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BH’s Greg Scott Co-Authors Chapters in “Engineering Pittsburgh”

The Pittsburgh Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers is celebrating its 100th Anniversary in 2018 and embarked on an ambitious plan in 2017 to publish a book containing numerous images highlighting the achievements of civil engineering in Western Pennsylvania. Engineering Pittsburgh is the result of a team of 18 who authored the various chapters that covered such topics as Canals and River Navigation, Railroads, Roads and Highways, Bridges, Airports, and Wastewater, amongst others.

As surveying was one of the initial roles of civil engineering before it became a specially discipline, it was decided a chapter on surveying the borders of the State should open the book. Gregory F. Scott, PE, F.ASCE, with the assistance of Jodi S. Klebick, Regional Executive Director of the Jefferson Awards Foundation, authored that chapter which included history of the Native American tribes that inhabited Pennsylvania before Colonial times, the various charters and treaties that influenced the borders, and briefly covered the origin and evolution of surveyors tools as highlighted in the excerpt below:

Surveyors Tools

“One of the earliest written descriptions of a surveyor is contained in Master John Fitzherbert’s The Art of Husbandry, published in 1523. In it, the surveyor’s feudal role was that of executive officer for a landed nobleman. The French words of sur (over) and voir (see), described the surveyor’s duty to oversee the nobleman’s estate. When the English landed gentry began enclosing land during the reign of the Tudors, the visual inspection of the estate and the written report describing the ‘buttes and bounds’ and the rent or service due from the land’s tenants grew in importance. The need to measure and map the holdings fell upon the surveyor to determine where the estate’s boundaries abut (or to use another French word, mete) other boundaries and hence the work of the surveyor was to produce the ‘metes and bounds’ of a property.

Standardized topographical surveying was made possible by the inventions of a 17th Century English mathematician Edmund Gunter. In 1624 Gunther published The description and use of the sector, the cross-staffe, and other instruments for such studious of mathematical practise. In his book, Gunter describes a chain four perches in length made up of one hundred links. A perch was 16 ½ feet and Gunter’s chain therefore measured 66 feet in length. His 100 links allowed the easy conversion of a measurement system based on 4 to the new decimal system based on 10. The introduction of the precision Theodolite in the early 1700s combined with trigonometry would be the tools used by surveyors until the advent of electronic distance measurement in the 1950s, total stations in the 1970s and the widespread adoption of Real Time Kinematic surveying using Global Positioning Systems in the 1980s.”

Greg also co-authored the chapter “Drinking Water – Civil Engineering Protecting Life” with Rachel Rampa, Assistant Communications Manager at the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority (PWSA). “Currently (2018), there are more than 10,000 public and private drinking water systems in Pennsylvania, and more than 1,000,000 people in the State, who still relay on private wells for their water supply. It is useful to focus on the history of one system as representative of the history of the development of Western Pennsylvania’s drinking water systems. This chapter will focus on the history of the drinking water system for the City of Pittsburgh.” PWSA graciously supplied detailed information on its history that provided the story of how modern water systems have evolved.

The book was published by Arcadia Publishing & History Press and is available on their website, Amazon and Barnes and Nobles.