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Odds and Ends

7 Women Who Paved the Construction Industry

posted on 03.07.2023

As we celebrate and recognize the many women working throughout the construction industry during Women in Construction (WIC) Week, we want to take a moment to recognize those who paved the way. 

Women were mentioned as construction workers as early as the 13th century. In the 19th century, individual women began defying gender restrictions to fill important construction roles, although their contributions were not fully realized at the time. From the woman who supervised construction of the Brooklyn Bridge when her husband became ill to the first female architects to an originator of ergonomic design, these women made history and paved the way for future generations of women in the field.

World War II gave women new opportunities for non-traditional work. By 1943, with thousands of men serving overseas in the military, women were filling many of the country's critical mechanical, technical, and physical labor roles. Rosie the Riveter became a symbol of the times. Westinghouse trained dozens of women in electrical engineering because of the shortage of male workers. But when the war ended, many of these opportunities evaporated. 

As labor shortages continue to grow in the construction industry, bringing additional women into the workforce represents and opportunity. In addition, a 2020 report by McKinsey & Co. showed that highly gender-diverse companies are 25% more likely to achieve above-average profitability than companies with less diversity. Plus, we already know women have a lot to offer in a competitive industry like construction.

We recognize and applaud the following six women for their participation in architecture, engineering and construction, and their names may not be as famous as some of their male counterparts, but the industry would not be the same today without their contributions.


Lady Elizabeth Wilbraham, considered the first lady of architecture in the United Kingdom.LADY ELIZABETH WILBRAHAM (1632 - 1705)
Lady Elizabeth Wilbraham is the first known woman architect to draw up her own designs. She designed grand houses for her extended family. Wilbraham may have been involved in hundreds of other buildings for which she could not take credit at the time, including several London churches which are officially attributed to famous architect Christopher Wren.


Emily Warren Roebling - she oversaw the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge when her husband became sick,EMILY WARREN ROEBLING (1843 - 1903)
Emily Roebling became one of the first documented women in construction. In 1872, after her husband fell ill, Roebling took over as a representative of his position of chief engineer to oversee the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge. Although her husband retained the title, Roebling carried out the duties of Chief Engineer knowledgably --- learning materials science, stress analysis and cable performance --- to serve as project manager and construction supervisor for 11 years until the project's completion. Roebling was also honored as the first person to ever walk across it.


Ethel Charles, the first woman architect admitted to the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).ETHEL CHARLES (1871 - 1962)
In 1898, the first woman architect gained full professional recognition in England when Ethel Charles was admitted to the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). Unable to win large commissions, she worked on improving laborer' cottages. Her designs are now regarded as significant contributions to the garden city concept, in which residential communities are surrounded with greenbelt land.


Julia Morgan, the first woman admitted to the renowned architecture program at Ecole de Beaux-Arts in Paris.JULIA MORGAN (1872 - 1957) 
After gaining a degree in civil engineering from the University of California in 1989, Julia Morgan was the first woman to be admitted to the renowned architecture program at Ecole de Beaux-Arts in Paris. She returned to California and became the first licensed female architect in the state and an outstanding residential designer in the Arts and Crafts style. Her most famous residence, however, was Hearst Castle, for which she applied her knowledge of classical architecture and reinforced concrete. She was both designer and construction supervisor on the 28-year project.


Edith Clarke - she patented a graphing calculator used to solve power transmission line problems.EDITH CLARKE (1883 - 1959) 
Edith Clarke is an important figure in the field of electrical engineering. In 1921, she patented a graphing calculator used to solve power transmission line problems, and she was later involved in offering electrical engineering solutions for dam building. She was the first woman to earn a Master's degree in Electrical Engineering from MIT and went on to teach electrical engineering later in her career. Her inventions, including the graphing calculator, are still used today.


Lillian Gilbreth became the first female member of the Society of Mechanical Engineers, plus many more LILLIAN GILBRETH (1878 - 1972)
Lillian Gilbreth is credited with many "firsts" in the field of engineering, including household appliance and kitchen designs, many of which are still used today in residential design and construction. In 1926, she became the first female member of the Society of Mechanical Engineers; in 1951, she was the first woman to earn a PHD in engineering; and in 1965 (when she was in her late 80s), she became the first woman elected to the National Academy of Engineering. Heralded as a pioneer in the field of industrial engineering and psychology, Gilbreth focused on the human side of residential and office construction through human factor design and ergonomics as well as construction processes.


Elsie Eaves was the first female to be inducted as a full member of the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1927.ELSIE EAVES (1898 - 1983) 
Elsie Eaves became the first women to be inducted as a full member of the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1927. Although she managed many major projects, her most important contribution was her concept of collecting data to track and report trends and spending with construction projects. She invented databases before there were even computers and had a significant impact on how residential and commercial building projects are managed today.


Of course, there are many more women who worked to move the industry forward with dedication, innovation, and inspiration throughout history.

Today, the construction industry remains predominantly male. Only 10.9% of the industry workforce are women, and most of them are office workers. On the jobsite, women account for one out of every 100 workers and technicians. Though still perceived as a male-dominated industry in the 21st century, women have and will continue to significantly impact the industry as we know it.


2023 Look Ahead: What to Watch in Local Governments This Year

posted on 02.28.2023

Below, we take a look at how five major policy issues that are often discussed in national politics are playing out in local governments by the number of conversations happening at city council meetings, county planning commissions, development meetings, zoning boards, district meetings, school board meetings, state boards, and more (this is the number found at the end of each listed topic). With each policy issue, five emerging or controversial topics have been identified, and those highlighted are of particular interest regarding the construction industry.

The Biden Administration has established a goal of achieving a 100 percent clean energy economy in order to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Local governments are taking their own steps to reduce carbon emissions. Here are some of the most popular strategies that were discussed in 2022.

1.) Clean Transit: Transitioning public transportation toward zero- or low- emission vehicles (2,447)
2.) Building Electrification: Shifting to the use of electricity rather than fossil fuels for heating and cooking (1,841)
3.) Carbon Capture: Capturing and storing carbon dioxide produced by power generation and industry before it enters the atmosphere (1,035)
4.) Decarbonization: Reducing carbon dioxide emissions and greenhouse gas output through low-carbon power sources (882)
5.) Fossil Fuel Bans: Restricting or banning new fossil fuel infrastructure, fossil fuel production, and natural gas hookups in new construction (390)

The emergence of autonomous driving technology and electric vehicles has many implications for local driving laws, transportation infrastructure, and more. Communities are responding to these new technologies, as well as concerns about carbon emissions, with a variety of policies related to vehicles.

1.) Electric Vehicles: Regulating vehicles that use one or more electric motors for propulsion, including road and rail vehicles, aquatic vessels, and aircraft (12,211)
2.) EV Charging Infrastructure: Planning for electric vehicle charging stations and infrastructure (6,297)
3.) Autonomous Vehicles: Regulating the use of autonomous vehicles (648)
4.) Gas Powered Vehicle Bans: Discussing the possibility of banning gas-powered vehicles (50)
5.) Personal Vehicle Policy: Regulating personal vehicles, including insurance info, allowance/restriction in certain areas, discussions relating to ride-sharing/vehicles for hire, etc (38)

Driven by concerns about climate change and a desire to produce energy locally, communities are exploring a wide variety of options for the generation and distribution of clean energy.

1.) Solar Policy: Discussions related to the development and usage of solar power for the purposes of electricity generation, and updates to solar code and ordinances (9,493)
2.) Biomass and Biogas Energy: Discussions related to using plant or animal materials as fuel to produce energy (1,968)
3.) Wind Policy: Policy, plans, funding, and broad issues surrounding wind energy (1,662)
4.) Distributed Generation: Discussions related to technologies that generate electricity at or near where it will be used (472)
5.) Geothermal Energy: Discussions related to capturing and using the heat produced by the earth's core for heating structures, or generating steam to produce electricity (42)

New technologies and medical developments in healthcare delivery, the ongoing opioid crisis, and changing cultural attitudes about reproductive health have pushed a variety of healthcare-related issues to the foreground in local government discussions.

1.) Substance Abuse & Misuse: Discussions about substance abuse prevention and assistance; includes initiatives for those currently experiencing substance abuse as well as those in recovery (3,780)
2.) Abortion: Policies, discussions, and regulations related to the various methods for terminating a pregnancy (1,568)
3.) Telehealth: Regulating remote health services including virtual health visits, pharmacy services, and remote dentistry (424)
4.) Controlled Substances: Policies and discussions regarding controlled substances (248)
5.) Psychedelic Drugs: Discussions, policies and regulations about psychedelic drugs such as psilocybin mushrooms (4)

As many industries face labor shortages and rising labor costs, organizations are looking into a variety of ways to enhance their productivity and efficiency without adding more full-time staff. Some of those efforts include changing employees scheduling policies, investing in robotics and automation, and relying on independent contractors. In many cases, these strategies have led to backlash from workers and organizations representing workers, prompting local governments to examine the issues.

1.) Wages: Discussions related to minimum wage, living wage laws, hazard/hero pay and equal compensation (5,344)
2.) Prevailing Wages: Discussions related to regulations that require certain companies to pay the average hourly rate of wages and benefits paid to similarly employed workers in a given geography (4,795)
3.) Independent Contractor Policy: Discussions regarding independent contractors, gig workers, and app-based workers, including issues such as portable benefits, hourly restrictions, etc (2,202)
4.) Robotics in the Workforce: Discussions surrounding the use of robotics and automation in the workforce, especially to replace human labor (63)
5.) Secure Schedule: Discussion on workforce rights for employees to have notice of their schedule in advance (48)


The data above was sourced from Curate and its database, which includes weekly meeting minutes and agency documents from more than 12,000 cities, counties, and districts; more than 4,000 school  boards; and more than 200 state boards.


One Word: Layers

posted on 01.30.2023

It's the end of the month, and the weather's dipping below zero.

Working outside has its ups (fresh air, being in the great outdoors) and downs (frostbite, icy work surfaces, hypothermia). If you find yourself working in outdoors year-round, especially during these sub-zero cold spells, how to dress properly for the elements becomes VERY important. And we have one word for you: layers.

Layering clothes of the right fabrics can make a world of difference when facing a long shift on a cold, sub-zero winter day.


OSHA recommends wearing at least three layers of loose-fitting clothing (tight clothing can affect blood circulation and make it harder for blood to reach extremities):

Base Layer - The layer which wicks away moisture and removes sweat off the skin. Clothing should lay against the skin (but loosely) so it can effectively move moisture away from the body. A lightweight polyester blend shirt is great for the upper body, and polyester is perfect for the lower body.

Middle Layer - The layer that insulates and captures heat. Like the base layer, the middle layer should also work to move moisture away from the body. The looseness of the clothing allows heat to become trapped inside and against the body. Fleece and wool are great options, such as a heavy wool sweater. Avoid cotton as it traps moisture and take a lot of time to dry. A pair of midweight fleece pants are a great choice for the lower body.

Outer Layer - The layer that serves as a shell of protection from the wind, rain and snow. This layer should be waterproof or water-resistant with ventilation, which will help keep you drier. If a lot of physical activity is planned for the day, a breathable outer layer is recommended. For the upper body, a waterproof coat is best, while quality waterproof and breathable work pants work best for your bottom half.


Other Helpful Tips for Staying Warm on the Jobsite:
It's important to cover exposed skin, which may include hats, thermal liners for under one's hard hat, gloves, and face masks. Double layering one's socks is helpful in keeping feet warm (and it's easy to remove a pair if your feet become damp). Help yourself stay dry even further by wearing a pair of well-insulated, waterproof boots.

Whichever type of protective gear you use, you’ll want to ensure visibility and loose-fitting layers. Wearing bright, reflective clothes is always important, but the early sunset of winter can mean working more in the dark, so high-visibility gear is especially useful. 

It's important to limit exposure to the cold as much as possible, too. Employers should provide a heated area such as a trailer or tent for crews to take frequent breaks and warm up. Employers should also encourage workers to change wet clothes and drink warm beverages in the heated area. Break time is the perfect opportunity to check for signs of frostbite or hypothermia too. Heating devices of any kind should be used safely (as always). 

Workers should drink warm beverages and room-temperture warm to keep hydrated (yes, even when its five below zero). As good as that hot cup of coffee is, it's better to avoid beverages with caffiene or alcohol in them. Caffiene is a diuretic which causes water loss and increases dehydration, which could ultinmately lead to hypothermia. 

Odds and Ends

10 *More* Construction Gift Ideas on Amazon

posted on 12.13.2022

Still looking for a gift for a construction worker in your life, and for one that costs less than $300? Have no fear; MBEX recommendations are here!

We put together this list to provide a variety of fun and essential items the construction worker on your list will find useful. And in case you're wondering, yes, the items on this list are suitable for both men and women. 


1.) SOLID Safety Goggles (Amazon, $19.99)
Perhaps not the flashiest gift, but certainly a necessity. Soft rubber sealing molds perfectly to the shape of any face, offering eye protection from all sides. An adjustable headband provides individual and firm fits, and can also be worn over prescription eye glasses.

2.) Huntkey USB Wall Adapter (Amazon, $22.99)
This nifty little device transforms one AC outlet into four AC outlet and three USB charging ports. And all will surge protection! Mutilple devices can be plugged in and charged all in one location without worrying about voltage spikes.

3.) LED Desk Lamp with Clamp (Amazon, $53.99)
This LED fixture has a strong light source that can be adjusted to the users preference. It also has a fairly large three-part arm that also helps get just the right light. It clamps to the desk, and also has an additional "sidelight" to shine light on the desk surface from a seperate direction than the main light source.

4.) Lumburry Build-On Brick Coffee Mug (Amazon, $15.99)
Construction workers of all kinds love Lego and they love coffee, so this fun and functional gift is perfect for anyone within the industry. 

5.) Leica Disto D2 Laser Measure (Amazon, $155.49)
A must-have for those out in the field. Many basic models of this kind of device tend to top out around 150 feet when measuring large spaces. This specific device can get 330 feet! Leica is a high-quality brand and features a solid laser for space measurements.

6.) 100 Ideas that Changed Architecture (Amazon, $23.03)
An inspiring book chronicling the most influential ideas to have shaped architecture. Providing a concise history of the subject matter, this book is a fascinating resource to dive into if design and architecture are your thing. Each innovative and influential concept, technologie, technique and movement include is presented through entertaining text and arresting visuals.

7.)  Ember Smart Mug (Amazon, $129.95)
This ceramic-coated stainless steel meug has an ion-lithium battery inside its base, and allows its user to keep their drink hot for up to 2-hours off the charging pad or all-day long kept sitting on the pad. Don't drink coffee? No problem! It works equally for keeping tea and hot chocolate hot (or whatever your beverage of choice). 

8.) Arlo Pro 4 Spotlight Camera (Amazon, $159.99)
Offering crystal clear footage day or night, speedy load times for its live feed, and a smart notification system makes the Arlo Pro 4 a fantastic choice when it comes to outdoor security camera. It connects directly to WiFi, has a 160-degree wide field of view, and records at up to 2K resolution with HDR. It has an easy-to-use app, and the camera filters motion alerts by people, animals, vehicles, and packages.You will also need an Arlo Secure plan ($3/month for a single camera) to make the most of its features, and it also provides 30 days of cloud video history.

9.) Matein Travel Laptop Backpack (Amazon, $23.99)
Contractors are usually on the move, between getting to the office and various job sites day in and day out. This is where a good backpack is key. This laptop bag by Matein is incredibly useful, offering plenty of storage space and pockets. Made from very durable and sturdy materials, this backpack is functional, safe, and even features a USB port to make sure the carrier's device is always powered.

10.) Carhartt Women's Force Stretch Utility Leggings (Amazon, $59.95)
This one is specifically for the ladies of the construction industry. Pockets, sturdy and stretchy fabric...these leggings will hold up and best of all, they feel like leggings that don't look like leggings.


*Prices indicated by each product were those shown on the company's website at the time of publishing. They may have changed since this list was posted.

Odds and Ends

10 Gift Ideas for the Construction Pro

posted on 12.06.2022

Whether shopping for family members, close friends, the neighbors, employees, business partners or valued customers, the holiday shopping list is long and a few suggestions may just spark the gift idea you need. That's where we come in!

We've gathered 10 gift ideas below that would make any construction professional happier;(and warmer) on the job site.Check back every Friday, now through Christmas, as we'll be sharing even more gift ideas throughout the month.

Happy browsing, and may the gift finding odds be ever in your favor:


1.) HOT LOGIC Slow Cooker Lunch Box (Lowe's, $49.95)
Lunch is an essential part of any construction worker's day. This Slow Cooker Lunch Box can cook on-site or in their vehicle if they have a120-volt outlet or power inverter, and warms up a meal in about an hour.

2.) HotHands Hand-Body-Toe Warmers (Target, $11.99)
A great stocking stuffer idea! These air-activated heat packs provide just the right amount of heat without being uncomfortable or depending on batteries.

3.) Milwaukee Tool and Equipment Tracker (Amazon, $28.99)
With this gadget, any construction pro will know when they’re near their gear, whether it’s buried in their tool bag or the back of someone else’s truck.

4.) Women's All-Seasons Hemp Canvas Double Knee Pants (Patagonia, $54.99)
It can be hard to find clothes cut for a woman that can take the physical wear and tear of a construction site. These double-knee canvas work pants are a terrific exception.

5.) Arris Adjustable Heated Vest (Amazon, $149.98)
With eight heating elements and five heat settings, this vest heats from 104-degrees to an ultra-toasty 176 degrees. It's adjustable fit means it's not too snug so the wearer won't feel like their inside a sauna.

6. LoggerHead Bionic Adjustable Wrench - 14 Wrenches in 1 (Amazon, $27.99)
Behold, the wrench of the future. The expandable spanner is technically 14 wrenches in one, is easy to adjust and has an angled grip to get the best angle and the best torque possible.

7.) LED Flashlight Gloves (Amazon, $17.99)
When the sun sets earlier and earlier, it's darker quicker. Find whatever was dropped right quick with these LED Flashlight Gloves on one's hands. Two beams on each hand, the user has four points of light to guide their seeking. 

8.) DEWALT ToughSystem Radio and Battery Charger (Amazon, $239)
One can listen to the radio or play songs through Bluetooth on this speaker. Not only is it portable, it's also stackable and capable of supplying clear and crisp sounds. Resistant to water and dust, it's an ideal construction tool for the workplace and is not likely to sustain damage even after prolonged use.

9.) PEET Original Electric Shoe & Boot Dryer (Peet Dryer, $49.99)
The PEET Original Shoe & Boot Dryer utilizes a unique airflow system that takes the air from outside and warms it slightly before circulating it through the footwear in order to dry it quickly. Not only does the process prevent mold from growing, but it also removes stenches from the footwear that are bound to be there at the end of a tough workday.

10.) WOLFBOX Mirror Dash Backup Camera / Smart Rearview Mirror for Cars & Trucks (Amazon, $199.99)
When the truck is loaded and the jobsite is crowded, backing up safely can be a challenge. This camera will assist and guide the driver to the unloading point which means less craning and straining on the neck.


*Prices indicated by each product were those shown on the company's website at the time of publishing. They may have changed since this list was posted.


Preparing Heavy Equipment for a Well-Deserved Break

posted on 11.29.2022

Like it or not, winter has arrived. For some, this means the construction season is winding down and your equipment is about to get a little well-deserved time off. Or perhaps you're getting ready to park your fleet in storage. Either way, prepping your machines properly for their downtime now will save downtime come spring.

Hopefully you find this quick winter storage checklist helpful:

• Clean the entire machine. Yes, the entire machine. That includes the engine compartment, the undercarriage on tracked machines and the inside of the cab. Remove all dirt, grease and debris. Just think about how nice it'll be pulling the same machine out of storage come spring and the cab is already spic and span.

• Lubricate any moving parts, including hinges. This will reduce friction and protect them from damaging cold temperatures. Use a high viscosity lubricant --- it won't drop off your equipment in the freezing temps and it coats parts better than low viscosity grease. It's also a good idea to start the machine regularly to keep the engine and all its components lubricated while in storage.

• Top off fuel and fluids. This helps in preventing condensation in the tanks, which can lead to startup issues next season. Also think about adding a fuel stabilizer.

• Check fluids and filters. If you're getting close to your next preventative maintenance internal, replace them before storing the machine. Otherwise, maintain your normal maintenance schedule during storage.

• Check the machine's tire pressure. You may want to slightly overinflate the tires to avoid flattening over time, especially if the machine is going to sit cold the whole time it's enjoying break-time.

• Disconnect the battery. Store it in a cool, dry place where the temperature stays above 32°F.

• Remove and inspect any attachments. Store them in a separate place, also at room temperature (32°F); this will protect hoses and connections from the colder temps and make them easier to attach when they're needed again.

Perform a thorough walkaround. This is the time to check for damage and wear and tear on the machine. Be sure to pay special attention to hydraulic hoses and fittings, which can be more susceptible to cracking and ultimately failure in colder conditions. Repair or replace now, if possible, or make sure to do it right away at the start of the new season.

• Protect the machine from the elements. Store it indoors or in a dry, protected located where it's not exposed to direct sunlight and wind. Use protective covers like cribbing and crane mats to keep out the dirt and moisture that can cause rust. A tarp covering also adds protection from the elements, if an indoor option isn't readily available.

• Tag the machine to indicate it's in storage condition. This will help keep crew members and others from unknowingly putting it into service before its ready and prepped for a working environment.


When all else fails, it's always a good idea to start with each machine's Operation & Maintenance Manual, which will include model-specific storage instructions. But, if the machine's manual can't be found, this handy list will put you on the right path for your fleet to enjoy a relaxing break from the action.

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