Latest News

State’s First Utility-Scale Battery Storage System Opens in Pascoag

Date: August 17, 2022

Governor Dan McKee touted the recent installation of the state’s first utility-scale battery storage system as being an important step for Rhode Island in combatting climate change. The Pascoag Utility District and the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources announced the official opening of the facility in the PUD in mid-August.

“This battery technology, which allows for the storage of energy and deploys it when it is most needed, is a vital link in our state’s transition to a 100% clean electricity grid by 2033,” he said in a news release. Additionally, the facility should ensure reliability for electricity customers.

Agilitas Energy installed and currently operates the 3 MW battery facility from a leased industrial site in Pascoag. The battery energy storage system went into commercial operation in early July 2022 and has already begun to help PUD lower its peak load during times of highest usage, the governor’s office reports.


Providence Schools to Get Upgrades for STEM, 21st Century Learning

Date: August 17, 2022

This year, 30 schools in Providence will receive much-needed renovations to give students a 21st Century environment in which to learn, The Providence Journal reports. Recently, for example, ground was broken on a $21-million renovation at William D’Abate Elementary School. The construction will include combined arts and science labs, air-conditioning, an elevator, and other upgrades that will add 6,000 square feet to the building.

The renovations were funded by $250 million school construction bond passed by voters four years ago.

An additional $300 million bond will be voted on in November for school upgrades, including incentives for technical education facilities and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) facilities.

“Students want to learn ... when they have 21st-century buildings,” Superintendent of Schools Javier Montañez said.

Airport Connector Project Breaks Ground

Date: July 20, 2022

Ground has been broken on the Airport Connector Project, which is aimed at making the ride safer for travelers to and from the airport, according to the Newport Buzz.

Not only will the one-mile Airport Connector and three miles of Route 1 and Route 1A (Post Road) receive new pavement, but the project also eliminates hazardous drop-offs and includes new high visibility pavement markers. Pedestrian access on Post Road will be upgraded with new sidewalks and pedestrian ramps. A massive landscaping project will also add trees and greenery.

“Many more job-creating upgrades to Rhode Island’s roads, bridges, and airports are on the way thanks to the bipartisan infrastructure bill we passed in Washington,” said US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.


Gas Company Seeks Full Authorization for LNG Plant

Date: July 20, 2022

Rhode Island Energy (formerly known as Narragansett Electric Co.) is seeking a full license for a liquified natural gas plant it has been operating for three winters under an emergency waiver, Providence Business First reports. The LNG plant in Portsmouth is Rhode Island Energy’s preferred solution under new ownership, a spokesperson for the utility said.

The company will appear before the Energy Facility Siting Board in late July in its quest for permanent authorization for the facility, which received its waiver from EFSB in 2019 after an Aquidneck Island left thousands without gas.

LNG is used by the company during spikes in demand in the coldest months. The facility has been controversial, receiving criticism from neighbors and clean energy groups.


DOE Funding Supports Partnerships with URI Ocean Engineering

Date: July 20, 2022

The University of Rhode Island has one of the best ocean engineering programs in the country, according to College Factual. With the engineering program’s recent acceptance into the US Department of Energy’s Testing Expertise and Access for Marine Energy Research program, known as TEAMER, companies can take advantage of URI’s research facilities and expertise without being charged a fee, according to a news release.

The acoustic tank is 7.5 meters long, 4 meters wide, 3.3 meters deep. It is used for experimentation with hydrophones, underwater camera calibrations, and autonomous and remote operated marine robotics testing.

Technology developers may use URI’s wave-current flume, wave tank and acoustic tank to conduct tests. TEAMER will reimburse URI for research that costs up to $150,000 per project, with projects scheduled for a nine-month period. Read more.

State Initiative Will Streamline Efforts to Gain Infrastructure Funds

Date: June 16, 2022

Governor Dan McKee recently unveiled a strategic initiative with the Partnership for Rhode Island called CompeteRI, which will help state agencies, municipalities, and nonprofits more effectively compete for federal funding made available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The announcement was held at South Quay, an undeveloped parcel in East Providence that will soon become a central hub of the Northeast’s growing offshore wind economy.

Compete RI is the state’s response to the White House asking states to create processes that are sound and transparent; and to seek partners to administer and coordinate efforts in seeking federal funding.

“We have a historic opportunity to rebuild Rhode Island’s infrastructure,” said Lt. Governor Sabina Matos in a release. “That’s why it’s so important that we coordinate resources and efforts to ensure these critical projects have the greatest impact and that they benefit every Rhode Islander, in every community.” Find out more.


Governor Announces $850k EPA Grant to Work for Cleaner Air

Date: June 16, 2022

In a move aimed at reducing air pollution caused by diesel engines, Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management announced an EPA grant will be used to replace freight trucks and marine engines used to move goods.

The funding is coming through the Diesel Emission Reduction Act Program, a federal-state initiative run by EPA and state environmental agencies that protects human health and improves air quality by reducing harmful emissions from diesel engines.

“Rhode Island is a national leader in clean energy innovation and this EPA grant will further our Administration’s goal of slashing greenhouse gases as we put Rhode Island on a more sustainable pathway to a future of net-zero emissions,” said Governor McKee. Read more.

Governor Announces New Modern Transit Hub

Date: May 18, 2022

Governor Dan McKee announced on May 12 that the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) has taken the first step in making the proposed Dorrance Street Transit Center in Downtown Providence a reality, according to a news release. The process, which began with the state transit agency publishing an on-line "Request for Expressions of Interest" (REOI) is designed to tap the expertise of private developers across the country for bold, innovative ideas to guide the construction and operations of the new facility.

The Dorrance Street Transit Center will replace Kennedy Plaza as RIPTA's central bus depot. The proposal envisions a mixed-use development that will include an enclosed intermodal transit center and RIPTA administrative offices, as well as an adjacent mixed-use transit-oriented development (TOD). In contrast to the current sprawling footprint of Kennedy Plaza, spread out across an urban park, the Transit Center will provide a single organized location.

The REOI invites interested parties from the private sector to submit concepts for the development of the new Transit Center under a joint development or public-private-partnership ("P3") arrangement. The REOI is designed to gauge initial industry interest in the development opportunity, as well as to seek industry perspective and feedback on diverse project considerations. From there, the responses will help RIPTA plan and execute the project. Read more.


U of Rhode Island Partnership Makes Impact on Research and Workforce Development

Date: May 18, 2022

When the National Institute for Undersea Vehicle Technology (NIUVT) was formed in 2017 as a partnership of the University of Rhode Island, the University of Connecticut, and General Dynamics Electric Boat, it created collaborative opportunities in applied research, technology transition and workforce development.

"The institute educates individuals for the shipbuilding industry, transitioning not only technologies, but a solid knowledge-base to further advance the next generation and next platforms of undersea vehicles," said Arun Shukla, the institute's co-director of NIUVT and URI Simon Ostrach Professor of Mechanical, Industrial, and Systems Engineering, in a URI News article.

The National Institute for Undersea Vehicle Technology has had a profound impact on the local economy by preparing students for defense-related careers, providing further education for those working in the defense industry, and partnering with governmental agencies and companies that have defense contracts.

More than $16 million has been awarded to URI for institute research projects and workforce development, including $5.5 million for 20 projects this year. Funding for this year's projects was approved on April 12.

When the institute was created, 12 technical areas were identified as having strategic importance to the Navy with regard to undersea vehicle technologies. URI and UConn have a rich history of research and collaboration with the Navy in these areas. All five of URI's engineering departments—chemical; civil and environmental; electrical, computer and biomedical; mechanical, industrial and systems; and ocean engineering—are represented in the collaborative’s research projects. Read more.

RI Ready Poised to Bring Jobs to State with Pre-Engineered Sites

Date: April 19, 2022

RI Ready, based upon the successful model of the Quonset Business Park, is a $40 million initiative to bring jobs and revenue to Rhode Island. The program has at least six applications so far, nerej.com reports. Five of these will be considered this month.

The RI Ready program provides pre-permitted, pre-engineered sites that are “shovel-ready.”

That model has generated more than 3,500 jobs and $664 million in private investment at Quonset. RI Ready will help to cut through red tape in the development process to help business development move quickly.

Sites will be considered eligible if they:

  • Allow for upgraded or improved infrastructure in support of an industrial use; or
  • Allow an existing industrial use or facility to expand significantly; or
  • Are approximately 10 acres in size (or are capable of supporting an approximately 100,000 s/f building);
  • Are zoned for industrial or offshore wind support uses, and;
  • Are within one mile of a roadway designated by the state to support industrial traffic.

New ‘Hearing’ Textile Could Have Medical Uses

Date: April 19, 2022

Researchers at MIT and the Rhode Island School of Design have successfully created a fabric that “hears” and sends electric signals in response to sound, similar to how the human ear hears. The tech, called piezoelectric material, has many possible applications to products for collaborators like the health care field and hospitals, according to bizjournals.com.

The research was supported in part by the US Army Research Office through the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, National Science Foundation and Sea Grant NOAA.

RIPTA Will Use Geofencing Technology to Increase Ridership

Date: March 14, 2022

A grant awarded to the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority will help launch a free fare program to facilitate the collection of ridership and other data to inform future fare incentive programs, both in Rhode Island and nationally, according to masstransitmag.com.

Geofencing, a new, evolving technology, holds interest for the authority because it could open the door to targeted marketing efforts to increase use of public transportation. The technology could allow individual businesses or entities such as social service agencies to sponsor ridership in specific, limited areas.

The grant was one of 25 Accelerating Innovative Mobility grants from the Federal Transit Administration.


Smart Bay Initiatives Could Help “Blue Economy”

Date: March 14, 2022

Data-collecting infrastructure could be set up in Narragansett Bay to support Rhode Island’s “blue economy,” which comprises seven sub-industries: defense, marine trades, fisheries, offshore renewable energy, ports and shipping, tourism and recreation, and aquaculture, a Navy spokesperson said at a recent briefing.

The venture, known as “Smart Bay,” would make Narragansett Bay “transparent” through data streams from underwater communications, underwater GPS, high-resolution bathymetry and sonar imaging, distributed temperature and environmental sensing, underwater video, and localization devices. Data can be collected via these methods at various “Smart Bay hubs” and made accessible to industry, academia, and government. Read more.

Coalition Calls for Rhode Island to Transition to Clean Energy Economy

Date: February 16, 2022

A new report by the Climate Jobs Rhode Island coalition and researchers from Cornell recommends actions to address climate change, the pandemic, and inequality within the state, the Boston Globe reports.

The coalition recommends utilizing wind energy, "decarbonizing" schools, building 35,000 affordable "net zero" housing units by 2035, and modernizing the state's electrical grid. The report also advocates for the creation of a wage board to set a minimum wage for the renewable energy industry. Read the report here.


Mystic Aquarium Will Educate Middle Schoolers This Spring

Date: February 16, 2022

Funded by a mini grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Mystic Aquarium's Ocean Exploration Adventure will advance ocean exploration educational opportunities for 200 underserved eighth grade students and educators from two majority-minority middle schools in Cranston, Rhode Island.

STEAM educators will participate in online and in-person professional development in partnership with NOAA Ocean Exploration and implement ocean exploration activities with their students. Live events with diverse career role models and field trips to explore Narragansett Bay, the University of Rhode Island's Inner Space Center, and Mystic Aquarium's Marine National Monument exhibit will round out the student experience this spring.


NSPE Career Center

Date: February 16, 2022

NSPE's Job Board is your one-stop resource for professional engineering employment. Whether you are on the hunt for your next career move or looking for today's top engineering leaders and talent, you will find it here.

NSPE provides the tools PEs need to keep current in the profession and advance their careers.

Featured Job
Marine/Waterfront Project Manager
North Kingstown, RI

Find more job openings or reach the right employees on the NSPE Job Board.

Biden’s Infrastructure Plan Allocates Millions for Bridge Repairs in Rhode Island

Date: January 19, 2022

Under President Biden’s infrastructure plan that infuses $26.5 billion into bridge repair across the US, Rhode Island will receive $235.5 million. The funds will come over five years via the Federal Highway Administration. Aside from making much-needed repairs, a major goal of the funding is to help bridges withstand the effects of climate change by modernizing them, FHWA Administrator Stephanie Pollack said.


Amtrak Trains Could Soon Stop at TF Green Airport

Date: January 19, 2022

Rhode Island’s Department of Transportation has started a $3.5 million preliminary engineering study for a project to enable Amtrak trains that currently pass through T.F. Green International Airport's “Interlink” station to stop there, the Providence Journal reported. The study is being funded by a $2.8 million federal grant and a $700,000 state match.

A 2020 study by DOT determined the project would cost at least $242 million, and costs have since increased. Still, transportation officials want to move forward. Work needed would include building new signals, a second platform, and a fourth track, and electrifying existing track.

Infrastructure Law Funds Bridge and Road Repair, Transportation Upgrades

Date: December 15, 2021

The federal bipartisan infrastructure law will pay to repair and rebuild roads and bridges in Rhode Island with a focus on climate change mitigation, resilience, equity, and safety for all users, including cyclists and pedestrians. In Rhode Island, there are 148 bridges and over 860 miles of highway in poor condition, according to the Department of Transportation. The state is expected to receive approximately $1.7 billion over five years in federal highway formula funding for highways and bridges.

In addition, $292 million over five years will be spent on improving public transportation in Rhode Island. Funding will also cover modernization of freight rail, increased EV charging options, airport improvements, and other infrastructure updates.


Site Investigation Finds Minimal Pollutants at Old Landfill Site

Date: December 15, 2021

A report has shown that the environmental impact at the former Albion Town Landfill is very minimal. The pollutant levels were much lower than anticipated, reports the Valley Breeze. This is good news for town officials who plan to repurpose the land on the Blackstone River.

GZAGeo Environmental Inc. conducted the site investigation as part of a conservation plan. The site was last used as a dump in the mid-1980s. The land will be capped and reused, either for solar or recreational uses.

Roads, Bridges Improve; Miles to Go

Date: November 17, 2021

Across Rhode Island, bridge and road improvement projects are in the works thanks to RhodeWorks, a program implemented in 2016. RhodeWorks put in a place a data-driven approach to improving roads and bridges, such as the George Washington Bridge, which is undergoing a $78 million repair project that will take five years. When completed, the project will greatly ease traffic congestion.

Officials say these changes are undeniably positive, but that more progress is still needed, The Public’s Radio reports. With the passage of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, Rhode Island will receive $1.7 billion to help fund ongoing road and bridge improvements, and $280 million for public transportation.


Infrastructure Bank OKs $11M Loan for Warwick Sewer Lines

Date: November 17, 2021

Sewer lines in Warwick will be expanded thanks to an $11 million loan from the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank, according to the Providence Business Journal. Work under the project will include connecting 900 homes that currently use septic systems and cesspools to sewer lines.

In the works for years, the project has stalled several times due to funding issues. The line of credit from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund means the expansion will be complete by August 2023. Additionally, Warwick Sewer Authority executive director BettyAnne Rogers said in an email to the Journal, sewer construction will protect Narragansett Bay from pollution.

Maritime Logistics Company Opens Energy Office in Cambridge

Date: October 19, 2021

Crowley Maritime Corporation, a global leader in maritime logistics, has established an energy headquarters in Providence to support the growing wind energy presence on the East Coast and nationwide, the Providence Business Journal reports. The new office at the Cambridge Innovation Center will house about a dozen top staffers under Crowley New Energy, and the company plans to keep hiring in Rhode Island. Headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, Crowley was established in 1892 as a marine transport firm. The privately held company now operates around the world and offers diverse services, including shipping, engineering, and logistics.


Rhode Island to Invest $8.5 Million in Clean Energy, Efficiency Thanks to Climate Pact

Date: October 19, 2021

The Office of Energy Resources has written its latest draft plan for allocating $8.5 million in proceeds from the Rhode Island Regional auction in which power plants paid for the right to pollute. Such auctions were developed under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, an 11-state cap-and-trade program aimed at decreasing carbon emissions to fight climate change, the Providence Business Journal reports. OER outlined plans to invest in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and other climate and consumer plans. The proposals are released every six months.

EPA Completes Hazardous Waste Cleanup on Superfund Site

Date: September 13, 2021

The Environmental Protection Agency has completed a hazardous waste cleanup at the Stamina Mills Removal Site in North Smithfield. It is part of the Stamina Mills Superfund Site, which has undergone a larger ongoing cleanup and redevelopment project. A former textile mill located on the site closed in 1975. In 1969, an unknown amount of trichloroethylene was spilled there.

The focus of the completed clean-up was the demolition of the former Mill Office Building, which was contaminated with asbestos and had a collapsed roof. This immediate threat to public health led to EPA’s cleanup of the site, which began last fall.

The project involved removing trees, vegetation, and debris; razing the building; transporting and disposing of ACM building debris to an EPA-approved off-site disposal facility; and backfilling excavated areas. During EPA’s remediation, protective measures were taken to control dust, conduct air monitoring, and to prevent runoff of water used during the remediation from reaching nearby properties and the Branch River.


Cyberattack Disrupts RIPTA Communications

Date: September 13, 2021

A cyberattack on the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority in August shut down some operations and disabled the ride payment system, which allows riders to use rechargeable cards or phones to pay for their fares. Internally, phone lines and email access were also disrupted. The authority reported that passenger financial information would not have been compromised because it is housed off-site, wpri.com reports. Transit services continued uninterrupted and safety systems were unaffected. Employee records also appeared to remain secure.

In April, New York’s MTA was also victimized by cyberattackers. According to a 2020 survey of 90 transit agency technology leaders, more than 80% of agencies reported feeling prepared for a cybersecurity threat, yet only 60% said they had a cybersecurity program in place.

Net Metering Limits Lifted for Solar Power Company

Date: August 11, 2021

The Block Island Power Company successfully lobbied to have a 3% cap removed on its solar power net metering program, the Energy News Network reports. The unique move was made by the small utility, a rate-payer nonprofit with about 1,600 members. Net metering involves buying unused solar power from customers and adding it to the grid.

Legislation signed by Governor Daniel McKee in July allows the town of New Shoreham, as well as the Pascoag Utility District in northwestern Rhode Island, to set its own maximum percentage for net-metered power. The amount is subject to approval by the state Public Utilities Commission.

Utilities and distributors nationwide have traditionally fought against net metering, arguing that it unfairly passes distribution costs onto non-solar customers.


Environmental Management Agency Seeks Comment on Water Quality Study

Date: August 11, 2021

Rhode Island’s Department of Environmental Management is seeking comments on a draft study of total maximum daily load in an effort to improve biodiversity and protect water quality in Buckeye Brook and Warwick Pond, where water quality does not meet state-required standards. A study on means for improvement began in 2008. Two proposed solutions are better stormwater management and remediation of a nearby landfill that closed in 1978. It is believed the site contains buried metals that are leaching into groundwater.

The study examined the effects of poor water quality on bottom-dwelling macroinvertebrates, and potential stressors adding to the problem. It concluded that to meet water quality criteria and restore aquatic life, reductions of cadmium, copper, and iron are required, and stormwater runoff must be reduced. Written comments on the draft TMDL should be sent by September 1 to skip.viator@dem.ri.gov.


Rhode Island Job Opportunities

Date: August 11, 2021

Engineer (NBIS Bridge Inspection)
Steere Engineering Inc.


Program to Attract Underrepresented Students to STEM

Date: July 21, 2021

Rhode Island has become the ninth state in the country to have a MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement) chapter that will focus on underrepresented students in the state. The program aims to acquaint middle and high school students in urban areas, who are typically from low-income families and attend low-performing schools with few resources, with the STEM fields. It will also support students of color, females, and LGBTQ students.

The program aims to increase these students’ participation in invention and design competitions and support their study of STEM subjects. The efforts will include University of Rhode Island campus-based workshops, mentoring, academic support, and interaction with community and corporate partners, such as internships. The partnership was announced at the annual MESA USA National Engineering Design Challenge in June.


Funding Will Help Maintain Coastline Water Quality

Date: July 21, 2021

The US Environmental Protection Agency will allocate $206,600 to Rhode Island to maintain water quality on beaches this year via the BEACH Act. The five New England coastal states will receive a total of more than $1.1 million.

EPA anticipates the funding will help monitor beaches for fecal indicator bacteria, maintain and operate public notification systems, identify local pollution sources and report results of monitoring and notification activities to EPA and the public. When elevated levels of bacteria are detected, this funding supports beach warning or beach closing notifications to protect public health.

Since 2002, EPA has provided $22.5 million to the five New England states for water quality monitoring and public dissemination of those findings.


Rhode Island Job Opportunities

Date: July 21, 2021

Plumbing/Fire Protection Designer
SMMA

See other engineering job opportunities on the NSPE Job Board.

Solar Farm Construction Harms Tree Species

Date: June 7, 2021

Oak trees, a keystone species in the state, have been on a rapid decline due to an onslaught of gypsy moths from 2016–19, drought, and most recently, deforestation for the purpose of building solar farms. Commercial solar advocates argue that the farms are significantly beneficial to the environment, while others argue solar farms don’t help to manage watersheds as tress do, Eco RI News reports. Instead of building solar arrays on disturbed sites such as landfills, however, many solar developers see cost savings in converting forests and farmland.

“I know we want renewable energy, but we’ve got enough land that has already been leveled. Put the solar arrays on rooftops. Put them on all the destroyed properties we already have,” an entomology professor said. “Don’t cut down existing forests. It’s totally antithetical to the goals of conservation.”


Battery Storage Project Aims to Help State Reach Energy Goals

Date: June 7, 2021

Energy developer Agilitas Energy is starting preconstruction work on its latest battery energy storage project, a 3 MW / 9 MWh lithium-ion system in Pascoag. The storage system will allow the utility to modernize while avoiding the costly rebuilding of power lines.

Last year, then Governor Gina Raimondo signed an executive order committing Rhode Island to meet 100% of its electricity demand with renewables and nonfossil fuel resources by 2030. Energy storage systems will play a significant role in this by storing energy generated by renewables for later use.

Lawmakers Oppose Fossil Fuel Expansion in Port of Providence

Date: May 13, 2021

A group of 26 state lawmakers wrote to the Energy Facilities Siting Board asking it to reject the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure by Sea 3 LLC in the Port Providence. The group opposes the company’s request for exemption from oversight by the board, according to UpriseRI. They also argued pollution from such an expansion would endanger to public health in the area, which already has a large fossil fuel production presence, and that the proposal is contrary to the state’s long-term environmental goals.

In its application, Sea 3 made the case that the plans to expand its shipping terminal to expand into rail deliveries was not an “alteration” and therefore didn’t require regulatory oversight.


Legislation Would Fund Clean Transportation in Overburdened Areas

Date: May 13, 2021

Legislation has been introduced to implement the Transportation and Climate Initiative Program in Rhode Island, reports the Newport Daily News. The bill, according to the article, “would provide the funding the state needs to make clean transportation options available and affordable for all Rhode Islanders, while drastically reducing pollution that harms public health, particularly in urban, poorer neighborhoods that disproportionately bear the burden of transportation infrastructure like major highways.”

The measure requires that a minimum of 35% of all proceeds are invested in underserved and environmentally overburdened communities through clean transportation projects and programs. The Equity and Environmental Justice Advisory Board it establishes would serve to ensure that standard is met and advocate for programs that serve those communities.

Other jurisdictions taking part in the initiative are Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Virginia.


Blind Student Fundraising for an Accessible Engineering Device

Date: April 20, 2021

Haylee Mota, a young woman from East Providence who is visually impaired, has been accepted into college to study mechanical engineering. She set up a GoFundMe site to raise money for a graphic device she needs since she cannot use CAD programs traditionally used by other students. A touch interface device called the Graphiti tactile graphics display by Orbit Research would allow her to feel images on the device’s screen.

Through an array of moving pins, the Graphiti displays charts, drawings, flowcharts, floorplans, images, and photographs on a tactile display. The device uses a touch interface to enable the user to draw on the display and create their own drawings with a finger. The touch display allows for gestures such as scrolling, zooming, rotation of an image, and the ability to move the image by physically nudging the picture on the display. The Graphiti plugs into multiple other devices, including computers, a talking graphing calculator, telescopes, and microscopes.

Donors have already given more than enough to cover the cost of the device, which will also be useful to Mota outside of the classroom for navigation and in her career as a mechanical engineer, she wrote on the fundraising page.


URI Gift Supports Underrepresented Engineering Students

Date: April 20, 2021

Anonymous donors have contributed $2.5 million that will endow a URI fast-track degree program that will give preference to populations who are traditionally underrepresented in engineering, including women and people of color. The funding will pay for one year of full tuition and fees for students enrolled in the final year of the program, which offers an accelerated timeline to complete a bachelor’s and master’s degree in five years. The donations were made to honor College of Engineering Dean Raymond Wright, who plans to retire at the end of the academic year.

Learn more about NSPE’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.


Green Energy Collaboration to Help RIPTA Save on Energy

Date: April 20, 2021

The Rhode Island Public Transit is collaborating on a green energy project that allows it to save on electric costs with energy credits from a solar installation located on a waterfront site in East Providence. Under a remote net energy agreement with Kearsarge Energy, RIPTA will receive credit for power generated by a 6,000-plus panel solar installation that Kearsarge constructed on the site of a former tank farm. The transit authority estimates this will save it at least $250,000 a year in electricity costs.


Brown University Turning Away from Fossil Fuels, Embracing Sustainability

Date: March 11, 2021

Brown University leaders have pledged to reduce campus greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2040, with 75% of reductions happening by 2025, in an effort to help fight climate change. Also, the university’s financial managers are selling off its investments in fossil fuels, selling and liquidating its entire exposure to companies that extract fossil fuels and applying environmental, social, and governance criteria in all of its investment decisions.

The institution also vows to support more sustainable campus operations, including reducing nutrient pollution, reducing water impacts, safeguarding human health and curbing biodiversity loss. In addition, Brown plans to expand education and research opportunities focused on sustainability.

NSPE’s Code of Ethics states, “Engineers are encouraged to adhere to the principles of sustainable development in order to protect the environment for future generations.”


Warehouse Plans Meet Community Resistance

Date: March 11, 2021

A construction project in the early planning stages was met with community resistance in Warwick, due to concerns about damage to wetlands as well as increased traffic and general warehouse operations. The project would comprise a massive warehouse and distribution facility with 116 loading bays, 124 trailers, and 404 parking spots over 541,000 square feet.

The project has been proposed by NorthPoint, the second-largest industrial property in the US. Warwick community members voiced concerns over environmental repercussions at a recent meeting, according to ecoRI.org. Some, including a former supervising engineer at the stormwater and wetlands division at the state’s Department of Environmental Management, said the building footprint is too large for the site and doesn’t allow for enough stormwater basin square footage.

Submarine Manufacturer To Add Jobs in RI and CT with New Contract

Date: February 11, 2021

Submarine manufacturer General Dynamics Electric Boat said it has a positive outlook for 2021, and it plans to add 2,000 jobs in Connecticut and Rhode Island this year. The work will come from contracts totaling $39 billion that include the manufacture of two of the 12 planned Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines and 19 Virginia class submarines, according to WSHU Public Radio.

In November, Electric Boat announced the US Navy had awarded the company a $9.474-billion contract modification option for construction and test of the lead and second ships of the Columbia class, as well as associated design and engineering support.


Planned Construction of Wind Farm Open for Public Comment

Date: February 11, 2021

This month, public hearings on the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the South Fork Wind Farm are being held. The public has an opportunity to comment on BOEM’s work.

The 15-turbine South Fork Wind Farm, under development by Ørsted (owner of the Block Island Wind Farm), will be built on Cox Ledge 20 to 25 miles southeast of Point Judith, Rhode Island. More information, including the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, instructions for providing comments, and more information on the public meetings is available here. Comments must be submitted by 11:59 PM on February 22, 2021.

OSHA Report Says PE Should Have Been Consulted to Prevent Accident

Date: January 27, 2021

Acrobats injured in Rhode Island in 2014 when a hanging apparatus failed have been given $52.5 million in a settlement with an arena. An OSHA investigation into the incident found a PE should have been consulted to check the rigging for “structural adequacy and performance,” according to the Herald-Tribune.


Rhode Island Joins Transportation Climate Initiative as Founding Member

Date: January 27, 2021

Rhode Island has joined Connecticut, D.C., and Massachusetts in an effort to combat climate change by cutting car pollution. The state will be a founding member of the Transportation Climate Initiative, which would place limits on carbon emissions from gasoline and diesel and require suppliers of the fuels to buy credits to sell them. The plan will raise an estimated $20 million for Rhode Island, which will be used to fund mass transit, electric vehicle charging and clean transportation efforts.


Deck Work on Newport Pell Bridge Completed for Season

Date: December 16, 2020

The third phase of the Newport Pell Bridge deck rehabilitation project has been completed for the season. The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority said the work, which began in March, consisted of a partial depth hydro-demolition and reconstruction of the concrete bridge deck for approximately 4,700 feet of the westbound and eastbound lanes. This phase of the project will continue for one month in April 2021, but the work will be done at night.


Erosion Mitigation Project Receives Funding

Date: December 16, 2020

The National Coastal Resilience Fund awarded a $129,191 grant to the University of Rhode Island and the nonprofit Friends of Green Hill Pond to restore threatened dunes and the associated wildlife habitat at Green Hill Pond in South Kingstown, reports the Independent. The grant will fund the design and permit for a nature-based dune restoration to alleviate flood risk for nearby homes and improve water quality.

Offshore Wind Energy Plans Moving Forward

Date: November 18, 2020

Rhode Island will pursue a competitive request for proposals (RFP) to procure up to 600 MW of new offshore wind energy, according to Wind Power Engineering and Development. The state is home to North America’s first operational offshore wind farm (Block Island) and, in 2019, received state approval for the 400-MW Revolution Wind offshore project. The endeavor represents progress toward Governor Raimondo’s goal of Advancing a 100% Renewable Energy Future for Rhode Island by 2030, which he put into effect with Executive Order 20-01. The RFP will be developed by National Grid, with oversight by the state Office of Energy Resources, and is subject to approval by the Public Utilities Commission.


Planned Providence Bus System Moves Ahead with Community Input

Date: November 18, 2020

Plans for a multihub bus system in Providence will move forward with public input. After a worldwide search, the city hired Arup to work with stakeholders to create a cohesive vision that connects downtown Providence’s public space network while maintaining an easily accessible, transit-rich environment, and develop engineering plans for specified infrastructure projects funded through the city’s capital improvement plan.

The plan, six years in the works, has support from Governor Raimondo, Mayor Jorge Elorza, and RIDOT. “This plan…provides a number of very important benefits for both riders and citizens,” RIDOT Director Peter Alviti Jr. said. “It spreads out the heavy concentration of buses and pedestrians from a congested Kennedy Plaza to strategic satellite locations at the Innovation District, the Providence Train Station, and along the edges of Kennedy Plaza. This configuration gives riders access to their jobs, educational institutions, entertainment, and key intermodal transfers to major northeast metropolitan areas.”


As Sea Level Rises, Engineers Say They Lack Guidance, Survey Says

Date: October 28, 2020

A survey of maritime infrastructure engineers by University of Rhode Island researchers found that the rising sea level is often not factored into designs of ports, breakwaters, fishing piers and other coastal infrastructure. The survey of 85 engineers at consulting firms, port authorities and government agencies with experience working on port infrastructure projects in the US was conducted in 2019. The researchers found that 64% do not have a policy or planning document to guide how to incorporate sea level change into their designs. “The challenge they face is that they aren’t receiving concrete, consistent guidance for what they should be doing to integrate sea level rise projections into their work,” said Austin Becker, URI associate professor of marine affairs. “They need guidance, they want guidance, they don’t want to have to go on the whims of their clients, who may not have expertise in this area. They also don’t want to have to weigh potentially conflicting guidance from local, state or federal agencies.” He added that without guidance, port engineers are more likely to disregard sea level change projections entirely. Read more about the study.


Manufacturing Talent Needed for Submarine Construction

Date: October 28, 2020

As the US Navy contracts for the construction of new submarines and Electric Boat expands its workforce, an industry group has received a Defense Department grant to survey manufacturers in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island to “open up job exploration and employment opportunities to more than 5,000 potential workers,” reports the Hartford Courant. Electric Boat has shipyards at Groton and Quonset Point. The article describes the survey as “the latest effort to develop a workforce with basic industrial and manufacturing skills and exposure to robotics, automation and artificial intelligence.”

2019 Engineer of the Year Award: Ronald Daignault, P.E.

OTY, Mr. Ron Daignault, PE, and a photograph of him with Mr. David Arpin, PE Immediate Past President of the RI Society

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: EOTY, RON DAIGNAULT, P.E.,
DAVID ARPIN, P.E., IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT OF RISPE

Since 1958, RISPE has annually recognized a local engineer who has made outstanding contributions to both the engineering profession and their community by honoring them as the RISPE Engineer of the Year. The award recognizes an individual’s dedication to the highest ethical standards of the engineering profession, the technical excellence of their work, their deep concern for the public welfare, and their enthusiastic leadership amongst their peers.

This year, RISPE is excited to present this prestigious award to Mr. Ronald Daignault, PE. Ron is well-known in the engineering community, and has earned the respect of his peers with good reason: his commitment to his profession, country, and community set a strong example for others to follow. His career and volunteerism embody the ideals of professionalism and citizenship.

Shortly after graduating high school, Ron enlisted in the Marine Corps and retired in 1988, having served in the Aviation and Recruiting fields at the time. Following his military service, he earned a bachelors degree in Civil Engineering, and a Masters in Civil and Environmental Engineering with a Geotechnical emphasis, both from the University of Rhode Island.

Over the course of his 26+ year career, Ron has work for several local engineering firms and institutions, including Paul B. Aldinger & Associates, Bryant University, Alpha Grainger Manufacturing, Jacques Whitford Company, and the VA Medical Center in Providence, RI.

While at the VA, Ron was promoted to Chief of the Facilities Management Service, responsible for the management and oversight of the Design/Engineering and Construction Departments, the Environmental/Safety/Industrial Health/Emergency Management Department, and the Facilities Maintenance, Transportation, and Grounds Departments for the 40-acre hospital campus.

The campus consisted of 35+ buildings and three remote Community Based Outpatient Clinics, including a staff of 80+ professionals and trades personnel. In recognition of his service to the VA, Ron was awarded the VA Federal Engineer of the Year Award in 2015. In 2010, in addition to his duties at the VA, Ron founded RAD Engineering, LLC, and serves as its Principal and owner. RAD Engineering has become a successful multi-disciplined civil engineering company that takes on a wide variety of projects including geotechnical and structural engineering, environmental design, and pre & post construction condition surveys. He has also served for many years on the Town of Burrillville School Building Committee.

Ron has also made a continuous and dedicated contribution to both the Rhode Island and National Societies of Professional Engineers. At the State Level, he has served in all Executive Board positions, including Secretary, Treasurer, Vice President and President from 2004 – 2010, in addition to holding a position in several State Committees.

At the National level, Ron is an NSPE Fellow, was RISPE’s Representative to the House of Delegates for 4 years, has attended several National and Regional NSPE annual meetings, and served on the 2012 Northeast Regional Meeting Planning Committee for the NER meeting held in October 2012 in Newport, RI.

It is clear that Ron’s professional and personal achievements make him an ideal recipient for the RISPE Engineer of the Year Award, and wish to extend our sincerest congratulations to him!


RISPE 2019 Annual Banquet

A message from David Arpin, P.E., RISPE President

RISPE Annual Banquet

Dear Rhode Island Engineers,

This past month, RISPE hosted our Annual Banquet, officially marking the end of our 2018-2019 Fiscal Year. The event was held at Naval Station Newport and over 50 RISPE Members, Colleagues, and Friends joined us for the event.

Our first guest speaker was NSPE Executive Director and CEO, Mark Golden, who gave an update on NSPE and their accomplishments this past year. Our second guest speaker was the Executive Director of the American Council of Engineering Companies, Rhode Island (ACEC-RI), Marcel Valois who provided an overview of their organization and their recent activities and State legislative wins.

Our main speaker for the evening was Mr. Neil McLaughlin, Director of Projects & Finance for Pangaea Logistics Solutions, who provided an overview of the types of marine/waterfront projects their firm takes on. In addition, Neil discussed his firm’s involvement in the long-term development of Brayton Point and some of the challenges they face in developing the site as a deep-water dry bulk terminal and wind farm logistics hub.

The event also included recognition of the 2019 RISPE Young Engineer of the Year, Mr. Frank Marinaccio, PE and the 2019 RISPE Scholarship Recipient, Mr. Timothy Vitkin of Cumberland High School. Some of Rhode Island’s newly registered Professional Engineers were also in attendance and received their new Professional Engineer Certificates from the Rhode Island Board of Registration.

On behalf of the RISPE Executive Board, I would like to thank all who attended and participated in the event as well as the sponsorship from our RISPE membership. Thank you for your continued support!

Save the Date: RISPE’s 2019 Annual Banquet

RISPE is pleased to announce that it will be hosting this year’s Annual Banquet on Thursday, May 23. While details of the main presentation are still in progress, the event will also include the presentation of the 2019 RISPE Young Engineer of the Year Award, the presentation of the 2019 RISPE Scholarship, and recognition of the over 25 Newly Registered RI Professional Engineers!

More details of the event are to follow shortly.

Rhode Island Society at the 2018 Professional Engineers Conference

From July 18–22 in Las Vegas, at Caesars Palace, NSPE members enjoyed an exciting week full of exceptional education programs, speakers, and great networking.

RISPE Members2018 PECON BROOKLYN BOWL

RISPE Members2018 PECON BROOKLYN BOWL

RISPE Members2018 PECON BROOKLYN BOWL

RISPE MembersNSPE EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION FUNDRAISER

IMAGES COURTESY OF NSPE AND CHRISTIE'S PHOTOGRAPHIC STUDIOS

Save the Date to Join us in Kansas City for the 2019 Professional Engineers Conference
July 17-21, 2019