November 2004 Newsletter

[President Perspective] [Meet the Member] [Monthly Meeting]


Plan Your Next Vacation Now

Admit it, if I were to skim through your vacation photos I would probably find at least one that is for the civil engineer's benefit. And yes, the typical tourist Golden Gate Bridge picture counts. But if you are like me, you are guilty of having a few "driving-down-a-highway" or "bridge-that-nobody's-heard-of" pictures lurking in those albums. While this causes much amusement among my friends and family, some of these pictures are the most treasured of all. Civil engineering can get into your blood. We may spend our days trying to figure out how to get something to drain from A to B, or designing yet another wheelchair ramp, but deep down we know why we chose this career. We like the idea of being a part of infrastructure's history.

Civil engineers are lucky; most of our great accomplishments are now tourist destinations. This makes it pretty easy to take pictures without enduring too much ridicule. I had a geology professor in college who also loved to take pictures of his profession during vacations. He must have had hundreds of them, which he used during lectures. He tried to trick his family by having them pose next to "interesting" cut slopes or "cool-looking" rocks. I don't think they bought it. However, I must thank them for their patience - it was a lot easier to identify rocks during the final: "Quartzite is behind his son wearing the Disneyland shirt," "Pahoehoe is by his wife when she is wearing a lei."

There is good news if you are searching for your next vacation. Colorado's Mesa Verde Reservoirs were dedicated as a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark on September 26, 2004. What was recently thought of as an amphitheater is now determined to be an ingenious public works project. The reservoir system consisted of four reservoirs. The first one was completed in 750 A.D., contained up to 120,000 gallons of water, and was followed by construction of three more reservoirs. The system remained operational until a severe drought hit, leading to the depopulation of Mesa Verde, in 1100 A.D. Maybe the best part of this vacation is that it is an already established destination . . . you might just be able to sneak in some civil engineering photos!

by Valerie Beard, P.E.

Additional information about the Historic Civil Engineering Landmark program can be found at


Meet the Member - Mike Britton

Mike Britton is very proud to be working for you, the taxpayers of San Luis Obispo County, to ensure that developments are built according to applicable engineering standards and to ensure that when the development is incorporated into the many areas maintained by the County that they will be safe and durable. He does his best to get things done effectively within the limits of the Public Contract Code and other bureaucratic policies. Mike is always open to working with and helping people and his position in the County's Development Services Division of Public Works is definitely conducive to that activity.

Mike doesn't support the persistent stereotype of the number-crunching, cube-confined engineer with his cheerful, talkative disposition and eagerness to work with others. And while you may only picture him excitedly talking about construction standards and engineering ethics, just get him started about baseball or books!

Mike is a big Padres fan, having grown up in San Diego, spending his days at the ballpark and riding his bike to the beach. He's been to the Padres Fantasy Camp (only a few were lucky enough to obtain an autographed card), has a substantial collection of T-shirts and cards, had season tickets last year and looks forward to cheering them on next season.

Mike is also an avid reader, and always has a few books on his nightstand. He's into a cyber-crime adventure called "The Blue Nowhere", so if you're reading it too, you can do the book-club discussion thing. A relatively new and particularly adventurous hobby Mike's been into is Quad racing. He recently placed 2nd in his class at the Pismo Dunes Endurance Race. He is also the Senior Warden of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Arroyo Grande. Family is the most important thing to Mike, and he and his wife of 15 years, Joanne, look forward to completing their adoption of a child from the Republic of Georgia.

Career-wise, it's been an interesting road to civil engineering for Mike. If you get red marks for grammar back on your development plans you'll just have to understand because Mike's first career idea was to teach English and Literature. And if he's interested in your feelings about your plans rather than your calculations, don't worry, that's just his interest in psychology surfacing. Eventually, the influence of his grandfather, his role model, took hold and he turned toward construction and engineering, graduating from Gavilan College in Northern California with his Associate Engineering Degree. From there he went to Cal Poly and earned his BS in Civil Engineering. Mike also recently passed his PE exams! He is well on his way to reaching his career goal of being a Public Works Director.

by Courtney Howard



MONTHLY MEETING: Pre-Stressed Concrete Tanks

Register Online

You will not want to miss November's ASCE meeting. Mark your calendars for November 18, 2004 and plan on being at Marie Callendar's restaurant in Pismo Beach for a presentation on the new pre-stressed concrete tank that is under construction at Arroyo Grande's Reservoir 1. The presentation will be made by Tom Bloomer from DYK Pre-stressed Concrete Tanks and Craig Campbell from the Wallace Group. Following the meeting, Tom will lead a tour at the site to view the progress of the tank construction. Come one, come all and don't miss the out on the fun.


[President Perspective] [Meet the Member] [Monthly Meeting]