Some of our proudest civil engineering projects

McNeil EngineeringThere are many different types of engineers and engineering projects. At McNeil Engineering, we employ engineers of different specialties to make sure projects we work on get best specialized assistance and care possible. Today, we want to highlight our civil engineering staff. We are proud to employ top-notch civil engineers. It’s easy to confuse different kinds of engineering, so we’ll give you a quick run-down regarding the specifics of what a civil engineer does.

A civil engineer is an engineer in charge of planning how a structure will fit into the world around itself. Civil engineers will analyze plans and account for everything from parking to traffic, annual weather patterns, and historical problems in the area. The goal is to see how they can mitigate those problems. The civil engineer must understand how the structure will interact with the surrounding area. We are proud to have engineers on our team who are equipped to make these determinations. Let’s talk about some civil engineering projects we are proud to have completed!

1. Enos Wall Mansion

Enos Wall Mansion is a project we are proud to have been a part of. It means so much to be entrusted with the re-development of such an old and historic building. The Enos Wall Mansion was built in 1905 and is on the National Registry of Historic Places. Civil engineers work on the re-development and restoration of a building like this because they can analyze problems the building has dealt with in the past and make plans to mitigate those problems in the future. When working on an older building, civil engineers get the opportunity to work on aspects of the building that didn’t even exist when the building was first built, which is pretty exciting. New methodologies and technologies keep civil engineering exciting.

For example, our team of civil engineers, when working on the Enos Wall Mansion re-worked the paving plan so that the paving around the building would be better suited for its current and future use. Our teams also redesigned the storm drainage and gutter system, as weather patterns have changed massively in the hundred years Enos Wall Mansion has been standing. If you are interested in learning more about our work on the Enos Wall Mansion, don’t hesitate to visit our website!

2. Abravanel Hall

It was such an honor for our team to be part of the remodeling of such an iconic and important building. Built in the late 70′s, Abravanel Hall has made a name for itself as an important staple of Salt Lake City culture. Abravanel Hall is home to the Utah City Orchestra, and their performances in the great concert hall are an absolute joy to witness. Behind the scenes of every cool building like this is a lot of, you guessed it, civil engineering work.

Our team of expert civil engineers had the opportunity to re-design the entire storm management system at Abravanel Hall. They designed a retaining wall, a storm water collection system, and a long-term erosion control plan for the building. This is so important for a building like Abravanel Hall, which contains a concert hall constructed of wood. The concert hall was built in an incredibly specific way to optimize acoustics, and storm damage can render all that complex architecture pretty much useless by warping the wood and ruining the sound.

3. The Sugarhouse Monument

This was another project we were incredibly excited to be a part of. We got the opportunity to take an iconic part of Salt Lake City, the Sugarhouse Monument in the Sugarhouse Business district, and return it to its former glory, and adding some fun new touches along the way. It’s so exciting for our team to be part of a project that we know will bring so much joy to the people who experience it. McNeil’s civil engineering team has designed a plan to completely turn the Sugarhouse Monument Plaza into more than just an area between buildings, it will be an event center for all Salt-Lake natives and their families to enjoy.

There will be nearly an acre of open public land, perfect for picnics or walks with friends. The civil engineers at McNeil will also redesign the entire water management system, restore the iconic fountain that is the Sugarhouse Monument, and add an interactive water feature that will be a fun place for families. There is also an area for art exhibit in the design plans. The Sugarhouse Monument is a truly incredible example of how civil engineering is important to the development of not only transportation or more efficient erosion management, but it is also essential in the development of thriving, happy communities.

We hope you have enjoyed this look through some of our proudest civil engineering projects!

You’d never guess these products were invented by engineers!

greatest inventionsSo many of humanity’s greatest inventions are the work of well-known historical engineers. Some of our most primitive inventions like tools, the wheel and even fire were works of the top engineering minds of their respective times of development.

Of course, some modern luxuries are also clearly fetes of engineering, like running water, skyscrapers and our cars that seem to get more unbelievably futuristic every day! Usually when we imagine inventions that are prime examples of engineering genius, we do tend to think exactly like this, we think primarily of inventions and new state of the art craftsmanship. Today, we’re interested in exploring some everyday products invented by engineers that you might not have ever imagined were complex engineering masterpieces. These items represent how most of our daily-use items are so much more complex and interesting than we ever could have imagined.

Far too often, people are categorized by whether they are an artistic person or a scientific person. This is unfortunate, because so often, scientific discoveries lead to new ways to express creativity. Just as we wouldn’t have paint without scientists mixing different pigments and different suspensions from nature, we wouldn’t have sewing as we know it today without a few wonderful structural engineers from the late 18th and 19th Century. Before the sewing machine, wearable garments took hours of time and significant effort to produce. The process was limited by the amount of free time someone had in a day, how practiced they were, the quality of their materials and also just by human error in general.

We often think of the “old days” as a time when everyone made their own clothes, but this is a common misconception. Most of the 18th and 19th century, the early Victorian Era especially, people only made their own clothes if it was absolutely necessary due of lack of funds. This is because hand-sewing the garments of the day was such a time consuming and daunting task that most people did not have time to sew their own clothes, and often opted to hire a tailor or dressmaker instead. Home sewing didn’t become a viable option for most people until the first commercially successful sewing machine in the 1850′s. Invented by Elias Howe and produced by Isaac Singer, the first iteration of the modern lockstitch machine we know today hit the market in 1860. This machine was completely mechanical, using a series of what are known as simple machines in engineering, like pulleys.
This machine consisted of dozens of complex parts that had to work together structurally, and couldn’t have been developed without an engineers mind

Like we discussed with the sewing machine, fashion and wearable garments don’t often come to mind when we think of engineering inventions. However, in order to make wearable garments that are effective, it takes someone like an engineer to understand what the item must be able to withstand. The next engineering invention is a prime example of this necessity, the athletic shoe. Throughout most of the 18th and 19th century, most shoes people wore were a variation on the boot. Most shoes consisted of leather uppers and wooden soles, which worked well for what they were made for. Activities like walking long miles on cobblestone or working in harsh conditions were perfect for shoes such as these.

However, in the mid 1800s, a new trend was starting to grow, the trend of health and fitness. At this time the tuberculosis epidemic had been ravaging Europe for a generation, and people wanted to start focusing on taking care of themselves and being healthy, and so from that, the athletic shoe was born. This shoe was produced by engineers at the Liverpool Rubber Company, who had tested various different prototypes for how they would withstand different types of fitness. They tested structurally how much force they could take, and how they would act in different weather environments outside. These are all factors of structural engineering, and the sneaker is a feat of structural engineering

One of the earlier inventions that is such a cool example of engineering at its best is the pendulum clock, which technically has many inventors, all strong examples of historical engineering masterminds. Some of these minds include Galileo and Christiaan Huygens. The pendulum clock works on the basis of continuous oscillation in a fixed cycle, or in laymen’s terms, the fact that if a pendulum swings back and forth continuously each swing will last the same amount of time. This invention changed the way that humans tell time by being able to measure smaller and smaller increments of time

The sewing machine, the athletic shoe, and the pendulum clock are all great examples of the fact that most inventions require a good engineering eye to develop, and at McNeil Engineering we are so excited to have even a small part in engineering history. We look forward to continuing to learn and grow, furthering technology and discovery forever.

McNeil’s different types of engineers

Engineer TypesAs our name, McNeil Engineering, suggests, we specialize in engineering and are proud to have a well-rounded staff of specialized engineers for all different types of projects. That being said, we realize that people in need of an engineer’s professional assistance for a project might not immediately understand what kind of engineer the best fit for the job would be!

Of course, any potential client of McNeil can always contact us for more information on what kinds of engineering services we offer. However, we also thought it might be useful to potential clients to understand a little bit more about a few types of engineering we have staff specializing in, what the differences are between them, and what type of projects each type may accompany best!

Of course, there is quite a bit of overlap between these specializations, but there are key differences that mean more than you might think! So, without further ado, read on for 3 different examples of special engineering that McNeal is proud to offer.

1. Civil Engineering

Let’s begin with civil engineering, because it is probably the most well-known and commonly used term out of this list! This is because “civil engineering” is often used as an umbrella term for any commercial engineering project that has to do with infrastructure. This is not entirely accurate, though it is based in truth. Civil engineers have their own specialized place in projects. So, what is that place, and what does a civil engineer do? Civil engineers have the incredibly important and sometimes daunting task of evaluating a construction project or plan in terms of how effective it will be in relation to the area surrounding it.

Civil engineering often has to do with transportation. For example, imagine a small coffee shop in a big city quickly gains popularity and has the means to open a new location. A civil engineer’s touch on the plan can make that coffee shop’s second location a step towards a booming franchise. In this scenario, it would be a civil engineer’s job to do research to optimize the location of the new shop by, say, a high commute traffic area where people might like to stop for a coffee before work? Also, a civil engineer would make sure that the location is optimized or everything important to a coffee shop, like Wi-Fi, water, and electrical reliability. This coffee shop example is just a small example to show what kinds of jobs civil engineers are responsible for. Often, they are tasked with much more pressing tasks like new roads, airports, housing and apartment complexes and much, much more.

2. Structural Engineering

Structural engineering does have a lot of overlap with civil engineering when it comes to what kinds of projects they can work on, however a structural engineer has an equally important but very different focus. While a civil engineer’s job is to optimize and plan a project like a building, for example, the structural engineer’s job is to make sure that building stays standing. Civil engineers are mostly involved in the planning stages of a project. Structural engineers are absolutely involved in the planning of projects because they are experts in planning a project to be structurally sound before construction even starts. Structural engineers are often sent plans for projects after they are mostly finished to be evaluated for potential structural issues. One of a structural engineer’s most important jobs, however, is to be present at a construction site to make sure that the construction is going to plan structurally to, again, make sure that once that building or structure goes up, it stays up.

3. BIM engineers

AT McNeil we are proud to employ skilled and trained BIM engineers. We truly believe that BIM is revolutionizing the infrastructure and engineering industries and we are so excited to have the latest in BIM technology. For the uninformed, BIM stands for “business information modeling” which is, basically, the process of digitally planning a project in full before beginning construction. This involves much more than just written planning. BIM engineers are experts in BIM software and can fully digitally model projects before ground is even broken. These #D models and plans can then be evaluation by either or preferably both the aforementioned types of engineers to make sure that a project is ready to begin construction. This process minimizes any mistakes made during the construction process. At McNeil we specialize in BIM because we want your project to go as smoothly as possible!

If you are part of a company or organization that is planning a project that could benefit from this kind of assistance, or if you are looking to learn more about our services, please contact us here:

McNeil Engineering Direct Contacts | Our Team of Engineers in SLC Utah

We hope now you understand a little better the differences between the types of engineers we employ!

McNeil Engineering builds long-lasting client relationships

Client RelationshipsAt McNeil Engineering, we’re always in search of new projects, but we also like to make sure that our clients know that we are available to them after the completion of their first project. We like to build lasting relationships with the people and companies that hire us for any of our services, including structural engineering, civil engineering, landscape architecture, building information modeling, laser scanning, and roofing consultation.

A firm foundation of trust

A wonderful example of a landscaping architecture client we have a close relationship with is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We have been the prime consultant on new church constructions for the LDS Church all over the western United States. We built their trust by creating award-winning drought-tolerant designs for their churches in desert areas so that their members can see their home churches as comfortable and safe places to be. Because of this, they now continue to trust us to work on new designs for them, and we hope to continue to fulfill their engineering and consulting needs for a long time.

Helping craft first impressions

Another example of a long-term client is Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. We started our relationship with them by being contracted to help redesign the entrance to the Student Services Center, which is the first part of WSU that potential students encounter We created an open, welcoming design that gave students a glimpse of how comfortable and homey WSU could be, and the success that they could have there. Since then, we have been working with WSU throughout the years to redesign most of their campus to present themselves to students visibly as the wonderful university they are.

A partner you can trust

If you’re an architect or a developer, or if you own a business, we at MeNeil want to build a close professional relationship with you, because we believe that is the best way that we can help you make your structural and architectural plans come alive and have your building (or whatever structure we’re helping you with) help to present the intended message. We want to take whatever you have in mind and use our expertise to help make it safe, structurally sound, environmentally friendly, and beautiful.

At McNeil Engineering we also specialize in building information modeling, which means that we have the best technology to be able to help you plan and visualize your project before it is constructed. This helps to minimize having to make expensive corrections once construction has started. Building Information Modeling is one of the reasons we like to keep clients long-term because once you work on a project assisted by BIM, we think you’ll want to keep using it.

Getting to know each other

Of course, another reason we like to make ourselves available as long-term partners to our clients is that the longer we work with a client or corporation, the better we can understand them. The more projects we assist you with, the better we understand your goals, mission, and preferred aesthetic. And, as we get to know you better, you get to know us better as well, and we hope that makes you feel at ease and comfortable trusting us to help with your projects. Building professional relationships is important to us because we know how difficult it can be to get into the groove of working with someone new, especially when you’re passionate about the project at hand. Architects, we know your designs are like your children, and you would probably rather leave your child with a babysitter you know than a random one you found on Facebook!

Bringing your vision to life

Basically, if you’re in need of landscape architecture or civil and structural engineers for a project, we would like you to know that we’ll do our very best to help you bring your vision to life, whether you plan to only have us help with one project, or you plan to work with us indefinitely. However, we hope we can show you that if you have long-term design goals, we can absolutely be a long-term asset to each of them.

Ultimately, at McNeil Engineering, our clients are our top priority, and we want to be able to do the best work for them we possibly can. We want to be an asset in creating beautiful spaces and growing infrastructure in a way that is aesthetically pleasing, safe, structurally sound long-term, and respectful to the natural landscape. If that resonates with you, that already gives us a head-start on understanding each other, and we can only grow together from here.

If you’re interested in viewing some of the designs we’ve created for long-term clients, please feel free to check out the Landscape Architecture Projects page on our website here. We welcome your questions and inquiries.

History’s most famous structural engineers

When we think of the incredible engineering feats of the world, we often think of mighty dams, towering buildings and expansive bridges. These images may also concur with architects who drew up these plans or the brave construction workers who risked their lives during the building. ut we sometimes forget about the unsung heroes of the projects — the structural engineers.

What is a structural engineer?

Structural Engineering is a specialty within Civil Engineering. These professionals are responsible for several critical aspects of projects.

They’re designers. They’re the individuals who design strong, supportive, and stable buildings to withstand natural elements like wind and storms.

They’re also safety experts. They make sure buildings are safe for everyday use and withstand the worst elements like hurricanes, tornados and earthquakes.

And they’re problem solvers. They’re tasked with using everything from basic math calculations to cutting-edge tech.

In fact, the term engineering comes from the Latin words “Ingenium” meaning cleverness and “ingeniare” meaning to devise.

They create drawings and specifications, perform calculations, write reports and evaluations, and observe construction sites. They work on the most beautiful, awe-inspiring architecture problems, bridges, skyscrapers, homes, artwork and even rollercoasters.

Their work is so varied they may be tasked with making sure a bridge can support hundreds of tons of steel and ensuring a dance floor doesn’t vibrate when people jump on it.

For centuries these experts have used a combination of creativity and design and intelligence to solve problems.

You may know some of their work, but do you know the most famous structural engineers of all time? We want to highlight a few of the most impactful structural engineers of the last century. Without them, our most iconic structures would not be possible.

Holmer Malcolm

You may not have heard of Holmer Malcolm. But you’ve seen his greatest creation— the Empire State Building.

This iconic Manhattan structure is 102 stories and 1,250 feet tall, making it one of the world’s tallest buildings for over 40 years. It uses more than 200,000 cubic feet of limestone and granite.

This impressive feat would not be possible without Malcolm. Malcolm designed the building during the early 20th century. Malcolm was called a genius after taking just over one year to build. It was hailed as the Eighth Wonder of the World during its 1931 debut and became one of the most recognizable skyscrapers in the world.

The structure also put New York on the map within the structural engineer community, proving engineers in the city were daring and imaginative.

Malcolm’s design advanced several innovative design concepts during his building design. For example, he made tall buildings stable and safe when exposed to lateral forces. He also began an expert in wind stresses on high-rises, designing unique foundations that eliminated vibrations in structures.

Today, many of his methods are still considered design and engineering standards.

Peter Rice

In Peter Rice’s obituary, author Jonathan Glancey wrote, “Rice was, perhaps, the James Joyce of structural engineering.”

Some called Rice one of the most imaginative and gifted structural engineers of the 20th century. He was known for his adventurous designs and ingenious buildings.

Rice combined geometry, analysis, and a computer program for the Sydney Opera House roof for his first project.

The Sydney Opera House is instantly recognizable. Considered a masterpiece of architecture, it uses unique and unparalleled design and cutting-edge architectural and technological achievements.

As a gifted mathematician, Rice did most of the geometrical work for the roof. Rice took over the project when his partner, Ian MacKenzie, fell ill. He went on to work with the well-known engineering firm Ove Arup who used his intellectual insight and boundary-pushing ideas for numerous architectural projects.

Gustave Eiffel

You can probably guess Gustave Eiffel’s most famous creation. But, of course, he was the engineer who designed and oversaw construction on the Eiffel Tower.

The Eiffel Tower is one of the most recognizable and beloved feats of architecture. It combines strength and airy lightness.

Even 125 years after its development, it stands as a symbol of structural engineering. During its construction, it pushed architectural and structural boundaries. It’s twice as tall as the Great Pyramid in Egypt. Its design created and symbolized advancement in the engineering industry, developed new construction materials and techniques and helped cement better structural engineering knowledge and experience.

Today, it is one of the most-visited places in the world.

Eiffel was responsible for advancing these ideas. He was known for engineering the sound support frame structure. He used the same idea to create the Statue of Liberty and the iron framing for the Notre Dame cathedral. His goal was to build simultaneously lighter, cheaper, and stronger structures.

Ready to start your own structural engineering project?

Our expert structural engineering staff, backed by many years of experience, are uniquely qualified to offer specialized expertise in the planning, designing, and constructing structures for buildings and civil works projects.

We analyze and design specialized structures and solve structural and foundation problems. We provide an unprecedented level of professionalism, understanding of the construction process and a commitment to quality. This gives our clients the most efficient, economical and safe structures.

We provide design services for structures involving low to mid-rise commercial, institutional, medical, residential and governmental buildings. Visit our website to learn more about our work:

The hidden ingredient for fast food expansion

In-n-Our BurgerHowever, there comes a time in the life cycle of every business – small, big, private, public – when the call of expansion can become incredibly tempting, and indeed – vital, to the continued health and prosperity of a business. Business owners must – when the time is right – heed that call.

A brief introduction to the fast-food expansion

This is precisely what occurred for the American (now) regional chain of fast-food restaurants known as In-N-Out Burger. In-N-Out Burger began in Baldwin Park, California, all the way back in 1948. In fact, that initial In-N-Out Burger just so happened to be the first drive-thru hamburger stand in all of California. It allowed drivers to place orders via a two-way speaker system. Within a few years, this service type would come to supersede the previous carhop method – not just in California – but all over the world!

In-N-Out Burger, however, remained a relatively small southern California chain, in order to ensure quality control. A few decades passed, and the inevitable call of expansion was finally answered. In-N-Out Burger began to expand out of state, mostly focusing its sights on the southwest region.

This is where Utah, McNeil Engineering, and landscape architecture all enter the story.

McNeil Engineering and the wonders of landscape architecture

By 2008, In-N-Out Burger headquarters were actively seeking to expand their chain of fast-food restaurants into the great state of Utah, and its bountiful market. In-N-Out Burger searched high and low for the best design firm to undertake such a monumental feat of civil engineering and landscape architecture.

They succeeded in their mission. McNeil Engineering was commissioned as the civil engineering and landscape architectural consultant for the project. Right from the get-go, McNeil Engineering’s landscape architectural design team was able to work hand in hand with In-N-Out Burger headquarters, in order to develop landscape design themes, concepts, and standards – which would feed successfully into the In-N-Our Burger principles and aesthetics.

McNeil Engineering’s landscape architectural design time, in conjunction with In-N-Out Burger, eventually developed an appropriate palette for the restaurant, signage, and outdoor landscape architecture. The teams landed on a palette involving white, red, and yellow plants to surround In-N-Out Burger locations at over a dozen different sites scattered throughout the Wasatch Front in Northern Utah. The goal was to cultivate a bright, lively, colorful landscape to draw customers in, while also gathering an aesthetically pleasing array of textures and visuals which would remain interesting through every season of the year. In-N-Out Burger and McNeil Engineering clearly knocked their landscape architectural goals right out of the park!

Environmentally conscious irrigation

Above and beyond such concerns, McNeil Engineering also took the task of civil and structural engineering immensely seriously, as well. Of course, this is all part of the overall job of landscape architecture. In fact, McNeil Engineering, in partnership with In-N-Out Burger, developed an innovative system for environmentally conscious irrigation at these fast-food locations, which had always been made a clear priority.

Indeed, the conservation of water is always a top priority in the state of Utah these days, so in order to combat these mounting concerns, McNeil Engineering planned for the future by both envisioning and completing an irrigation system consisting of below-grade inline drip emitters for both the planting beds and lawn areas at each and every In-N-Out Burger location in Utah. This marvel of structural engineering is controlled by an ET-based smart controller, which came complete with rain and flow sensors as well as a fertilizer injector.

This meticulous forethought is paying dividends for McNeil Engineering and the In-N-Out Burger brand and business throughout all of Utah. Indeed, thanks to landscape architecture wizardry and unrivaled customer service, the In-N-Out Burger chain of fast-food restaurants consistently ranks high within this region for overall customer satisfaction. The fact these numbers stay consistent is a testament to how excellent landscape architecture can feed into the pleasing aesthetics of a positive customer experience.

Become part of the future of fast-food expansion in Utah

This sort of positive customer experience and many more like it fueled by McNeil Engineering’s mastery of landscape architecture, is exactly the sort of facet of business expansion business owners and investors strive for.

Are you, by any chance, the owner of a business hearing that siren call of expansion, perhaps for the first time? Do you dream of opening locations in nearby markets in the Utah area? Do you wish to witness such glowing customer testimonials as the ones seen at local In-N-Out Burger locations?

Well, in that case, look no further than McNeil Engineering for all your landscape architecture, civil engineering, and structural engineering needs. The landscape of your business – both on the physical and spiritual planes – will never look better!

Modern civil engineering feats

Modern civil engineering featsThe modern world is full of engineering marvels. From bridges to towering buildings to environmental solutions, these man-made structures wow and amaze and sometimes even defy nature and gravity.

We’ve combined a few of our favorite impressive modern engineering marvels. These may awe and amaze you or inspire you for your next engineering project.

Delta Works, The Netherlands. For centuries, the Netherlands had been subject to severe flooding thanks to the land’s location below and very near sea level.

However, in 1952 horrific regional flooding resulted in more than 8,000 deaths. The Delta Works project was created to protect the region’s vulnerability from storm surges. Delta Works is a massive infrastructural project using a series of dams, levees, and locks to enable the modulation of tides.

The project spanned four decades, from 1954 to 1997. Since its opening, it has been declared one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

The Venice Tide Barrier Project, Venice, Italy. The world’s largest flood prevention project is awarded to the Venice Tide Barrier Project in Venice, Italy. Venice, the famous city of water, faces an urgent crisis about the ever-sinking city. To help keep the city from flooding and sinking further into the ocean, the Venice Tide Barrier Project began in 2003. The project operates using a series of panels spanning three inlets to allow water to surge from the Adriatic Ocean into the Venice lagoon.

English Channel Tunnel, The United Kingdom. The English Channel Tunnel links the shore of Kent in the UK with Pas-de-Calais in France through 31.35 miles of an underwater tunnel. At its deepest point, the tunnel sits 250 feet below sea level.

The channel carries high-speed passenger and freight trains. It’s the most extensive transportation system of its kind in the world. The tunnel was one of the most expensive projects of its time. Similar projects had been considered several times throughout history, but the tunnel as we know it today was planned in 1986 as a consorted effort between the UK and France. The tunnel was chosen over proposals for long suspension bridges, bridge-and-tunnel links, and other similar projects. Construction began in 1987 and was completed in 1991. It officially opened in 1994.

Millau Viaduct, Millau, France. The bridge is the tallest cable-stayed road bridge in the world to date. The cable-stay bridge was completed in 2004 in Southern France.

The giant bridge is an impressive engineering venture. Its highest tower measure 1,125 feet tall– surpassing the Eiffel Tower and are almost as tall as the Empire State Building.

Completed in 2004, the bridge’s goal was to alleviate congested traffic from Paris to Barcelona during the summer vacation months.
The bridge only took three years to complete. Typically a cable-stayed road bridge is built in sections and then lifted and put into position with cranes.

In addition, a new technique was used to engineer the bridge. After building the towers, engineers constructed the roadway on either side and then rolled the two sides into the center.

National Stadium, Beijing, China. The national stadium is the world’s largest steel structure. It’s nicknamed the Bird’s Nest since its shape and lattice-like design resemble the organic creation. Its elaborate design consisted of almost 26 miles of unwrapped steel. The foundation is made from two independent frames set 50 feet apart, an inner concrete red bowl for seating and an outer steel frame weighing 42,000 tons.

It was built for the 2008 Olympic Games and seats 80,000 people. The building is also one of the most energy-efficient stadiums in the world.
During the winter, underground geothermal pipes heat the indoor part of the stadium. In addition, underground cisterns collect and store rainwater for irrigation and use in restrooms.

The world is full of amazing man-made structures. These are just a small sample of some of the most awe-inspiring. What do you think the next century of engineering will bring?

The Eiffel Tower: A 19th-century feat of structural engineering

If you’ve ever traveled to Paris, chances are good you’ve visited the Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower is still an impressive feat of engineering, even more than 130 years after its inauguration. But what you might not know about this landmark is that it became famous even before its opening.

Erected in 1889 on Champs de Mars in Paris for the Fourth World Exposition, this technical advancement became synonymous with the city of Paris, France at large, and what can happen when humans dream bigger than they have before. People, for centuries, had attempted to build structures taller than the Great Pyramid in Giza. It was thought impossible until the Eiffel Tower stood twice as tall as these ancient ruins.

A first of its kind

Fast forward to today. It’s the most visited monument in the world. Yes, you read that right! More than six million people make the trek to the Parisian park to see this amazing structure in all its glory. As a result, the tower, the subject of much debate and discussion during its planning and construction, is now among the world’s most prominent monuments.

You might ask yourself why this tower is so popular. While it is easy to understand its appeal, it’s perhaps more challenging to explain its modern appeal due to its novelty alone. Since its completion, we have erected structures that are larger in size and scope as a global society. Many experts will tell you that it’s more than the sum of its parts. In addition to its architectural prowess, the Eiffel Tower represents a masterpiece of imagination of human effort.

An engineering marvel

Let’s dive deeper. Eiffel’s design office required more than 5,000 drawings for the tower and its 18,038 elements. Builders used more than 7,000 tons of wrought iron connected by 2.5 million rivets.

Consider the complexities associated with horse-drawn carts transporting pre-assembled parts of the structure from the company workshop near Paris to the site. More than 100 workers came on the site to offer technical support, and another 300 in the workshop had a hand in fabrication and erection.

The construction started on January 28, 1887, and was completed in only two years on March 31, 1889. At its debut, the tower clocked in at 300.65 meters (986 feet). The tower’s base is square, 125 meters (410 feet) per side. In 1957, an antenna was added, bringing the total height to 320.75 meters (1,052 feet). In 2000, the tower’s height reached 324 meters (1,063 feet) upon the installation of another antenna.

A symbolic and practical structure

But beyond being an aesthetic force, it seems Gustave Eiffel was well aware of the implications of his architectural contributions.

“It would symbolize not only the art of the modern engineer, but also the century of Industry and Science in which we are living, and for which the way was prepared by the great scientific movement of the eighteenth century and by the Revolution of 1789, to which this monument will be built as an expression of France’s gratitude,” Eiffel said.

Eiffel also took a pragmatic view of this project, encouraging multiple uses of the tower beyond mere entertainment. For instance, he was personally interested in using it to study wind forces and velocity as well as meteorological observations. On a related note, there’s no danger of the tower being damaged by high winds since it’s designed to withstand movements easily five times beyond those produced by the highest winds documented. Today, the movements are monitored by a system.

Another fact: The tower leans very slightly in bright sunlight, as one side is heated by the sun and expands slightly. Over the years, the tower has been used for transmitting radio signals and used more recently for television broadcasting.

More than a century later, the Eiffel Tower still takes our breath away. Why? The design in and of itself captivates the human spirit. Its elegant and slender form simultaneously evokes a feeling of strength and stability, almost a contradiction. This combination is a characteristic of the few truly great structures in the world, and the Eiffel Tower definitely warrants a spot at the top of this special list. As it straddles the past, present and future, we as structural engineers continue to be inspired by its magnitude.

Structural engineering is our bread and butter at McNeil Engineering. We may be biased but we believe the roles of structural engineering and structural engineers cannot be overstated in the 21st century. Ultimately, structural engineers help ensure that all the buildings and structures we see around are safe to use. Whether constructing a world-famous monument like the Eiffel Tower or a government building, safety is always at the front and center of our profession.

Feel free to reach out to us here for more information. We look forward to working with you on your next project. (801) 225-7700

What are beams and columns in structural engineering?

structural engineeringFrom the ancient Pyramids of Giza to modern-day Borj Khalifa, we have accomplished several civil engineering feats in our relatively short history. But when you think about it, this progress hinges on our ability to understand structural mechanisms.

You see, everything civil engineering you can think of – from huts to skyscrapers and bridges – all require structural elements to keep them standing.

Beams and columns are two such important structural elements, and they’ve been used for thousands of years. They play an important role in creating a safe load path to transfer the weight and forces acting on a structure to the foundation and into the ground.

In this article, we delve deeper into what they’re all about.


Beams are horizontal structural elements that withstand vertical loads, shear forces, and bending moments. Beams transfer loads imposed along their horizontal length to endpoints, such as columns, walls, and foundations.

To give you a concrete example, let’s examine a bridge. During the construction of a bridge, giant structural elements are erected into the floor. These structural elements are referred to as columns – but more on that later.

Then, long horizontal elements (typically made of reinforced concrete or steel) are placed between the ends of the columns. These horizontal elements are referred to as beams. In the case of a bridge, they carry the weight of the vehicles moving on the bridge and transfer it to the columns.

Another good example of a beam would be the balancing beam in gymnastics. A 15-feet long beam is supported at both ends. Now, when the gymnastics perform her stunts on the beam, she is acting downwards perpendicular to the longitudinal direction of the beam.

In buildings, beams are used to support the weight of ceilings, roofs, and floors.

Design of Beams

The design of beams involves the selection of the proper beam size, area, and material that will carry the applied load without failing or deflecting excessively. Coming to the right conclusion requires an adept understanding of physics and engineering statics.

Structural engineers are trained to analyze loads, forces, and stresses acting on beams. And they use their insight to determine the best material, size, and shape.


The most common types of materials used for beams include:

1) Reinforced concrete

2) Steel

3) Grouted masonry

4) Wood

All materials have their pros and cons. For instance, steel beams are recyclable, durable, and rust-resistant. But on the downside, they have high maintenance costs, are less resistant to fire, and are difficult to maneuver.

But at the end of the day, the final selection of material is usually based on cost, size, and functional purpose.

Size and Shape

The dimension of a beam is directly proportional to its load-bearing properties. The thicker the beam, the bigger the load it can carry without failing.


By now, you should have a good idea of what a column is. But here’s the formal definition. A column is a vertical structural member intended to transfer compressive load.

To give a basic example, consider a four-legged table. The four legs of the table can be seen as columns. And the weights of the wooden slab and objects on the table are transferred to the legs, which in turn transfers them to the floor as compression.

If you transfer this idea to a tall building, the columns at the bottom floor help carry the cumulative weight of all the floors above it.


To attain the best load distribution, columns should be spaced consistently throughout all floors. That’s precisely why the columns in bridges are usually spaced equally.

But sometimes, the proposed architectural design on a structure might put practical limitations in following this rule. When that’s the case, the structural engineer has to work closely with the architect to determine the ideal column layout given the design constraints.


In modern construction, columns are primarily made from two types of materials:

1) Steel

Steel columns can be classified into three types. They are C-section, I-section, and hollow section.

2) Reinforced concrete

Reinforced concrete is typically design as rectangular or circular sections.

In classical architecture, stones were popularly used as columns.


When designing the columns of a new building, the structural engineer considers several things. First, they calculate the weight of the floors/roof and other loads extruding vertical forces supported by these columns.

What’s more, the effects of lateral forces due to earthquakes and wind must also be taken into account. Based on the resulting values, the structural engineer determines the ideal material, size, and shape.

Wrap Up

Without beams and columns, structures would be unable to stand uprightly. And although there’s a lot more to structural elements, you should now have at least a rudimentary idea of what they’re all about.

Contact us here today for more information. We look forward to working with you on your next project!

McNeil Engineering’s Spring 2021 Recap

2021 Recap“Bringing science to life” is Engineering in its simplest form. And we are proud to be doing that and more for our customers. The past year was not the easiest; still, we cannot but appreciate our invaluable teams and clients as we rose to the challenges and got better every season.

Our spring was even better than we expected. There was a change in leadership at the top; we took on many amazing projects and saw our discipline and standards pay off in other numerous projects. There are few better ways to express our appreciation than celebrating;

  • Thank you, Outgoing President Ted!

Our utmost appreciation and debt go to Ted Didas as he steps down from the role he volunteered for a decade. Ted has been a sturdy, innovative, and savvy president, and his leadership years were nothing but exemplary. As he proceeds to head the Civil Engineering team, the board has chosen Michael Hoffman to replace him.

Michael has climbed doggedly through many ladders since joining the company in 1995 to become a licensed land surveyor, a bachelor’s degree holder in Civil Engineering (2006). He has until now managed our Survey department for the past 20 years.

  • The tale of the “Father-Son” Bridges

Special moments are never far in McNeil Engineering projects; you only have to look closely.

Structural and Dept. Manager Matt Roblez found his when he got a job to expand on a bridge designed by his father in 1969 (shortly after his birth). More of a generational bridge many would call it.

So here Matt was, expanding the Gunsight Bridge at St George. It begins to get sweeter when he says he got loads of insight from his father, Victor Roblez’s original “hand-calculated” plans/designs.

Matt’s father, Victor, passed on on December 19, 2019. He was a recognized member of the Utah branch of the ASCE as a “Landmark Engineer.”

  • The move to freestanding pads

While the Covid-19 proved challenging, we were always available to help our clients. And of the new trends, consequent of the pandemic was an increase of freestanding pads for business models, including the housing restaurants, coffee shops, and so on.

The freestanding pad innovation has a vast application that exceeds its primary purpose. Our excited client, where our Civil engineering team headed by Rob Poirier has perfected this project, includes; Slim Chicken’s in Herriman, Lehi and Shake Shack in Murray, and co.

The addition is proving useful to dine-in, drive-through, pick-up orders. In the end, we are only improvising like we promise our customers.

  • We went to Texas to LiDAR Scan!

Laser scans and usage are not uncommon in Engineering. Here, unlike some we have undertaken in the past, Savage Sulfur in Galveston requested our services. Michael hopped on the next fight to assess the work to be done.

LiDar scanning services are one of the numerous things our survey team does. And there at Savage Sulfur, we once again employed our efficiency and accuracy to measure existing pipes and the overall structure of the sulfur processing plants. This information will be beneficial to them as they plan an expansion of the facility. We would love to appreciate Michael Hoffman, PLS, who supervised the entire project.

LiDAR scanning is a form of remote sensing technology that gives smaller images of laser scans to create 3D models of objects, maps, and environments.

  • How important is a planned Landscape?

Beautiful things are hardly by accident. And we are happy to transform a mundane community into the best of paradise. Landscape architecture is a growing area in the field that includes prioritizing the space around which we live, work, shop, and play.

Your building can only be as beautiful as its surrounding. How beautiful is your “between buildings”?

Our Landscape architecture team, led by Scott Schoonover (PLA, ASLA), gives the best in all the projects they undertake. We are not only set to plan and transform an area, but we create a perfect interface where humans, nature, technology, and animals blend into a beautiful and “healthy” environment.

Restoring the roof of the Central Utah correctional facility

Nothing bites harder than an inadequate roof. And that is why we have undertaken this project with clear alacrity.

The Central Utah correctional facility is seeing a growing number of inmates across its three housing units. Most of these units also offer multiple services to the community apart from housing the inmates.

Another thing that makes this project special is the fact that new buildings construction are running parallel to the renovation of older ones. However, with Carl Greene (consulting manager at McNeil) in charge of the project, there has been ongoing headway.

At last, the CUCF will get a working roof as soon as possible.

Wrapping Up

The spring has always been a great one for everyone, and not in the least McNeil Engineering. We always appreciate our old and new clients for trusting us with delivery, innovation, and science. Respect, healthy work environments, and growth are priorities here, and that is what makes us great as a family!

Reach out to us today for more information.