Latest News

New Electric Truck Facility Coming to St. Paul Area

Date: February 11, 2021

Electric work truck company, Zeus Electric Chassis, has made a large deal with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District for $1.2 million. The Minnesota company will assemble its customizable vehicles at a new facility in the St. Paul suburb of White Bear Lake. Its focus is on medium-duty trucks like flatbeds, cherry pickers, and delivery trucks, according to Midwest Energy News.

Minnesota is also home to electric bus manufacturer, New Flyer. The Twin Cities are an ideal location for the companies, the article says, due to their proximity to midwestern states that produce parts needed for large electric vehicles.


City of Wadena Goes Carbon-Free

Date: February 11, 2021

Wadena’s city council recently voted to buy 10% of the city’s purchased electric power through Missouri River Energy Service’s new Green Energy rate, providing the city with entirely carbon-free electricity, the Pioneer Journal reports. In doing so, Wadena joins many cities and towns around the US that are moving toward using renewable energy sources. Seven states, plus Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico, are committed by law to 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050 or earlier, and nearly 210 cities have achieved or pledged to reach 100% clean electricity or “net-zero” emissions, according to NRDC.

But an article on Grist.org explains that achieving100% carbon-free electricity isn’t so simple for towns and cities. “The reality is a bit complicated — and it shows the challenges of true, ‘deep’ decarbonization of electricity in the United States.” There are caveats. As a research associate at the University of Texas at Austin says, the goal to run 100% renewable is more like an accounting mechanism than accurate description. Additionally, delivery of clean electricity 24/7 requires technologies (like batteries, nuclear, geothermal, and hydrogen) that need further development. An engineering professor at Princeton said that if the US wants to zero out emissions, “we need to spend the next decade very proactively — pushing these technologies forward and seeing which ones succeed, how quickly they mature, and how fast we can scale them up in the future.”


Minnesota Job Opportunities

Date: February 11, 2021

Postdoctoral Research Fellow - Microfluidic Engineering
Mayo Clinic

Director of Ecological and Water Resources Division
State of Minnesota - DNR

See other engineering job opportunities on the NSPE Job Board.

Minnesota Investing in Renewable Power Sources

Date: January 27, 2021

Minnesota Power now generates 50% of its power from renewables, primarily wind and hydro, making it the first utility in the state to do so. This was achieved using the company’s EnergyForward strategy to transition to cleaner energy sources while providing reliable and affordable electricity. In December, the company’s Noble 2 wind project came online; it will supply Minnesota Power with renewable energy through a 20-year signed agreement. As a whole, Minnesota gets 20 percent of its power from wind energy, which is higher than the national average, according to cubminnestora.org.


Historic Minneapolis Bridge Closed for Repairs for Two Years

Date: January 27, 2021

The 3rd Avenue Bridge over the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis has closed to all traffic for nearly two years in order to undergo major repairs for the first time in 40 years, according to the StarTribune. The bridge will be closed to vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians. The $130 million project will comprise top-to-bottom repairs, including the removal of concrete columns, restoration of Art Deco railings, a new bridge deck, and bicycle and pedestrian lanes on a new sidewalk.


Contractors Express Mixed Feelings About the Near Future

Date: January 27, 2021

Minnesota’s construction industry is unsure about the coming year as it moves forward after the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. According to a recent survey by the Associated General Contractors of Minnesota, nearly six out of 10 respondents think the economy will stay the same or improve during 2021, while 42% believe it will go downhill. The 2020-21 Minnesota Construction Industry Assessment surveyed 160 contractors, material suppliers, and architecture and engineering firms. The respondents reported having continued concerns about project cancellations and supply chain interruptions.


Oil Pipeline Project Gains Regulator Approval

Date: December 16, 2020

Construction began on a disputed crude oil pipeline in northern Minnesota after Enbridge Energy received final approval for the project from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Previously, the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission also approved the project. The $2.6 billion venture is the Line 3 Replacement Project across northern Minnesota. The project was the most reviewed in state history, according to Governor Tim Walz.
Local tribes had tried to fight the approval of the project; they said the influx of workers would put their communities at greater risk of getting COVID-19. In early December, the Public Utilities Commission denied a request from the Red Lake and White Earth Bands of Chippewa to delay work on the pipeline in light of the fact that a consolidated appeal by environmental and tribal groups is pending before the Minnesota Court of Appeals.


Local Fight Against Climate Change Going Strong

Date: December 16, 2020

Minneapolis ranks fourth among US cities in terms of succeeding at setting and meeting goals for fighting climate change, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. The council, which analyzed cities’ efforts in this area and ranked them on a scale from 1-100, lauded Minneapolis’s progress reducing greenhouse gas emissions, efforts to integrate equity into climate efforts, and policies such as residential-energy disclosure, MinnPost reports. Governor Walz has been focused on reversing climate change since last year, when he set up a Climate Change Advisory Council and promoted legislation (which did not pass) aimed at transitioning energy production to wind and solar by 2050.

Governor Allocates $1.9 Billion to Public Works

Date: November 18, 2020

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has signed into law the $1.9 billion Local Jobs and Projects Plan that includes $627 million for transportation infrastructure, including local roads and bridges, and $269 million for water infrastructure projects. The measure will fund hundreds of construction projects across the state and aims to create jobs.
 
“This bipartisan plan invests in the projects that local communities told us matter most to them. Whether that’s roads and bridges, clean water, or affordable housing, this plan will help ensure every community in Minnesota prospers,” Walz said.


Coalition Promotes Alternatives to Natural Gas in Minnesota

Date: November 18, 2020

Minnesota environmental groups are trying to change the perception that natural gas is cheap and clean. The state is working to close its remaining coal plants but plans to build more natural gas facilities. A coalition of 10 groups driving the “Energy We Can’t Afford” campaign says emissions from natural gas are detrimental and contribute to climate change, and that building solar and wind energy facilities is cheaper. It hopes to rally the public to lobby against the creation of new natural gas power plants.


MN, Ontario Partner on Bridge Replacement

Date: October 28, 2020

MnDOT has completed a replacement of the Baudette/Rainy River International Bridge, which links north-central Minnesota to Ontario, according to Transportation Topics. The $39.3 million bridge is steel-girder and cast-in-place concrete deck and was a partnership between MnDOT and the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario. Stantec created the preliminary and environmental designs, and Parsons Transportation Group developed the bridge’s final design. Demolition of The old bridge, which is scheduled for demolition beginning in October, was built in 1959. According to MnDOT, the steel truss bridge is a rare example of a Pennsylvania truss structure (named after the Pennsylvania Railroad). Due to the bridge’s historic standing, the state was required to make it available for preservation and relocation, which was complicated by the fact that Minnesota owned only half the bridge. MnDOT’s project manager said, “[S]ince ownership of the bridge is split with Canada, we were actually advertising only half of a bridge for sale. The advertising for the chance to buy half of a bridge created a stir online and in the media, but it didn’t generate any interested parties due to the considerable costs to disassemble, move and reassemble.”


Researchers Study COVID Spread from Musical Instruments

Date: October 28, 2020

University of Minnesota mechanical engineering researchers are working with the Minnesota Orchestra to figure out the likelihood that aerosols from brass and woodwind instruments can spread the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, reports the Star Tribune. University faculty member Jon Hallberg said, “The degree of aerosol coming out of a wind instrument or a brass instrument is actually less than we thought it might be,” adding, “Realizing there isn’t this enormous difference between breathing and playing the instrument in terms of aerosol production, velocity and spread — that became very reassuring.” Early results were published in the Journal of Aerosol Science.


We Want to Hear from You!

Date: October 28, 2020

Do you know of engineering news in Minnesota that would be great for this newsletter? Maybe it’s a project you or your firm is working on, or perhaps you read some interesting engineering news in your local newspaper. Or maybe you know of a fellow PE or student who deserves a little recognition. If so, we want to hear from you. Email your ideas to pemagazine@nspe.org

Minnesota Considers Following PE Exam Trend

Minnesota Welcomes You

As more states make the move to allow early taking of the PE exam, will Minnesota be next?

The Minnesota licensing board is considering a rule amendment to allow applicants to take the PE exam before gaining four years of professional experience. Applicants will still be required to complete all education, examination, and experience requirements before being granted a PE license.

Traditionally, licensure candidates have been allowed to take the PE exam only after passing the FE exam and gaining four years of approved experience. The board is considering the change because it believes that allowing applicants the option of taking the exam prior to completing the experience requirement may encourage and facilitate emerging professionals to pursue a PE license. They can do so without having to polish their exam-taking skills many years after graduating from college.

In 2005, Nevada became the first state to allow the early taking of the PE exam. The following states have followed suit: Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.

NSPE is in favor of state licensing boards allowing candidates to take the PE exam early, if they have met the educational requirements for licensure and passed the FE exam. The Society also believes that the requirement of four years of progressive engineering experience should remain unchanged, and licensure candidates who pass the PE exam early need to gain the required years of engineering experience before becoming licensed.

To provide guidance to engineering professionals on the path to licensure, NSPE has published When Can I Take the PE Exam? States Allowing Examination Before Experience, which covers the state-by-state details.