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New Trends in Physical Therapy by Shane Larsen, AIA

Patients, once finished with rehabilitation, go home and are re-injured because they were confronted with different obstacles at home than while in the hospital. Not only is this burdensome on the patients, it also costs hospitals a re-admittance fee for failure to properly rehabilitate patients. This is becoming a hot topic within the physical therapy industry, and many physical therapists are seeking designers to create physical therapy environments to have the same look and feel as home.

Recovering from injuries has always been difficult, especially when patients begin to reengage with everyday life. Patients using traditional methods, such as stairs, rubber bands for resistance, treadmills, etc., are missing out on the everyday surfaces that they are required to master once they are discharged. Today, there are specific physical therapy locations that help patients adapt to their everyday life. This includes different textured flooring surfaces, which range from grass and concrete to tile and carpet.

This new trend in physical therapy helps patients practice entering a home or hooking up a garden hose safely, before they encounter theses obstacles when they return to their home. The new type of physical therapy even helps patients putt on a miniature golf green. It is exciting to see that the therapy provided has been modified to match the tasks of everyday life in addition to the traditional therapy as typically seen.

With reduced injuries, we can anticipate to see more creative therapy options being added including a grocery store/café-like area.  Today’s additional fees charged to hospitals for patient re-admittance will only fuel more locations to offer this real-life therapy.

Transportation engineers promote green in the industry featuring Steve Kathol

Steve Kathol, principal at Schemmer Associates and manager of Schemmer’s transportation group, was recently quoted in the June 15, 2012 issue of the Midlands Business Journal, titled “Transportation

Steve Kathol, P.E., S.E.

engineers promote green in the industry.”

He pointed out that going green in transportation engineering is becoming more and more common these days. It’s getting to the point that efforts are being made to start a program for horizontal structures similar to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) effort for buildings.

“It’s starting to get off the ground and I foresee that coming to a more substantive process,” Kathol said in the article.

Kathol also said he is seeing an increased number of transportation engineers striving to be greener by recycling more and reducing sediment from storm water runoff. Kathol also mentioned engineers are doing their part to stop harmful storm water runoff from their transportation projects.

To read the entire article, make sure to pick up the June 15, 2012 Midlands Business Journal. The article, titled “Transportation engineers promote green in the industry,” can be found on page 36.

Part I: Growing Solutions – Clean Solutions for Omaha By Charly Huddleston, P.E.

Charly Huddleston, P.E.

The Clean Solutions for Omaha program encompasses approximately 43 square miles of Omaha. The specific areas are known as Downtown, Midtown, North Omaha and South Omaha. These areas were developed at a time when combined sewer systems (sanitary and storm water flowing in single pipe systems) were an accepted design.

The specific area of town known as West Omaha is not included in the CSO program because it was developed after the discontinuation of combined sewers, which was replaced by separate sanitary and storm sewers.

Approximately 52 times each year, raw sewage is discharged into the Missouri River and the Papillion Creek watershed from the flows originating in the older combined sewer system areas. The City of Omaha is not alone. There are about 772 other communities in the United States facing this same challenge.

The Federal Government passed the Combined Sewer Control Overflow policy in 1994. In 2005, the City of Omaha received notification that compliance was required. Four years later, the City, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agreed on an approved long-term control plan (LTCP) to reduce discharges to four times per year. Completion of the LTCP is scheduled for 2024.

Step 1 Soil – Field Investigation Phase
Soil is essential to the growth cycle of plants and field investigations are essential to the development of acceptable clean solutions. The field investigation phase is comprised of:
1. Office research
2. Field work
3. Stakeholder involvement

Office Research
Office research is an important task that provides the basis upon which to build and better understand the existing conditions in the field. Before field work begins, our team researches and reviews as-built plans; historical design standards, complaints, hydrology and hydraulic studies; as well as public utility and flow meter records, etc. 

Office research can uncover interesting history, such as evidence that some combined sewers were originally built using FDR’s Works Progress Administration (WPA) “New Deal” funds following the Great Depression in the early 1930s.
Field work
Field work is important and includes TV inspection of existing pipes, manholes and inlets, visual observation of high-water marks and collection of other important private property information. Inspection of pipes, manholes and inlets are completed in compliance with the National Association of Sewer Service Companies (NASSCO) as modified by the City for its CSO program. Utilizing a uniform nationally accepted standard ensures compliance across the program.

 The following photo was taken in midtown Omaha and is an excellent example of why private property inspections are important. This residential downspout is connected to a private sanitary sewer service. It is not easily discovered without entering the property and investigating. In some neighborhoods, this practice is a significant problem.

Stakeholder involvement
Stakeholder involvement is an important element of field investigations. There are many ways to involve stakeholders, such as issuing informative door hangers, posting project descriptions on the city CSO website, mailing stakeholders letters and holding informal public meetings. Because the CSO program encompasses a wide variety of economic, ethnic, educational, religious and cultural backgrounds, we prepare a unique approach to each of our specific projects.

The following photo was taken in North Omaha. It shows one of our crews performing a manhole condition inspection. Our crew members not only have good technical skills. They have good people skills, too. That is because they interact with stakeholders on a day-to-day basis.

Stay tuned for my next blog where I will discuss the importance of water in growing clean solutions.

Do Roundabouts Really Work? By Mark Lutjeharms, P.E., PTOE

Mark Lutjeharms, P.E., PTOE

“Hey look kids, there’s Big Ben, and there’s Parliament…again,” said Clark Griswold (aka Chevy Chase) in European Vacation. Despite Mr. Griswold’s experience with this particular round intersection, roundabouts have proven to be very successful in addressing safety and capacity at urban and rural intersections alike.  In fact:

  • In comparison to a two-way, stop-controlled intersection, roundabouts reduce severe (injury/fatal) crashes by 82 percent and overall crashes by 44 percent.
  • In comparison to a signalized intersection, roundabouts reduce severe (injury/fatal) crashes by 78 percent and overall crashes by 48 percent.
  • In comparison to a signalized intersection, roundabouts can reduce vehicle delays by as much as 89 percent.

Additional benefits of roundabouts include:

  • Reduced long-term operational costs.
  • More environmentally friendly than traditional intersections due to less vehicle emissions, fuel use and noise.
  • More aesthetically pleasing than traditional traffic intersections.
  • Easier navigation than traditional intersections for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Because of these benefits, roundabouts are being implemented more frequently in communities throughout the country and are oftentimes considered as the traffic-control method of choice.  

So, do roundabouts really work?  Absolutely!  If you haven’t already done so, give them a try. You might like them so much you will go round and round just like Clark Griswold.

Quality: Who’s Responsible for it?? By Steve Kathol, P.E., S.E.


Steve Kathol

Every entity that produces a work product is challenged by it.  Engineers and architects strive to perfect it.  Clients demand it.  Attorneys often get involved if one fails to produce it.  What is it?  Quality!

The quality of our work product is often the difference between a great client/architect-engineer experience and a good or perhaps poor experience.  This is true, not only for our work product, but also for the quality of the professional services we provide.  Poor quality often leads to construction change orders, schedule delays, exceeded budgets, unhappy clients and possibly litigation.  So it’s simple –produce high-quality deliverables and the likelihood of a successful project and happy client is high; fail to produce quality deliverables and the likelihood you’ll need your attorney is equally high.

So how do you produce quality? 

At Schemmer, our Quality Assurance/Quality Control plan is based on the following FIVE principles:

  1. Quality is everyone’s responsibility.  All team members have equal responsibility in ensuring high-quality deliverables.  It is not the sole responsibility of a principal, project manager, a department manager or project engineer/architect. This environment allows all team members to observe and take action.
  2. Quality control is continuous throughout project development. Good quality control does not happen only at the end of a project, but instead it is continuous throughout the entire project development.  Quality must be developed over time, just like other aspects of the project. 
  3. Quality, as defined by the client, is unique for every project. Not all clients define quality the same way.  The definition of quality, unique to the project, is articulated and written down for each project.  This becomes the team’s mission statement for project success.
  4. Items critical to the quality outcome of a project are identified and reviewed often.  Every project is unique and has its own set of critical items that can make-or-break a project.  These critical items are ‘focus points’ for the team to consider during project development.  These focus points will undergo particular scrutiny when ensuring quality.
  5. Quality is budgeted. Just like any other critical design task, quality control needs to be deliberate and appropriately budgeted to be effective.

Following the five steps above is a good start to producing quality. Keep in mind, simply sitting down with the client and communicating before beginning a project will help you get a better understanding of their expectations and unique definition of quality.  Using this simple communication approach, as well as the five principles, your attorney will be busy finding other things to do. 


Tracy Mumford, LEED AP

“What built environment does your firm specialize in?” Those of us who work in the A/E/C industry can count on hearing this question.  As Schemmer’s Marketing Director, I’ve found that my answer depends on who is asking the question and when it is asked. 

Schemmer is an architectural, engineering and planning firm offering over two dozen distinctive services in five core market sectors.  Many firms that fit this profile describe themselves as generalists, but not Schemmer.  Instead, we view ourselves as specialists in multiple markets

If you had asked me what we specialize in three years ago, my answer would have been “engineering services for federal government agencies” or “architectural design of senior living facilities.” At that time, the majority of our billable hours were dedicated to serving these two core markets.  Our architects, engineers, project managers and field technicians are experts in fulfilling the needs of these markets. 

Today, though, if you asked me this same question, my answer would be “infrastructure engineering and industrial facility architectural engineering services.”  This focus enables us to address the needs of an expanded client base while continuing to provide our existing clients with consultants who are already proven and acclimated to their way of doing work. 

When demand for a built environment changes, Schemmer responds.  We are an adaptive group of professionals who are dedicated to fulfilling the needs of our clients. As the marketplace evolves, so do we.

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