Engineering & Adding Value:
5 More Questions with Earth Anchoring Supplier's Geotech Nate Seguin
1. Since you started with Earth Anchoring Suppliers, what's the most unexpected thing you've been repeatedly asked to do?
There have been occasional "breaks" from regular helical pile design, talking with clients on how to provide a more meaningful, inclusive approach to foundation support. Some clients are excited about a value engineering alternative that they can provide clients instead of large drilled shafts, etc. Others are curious about what options there are to connect the tops of helical piles to new steel framing. I enjoying weighing in on the possibilities of simplifying the overall foundation construction.
2. What part of your work has had the greatest positive impact in the EAS staff... on clients?
Joining EAS in February has allowed me to provide useful engineering strategies to clients in very little time. This is especially important in the development of their bids. They take comfort knowing I've reviewed plans and details. I recommend options that meet our understanding of what's specified. As plans and specs allow, I present a value engineering alternative for comparison. Without the engineering to justify the alternative, some clients and owners can be hesitant to consider anything different than specified. When possible, we discuss and present more efficient options with our material quotes.
3. What's been the most challenging?
The most challenging (yet still gratifying) tasks involve coming up with potential pile options with very preliminary information. We understand that jobs can progress significantly between 30% design development and 60% construction documents. Sometimes, many of our clients want to develop their bids as accurately as possible in very early stages. For example: we might know some conceptual timber framing details for a new boardwalk, but design loads haven't been explicitly identified. We present our assumptions with our quoted pile option(s). Often this early discussion and our quote shapes the overall thinking of the design team - allowing them to consider aspects about the foundation that they hadn't yet considered. It's challenging at times, but valuable points can be identified and expressed very early on.
4. What do you find to be the most satisfying?
Anybody who uses engineering software can be at risk of becoming complacent and losing track of what's happening "behind the curtain". It's incredibly rewarding to develop design tools yourself. Because you know what went into the tools' development, it doesn't feel like you're taking elaborate software for granted. I've developed several ways of incorporating current design methodology into calculation sheets with plots for modeling and presentation. The tedious parts of design go away - and as a designer, you can quickly identify the impacts of design parameters on an overall design. EAS has developed such tools for large-diameter CHANCE helical piles with atypical lead configurations, CHANCE's Drivecast and light/utility pole bases - among others. If we can arrive at answers quicker, then we can get them to our clients quicker.
5. Almost been a year, if you could "snap your fingers" and change something about your work or the industry, what would it be?
I'd like to snap my fingers and add more time/money to project schedules for more gathering of data. There could be many opportunities to try something a bit different and see how the outcome changes - safely. Most often, such experimentation costs additional time and money... luxuries that most projects don't have. I welcome any opportunity to learn a little bit more. In the long run, it allows all designs to be developed more efficiently.
Earth Anchoring Suppliers Adds Veteran Geotechnical Engineer:
Five Questions with Nate Seguin
Nate Seguin joins the EAS team, heading up their engineering services department. Nate is a veteran Geotech formerly working with American Pile and Foundation (NJ), Mueser Rutledge Consulting Engineers (NYC) and S.W. Cole Engineering (New England).
1. You’ve been a geotechnical engineer for the past 12 years. Why did you move to Earth Anchoring Suppliers?
My discovery of Earth Anchoring Suppliers has been a journey; and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It’s the culmination of years of seeking the best opportunities. My time with clients and colleagues, from brief conversations to months-long projects, has shaped who I’ve become as a professional. I’m excited to bring that experience to EAS, because we’re a group that sincerely enjoys assisting our clients with what I believe are the best possible solutions, given our group experience with educating, distributing, installing and engineering. And we have fun doing it.
2. What part(s) of being an engineer for deep foundations do you get the biggest “kick” out of?
It’s interesting to be among the “first ones in, first ones out”. For building projects utilizing deep foundations, nearly everything else comes after. Deep foundations are a critical element; but there’s a limited window – after which, they’re covered up by what they’re intended to support. I get a “kick” out of envisioning the efforts that went into designing and installing the foundations for a project.
3. What types of projects, in your experience, have been the most challenging and/or satisfying?
I’ve enjoyed the projects with real opportunities to educate clients on how my deep foundation solutions meet code and design requirements. Conversations like these are the furthest thing from feeling like I’m sharing “infinite wisdom”. Instead, every time I’ve had great, informative discussions with a client, it improves my ability to convey ideas and alleviate concerns more effectively.
4. If you could instantly change one thing about the deep foundation construction business, what would it be?
I’d want everyone to have at least one mentor – at all the different points of their career. Self-education is a wonderful thing for the curious mind; but without mentorship, one may develop unchecked and become focused on “doings things the way we’ve always done them”. Without mentorship, employees can find themselves on “autopilot”. Construction details get copied from the last job, not knowing if they’re even applicable or instruct-able on the next one. Mentorship can foster thoughtful discussion on how you can get things done practically and efficiently. I benefited greatly from the mentors I’ve been so lucky to have.
5. If you could time-travel back to when you were just entering the field, what advice would you give yourself?
If I could travel back to 2008, I would remind myself that my day-to-day job is supposed to be fun. I’d tell myself that it’s important to enjoy who you’re working with and who you’re working for – not just what you’re doing. It’s been my experience the latter comes with the great relationships!
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Earth Anchoring Suppliers, LLC
19 Trenton-Lakewood Road
Clarksburg, New Jersey 08510
183 Locust Avenue - No. 483
West Long Branch, New Jersey 07764
CHANCE® Civil Construction is a division of Hubbell Power Systems, Inc., the international leader in earth anchoring. CHANCE and ATLAS® brands are used worldwide in a variety of deep foundation applications.
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