Latest News

Federal Infrastructure Bill to Provide Fire Defense Resources

Date: July 20, 2022

So far this year, there have already been 614 wildland fires with 23 actively burning as of July 14, MontanaRightNow.com reports.

As part of the recent bipartisan infrastructure law, President Biden announced new initiatives to support wildland firefighters and fire defense. Federal wildland firefighters will receive a temporary pay increase, mental health and wellness support, and have more opportunity for growth through the establishment of a wildfire job series.

This support is specifically for federal firefighters, so it won't apply to firefighters with Montana's Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. However, according to the department, their 65 engines are fully staffed and they received a pay raise from the state earlier this year, so they'll start at $15.50 an hour.

What this federal bill does mean for Montanans is there'll be increased funding available throughout the state for fire fighting, reducing risk of wildfires and improving the health of forests overall. Read more.


Missoula Airport Receives $11 Million in Federal Grant Funding

Date: July 20, 2022

The Federal Aviation Administration yesterday announced nearly $1 billion in grants to airports around the country (funded by last year's bipartisan infrastructure bill) and the Missoula Montana Airport is among the recipients. $11 million in federal funding will help cover costs for the airport's ongoing terminal expansion and renovation project. The new south concourse opened on June 8, signifying the end of phase one of construction, according to a Montana Public Radio report.

Airport Director Brian Ellestad says he expects demolition on the old terminal to ramp up in early August. "So this definitely helps our bank loans, so we won't have to pull $11 million worth of our bank loan, and then it gets us that much closer to being able to afford phase three."

Completing phases two and three will open two new jet bridges and ground gates and cost an estimated $40 million. Other airports in western Montana also received grant funding, including $2.8 million for Glacier Park International in Kalispell, $1.9 million for Great Falls International, and $1.5 million for Helena International.


NSPE's Job Board is your one-stop resource for professional engineering employment. Whether you are on the hunt for your next career move or looking for today's top engineering leaders and talent, you will find it here.

NSPE provides the tools PEs need to keep current in the profession and advance their careers.

Featured Jobs
City Engineer
Bozeman, MT

Water Resources Engineering Group Leader
Bozeman, MT

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Governor Declares Disaster for Flooding

Date: June 16, 2022

Governor Greg Gianforte declared a statewide disaster on June 14 due to severe flooding in Carbon, Park, and Stillwater counties, as well as flood warnings in other parts of the state.

"With rapid snowmelt and recent heavy rains, communities in south-central Montana are experiencing severe flooding that is destroying homes, washing away roads and bridges, and leaving Montanans without power and water services," Gianforte stated in a news release.  "[The] disaster declaration will help impacted communities get back on their feet as soon as possible, and I have asked state agencies to bring their resources to bear in support of these communities."

Montana Disaster and Emergency Services continues to support local authorities in Carbon, Park, and Stillwater counties, as well as work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on next steps.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks yesterday closed the Yellowstone River in Park County to all recreational use due to public safety risks. The Montana Department of Transportation is regularly updating road conditions. Access the alerts here.


Two Missoula Firms Seek State Grant for High Tech Jobs

Date: June 16, 2022

Projecting continued growth in the coming years, two companies based in Missoula have applied for job creation grants through the Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund to help hire more than 220 employees, combined, according to a kpax.com report.

Cognizant ATG said it intended to bring on 200 employees over the next 24 months while DJA is making room for 22 new employees at its Missoula headquarters over the same period.

"For our projected job growth, we're asking support for more than 200 jobs over the next two years to support the job growth that we're projecting and seeing," said Carey Davis, director of global workforce strategy for Cognizant-ATG. "We're building high-paying tech jobs across Montana, primarily in Missoula."

The company is currently housed in the Old Sawmill District, where it plans to expand into the technology campus now under construction on Wyoming Street. The first phase of that project is expected to be finished this year, making room for the several hundred new workers ATG looks to hire over the next two years. Read more.


Debate Continues Over Small Nuclear Reactors in Montana

Date: June 16, 2022

The merits and pitfalls of pursuing nuclear power in Montana were recently debated by experts on both sides of the spectrum, according to a Government Technology report, with some telling a legislative committee it is too costly and renewable energy should be pursued instead and others saying it could be key in decarbonization efforts and provide high wages.

During the legislative interval, the Montana Energy and Telecommunications Interim Committee is looking at the use of small modular reactors (SMRs) in Montana through Senate Joint Resolution 3, sponsored by Senator Terry Gauthier (R- Helena). SJ-3 says the expected closure of Colstrip's coal-fired power plants will result in negative impacts on the community and coal-fired boilers could be replaced by an SMR that would provide clean energy and good-paying jobs.

The May 20 meeting by the committee was a hearing and no recommendations were made. The committee is to complete a study by September 15, to be reviewed in the 2023 legislative session. Read more.


NSPE Career Center

NSPE's Job Board is your one-stop resource for professional engineering employment. Whether you are on the hunt for your next career move or looking for today's top engineering leaders and talent, you will find it here.

NSPE provides the tools PEs need to keep current in the profession and advance their careers.

Featured Job
Structural Engineer
Great Falls, MT

Find more job openings or reach the right employees on the NSPE Job Board.

Montana Licensing Board News

Date: May 18, 2022

The Montana Board of Professional Engineers & Land Surveyors is abating renewal fees for this renewal period only. This abatement is valid during the established renewal period and is not in effect after the renewal deadline (June 30, 2022) or applied to late fees. After the deadline, all fees will revert to the current published fees.

Upcoming Board Meeting
The board will hold its next meeting on Thursday, June 16, via teleconference at 10:00 a.m. The full agenda will be posted within 10 days of the meeting date. Access more information here.


Superfund Site Cleanup Continues at Former Wood Treatment Plant

Date: May 18, 2022

In early May, construction began again at the Montana Pole & Treating Plant Superfund site in Butte. The current phase of the project involves moving contaminated soil into an onsite, engineered repository that will allow the south side of the site to be redeveloped.

A wood-treating facility operated on site from 1946 to 1984. Site operators discharged hazardous substances from the pole-treating operations into a ditch next to the plant. The substances then flowed toward Silver Bow Creek. These activities contaminated soil, sediment, surface water and groundwater with hazardous chemicals.

Previous work done on the site involved excavating and storing highly contaminated soil; dismantling and storing contaminated tanks, retorts, pipes and other hardware on site; and installing two groundwater interception/oil recovery systems. Read more.


Watershed Restoration Projects Receive Government Funding

Date: May 18, 2022

Six watershed infrastructure projects in Montana are being funded by the US Department of Agriculture, NBC reports. About $330,000 is earmarked for flood prevention, dam rehabilitation, and watershed restoration projects, under the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

This funding is allocated through two programs: the Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations Program, which provides technical and financial assistance for new watershed infrastructure, and the Watershed Rehabilitation Program, which upgrades existing NRCS dams. Read more.


NSPE's Job Board is your one-stop resource for professional engineering employment. Whether you are on the hunt for your next career move or looking for today's top engineering leaders and talent, you will find it here.

NSPE provides the tools PEs need to keep current in the profession and advance their careers.

Featured Jobs
Public Works Engineer
Missoula, MT

City Engineer
Bozeman, MT

Find more job openings or reach the right employees on the NSPE Job Board.

2022 Joint Engineers Conference Speaker Registration

Date: April 19, 2022

Speaker registration is open for the 2022 Joint Engineers Conference, November 2–4 at the Delta Colonial Hotel in Helena. Individuals interested in applying for a speaker role must submit a form located on the JEC website.

All submissions will be reviewed and speakers that are chosen will be notified in late May. Speakers are welcome to attend the entire conference and awards banquet. They will also receive double PDH credit for their presentation sessions.


State Will Appeal Environmental Impact Decision

Date: April 19, 2022

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality will appeal a recent decision that found the agency inadequately analyzed the potential environmental impacts of a proposed copper mine near a tributary of the Smith River, the Billings Gazette reported.

State District Court Judge Katherine Bidegaray ruled late last week that DEQ erred in its issuance of a mine operating permit for the Black Butte Copper Project near White Sulphur Springs. The judge found the agency's determination that storage of tailings, and specifically a plan to use cement to stabilize and store tailings, reached unsupported or questionable conclusions.


Musselshell Water Project Receives $37 Million in Federal Funds

Date: April 19, 2022

Construction of phase two of the Musselshell-Judith Rural Water System will be made possible thanks to an additional $37 million. The funds are coming from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the Billings Gazette reported.

In all, the act will appropriate about $194 million for the Rocky Boy's/North Central Water System, $56 million for the Musselshell-Judith Water System, and $17 million for the Fort Peck/Dry Prairie Water System.

"These rural water systems are essential to growing communities and creating jobs in central and eastern Montana," said US Senator Jon Tester in a statement.


NSPE Career Center

NSPE's Job Board is your one-stop resource for professional engineering employment. Whether you are on the hunt for your next career move or looking for today's top engineering leaders and talent, you will find it here.

NSPE provides the tools PEs need to keep current in the profession and advance their careers.

Featured Job
Engineer-Water Resources
Helena, MT

Find more job openings or reach the right employees on the NSPE Job Board.

Nominate a Worthy PE for the MT Professional Engineers Hall of Fame

Date: March 14, 2022

The Montana Society of Engineers is once again inviting nominations for the Montana Professional Engineers Hall of Fame, which celebrates outstanding contributions to the engineering profession and to the public welfare of Montana.

Recipients are honored with a commemorative plaque residing at Montana State University in Roberts Hall, the original home of the MSU's Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering. Active, retired or deceased engineers are eligible for the award, which is traditionally given annually at the Joint Engineers Banquet in November. Nominations will be accepted through March 31.

According to Dan McCauley, who was inducted in 2017 and is a Montana Society of Engineers volunteer who coordinates the selection process, there are many Montana engineers who are worthy of the award, and the Montana Society of Engineers needs help finding them. Last year's recipient was Robert Peccia, P.E., who earned his bachelor's in civil engineering from MSU in 1965 and went on to design an innovative municipal drinking water treatment system for the town of Fort Benton, among other projects.

Read more.


NorthWestern Energy to Continue Groundwater Sampling Near Substation

Date: March 14, 2022

NorthWestern Energy will do more groundwater sampling near a substation in Butte Silver-Bow after samples from wells revealed higher than allowed levels of ethylbenzene. Initially, the sampling began at the request of the Montana Department of Environmental Quality after a petroleum sheen was found in 2020 at a NorthWestern-owned substation.

NorthWestern then installed boreholes for soil sampling, which can also act as 10 monitoring wells to collect ground water samples, according to a Montana DEQ spokesman.The utility company took the samples in February 2021 and gave the report to the DEQ in June, reports The Montana Standard. The report found the levels exceeded safe levels.


Half of Schools Tested in Montana Have High Levels of Lead

Date: March 14, 2022

Of water samples sent into the state from 222 Montana schools, 110 had at least one water fixture with lead levels higher than 15 ppb, according to the Great Falls Tribune. A 2020 Department of Health and Human Services rule requires accredited schools to send in water samples for testing every three years.

Almost a third of all fixtures tested so far had dangerous levels of lead in their water, according to state data. Children are especially susceptible to health damage from lead, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that school drinking fountains contain no more than 1 ppb of lead. However, mitigating the problem can be difficult for school systems because the financial burden typically falls on them, the Tribune article says.

Save the Date: 2022 Joint Engineers Conference

Date: February 16, 2022

The 2022 Joint Engineers Conference will be held on November 2–4 at the Helena Delta Colonial Hotel in Helena, Montana. The conference provides educational and networking opportunities and is a joint venture of Montana’s engineering societies.

Individuals interested in applying to speak at the conference can access the form here. Speakers will be notified of selection in late May.


Montana to Receive $11.5 Million for Public Transit

Date: February 16, 2022

US Senator Jon Tester announced that he secured $11.57 million for Montana public transit through the recently signed infrastructure law, according to a news release.

The funding can be used for transit systems in both urban and rural areas, buses and bus facilities, and transit designed for seniors and people with disabilities. It can also be used for planning and support to improve the condition of transit assets. Funding will be distributed through the Federal Transit Administration to the Montana Department of Transportation, Tribal nations, and urban areas via grant programs.

A general breakdown of grant funding is as follows: $4.36 million to rural areas; $3.44 million for buses and bus facilities statewide; $3.02 million for urban areas (Billings, Great Falls, and Missoula); and $0.53 million for public transportation on Indian Reservations.


Missoula, Bozeman, and Helena Continue Pursuit of Green Tariff

Date: February 16, 2022

One year after formally adopting a joint agreement to work with NorthWestern Energy on developing a green tariff, the city and county of Missoula have agreed to extend their contract with the project’s consultant and provide additional funding, according to a Missoula Current report.

If realized, the tariff would be the first of its kind in Montana, though the county’s energy conservation and sustainability coordinator Diana Maneta said it’s taking longer than expected. “This extends the end-date of the contract through no fault of the consultant,” Maneta said. “The process of developing the green tariff has taken longer than initially anticipated.”

Last February, the cities of Missoula, Bozeman and Helena and their respective counties entered into an agreement to hire Energy Strategies of Salt Lake City after a national search for a consultant with expertise in designing utility rates and green tariffs. Under the contract, Energy Strategies would work with NorthWestern in developing the tariff—a move intended to help the three cities move closer to their goals of achieving 100% clean electricity by 2030.

Registration Now Open: Annual Building Codes Education Conference

Date: January 19, 2022

The 17th Annual Building Codes Education Conference will be held March 28-31 at the Delta Hotels Helena Colonial in Helena. Registration is open for attendees and vendors (early registration is highly recommended).

A variety of classes will be offered emphasizing the structural, fire, design, and building issues and methods surrounding the built environment. All classes offer self-reporting continuing education credits.

Participants will have opportunities to network with engineering design professionals, fire and building code officials, general contractors, architects, home builders, and other professionals in the building and construction community. Registration includes lunch each day, a vendor expo, and social events on March 29.

For more information, please contact Traci Collett at tcollett@mt.gov or (406) 841-2016.


Montana Company Building a Renewable Hydrogen Plant

Date: January 19, 2022

Montana Renewables LLC has plans to build a $50 million renewable hydrogen plant to increase renewable diesel output from its Great Falls refinery, according to Natural Gas Intelligence. The facility will be reconfigured to process soybean oil, and possibly other renewable feedstocks from farmers and ranchers, into renewable diesel. The company is also constructing a feed pre-treater onsite.

"Once complete, the renewable hydrogen plant will allow increased production of renewable diesel and further reduce the carbon intensity of products from MRL," a company spokesperson said. MRL is just one of a growing list of companies engaging in renewable diesel processing in North America.


New Charging Stations Will Help EV Drivers Travel in Montana

Date: January 19, 2022

New electric vehicle charging stations will expand travel options across Montana's key corridors for electric vehicle drivers.

The stations are being funded by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality's share of the Volkswagen Settlement funds. The grants match private investments in electric vehicle fast-charging stations, bringing the total number of stations across the state to 21 and adding key corridors with access to popular travel sites such as Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks. The Volkswagen settlement funds are intended to reduce harmful nitrogen oxide emissions that contributes to unhealthy air. Montana received $12.6 million.

The Montana Department of Transportation said that anticipated future federal programs can build on charging infrastructure funded through the settlement funds. Community and private support for charging station infrastructure will also be critical to increasing the use of electric vehicles in Montana.


Biden’s Infrastructure Plan Allocates Millions for Bridge Repairs in Montana

Date: January 19, 2022

Under President Biden's infrastructure plan that infuses $26.5 billion into bridge repair across the US, Montana will receive $225 million. The funds will come over five years via the Federal Highway Administration. Aside from making much-needed repairs, a major goal of the funding is to help bridges withstand the effects of climate change by modernizing them, FHWA Administrator Stephanie Pollack said.


NSPE's Job Board is your one-stop resource for professional engineering employment. Whether you are on the hunt for your next career move or looking for today's top engineering leaders and talent, you will find it here.

NSPE provides the tools PEs need to keep current in the profession and advance their careers.

Featured Job
Director of Transportation and Engineering
Bozeman, MT

Find more job openings or reach the right employees on the NSPE Job Board.

Infrastructure Law Funds Bridge and Road Repair, Transportation Upgrades

Date: December 15, 2021

The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will pay to repair and rebuild roads and bridges in Montana with a focus on climate change mitigation, resilience, equity, and safety for all users, including cyclists and pedestrians.

In Montana, there are 377 bridges and over 1,485 miles of highway in poor condition, according to the US Department of Transportation. Since 2011, commute times have increased by 3.9% in Montana, and on average, each driver pays $472 per year in costs due to driving on roads in need of repair. The state is expected to receive approximately $3.1 billion over five years in federal highway formula funding for highways and bridges.

In addition, $158 million over five years will be spent on improving public transportation in Montana. Funding will also cover modernization of freight rail, increased EV charging options, airport improvements, and other infrastructure updates.


State's Largest Solar Array on Top of Missoula Jail

Date: December 15, 2021

The largest solar array in Montana is now in operation at the Missoula County Detention Facility, the Missoulian reports. The array has 1,152 panels and will save the county about $400,000 over its lifespan, officials say.

The panels' capacity is 432 kilowatts. They are expected to provide 20% of the facility's power. The county has made significant efforts toward sustainability, and it has a goal of 100% clean energy for the Missoula area by 2030.


Montana Projects Receive Funding for Girls,Youth STEM Programs

Date: December 15, 2021

Eight Montana projects have received mini grant funding from the Montana Girls STEM Collaborative to help develop or grow science, technology, engineering, and math programs that serve girls and youth, according to the MSU News Service.

The collaborative is a statewide network with hubs at Montana State University and the University of Montana. The mini grants of $500 to $1,000 were given in partnership with Lyda Hill Philanthropies, which created an online database called the IF/THEN Collection that features women scientists and engineers. The database features profiles of 125 female ambassadors who serve as role models for young people, and all photographs, videos and text found on the site are free for educational use. Organizations receiving grants will use the collection to encourage girls to pursue careers in STEM.

The following projects received grants

  • Breaking the Ceiling: Helping Underrepresented Youth Get into Game Design and STEM (Great Falls, Browning, Helena, Pryor and Power)
  • Code Girls United Summer Camp (Anaconda, Browning, Chinook, Columbia Falls, Evergreen, Havre, Joliet, Kalispell, Polson, Red Lodge, Ronan and Sidney)
  • Building a Library Maker Space (Circle)
  • Role Model Billboards (Billings)
  • To Infinity and Beyond: Stargazing (Missoula, Browning)
  • Promoting Girls in STEM (Sidney)
  • Coding Through Dance Mini-STEM Camp (Missoula)
  • Myra's STEM Journey: Lifelong Learning, Advocacy and Mentorship to Advance Transportation Technology and Inspire Future Innovators (statewide)

NSPE Career Center

Date: December 15, 2021

NSPE's Job Board is your one-stop resource for professional engineering employment. Whether you are on the hunt for your next career move or looking for today's top engineering leaders and talent, you will find it here.

NSPE provides the tools PEs need to keep current in the profession and advance their careers.

Featured Job
Engineers II – Design
Bridgeton, MT

Find more job openings or reach the right employees on the NSPE Job Board.

Helena PE Receives Hall of Fame Honor

Date: November 17, 2021

Robert J. Peccia, P.E., was inducted into the Montana Professional Engineers Hall of Fame during the Joint Engineers Conference on November 3. The Montana Professional Engineers of Hall of Fame recognizes professional engineers who have made outstanding contributions to the engineering profession and public welfare. The award is open to engineers licensed in Montana.

Peccia

Peccia is the founder of the Robert Peccia & Associates, a professional engineering services firm headquartered in Helena. The Montana State University civil engineering graduate is heralded for using innovative technology to meet growing contemporary needs for Montana communities. One example is the Fort Benton Ranney Collector Project where exhaustive research went into types and effectiveness of ultraviolet treatment, a European technology at the time.

In addition to his exemplar history of engineering work, Peccia also has a business finance and management background. He is an organizer and director of the Valley Bank of Helena, and was instrumental in the merger of the bank with Glacier Bank Corporation. He is or has been on the board of several other companies including Bison Engineering, CIPP Corp, PEC Inc., Padbury Ranch Properties LLC, and Carroll College Board of Trustees. In 2020, he was selected as the "Business Person of the Year" by the Helena Chamber of Commerce. Access his full bio and career highlights here.

Hall of Fame recipients are honored with a commemorative plaque residing at Montana State University in Roberts Hall, the original home of the MSU's Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering. Active, retired, or deceased engineers are eligible for the award.


Infrastructure Bill Includes Billions of Dollars for Montana

Date: November 17, 2021

Road work ahead. Calling the Biden administration's $1 trillion investment in American infrastructure the first of its kind in at least a generation, US Sen. Jon Tester said Monday that construction in Montana should begin in a few months, according to a Missoulian report.

Tester, a Democrat, reiterated to reporters that roughly $3 billion in road, airport and water projects should be a benefit to the state. Many projects already underway are likely to be completed earlier and with fewer state and local tax dollars.

"Everywhere I go across our great state, I see roads that are in disrepair, bridges that need to be brought up to 21st century standards, outdated water systems, and a lack of high-speed internet holding our economy and communities back," Tester said. "It's clear to all Montanans that for 20 years, we've been running a 21st century economy on infrastructure that was built by my parents and grandparents. Washington has kicked the can down the road literally for decades."


Missoula Airport Will Include New Tech

Date: November 17, 2021

As the first phase of the Missoula Airport construction approaches completion, plans are being made for Phase 2, including a new general aviation camera that will help pilots plan their flights, the Missoula Current reports. It will be the first such camera in a commercial service airport in Montana.

The airport's new jet bridges have arrived and will be installed all at once. The old terminal will be razed before the second phase of the project begins.


Sports and Recreation Construction Gears Up in Montana

Date: November 17, 2021

Construction has begun on the baseball stadium for Kalispell's newly approved Pioneer League team. The 2,500-seat multiuse facility is slated to be ready for the 2022 season opener, the Daily Interlake reports. It will have a synthetic, all-weather playing surface, including the pitcher's mound. A team name and season ticket sales will be rolled out in December.

In Great Falls, the city commission has approved a $20.4 million bid for its new indoor aquatics center, nicknamed "Aim High Big Sky." Swank Enterprises Inc. has been contracted to do the construction on the public recreation facility, according to the Great Falls Tribune. The center will include a lap pool, a leisure pool with a slide, a gym and running track, a multipurpose room, locker rooms, a child care center, and additional space for offices and laundry. It is planned to be complete in 2023.

2021 Montana Annual Joint Engineers Conference

Date: October 20, 2021

The Annual Joint Engineers Conference will be held at the Delta Colonial Hotel in Helena on November 3-5. Registration for the in-person meeting closes on November 1.

Visit the Montana Society of Engineers website to register and access the conference schedule/session details.


State Licensing Board Meeting

Date: October 20, 2021

The Montana Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors will hold a virtual meeting on Wednesday, November 3 (10 a.m.). New agenda items may be added up to three business days before the meeting. Access the licensing board website for more information.


Missoula Airport Plans East Concourse Construction Despite Challenges

Date: October 20, 2021

With the opening of the new south concourse of Missoula Montana Airport planned for April, officials are starting to plan the second phase of the passenger terminal project. However, they face rising construction costs and labor shortages at this critical point in the effort, The Missoula Current reports.

The airport plans to bid out the estimated $42-$62 million east concourse project in early 2022. It will include a rental car center, two additional jet bridges with room to expand, and baggage claim.


EPA Was Justified in Issuing Exceptions for Wastewater Treatment Plants, Court Says

Date: October 20, 2021

A federal appeals court recently ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency did not violate the Clean Water Act when it approved less stringent water pollution limits in Montana for some wastewater treatment plants, Reuters reports.

In its ruling, the panel said the EPA can consider extra costs of complying with such limits when approving exceptions like these.


Montana Learning Center Awarded $360K NASA Grant

Date: October 20, 2021

NASA has awarded a $360,000 grant to the Montana Learning Center (MLC) at Canyon Ferry Lake in Helena to continue funding its education and outreach for an additional four years. The award will support a variety of the center's programs, and will take effect January 1, 2022, according to a MLC news release.

The MLC received this award as a partner of the Northwest Earth and Space Sciences Pathways (NESSP) at Central Washington University. NESSP's mission is to provide NASA-themed STEM activities to underserved students throughout the Northwest. Earlier this year, NASA awarded a $90,000 NESSP grant to the MLC to connect Montana students and teachers with cutting-edge NASA science and improve students' and teachers' STEM skills.

Funds will support the MLC's efforts in five key areas, including the acclaimed Montana Aerospace Scholars program, online training for Montana K-12 science teachers, teacher training to operate the MLC's remote telescope, a two-day NASA Student Robotics Challenge workshop for middle and high school teachers, and a partnership with Montana libraries to offer patrons a unique citizen science opportunity.


NSPE's Job Board is your one-stop resource for professional engineering employment. Whether you are on the hunt for your next career move or looking for today's top engineering leaders and talent, you will find it here.

NSPE provides the tools PEs need to keep current in the profession and advance their careers.

Featured Jobs
City Traffic Engineer
Billings, MT

Water Rights Bureau Chief
Helena, MT

Find more job openings or reach the right employees on the NSPE Job Board.

Registration Open: 2021 Montana Annual Joint Engineers Conference

Date: September 15, 2021

Registration is open for the Annual Joint Engineers Conference. The conference will be held at the Delta Colonial Hotel in Helena on November 3-5. Registration closes on November 1 and is discounted for society members. Students can attend for $25.

Hotel Accommodations
Conference participants must contact the Delta Colonial Hotel directly at 406-443-2100 to reserve a room under the conference room block pricing. The block is only available until October 1.

Visit the Montana Society of Engineers website for the conference schedule and session details.


Montana PE Hall of Fame

Date: September 15, 2021

The 2020 and 2021 Montana Professional Engineers Hall of Fame inductees will be honored at a banquet during the Joint Engineers Conference on Wednesday, November 3 (5 p.m.-8 p.m.).

Recipients are honored with a commemorative plaque residing at Montana State University in Roberts Hall, the original home of the MSU's Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering.

2020 Inductee
William J. Wetzel, P.E.

2021 Inductee
Robert J. Peccia, P.E.


Stimulus Infrastructure Funds Headed to Water and Sewer Projects

Date: September 15, 2021

An initial round of funding drawn from Montana's share of the March federal coronavirus relief bill is heading toward 86 water and sewer projects around the state, according to the Montana Free Press.

The awards, totaling nearly $127 million, were formally announced on [September 9] by Governor Greg Gianforte. They follow an allocation process that was outlined by the Montana Legislature this spring in which project applications were submitted by local government entities, ranked by staff at the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation and reviewed by an advisory committee last month.

"Montana is leading the nation in making critical water and sewer infrastructure investments, with more than 80% of them supporting our rural communities," Gianforte said in a statement. "With funds devoted toward constructing new systems and improving existing ones, more Montana communities will have access to reliable, sustainable water and wastewater systems."

Read more.


Canadian Coal Company Petitions to Weaken Montana Water Standards

Date: September 15, 2021

Canadian coal company Teck Resources Limited has asked the Montana Board of Environmental Review to weaken a new water standard at the border between the state and British Columbia, where the company's coal mines have been leaching pollutants for years into the Kootenai River basin, including Lake Koocanusa. The federal agency plans to file an opposition to the petition.

The water quality standard was created to protect fish species, in which elevated levels of the chemical byproduct selenium continue to be found,  according to the Flathead Beacon. Teck Resources is the only company directing mining byproducts into BC's Elk River, which enters Montana and joins the Kootenai River. In the petition, the company argued the standard is higher than federal standards. It is also seeking permission to build more mines in BC. Meanwhile, a Canadian watchdog group is looking into whether the country's federal government failed to stop the years of pollution from Teck Resources' mines.

Show Your PE Pride!

Date: August 18, 2021

NSPE members recently celebrated the contributions of the profession during the sixth annual PE Day. But don't wait until next year's national event to show off this commitment to the profession. NSPE President Rick Guerra, P.E., F.NSPE, believes that proud members of the NSPE community can do so in the following ways all year round:

  • Introduce yourselves as Licensed Professional Engineers
  • Get to know your fellow PEs
  • Use #ProudPE in your communications and social media posts

MSU Seeks Sponsors for Engineering Projects

Date: August 18, 2021

The Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering at Montana State University is once again seeking sponsors for capstone projects that senior engineering students conduct each year.

Sponsors can be businesses, MSU faculty and staff, nonprofits, state and federal agencies and labs, or individuals—anyone who has an engineering or computer science challenge they would like help with, according to Craig Shankwitz, a capstone instructor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering. Sponsors don't need to be located in the Bozeman area.

"This is a great opportunity for people to tap into the engineering and computer science resources we have here at MSU," Shankwitz said. "Our students have access to state-of-the-art facilities, and they're able to tackle really significant projects with guidance from dozens of capstone faculty advisers who are experts in their fields."

Read more.


What's in the Infrastructure Package for Montana?

Date: August 18, 2021

US Senator Jon Tester released a statement  following the Senate's passage of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to highlight the investments that will benefit Montana.

The following are some of the investments that are featured in the legislation

Transportation

  • Approximately $2.82 billion for Montana highways.
  • Montana will also receive approximately $225 million in additional funding for a new bridge initiative to replace and repair bridges in poor condition.
  • Approximately $164 million for Montana over five years to bolster public transit infrastructure, a roughly 30% increase.
  • $15 million to study Amtrak long-distance passenger rail travel.

Water

  • $1 billion to complete all authorized rural water projects through the Bureau of Reclamation, including Fort Peck/Dry Prairie, Rocky Boys/North Central, and Musselshell-Judith rural water systems.
  • Up to $100 million for rehabilitating the Milk River Project.
  • $2.5 billion to complete all authorized Indian water rights settlements, including settlements for Montana Tribes.
  • Clarifies that American Rescue Plan state and local fiscal recovery funds may be used towards the state or federal cost share to rehabilitate Bureau of Reclamation water infrastructure.

Broadband

  • $42.45 billion grant program for broadband deployment to areas of the country lacking access to internet service.
  • $2 billion to the US Department of Agriculture programs, which provide loans and grants to fund broadband service deployment and maintenance in rural areas.
  • The Telecommunications Skilled Workforce Development Act, which will help address the workforce needs of the telecommunications industry to ramp up the human resources necessary to deploy broadband infrastructure efficiently and effectively.

Fire

  • Tester-Moran bill to extend the IRS tax filing deadlines in Fire Management Assistance Grants for areas after significant fires.
  • $3.37 billion for reducing wildfire risk.

Resiliency (Flood, Drought)

  • $7 billion for Army Corps of Engineers infrastructure priorities to improve flood mitigation.
  • $3.5 billion for FEMA Flood Mitigation Assistance program.
  • $1 billion for the FEMA Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) Program. This is a pre-disaster mitigation program, supporting states, local communities, tribes, and territories undertaking hazard mitigation projects to reduce the risk they face from disasters and natural hazards.
  • $2.2 billion for the Aging Infrastructure Account, including to The Bureau of Reclamation for water infrastructure projects across the West that need major upgrades or replacement.

Whitefish Eyes Clean Energy Economy

Date: August 18, 2021

In an August 9 report that the United Nations called a "code red for humanity," the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change charted the pace of Earth's warming as nearing its limits, estimating that within a decade planetary temperatures will have exceeded a level world leaders previously identified as a preventable threshold.

As the planet warms, regions will be hit more frequently not just by extreme weather events but by multiple climate disasters at once, the report warned, describing the situations unfolding across the western US, where heat waves, drought and wildfires compound the damage, as the new normal.

However, the report also identified "strong and sustained reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases" as a measure to mitigate the acceleration of climate change and its consequences, including through local and regional initiatives, according to a Flathead Beacon article.

For example, in Whitefish, city leaders in 2018 adopted the Whitefish Climate Action Plan (CAP), with the overarching goal of reducing city facility emissions by 26% by 2025, using 2016 emissions as a baseline. That emission reduction goal aligns with the Paris Climate Agreement.

At a recent Whitefish City Council work session, city leaders considered going a step further by creating a full-time sustainability coordinator position, per a recommendation from the city's CAP Standing Committee.

"This summer, Whitefish, as well as the rest of the Western United States, is experiencing record heat waves, drought, wildfires, and unhealthy air quality," according to the committee's recommendation to council.

Read more.


State Licensing Board Meeting

Date: August 18, 2021

The Montana Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors will hold a virtual meeting on Thursday, August 26 (10 a.m.). New agenda items may be added up to three business days before the meeting. Access the licensing board website for more information.


Save the Date: Montana Annual Joint Engineers Conference

Date: August 18, 2021

The Annual Joint Engineers Conference will be held November 3-5, 2021, at the Delta Colonial Hotel in Helena.

Visit the Montana Society of Engineers website for more details.


NSPE Career Center

Date: August 18, 2021

NSPE's Job Board is your one-stop resource for professional engineering employment. Whether you are on the hunt for your next career move or looking for today's top engineering leaders and talent, you will find it here.

NSPE provides the tools PEs need to keep current in the profession and advance their careers.

Featured Job
Field Engineer
Missoula, MT

Find more job openings or reach the right employees on the NSPE Job Board.

Save the Date: Montana 2021 Joint Engineers Conference

Date: July 21, 2021

The 2021 Joint Engineers Conference will be held on November 3-5, 2021, at the Delta Colonial Hotel in Helena.

Visit the Montana Society of Engineers website for more details on the conference agenda and registration rates.


Senate Committee Advances $311 Million for Montana Water Infrastructure Projects

Date: July 21, 2021

The US Senate's Energy and Natural Resources Committee advanced more than $300 million in Montana-specific water projects on July 14. These projects were secured by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework he recently negotiated with a group of Republican and Democratic senators and the White House.

The $311 million will help secure water supplies for more than 65,000 people, support agricultural producers and economic development with better water availability, respond to increasingly scarce water with better efficiency and storage systems, and honor the federal government's trust and treaty responsibilities to Indian Country. Up to $100 million of that funding will go towards rehabilitating the Milk River Project, which will directly rehabilitate the St. Mary's Diversion Dam and avert more failures like the drop structures last summer, while improving efficiency and reliability of the overall system.

Senator Tester also recently introduced legislation (Montana Headwater Legacy Act) designed to protect Montana's rivers with backing from a diverse coalition.

Read more.


Governor Secures Drought Disaster Aid

Date: July 21, 2021

After declaring a statewide drought emergency and following his request to the Secretary of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Governor Greg Gianforte announced on July 6 that the USDA has designated 10 Montana counties as natural disaster counties.

Hill and Wheatland counties have been designated as primary disaster areas, with eight contiguous counties also eligible for assistance from the Farm Service Agency, including Blaine, Chouteau, Fergus, Golden Valley, Judith Basin, Liberty, Meagher, and Sweet Grass counties. To date, USDA has designated 26 of Montana's 56 counties as primary or contiguous counties for disaster designation areas.

On July 1, Gov. Gianforte issued an executive order declaring a statewide drought emergency in Montana. As of June 22, approximately 91% of Montana faced abnormally dry to extreme conditions. At the same time last year, approximately 52% of the state faced similar conditions.


A Missoula PE Offers Perspective on Basin Creek Solar Project

Date: July 21, 2021

In an op-ed in the Montana Standard, Alan Bronec, P.E., shares his perspective on the potential benefits of the Basin Creek Solar farm. Bronec is the director of electrical engineering and a principal at Cushing Terrell, a Montana-based architecture and engineering firm.

Opponents to the Basin Creek Solar farm state "how can this power the Atlas data center, plus 40,000 homes when the sun is not shining?" We know the sun does not shine 24 hours and that there are even limitations when the plant is producing peak power. Confusion around the potential power production of the Basin Creek Solar farm is a common misconception we face.

When the team states that the project can power the datacenter plus 40,000 homes, this is about the peak output of the system—not the annual energy production.

Based on the current design and layout the annual average estimated production curves have the project being able to meet 100% of the Atlas datacenter's energy demand from 8a.m.- 4p.m. Now obviously since this is the average it will be less in the winter and more during in the summer and vary based on the weather. If Atlas enters into a power purchase agreement it will consider when the solar farm produces power and how much. Atlas then will either look to contract other large power purchase agreements for the off solar production times or buy as needed on the spot market. This is a very common practice with large energy consumers when they start to procure variable renewable sources like wind and solar.

The overall benefit to Montana's grid is that the Basin Creek project will be producing more power when Montana sees peak demand on the grid. NorthWestern Energy offers on-peak power purchase rates during the months of January, February, July, August, and December from 8a.m.-11p.m. Basin Creek will be producing more power than Atlas would consume during three of these months, which will help ensure grid reliability. This is especially relevant with the record temperatures we have been seeing in the northwest and the significant increase in electricity usage to cool buildings that is likely to become more common due to climate change.

Read more.


MSU to Offer New Bachelor's Degree in Biomedical Engineering

Date: July 21, 2021

As medicine increasingly involves sophisticated technologies and an aging population creates more demand for health care, a new academic program at Montana State University will prepare students for the rising opportunities for biomedical professionals.

Starting this fall, MSU's Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering will offer a bachelor of science degree in biomedical engineering, which will prepare students to create new diagnostic devices, prosthetics, pharmaceuticals, and more.

"We've been getting more and more engineering students who want to help people by improving health care," said Jeff Heys, the degree coordinator and a professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. "We're also hearing increased demand for workers in the industry, and we're excited to offer this new opportunity to students."

The program will combine existing engineering curricula with courses like anatomy, physiology, and cell biology, as well as include a half-dozen new courses specifically tailored to the new major. MSU will also continue to offer its biomedical minor, which has been popular since it launched a couple years ago.

Read more.


NSPE Career Center

Date: July 21, 2021

NSPE's Job Board is your one-stop resource for professional engineering employment. Whether you are on the hunt for your next career move or looking for today's top engineering leaders and talent, you will find it here.

NSPE provides the tools PEs need to keep current in the profession and advance their careers.

Featured Jobs
Geotechnical Engineer (Mid-Level)
Billings, MT

City Engineer
Great Falls, MT

Find more job openings or reach the right employees on the NSPE Job Board.

Governor Creates Commissions to Distribute ARPA Funds

Date: June 16, 2021

Governor Greg Gianforte has created four commissions to provide recommendations for allocating federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act. The commissions are focused on infrastructure, communications, economic stabilization/workforce, and health care and are comprised of three members of the Montana Senate, three to four members of the Montana House of Representatives, and three appointees from the executive branch.

In particular, the Infrastructure Advisory Commission will review applications for funding for state capital projects and state and local government water and sewer infrastructure projects and provide recommendations on which projects should be funded.

Commission members include: Sen. Doug Kary (R-Billings), Sen. Mike Cuffe (R-Eureka), Sen. Ellie Boldman (D-Missoula), Rep. Dan Bartel (R-Lewistown), Rep. Sue Vinton (R-Billings), Rep. Jim Keane (D-Butte), Amanda Kaster (Director of the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation), Chris Dorrington (Director of the Department of Environmental Quality), and Rachel Meredith (Counsel to Governor Gianforte).


Montana Department of Transportation News

Date: June 16, 2021

Get access to information on Montana Department of Transportation activities, programs, and resources in the latest issue of the agency publication Newsline.


Federal Funds Made to Create Stronger Broadband Infrastructure

Date: June 16, 2021

State officials are laying the foundation to spend $275 million in federal funds to increase internet connectivity across Montana. It's the state's first widespread government-sponsored broadband program, according to a Montana Public Radio report.

A special legislative advisory commission recently met to consider a timeline for its work, which will include recommending broadband projects funded by the latest round of federal coronavirus relief.

Though only covering about a quarter of what’s needed to fully build out connectivity across Montana, State Commerce Director Scott Osterman said the $275 million windfall and other funding streams present a massive opportunity for the state.

Read more.


Analysts See Montana Wind Farm Benefits for School Trust Lands

Date: June 16, 2021

A southeast Montana wind farm would generate more than $700,000 for Montana schools over the next three decades, according to the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.

Clearwater Wind, a sprawling 150,000-acre development set to begin construction this summer, would include 11 wind turbines on school trust land, for which the state would receive $770,400 in lease payments over 35 years, with more money to come from energy royalties.

"The projected income could be well over $700,000," said Cory Shaw, DNRC property management section supervisor.

The state share of the project area is about 4,500 acres. Power generated from state land would produce additional payments, the amount of which is still uncalculated.

At 750 megawatts capacity, Clearwater will be three times bigger than the state’s current largest wind farm, the 250-megawatt Pryor Mountain Wind Project constructed by PacifiCorp near Bridger in 2020.


Governor Signs Bills Funding $500 Million in Infrastructure Projects

Date: May 18, 2021

Governor Greg Gianforte signed into law a package of legislation containing more than $500 million to fund infrastructure projects across the state, according to a Bozeman Daily Chronicle report.

That's mostly in addition to hundreds of millions of dollars that will be flowing into Montana from the federal American Relief Plan Act. Most of that money was appropriated in separate legislation once lawmakers gained more clarity on the federal relief funds.

The package of nine bills Gianforte signed into law all passed with broad bipartisan support, a departure from recent sessions marked by bitter fights over funding priorities for infrastructure.

Read more.


MSU-developed, Money-saving Concrete to Be Used in Bridges Near Wisdom

Date: May 18, 2021

An exceptionally strong and durable concrete developed at Montana State University is slated to be used for the first time, paving the way for potential widespread future application in Montana, according to the MSU News Service.

Developed over the past five years in collaboration with the Montana Department of Transportation, the ultra-high performance concrete will form parts of two replacement bridges scheduled for installation this summer on Highway 43 near the southwest Montana town of Wisdom.

Read more.


The History of Montana's Overlooked Engineering Wonder

Date: May 18, 2021

In the 1940s and 1950s, the federal government sought to create hydroelectricity and provide flood control within the Columbia River Basin. In 1961, the US signed a treaty with Canada to build four dams in the basin, including one on the Kootenai River north of Libby. The flooding of the Kootenai Valley north of the dam—creating the 90-mile-long Lake Koocanusa—required relocating roads, railways and, in some cases, entire towns. But the most expensive part of the project was relocating 60 miles of Great Northern Railway track through the valley. The new line would require a tunnel beneath Elk Mountain.

Read more in Flathead Living.


NSPE Career Center

Date: May 18, 2021

NSPE's Job Board is your one-stop resource for professional engineering employment. Whether you are on the hunt for your next career move or looking for today’s top engineering leaders and talent, you will find it here.

NSPE provides the tools PEs need to keep current in the profession and advance their careers.

Featured Job
Civil Engineer – Hydrology/Hydraulics
Helena, MT

Find more job openings or reach the right employees on the NSPE Job Board.

State Infrastructure Gets C Grade

Date: April 21, 2021

Montana has 377 bridges and more than 1,485 miles of highway in poor condition, and 1 in 4 of the state’s public transit vehicles is ready for the scrapyard, according to a new “infrastructure report card” from the Biden Administration.

A Daily Inter Lake News article examines the details of the report card, released as part of the administration’s push for a $2.3 trillion infrastructure package. It gives Montana's overall infrastructure health a C grade and highlights how the package would address various needs.

The report finds Montanans' commute times have increased by 3.9% since 2011, and the effects of driving on roads in disrepair cost each motorist in the state an average of $472 a year.The report goes beyond crumbling roads and bridges, noting costs associated with housing, home energy, broadband access, child care, veterans’ health care, clean energy and manufacturing—all of which would be covered under the plan.

Read more.


Montana Tech University Opens New Engineering Labs

Date: April 21, 2021

The newly completed SEL Power-Systems Labs will give Montana Technological University's electrical engineering students a place to hone their skills in power-system protection, energy conversion, and power plant systems. A $1.5 million cash donation from the Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories provided funding for the labs.

The timing couldn't be better, said Dr. Dan Trudnowski, dean of the School of Mines and Engineering at Tech, according to a Government Technology website article.

Working with high voltage systems is at once expensive and dangerous if not done right, so very few labs of the caliber Tech has exist in universities across the country, he said, adding that the industry is booming with job opportunity.

"This will enable us to have a state-of-the-art lab where they're safe. But yet, they can really get into the nuts and bolts details of high voltage power systems, which is a huge need in our society. With renewable energy coming in, one of the biggest challenges is how do you connect it to the grid safely and reliably. And so we'll be able to really get into that in a lot of detail. It really sets our program up to be one of the best in the nation," Trudnowski said.

Read more.


Northwestern Energy, Colstrip Bill Ignites Controversy

Date: April 21, 2021

Western Energy to acquire a larger share of the Colstrip 4 power plant came under withering criticism, as a "corporate bailout" that could fleece the company’s ratepayers, according to a KVTH.com report.

Critics, including two public service commissioners, blasted Senate Bill 379 as a measure that would wipe out 100 years of rate-making policy for one asset–Colstrip–and dictate, in law, how NorthWestern gets to charge customers for its cost.

Essentially what this bill does is say, 'Hey, Legislature–we don’t want to go to the (Public Service Commission) and have this great deal approved by the commission,'" said Public Service Commissioner James Brown, R-Dillon. "No, it’s such a great deal that the Legislature needs to set the terms of the purchase."

But nearly two-dozen witnesses–many from Colstrip, or with unions representing Colstrip workers–lined up to defend the bill and the continuing operation of the Colstrip plant in southeast Montana. They said consumers need the reliable and affordable power that the plant produces.

Read more.


NSPE Career Center

Date: April 21, 2021

NSPE's Job Board is your one-stop resource for professional engineering employment. Whether you are on the hunt for your next career move or looking for today's top engineering leaders and talent, you will find it here.

NSPE provides the tools PEs need to keep current in the profession and advance their careers.

Featured Jobs
Transportation Engineer
Missoula, MT

City Traffic Engineer/Engineer III
Billings, MT

Find more job openings or reach the right employees on the NSPE Job Board.

Call for Nominations: Montana Professional Engineers Hall of Fame

Date: March 17, 2021

The Montana Society of Engineers is seeking nominations for the Montana Professional Engineers of Hall of Fame, which recognizes professional engineers who have made outstanding contributions to the engineering profession and public welfare. The award is open to all professional engineers licensed in Montana.

Recipients are honored with a commemorative plaque residing at Montana State University in Roberts Hall, the original home of the MSU’s Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering. Active, retired or deceased engineers are eligible for the award, which is traditionally given annually at the Joint Engineers Banquet in November.

Nominations will be accepted through March 31. Learn more and access the nomination forms here.


Remembering Allan McDonald: Montana Native, Engineer, Whistleblower in Challenger Disaster

Date: March 17, 2021

Allan J. McDonald, a rocket scientist and whistleblower who refused to sign off on the launch of the Challenger space shuttle over safety concerns and, after its explosion, argued that the tragedy could have been averted had officials heeded warnings from engineers like himself, died March 6 at a hospital in Ogden, Utah. He was 83, according to an obituary in the Washington Post.

Although McDonald wasn’t able to stop the disaster, he didn’t regret adhering to his professional and ethical obligations. The ethics lecturer and author of Truth, Lies, and O-Rings: Inside the Space Shuttle Challenger spoke at NSPE’s annual meeting in 2015.

McDonald also contributed to a PE magazine feature article on taking an ethical stand. In the article he stated, “A company pays you for your professional opinion, so you should give it to them. They may not like it or may not accept it, but it’s your responsibility to speak up.”

Read a commentary on Allan McDonald and his ethical convictions.


Nuclear Energy on the Radar in State Legislature

Date: March 17, 2021

Nuclear energy is having a moment in the Montana Legislature. With uncertainty surrounding the future of the state’s coal-fired power plants and the Biden administration’s aggressive targets for reducing fossil-fuel emissions to combat climate change, Montana’s energy landscape is in flux. Nuclear energy development has come up in past legislative sessions, but this year lawmakers—Republican lawmakers in particular—seem motivated to pave the way for adding nuclear to Montana’s energy mix, according to a Missoula Current article.

The House passed a simultaneously controversial and low-profile measure last month that seeks to “eliminate restrictions on nuclear facility development.” The most obvious thing House Bill 273 does is repeal a 1978 law that requires a majority of Montana voters to approve any nuclear energy facilities before they can be built here. The bill drew unanimous support from Republicans and near-unanimous opposition from Democrats in passing the House on February 16.

HB 273 is 22 pages long, but discussion has been hyper-focused on four lines the bill would remove from Montana law: “If the [Department of Environmental Quality] decides to issue a certificate for a nuclear facility, it shall report the recommendation to the applicant and may not issue the certificate until the recommendation is approved by a majority of the voters in a statewide election called by initiative or referendum according to the law of the state.”

Read more.


NSPE Career Center

Date: March 17, 2021

NSPE’s Job Board is your one-stop resource for professional engineering employment. Whether you are on the hunt for your next career move or looking for today’s top engineering leaders and talent, you will find it here.

NSPE provides the tools PEs need to keep current in the profession and advance their careers.

Featured Jobs
Entry to Senior Civil Engineers
Helena, MT

Mid to Senior Airport Engineer
Helena, MT

Find more job openings or reach the right employees on the NSPE Job Board.

Get Ready for Engineers Week!

Date: February 17, 2021

DiscoverE

Engineers Week is a time to celebrate the important work of engineers and engage the next generation of innovators. Even with social distancing, you can make a difference. Here are a few activities that will be of interest to NSPE-MT members.

Future of Engineering
Join NSPE leaders Tricia Hatley, P.E., F.NSPE and Rick Guerra, P.E., F.NSPE, as they discuss the future of engineering and how our changing world will impact the profession during a free webinar on Monday, February 22 (1 p.m.-2p.m. ET/11 a.m.-12 p.m. MT). Webinar participants can earn one professional development hour.

2021 NSPE Federal Engineer of the Year Award Webcast
NSPE celebrates the 2021 federal agency winners, the Top 10 Finalists, and announces the 2021 NSPE Federal Engineer of the Year via pre-recorded webcast on Wednesday, February 24 at 12 p.m. ET/10 a.m. MT on the NSPE website and YouTube channel.

NSPE Trivia Hour
Cap off your Engineers Week with some Friday fun. Join your peers for a lively game of trivia on Friday, February 26 at 1 p.m. ET/11 a.m. MT. The cost is just $15 for members or $25 for non-members. Sign up to show off your trivia knowledge—or just to play a fun game with new friends.


NCEES April 2021 Test Registration

Date: February 17, 2021

The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying has opened registration for the pencil-and-paper April 2021 PE exams until March 4 (3 p.m. ET).

The exam administration will take place over two days—Thursday, April 22 and Friday, April 23. Registration for the computer-based FE and PE exams will remain open year-round.

According to NCEES, every effort will be made to accommodate all registered examinees in a manner that protects the health and safety of everyone involved. All sites for the April 2021 exam administration must operate in compliance with capacity and social distancing requirements. In most cases, this will reduce the number of examinees that can be accommodated at an exam site.

Access information for registering.


Governor Backs Trades Education Legislation

Date: February 17, 2021

Industry stakeholders, business owners, and education leaders recently testified in support of Governor Greg Gianforte’s bill to expand trades education in Montana.

The legislation (H.B. 252) helps address the growing skilled labor shortage in Montana by creating the Montana Trades Education Credit (M-TEC).

The bill, outlined in Governor Gianforte’s Roadmap to the Montana Comeback budget, provides $1 million per year in 50% credits to businesses for their employees to learn a trade. The funding level will support as many as 1,000 scholarships annually. Under the program, employers and employees can decide on training that is best for the business and the employee.

Read more.


Bozeman, Helena, and Missoula Team Up for Renewable Energy Agreement

Date: February 17, 2021

With parallel goals of addressing the climate crisis and reducing carbon emissions, the city and county of Missoula, along with the cities of Bozeman and Helena, have formally adopted a joint agreement to work with NorthWestern Energy in developing a green tariff.

The agreement, now approved by all four governments, authorizes them to hire a national consultant with expertise in designing utility rates and green tariffs, according to a Missoula Current report.

The consultant will collaborate with NorthWestern in developing the tariff–a move intended to help Missoula, Bozeman and Helena move closer to their adopted goals of achieving 100% clean electricity by 2030.

Read more.


MSU Awarded $3.5 Million for Advanced Battery Research

Date: February 17, 2021

As batteries become increasingly important in a world filled with portable electronics, Montana State University is poised to push the boundaries of energy storage technology as part of a $10 million effort involving universities, national labs and industry partners.

MSU was recently awarded more than $3.5 million from the Army Research Lab to develop a new generation of batteries that can hold more power and charge faster while also being safer and more resilient to extreme environments. The project is being led by the University of Maryland and includes Stony Brook University, the University of Texas at Austin, Argonne and Brookhaven national laboratories and several private companies.

“MSU has some unique capabilities that we’ve developed over the past couple decades of researching fuel cells,” which are similar to batteries in many ways, said MSU Energy Research Institute Director Lee Spangler, who is leading the MSU portion of the project. “It’s exciting to be applying that expertise to batteries, and this funding is really going to accelerate our research in this area.”

Read more.


Central Montana Water Project Gets Boost from Congress

Date: January 27, 2021

About 6,000 rural Montanans are one step closer to having high-quality well water available to their homes and businesses, according to a Billings Gazette article.

Congress has authorized the Clean Water for Rural Communities Act, although the approval came four years later than originally assumed. This gives the Central Montana Regional Water Authority formal consent to seek federal funding to develop its rural water system. The system will service residents in and near nine communities west and south of the Big Snowy Mountains.

“We’ve been working since 2014 to get authorization, so it is a big deal,” said Monty Sealey, project administrator.


Activity Underway on Passenger Rail Idea for Southern Montana

Date: January 27, 2021

The Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority is wasting no time pursuing the idea of restoring passenger rail service across Southern Montana with initial meetings starting up to analyze how passenger and freight trains will share the track.

The Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority became an official organization a few weeks ago, with board members across the state meeting virtually Wednesday as they iron out details of the new effort, according to a KPAX report.

Rob Eaton, who heads Government Affairs and State Supported Service for Amtrak told the board there will be a lot of questions to be answered as the Authority moves forward.

“What type of intercity passenger train do you want? Where do you want it to go? Where do you want it to go? Do you want it to be with just within the State of Montana or do you want to connect to other states?" Eaton said. "And then where does it connect to other existing intercity passenger rail, part of the uniform part of the network?”

Read more.


Licensing Board Meeting

Date: January 27, 2021

The Montana Board of Professional Engineers & Land Surveyors will host its next meeting on February 4 at 10 a.m.

Board meetings will be held by conference call because of COVID-19 safety protocols as offices are closed to the public. New agenda items may be added up to three business days before the meeting. For the most accurate agenda, please consult the board website at www.engineer.mt.gov.


NSPE Career Center

Date: January 27, 2021

NSPE’s Job Board is your one-stop resource for professional engineering employment. Whether you are on the hunt for your next career move or looking for today’s top engineering leaders and talent, you will find it here.

NSPE provides the tools PEs need to keep current in the profession and advance their careers.

Featured Job
Engineer I or II
Bozeman, MT

Civil Engineer
Billings, MT

Find more job openings or reach the right employees on the NSPE Job Board.

Senator Tester Backs Train Safety Legislation

Date: December 16, 2020

US Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) joined recently with other federal lawmakers to introduce two bills in a bipartisan effort that he said are aimed at improving train safety in eastern Montana and other rural communities, according to the Great Falls Tribune.

On November 18, he introduced the “Right Track Act” along with Republic Senator Deb Fischer of Nebraska. Tester, Fischer and Senator Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, also introduced a bill that would exam more than 200,000 crossings nationwide.

Sen. Jon Tester

Tester said Congress needs better information on these blocked crossings to make highways safer and more efficient.

Tester and Fischer said their earlier bill, “Right Track Act,” requires the Federal Rail and the Federal Highway administrations make recommendations on improving rail safety in rural areas, increase public outreach on grade crossing safety, and target resources for grade crossing safety in rural areas.

Read more.


MSU Marks Milestones for Female Engineering Enrollment, Faculty

Date: December 16, 2020

For nearly a decade, Christine Foreman has advocated for female students in a field where men far outnumber them. So it felt like a personal victory, she said, when the number of women majoring in engineering and computer science at Montana State University recently hit an all-time high, according to a MSU News report.

Fall semester saw female student enrollment in MSU’s Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering reach 20% of the total of 3,650 students. Adding to the milestone, Foreman, who directs MSU’s Women in Engineering program, became the fourth woman ever in the college to earn the top academic rank of professor.

“I’m thrilled with the progress we’ve made,” said Foreman, who also serves as the college’s associate dean for student success. “I love being able to provide opportunities for young women and watch them exceed their own expectations.”

Foreman took over as director of the Women in Engineering program in 2012, when women accounted for only 16% of students in the college. That year was also when Brett Gunnink became the college’s dean and made recruiting female students a top priority. The percentage of female students in the college has steadily climbed since. “Christine’s leadership, along with that of our other female faculty, has been key to promoting a culture in which women can achieve what they want to achieve,” he said.

Read more.


Where Does Montana Rank on Highway Performance?

Date: December 16, 2020

Montana ranks 10th in the nation in highway performance and cost-effectiveness, according to the Annual Highway Report by the Reason Foundation. This is a two-spot decline from the previous report, where Montana ranked 8th overall.

In safety and performance categories, Montana ranks 42nd in overall fatality rate, 28th in structurally deficient bridges, 14th in traffic congestion, 11th in urban interstate pavement condition, and 24th in rural interstate pavement condition. On spending, Montana ranks 13th in total spending per mile and 18th in capital and bridge costs per mile.

“To improve in the rankings, Montana needs to reduce its fatality rate. The state is in the bottom 15 for overall and rural fatality rates. Compared to neighboring states, the report finds Montana’s overall highway performance is better than South Dakota (11th) and Washington (45th), but worse than North Dakota (ranks 1st),” said Baruch Feigenbaum, lead author of the Annual Highway Report and senior managing director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation. “Montana is doing better than some comparable states like Wyoming (ranks 36th), but worse than others like Idaho (ranks 5th).”

The foundation’s Annual Highway Report measures the condition and cost-effectiveness of state-controlled highways in 13 categories, including pavement condition, traffic congestion, structurally deficient bridges, traffic fatalities, and spending (capital, maintenance, administrative, overall) per mile.

Access the full report.


Schools Work to Comply with State Drinking Water Lead Reduction Rules

Date: December 16, 2020

Children spend a lot of time at school, and a statewide rule is aimed at minimizing their lead exposure while they are there.

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services rolled out the lead reduction in school drinking water rule at the beginning of 2020—its goal is simple, but complying with it poses challenges, according to KTVH news report.

The lead reduction in school drinking water rule — designed with help from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality and Office of Public Instruction—states all schools under the OPI must test water throughout their facilities for lead levels.

“The schools are required to sample all their drinking water fountains, all kitchen fixtures that are used for either food preparation or drinking, as well as all their fixtures that have the potential to be used for drinking water,” DEQ lead reduction in school drinking water rule manager Greg Montgomery said.

Read more.


NSPE Career Center

Date: December 16, 2020

NSPE’s Job Board is your one-stop resource for professional engineering employment. Whether you are on the hunt for your next career move or looking for today’s top engineering leaders and talent, you will find it here.

NSPE provides the tools PEs need to keep current in the profession and advance their careers.

Featured Job
Assistant Professor Civil Engineering (Construction)
Butte, MT

Find more job openings or reach the right employees on the NSPE Job Board.

Montana Society Meeting Recap

Date: November 18, 2020

The Montana Society of Engineers held their annual General Membership and Board Meeting on Wednesday, November 4, 2020. President Jean Riley, P.E., directed the Zoom meeting. It was noted that the annual Joint Engineers Conference in November had been cancelled and that all speaker proposals have been moved to the 2021 JEC.

MATHCOUNTS 2020–21
MATHCOUNTS Chairman Cory Haisak, P.E., reported that all chapter and state competitions have been moved online for the 2020–21 season. The MATHCOUNTS national competition is still scheduled to be held as a live event next year.

Currently, we have about two-thirds of the registrations we had last year, but registration deadlines have all been extended. We may see an additional increase, even though school registrations are down. The number of participating students is slightly higher because of the distance learning student registration option. Fundraising efforts will continue this year, but due to the online format there should be a decrease in expenses.

PE Hall of Fame Induction—William Wenzel
Dan McCauley, P.E., Chairman of the PE Hall of Fame Committee, reported that there was a small gathering planned for November 30 to present the award to William Wenzel’s family, however due to the spike in virus cases, this may be postponed until the 2021 JEC. If that’s the case the plaque will be hung at Montana State University-Bozeman and given to the family with a presentation at the 2021 JEC.

NSPE Regional and National Report
Georgia Brensdal, P.E., reported on Western Pacific Region personnel changes at the regional level. WPR meetings have continued in a virtual format.

Mike Keene, P.E., the NSPE House of Delegates representative for Montana, reported that because of the many challenges we have faced as a nation and the impact of those challenges, NSPE leadership and staff have been revisiting the strategic plan. The NSPE mission remains the same: “To foster licensed professional engineers in service to society.” An ongoing priority is the search for NSPE’s new Executive director and CEO. The goal is to identify someone by mid- to late-November with a possible start date in the beginning of the new year.

NSPE’s newest staff member is Rebecca Bowman, Esq., P.E. She began serving as Senior Director, Ethics and Professional Practice on November 2. Bowman replaces Arthur Schwartz, Esq., who recently retired after 38 years.

In preparation for the 117th US Congress, NSPE is planning an outreach effort to introduce or reintroduce the Society to all 535 members of Congress. The message will be simple: “This is who we are, these are the issues we care about, and we look forward to working with you.” The outreach is a joint effort of some of NSPE’s full-service state societies and NSPE headquarters.

Please visit the NSPE website for other industry and society news, and educational opportunities. Also, more details relating to this HOD report will be provided in the next issue of the MSE newsletter.

Legislative Update
MSE Executive Director Michele Munson reached out to Daryl and Jennifer James, our lobbyists, for a legislative update. President Jean Riley reported that she is watching some of the proposed bills slated for the 2021 Legislature. One bill to especially keep an eye on involves proposed dissolution of licensing boards. The next MSE board meeting is scheduled for January 6, 2021 at 12 p.m. via a conference call.

Special Montana Note: Mike Keene, P.E., has one year left on his term as HOD representative. Anyone interested in being considered for the HOD seat can contact the Montana Society of Engineers Board, or you are welcome to contact Mike Keene directly (mikekeenpe@gmail.com).


In Response to Pandemic, NCEES Schedules Regional Testing for PE Civil Exam

Date: November 18, 2020

To accommodate as many pencil-and-paper examinees as safely as possible, NCEES has added a regional exam administration on January 26, 2021, for PE Civil examinees only.

Registration for the regional PE Civil exam administration opened on November 1, 2020, and closes on December 14, 2020, at 3:00 p.m. EST. The exam will be administered in the following cities: Phoenix, AZ; Pomona, CA; Denver, CO; Groton, CT; Orlando, FL; Topeka, KS; Louisville, KY; Minneapolis, MN; Raleigh, NC; Las Vegas, NV; Cleveland, OH; Salem, OR; Houston, TX; Salt Lake City, UT; and Seattle, WA.

Additional cities may be added. Visit the NCEES website for details.


Passenger Rail Grows to 10 Counties

Date: November 18, 2020

The Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority grew to 10 Montana counties in a growing effort to restore Amtrak service to the state’s southern tier, according to a Missoula Current report.

While passenger rail service has contracted nationally during the pandemic, Sen. Jon Tester said it enjoys bipartisan support in the US Senate and could be eyed for investment down the road with the aid of an infrastructure bill.

“We do have some bipartisan support for rail in the Senate to continue to put pressure on Amtrak after the election, regardless of the outcome, to make sure we maintain rail service,” Tester told Missoula County commissioners. “We’ve got to get it to a point to get a commitment after the pandemic.”

Missoula County adopted a draft resolution to create the Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority in early June and sent it out to the nearly two-dozen counties poised along the old North Coast Hiawatha Route in southern Montana.

Prairie County became the 10th county to adopt the resolution. The effort also has the backing of the Rail Passengers Association and Transportation for America. Sen. Steve Daines has expressed support for a southern route as well, as have cities in surrounding states.

Read more.


Expanding STEM Learning Across the State

Date: November 18, 2020

A new report from Montana State University’s Science Math Resource Center and the Montana Afterschool Alliance offers suggestions for expanding STEM learning across the state.

The report—which also includes an overview of the state of science, technology, engineering and mathematics learning in Montana—is based on ideas shared at a STEM Summit held at MSU in the summer of 2019. The statewide summit included 165 representatives from education, industry, government and nonprofit organizations discussing how to STEM learning in Montana.

Among other findings, the 16-page report notes that communication, collaboration and connections between industry and education are top priorities. In addition, the report includes an update on actions taken in the months following last summer’s event and suggestions for next steps.

Read more.


Montana Society to Host Virtual Meeting

Date: October 28, 2020

The Montana Society of Engineers will host a General Membership Meeting on Wednesday, November 4 via Zoom. Topics of discussion will include MATHCOUNTS, the Joint Engineers Conference, the NSPE House of Delegates meeting, and awards.

Due to COVID-19, the annual Joint Engineers Conference was canceled this year and will resume November 3-5, 2021 in Helena, Montana.

Please contact NSPE House of Delegates Representative Mike Keene, P.E. for information about attending the meeting.


MT Sells Bonds to Support Infrastructure Projects

Date: October 28, 2020

Governor Steve Bullock announced on September 30 that the state sold $52.2 million in bonds to continue moving forward with infrastructure projects across the state and refinanced $32.4 million in bonds to take advantage of lower interest rates and save taxpayer dollars.

“By selling bonds today we are moving forward with critical projects across the state and supporting the Montana economy by continuing to put shovels to dirt and facilitate good-paying jobs,” Bullock stated in a news release. “Additionally, we are ensuring we are good stewards of taxpayer dollars by refinancing existing bonds to take advantage of low interest rates and save the state millions of dollars over the long term.”

The Board of Examiners executed the Bond Purchase Agreement, finalizing $52.2 million in bond issuance for infrastructure projects. The bonds sold will continue financing projects such as Romney Hall, expansion of the Great Falls College MSU Dental Hygiene Clinic, and the Montana Heritage Center. Interest rates for the bond issuances were historically low and ranged between .7% to 1.8%. The board also approved refinancing $32.4 million in trust land bonds as well as water pollution control bonds. Refinancing will save the state $7 million.

The Montana Legislature passed and Governor Bullock signed legislation in 2019 to fund sewer, water, bridges, buildings and other public works projects. It is the first time the Legislature has agreed to a comprehensive statewide bond package in over a decade.


Butte Named as Top STEM City

Date: October 28, 2020

Butte, Montana was recognized as a  2020 Top STEM City for being a community showcasing exceptional dedication to science, technology, engineering, and math education and careers.

The data science team at Insurify (an insurance quotes comparison site) analyzed both proprietary and publicly-accessible data to determine the top STEM city in each state. The team identified cities with the highest proportion of residents in STEM-based careers and compiled data from Niche on the colleges and graduate schools with the best programs in STEM, as well as the best cities for women in tech.

Read more.


MSU Receives Funding to Study Faster COVID Testing

Date: October 28, 2020

Montana State University has received state funding from the governor to research a potentially faster and cheaper method of testing for the COVID-19 virus.

The $776,000 grant will fund the university’s research on a type of COVID-19 test that could improve the access to and speed of testing, according to a Bozeman Daily Chronicle article published on October 17.

The method, called loop-mediated isothermal amplification, or LAMP testing, relies on saliva as opposed to the commonly used nasal swab test. “There’s a lot of research exploring LAMP right now because of its speed,” said Connie Chang, an assistant professor in the department of chemical and biological engineering. Chang is leading the project and working alongside 12 MSU faculty members.

LAMP testing analyzes saliva samples in around 30 minutes and delivers results by changing the sample color to yellow if it’s positive for the COVID-19 virus.

“With the technology that we’re developing, we think we can trim the result time even more. It’s an exciting developing technology for point-of-care testing, and that’s why a lot of people are working on it right now,” Chang said.

Read more.


NSPE Career Center

Date: October 28, 2020

NSPE’s Job Board is your one-stop resource for professional engineering employment. Whether you are on the hunt for your next career move or looking for today’s top engineering leaders and talent, you will find it here.

NSPE provides the tools PEs need to keep current in the profession and advance their careers.

Featured Job
Positive Train Control Project Manager
Missoula, MT

Find more job openings or reach the right employees on the NSPE Job Board.

NTSB Report and NSPE's Action on this Issue

Date: October 5, 2018

Recently, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) sent letters to the governors of 31 states named in its final report on the Merrimack Valley gas pipeline explosions, including Montana. The letter requests an end to the engineering license exemption for gas pipeline operators in these states, and asks for governors to provide an update to the NTSB with in 90 days.

When the NTSB began its investigation of the Merrimack Valley gas pipeline explosions, investigative staff reached out to NSPE seeking information about licensing exemptions. Through a series of conversations and emails, NSPE shared report data, information on the licensing process and requirements, and its Position Statement on licensing exemptions. Consequently, NSPE was successful in getting the NTSB to adopt a policy of addressing and eliminating engineering license exemptions within the gas pipeline industry.

NSPE’s national staff continues to be in conversation with NTSB staff, and will continue to share updates as they happen. We are happy to support state efforts at eliminating this exemption.

Read the full report from NTSB.

NTSB Report and Recommendations

Pipeline explosionA BURNED-OUT MASSACHUSETTS HOME AFTER THE GAS EXPLOSIONS
CREDIT: NTSB

NTSB has released an abstract of its forthcoming final report on the fatal Merrimack Valley pipeline explosion from September of last year. Final revisions are being made to the report, but in the report’s synopsis/executive summary, NTSB states that “requiring a licensed professional engineer to stamp plans would illustrate that the plans had been approved by an accredited professional with the requisite skills, knowledge, and experience to provide a comprehensive review.” Acknowledging the importance of the role of the PE in preventing an event like this from occurring, NTSB recommends the elimination of the licensing exemption on natural gas pipeline projects in the 31 states that have the exemption in place, including the state of Montana.

Read the synopsis of the report.