Jay Brannon is a civil and environmental engineer for the city of Portland, Oregon. She manages construction teams to implement features such as culverts, which help prevent roads from washing away in urban areas. "Discovering You: Engineering Your World" is produced by NBC News Learn in partnership with Chevron, the American Society for Engineering Education and the National Science Foundation.
Discovering You – Engineering Your World – Jay Brannon
JAY BRANNON (Civil Engineer):
This site is going really well. It's surprising because it's the deepest dig too. We thought it would take them a lot longer. They've done a great job.
My name is Jay Brannon. I am a civil engineer with an environmental engineering focus. I work within construction management for the city of Portland.
I am a born-and-raised Portlander. So a true Oregonian and I've lived actually in Northeast Portland for my entire life. I went to college here at University of Portland where I studied civil engineering, had an environmental science minor. Civil engineering is kind of known as the people's engineering, because it helps people. And the work itself is not-for-profit and the projects are all to help the general public. Sometimes it gives back to people in a bridge or a road. There's such a broad range of things that you create with engineering. Engineering is not one of the jobs where you just sit in front of an office all day. You're designing something. You're creating something. You're innovating something. And usually it's a solution to something.
I knew that environmental engineering was an aspect I wanted to do because it kept me in the field, it still had engineering and some innovation to it. It's great to be able to actually work for the city I love and I've lived in my whole life.
We are in Forest Park on the Leif Erikson Trail. This is an 11-mile trail in Portland. It gets a lot of hikers, bikers, pedestrians that walk through it. It looks like we're in the middle of the forest, and it is a forest. There's a lot of native plants, native species of trees. We have a lot of species here that show that this is a healthy forest despite being in the middle of a city. Another aspect of the forest is that we get a lot of rainfall. And when that rain comes through, it has the potential to wipe out the trails and also bring some of these trees down.
Culverts are important for all road projects, even in urban areas. You need them otherwise your road will be wiped out based on rainfall and storm water. The main purpose of this project is three culvert replacements. So we'll be putting in a large 48-inch pipe with baffles in it and it kind of is to mimic a stream.
He's hammering pipe anchors that's what’s going to help to keep the alignment of that pipe to stay there with all the erosion and the rain and the backfill that they're going to put on it, but it’s neat watching him put it in there. This is what it looks like drawn. Here is our culvert about to go in. It's kind of neat to see it go from here to there.
When we get in the field, a lot of the situations change. Our pipe slopes may have changed. There may be a tree in the way. Something's fallen down. There's a lot of on-your-feet thinking and creativity that way. I'm always impressed by everybody in the field and what they do. So I kind of learn when I'm out here watching the people building, actually doing the work as well.
This one the alignment is really nice. They’ve done a great job.
In 1997, Adam Ford, a researcher in wildlife restoration ecology at the University of British Columbia, and his collaborators had a question. It sounds like the beginning of a child's joke: How do animals cross the road?
It's an important question, though. Animals are chronic jaywalkers. When humans lay down highways through once-wild habitats, stomping grounds get fragmented. Animals might be marooned in a place that doesn't have everything they need in food, water or mates. They may have to rove for better options — especially if droughts or storms ravage the surrounding landscape. Crossing busy roads, of course, leaves animals vulnerable to deadly, high-speed collisions. Species that are large or sluggish, or both, are at particular risk. So are the ones that need to go back and forth a lot.
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