school certificate/education is already sufficient. Individuals beginning as Leasehands can move up to the position of Floorhand within a short period of time depending on their ability, experience and availability of other positions at the offshore oil rig platform.
Among the duties of a leasehand are they may be required to load and unload trucks, manage laundry, sweep.clean floor, dig ditches, build fences, and assist other crew members with maintenance and pre-job preparedness. Leasehands are also responsible for various other housekeeping on the off-shore rig.


Floorhands on oil rigs spend a lot of time working on the offshore oil rig offshore platform. In general, Floorhands will perform cleaning and maintenance job, assist in laying casing into a well after it has been drilled, wrench-like tongs to smoothly and quickly connect and disconnect the lower parts of the drill pipe when it is being lowered into and raised from the hole, catch samples of drilled cuttings to be analyzed, and assist other members of the oil rig crew wherever needed. Besides that, Floorhands are also responsible in housekeeping duties around the offshore oil rig as well the rig. Floorhands tasks is more critical than a Leasehand.
An experienced Floorhand may move into the position of Motorhand. Motorhands, as with all positions, do not earn their position by equipment knowledge and function alone. It is earned by basic training, achieving safe work ethics, knowledge of procedures and following those procedures. A Motorhand can already be considered skillful worker.
Power tong operators handling hydraulic power tongs

Motorhands are responsible for operating and maintaining the engines that power the drilling equipment which include turn the rotary table, run the draw-works to hoist the drill pipe, and circulate the drilling fluid. In addition to that, Motorhands also operate boilers, maintain a supply of hand tools, lubricate moving parts, ensure emergency shut-offs are tested and operational, regularly check tongs and spinning chain, and help other members of the crew. Motorhands are also responsible for helping to train Floorhands and Leasehands. In certain cases, this group of people are also called power tong operators who operate hydraulic power tongs that are used to connect casing.


An experienced Motorhand may move into the position of Derrickhand. Derrickhands work in the derrick on offshore oil rigs, high above the rig floor on a platform called a monkeyboard. Derrickhands must use harness and platform climbing device to get to the proper position on the derrick when drill string or casing pipe is being raised from or lowered into the hole. Derrickhands most important tasks are to guide the lengths of pipe into and out of the elevators, and steady each pipe while it is being connected to or disconnected from the drill or casing string.


The Driller is in charge of the operation of the rig and crew during their tour. They are primarily in control of operating the oil rig and hoisting equipment, and managing the rig floor and driller’s console which includes brakes, throttles, clutches and various gauges. By watching various instruments and gauges closely, the Driller makes adjustments as conditions require. Drillers are responsible for the drilling equipment, and for ensuring that the oil rig crew performs its job safely and efficiently, and within the regulatory requirements of the industry. Often that I observed, the oil company will contract this job to oil and gas servicing company to perform the drilling job.
Rig Manager
In some places, Rig Manager is also referred to as Plant Superintendent. He is fully responsible of his oil rig he is in charge off. He is also responsible for all the paperwork generated at the rig (P.O.’s, tour sheets, reports, etc.) that they must ensure are filled out completely and properly. The electronic tour sheets have to be sent in daily. To do all this, the toolpush needs a reliable crew. This person is on call 24 hours a day.
The Rig Manager coordinate the work of the crews and individuals on each rig under their supervision as well as the work of any additional service hands that may be required. Rig Managers normally learn their job through on the job training by working up through the ranks of the basic crew. This experience is vital in order to supervise the oil rig operations, take over running of the rig in emergencies, or assist in times of peak load particularly during rig-up or rig-down operations. Rig Managers must always exhibit superior leadership, excellent managerial skills and precise organizational skills.

Those are among some jobs that I can think off. If you can think of other jobs, please kindly let me know. Cheers.

Recommended Resources: Offshore

Offshore provides a rich editorial blend of international news and technology for marine/offshore operations around the world. Topics covered include seismic services, exploration, drilling, production, processing, pipelining, operating problems and design solutions. The publisher of this magazine is PennWell Corporation. To get this FREE magazine, click HERE.

2nd Image credited to its-energyservices.com/services/casing_running/

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Are you an infrastructure sustainability professional?

Photo Credit: howzey via Compfight cc

I’ve been blogging about sustainable infrastructure for eight years1, have presented on sustainability, was involved in designing award winning sustainable subdivisions2, and was talking about it long before that. I’ve worked hard to differentiate myself from the traditional view of Civil Engineers to one of being a Sustainability Professional; problem-solving sustainable solutions to everyday infrastructure problems. Becoming accredited as an Envision™ Sustainability Professional (ENV SP) is a step I recently took to establishing my commitment to sustainable infrastructure.

Photo Credit: howzey via Compfight cc

Some History…

The British Institution of Civil Engineers received a Royal Charter in 1828, formally recognizing civil engineering as a profession. Its charter defined civil engineering as:

the art of directing the great sources of power in nature for the use and convenience of man, as the means of production and of traffic in states, both for external and internal trade, as applied in the construction of roads, bridges, aqueducts, canals, river navigation and docks for internal intercourse and exchange, and in the construction of ports, harbours, moles, breakwaters and lighthouses, and in the art of navigation by artificial power for the purposes of commerce, and in the construction and application of machinery, and in the drainage of cities and towns.

The profession has grown since those early days, with a new mandate building among forward thinking engineers, facing head-on the realities of resource constraints, climate change and community needs for today and into the future, providing ethical and sustainable solutions to tackle these global challenges and develop the infrastructure needs of society. These concepts are becoming more mainstream in the engineering community than ever before, but until recently in North America we’ve lacked a system for detailing sustainability metrics specifically for infrastructure projects, (including those described in the charter above).

Civil Engineering – “the art of directing the great sources of power in nature”
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ENV SP – The Professional Context

Open only to Professional Engineers and others with a four year degree, the ENV SP accreditation offers those engineers who see themselves as infrastructure sustainability professionals a means of detailing the sustainability of projects they are working on. While a similar concept to the LEED ratings used for buildings and neighbourhoods, the Envision™ rating system is specifically designed to rate municipal scale infrastructure projects.

Wrapping a broad range of sustainable perspectives together, from community social impacts, energy use, climate resilience, and resources and materials, the rating system can be used to guide an infrastructure project through the thought process of considering the options, opportunities, and decisions that can impact the sustainability of a project. Working from these considerations, the project team can select areas to target for further sustainable metrics. For example, a project team may gain points for consideration of the lighting options available, but to gain more points in the assessment, a team may decide to implement options that restore the dark sky in the vicinity of the project.

Envision – “are we doing the right project?” and “are we doing the project right?”
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The rating system doesn’t provide the answers, or cookie cutter solutions, but rewards solutions that innovate toward the sustainable and away from the status quo design paradigm that North America is stuck in. As a professional, the Envision™ rating system should assist and measure the decision making processes for infrastructure projects and help answer the questions, “are we doing the right project?” and “are we doing the project right?”

Professional buy-in is an important next step. For the the Envision™ tool to become mainstream in Canada, engineering consulting companies and associations such as Engineers Canada and APEGBC need to embrace the concept behind it, and promote the tools for general use. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve had many interesting discussions with industry leaders, including representatives from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities last week. I am also getting a lot of queries about whether it is too onerous to use, or whether it is just a fad. My answer typically is that I have been waiting for almost a decade for a robust tool to assess the sustainability of infrastructure projects and reward those projects that shine, the Envision™ rating system is the fist tool that meets this challenge head on.

Ask any questions in the comments below…

This post was written by Mike Thomas for UrbanWorkbench.com ©2006-2014.

Originally posted as Are you an infrastructure sustainability professional?


  1. See some of my early articles such as Massive NSW water recycling plant opens and A Brief Argument Against Stormwater Pipes 

  2. Murrays Beach, NSW North of Sydney, retained 70% of the trees on site in a residential development 


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AWWA’s 2014 State of the Water Industry

Corroded Steel Watermain

AWWA’s 2014 State of the Water Industry post image

The American Water Works Association (AWWA) has released their state of the infrastructure report for 2014 (pdf), collecting responses from 1,739 AWWA members across the US and Canada. This report gives an insight into the industry without political or corporate interference1.

For 2014, the top five water industry issues identified for 2014 are:
  1. State of water and sewer infrastructure
  2. Long-term water supply availability
  3. Financing for capital improvements
  4. Public understanding of the value of water resources
  5. Public understanding of the value of water systems and services
The list of top 15 issues compared between 2013 and 2014 is given in Table 9 on page 12 of the report, the 2014 data is shown below.
AWWA - Top 15 Issues. Table 9, SotWIR 2014

AWWA – Top 15 Issues. Table 9, SotWIR 2014

Interestingly, a number of the top 15 issues relate to asset management and long term solutions2. The report discusses these challenges:

Many of the challenges highlighted in this report have engaged water professionals for years, yet there is a growing urgency to address our persistent infrastructure, water resource, and communication issues. To do so, the water industry must work collectively to develop sound and sustainable solutions and to then disseminate and implement them at the local and regional levels where water-related decisions are mostly made. Public input and proactive community involvement are essential to the success of this process.

Growing Urgency

Corroded Steel Watermain

Corroded steel watermains exist across our utility networks

AWWA states that there is a growing urgency to address our persistent infrastructure, water resource, and communication issues. The industry collectively has had little success in bringing these issues to the greater public; the issues vary so widely across the continent and from community to community – from groundwater resource availability to regulatory compliance, each utility has it’s own unique challenges and needs to communicate the issues directly to their communities. AWWA’s role, (and they have done a great job with this), is building awareness within the industry, and empowering utilities with training and information to support their needs.

And given the cost of these needs, as an industry, we need to ensure our communications are targeted and effective:

Addressing water and sewer infrastructure needs, the most important water industry issue, could easily top $ 2 trillion over the next 25 years in the United States.

Sustainable Solutions

The engineering profession and the water industry have been criticized for not moving quickly with new technology – we’re a conservative bunch when it comes to public health and safety, and the track record is remarkably good over the last couple of decades in the western world.

But the profession must accept new realities of energy and resource constraints as well as best practices for developing and running projects such as the Envision Rating System. Finding ways to “do the right project and do the project right” are becoming the greater challenges within the industry, ensuring works and projects are completed within a sustainability framework, where the lifecycle costs of the projects are minimized while the benefits are maximized.

Public Input and Community Involvement

A component of good project management is Stakeholder Engagement and Stakeholder Management3 All utilities need to do a better job of communicating the projects and challenges they face, particularly relating to infrastructure and water sources. I sense that the industry has been reluctant to be too open in the past as unwanted and seemingly unhelpful criticisms are often the result of attempted transparency. Unfortunately this is part of stakeholder management; ensuring that expectations and input opportunities are managed in a respectful way for all parties involved. This demand shifts the industry away from purely technical science and engineering solutions to collaborative, community based forums. For many, this is a whole new skill set that must be acquired and mastered.

An example of the communication problem the industry faces, is this statement from the report:

Only one percent of 2014 SOTWI respondents indicated that the water industry was fully prepared to address issues related to talent attraction and retention in the next five years while 15 percent thought the industry not at all prepared and 35 percent thought it was only slightly prepared.

To solve this problem, the industry needs to find new ways to distribute this information through recruitment channels and in high schools. Promotional materials (many good examples have been commissioned by AWWA) need to be distributed by the utilities in a ground roots effort at driving industry recruitment.But at this stage, past efforts seem to be having little effect on the attraction and retention of talent.

 What Does it Mean for Your Community?

The report paints a picture of the state of the water industry as a whole, but what does it mean for your community? Here are some predictions of how things will change in the next ten years in most communities:

  1. Water rates will likely increase significantly to cover the increased demand for quality water and replacing aging assets
  2. Watermain and equipment failure will become more regular occurrences
  3. Water conservation efforts will be required to ensure sustainable source use
  4. Regulatory standards will increase, including increased treatment and testing requirements
  5. Training requirements for treatment and distribution staff will increase, making recruitment and retention even harder.

Figure 11 in the report shows the responses for the question of whether utilities can cover the full cost of running their systems. The scary thing is that any answer other than “Fully Able” should concern us, but we (the industry) have become accustomed to utilities not being fully funded, and tacitly accept the consequences without adequately explaining these to our communities.

Can utilities cover the cost of providing service? - Figure 11 SotWIR 2014

Can utilities cover the cost of providing service? – Figure 11 SotWIR 2014

Future Concerns

On a final note, Table 13 shows the current perspectives on future regulatory concerns. Somewhat of a crystal ball exercise, but scanning down the list, it is interesting to see what threats some in the water industry do not feel are adequately protected through regulation.

Future Regulatory Concerns Rated - Table 31 SotWIR 2014

Future Regulatory Concerns Rated – Table 31 SotWIR 2014

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the state of the water industry from your perspective, whatever that might be. One final, inspiring thought from the report:

Water systems protect public health by delivering safe drinking water, collecting and treating wastewater to protect our waterways and drinking water supplies, and providing fire protection for our homes, businesses, schools, churches, stores, stadiums; in short, water touches us everywhere our lives take us. That is the reach and responsibility of our industry, and if utilities can continue to meet their community obligations of safeguarding public health and ensuring adequate and reliable supplies to customers and the environment, then we carry on the legacy of the water industry professionals who came before us and provide useful guidance for those who follow.

This post was written by Mike Thomas for UrbanWorkbench.com ©2006-2014.

Originally posted as AWWA’s 2014 State of the Water Industry


  1. although it is a self selecting group that chooses to participate, there appears to be little rationale or evidence for biases in the data 

  2. Some of the issues we identify as relating to asset management are 1, 3, 5, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15 in Table 9 of the report 

  3. note that these practices are rewarded in the Envision Rating System. 


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A Few New Immunotherapy Mesothelioma Treatment Options Were Discussed At The European Lung Cancer Conference 2014

Some investigational immunotherapy drugs that act on the programmed cell death pathway in lung cancer patients are now being consider as a new treatment means for patients with mesothelioma.

Several presentations at the recent European Lung Cancer Conference (ELCC) 2014 in Zurich about these possible new mesothelioma treatments were set forth in the March 27, 2014 article, “Could Immunotherapy Work in Mesothelioma?”, published online by Medscape.

As regards the first study, from this March 2014 article:

Sarcomatoid mesothelioma has the worst prognosis, and is generally considered to be the most aggressive form of the disease, [lead author Aaron Mansfield, MD, from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota]commented to Medscape Medical News. Many of these patients have extensive disease and are not eligible for surgery. He suggested that the data showing that these tumors express PDL-1 offers hope that PDL-1 blocking agents may be of benefit in these patients. A clinical trial is already underway, he said.

And later in that same Medscape report about another presentation at the 2014 ELCC in Zurich about new approaches to treating mesothelioma:

At another session at the meeting, Dean Fennell, PhD, FRCP, chair of thoracic medical oncology at the University of Leicester, United Kingdom, reviewed new approaches to the treatment of mesothelioma that are currently under investigation, and said that PD inhibition has really important potential in this disease. He also mentioned the success that had been seen with another immune-based response, which used an antimesothelin immunotoxin in combination with immunosuppression (Sci Transl Med. 2013;5:208ra147). This vaccine-like approach showed “quite spectacular results,” with some patients showing “very significant regression,” he commented.

We will continue to monitor the medical literature for developments as regards mesothelioma treatment options.

 Mesothelioma, Asbestos, and Legal Compensation: Basic Facts

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Vacancy : Chemical Engineering Master and/or Ph.D student(s)

I completed my Ph.D study last year and it has been a great experience, I must say. I am going to continue doing research mainly because I am very interested to conduct research, I love publishing my work, I like presenting my work in conferences as well as I want to contribute to the advancement of technology and knowledge.

Hence, in order to continue the research culture, I am currently looking for master and/or PhD student to work on a project with me. Following are the criteria/information for the future student.

  1. Citizenship:- Malaysian (because scholarship can easily be obtained).
  2. Topic: related to biodiesel sustainability study.
  3. Scope: experimental, optimization, modelling and kinetics.
  4. Full time position.
  5. Trusted, honest, self discipline, self motivated, responsible.
  6. Have the desire to complete master in 2 years and phd in 3 years.
  7. Good command in English (writing especially)
  8. Location: Faculty of Chemical Engineering, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Skudai, Johor. 

If you fulfill the above criteria, you are welcome to contact me via email.

Chemical Engineering World

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Asbestos, what are the dangers?

Are you planning on renovating your home sweet home? If yes, you must be aware about the dangers of the asbestos. For home-owners, it is critically important to be aware of safe management of asbestos in and around their dwelling.

As per the Asbestos surveys, some facts you should know about asbestos.

  • Just by looking at the material, you cannot tell whether it contains asbestos.
  • In case of doubt, it is advised to assume that you are dealing with "IT". Additionally, take every possible precaution.
  • The safest way is to hire professional & well-trained asbestos removal service provider.
  • Also, there are specific laws-N-regulations, when it comes to asbestos removal.

Understanding Asbestos

Until mid-1980's, asbestos was commonly used in home building material. So, if your home was built or renovated before 1986, it is likely to contain the much talked material. Chemically, it is natural occurring fibrous silicate mineral, which was considered to a versatile material because of the ability to survive high temperatures, erosion, water and fire.

As per the asbestos surveys, it is a potential danger. Why is asbestos fibre or dust harmful for health?

First and foremost, there are safe levels of this material. Well, everyone is aware of the controversial dental amalgam, but safe levels are calculated for everyone. However, when it comes to “Asbestos” respiration, there are no safe levels. Either removing or working with it, proper safety precautions must be observed. Else, you may risk yourself & your loved ones to long-run/semi-permanent health risks. Toxic and super-fine fibres of asbestos can be released, if it is disturbed. And breathing such toxic dust is nothing but an invitation to the toxicity of lung cancer or asbestosis or mesothelioma. Till date, there is no cure or foolproof treatment for mesothelioma, a cancer which occurs along the lining of Lungs. A recent research shows, the rates for this incurable cancer type is expected to rise strongly from 2012 to 2015.

The prolonged exposure to such fibrous dust, increases the danger of contracting asbestos related diseases. For those, who are chain smokers, the risk of lung cancer caused from inhaling these toxic fibres greatly increases. Also, the worst part is symptoms of diseases caused by these toxic fibres do not appear about 20 to 30 years after the first exposure. As calculated by the medical science, the average time b/w the very first exposure and evolving mesothelioma is approximately 45 years.

The 4 main Asbestos Related Diseases are:

  • Pleural Disease The soreness and inflammation of the outer lining of lung are called the pleura. The pleura thickens widely, which further restricts breathing.
  • Asbestosis Under the influence of this disease, the airway through oxygen is pumped to blood gets inflamed. The lungs become stiff & inelastic, which in turn causes breathing problems.
  • Lung Cancer Particularly, for chain smokers prolonged exposure to these toxic fibres increases the risk of lung cancer greatly.
  • Mesothelioma This in an incurable cancer, which occurs along the lining of Lungs.

In case you suspect something as asbestos while renovating your place it may be wise to call out an asbestos survey company like Asbestos Survey Projects, who are trained in understanding the impacts of your asbestos problem. ASP can be found here; Asbestos Survey Projects Limited, Patrick House, 5 Maney Corner, Sutton Coldfield B72 1QL, Telephone 0121 362 3402. If you suspect asbestos do not

  • Cut or drill it
  • Drop it
  • Dismantle or scrap it
  • Demolish or dump it
  • Importantly, do not dump it, hire professional removal services.