SAY WHAT!? ENGINEERING JARGON FOR THE NEW ENGINEER


Do you remember your first job out of school working for an AEC firm? The first two weeks are a breeze, and then you enter your first meeting. Things are going fine until your boss turns to you and says, “I need you to consult with the DOT, Corps, and EPD to get an LDP or CDP ASAP!”


To which you think, “What the @!#$% does that mean?”


Don’t worry, you’re not alone. All of us at Foresite Group have been there at one time or another, so we compiled a list of words commonly used in the field that some of our employees did not quite understand at first.


Right of Way

What it’s not: When pedestrians have the “right of way” What it is: Public property used for streets and roads


Doghouse What it’s not: A house for Snoopy What it is: A new manhole on an existing pipe


OS&Y Valve What it’s not: The new hipster restaurant down the street What it is: Stands for “Outside Screw & Yoke” Valve. OS&Y valves are commonly seen on sprinkler and fire protection lines. You can visually tell if the valve is open by whether or not the stem is visible.


Jack and Bore What it’s not: A knock-off nursery rhyme What it is: Drilling a horizontal hole under a road for a pipe. The “bore” is the drilling and the “jack” is the term for jacking the pipe and casing through the hole.


Crusher Run What it’s not: A surfing stunt What it is: Gravel and crushed stone that has a blend of stone and fine dirt. It’s also known as Dense Grade Aggregate (DGA) or Quarry Process (QP). The fine particles in crusher run help it compact well.


Water Table What it’s not: A table with water sitting on top of it What it is: The elevation of the water surface underground. A much more sophisticated name for this is “phreatic surface.”


Spring Box What it’s not: What your mattress sits on What it is: A box that you put in the ground to catch the head of an underground water source (It often goes on top of a water table!)


Deadman What it’s not: Your deceased relative What it is: An anchor for a pipe or a wall. So no need to worry when someone says they buried the deadman on site!


Blue Tops What it’s not: Your favorite blue shirt What it is: The tops of fine grade stakes are called blue tops. When grading, a person will fill to where the dirt just covers the top of the stakes that are painted blue.


Siamese Connection What it’s not: Twins connected at the hip What it is: One pipe that branches off into two used for fireman’s protection to pump water into the sprinkler system.


Drone What it’s not: Something you only find in movies What it is: An unmanned aerial vehicle usually used to take videos or pictures


ADA What it’s not: The dental association approval for your toothpaste What it is: Americans with Disabilities Act


And in case you were wondering, the line in the introduction means “We need to consult with the Department of Transportation, US ARMY Corps of Engineers, and Environmental Protection Division to get a Land Disturbance Permit and a Commercial Development Permit…AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! So, the next time you are in a meeting, hopefully you will be better prepared with some of these terms. If not, rest assured. Sometimes the best way to learn is by getting it wrong once, and getting a great story to go along with it!


About Foresite Group


Foresite Group is a multidisciplinary engineering, planning, and consulting firm providing services to public and private sector clients nationwide. Our team’s collaborative process results in creative products and services that help our clients achieve their goals. Our team takes pride in enhancing and developing the cities and communities where we live, work, and raise our families.