Powering Vehicles from Discarded Food: East Coast Meets West Coast

food waste graphic useLast month, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed into law the Commercial Food Waste Ban, which will go into effect on October 1, 2014. This law targets commercial institutions who produce more than one ton of organic waste per week, such as hospitals, restaurants, schools, hotels, and supermarkets. Once the ban takes effect, this waste food, which accounts for 25% of the waste stream in the Commonwealth, will need to be recycled rather than discarded. Recycling food waste has many advantages. First, it brings awareness to businesses to simply be more mindful in food ordering, preparation, and potential donation in order to decrease the overall amount of food waste they produce. Next, it decreases food waste in landfills, and thus mitigates the amount of greenhouse gas entering the atmosphere from decomposition. Finally, it provides a clean energy source. And that is something this country desperately needs.

Anaerobic digestion (AD) is one way to dispose of organic waste that has the added benefit of producing clean energy. AD uses microbes to break down organic waste in an oxygen-deprived chamber, producing biogas, a clean and potent energy. Biogas is produced not just from food waste, but from any organic waste matter, including human waste, and is a clean energy option for heating and cooling, electricity, and powering vehicles. Wastewater treatment facilities that currently incorporate AD in their treatment processes could potentially be modified to handle food waste as well, and the Commonwealth is offering up $1M in grant funding for public facilities to do just that. In fact, the first grant of $100,000 has already been awarded to Massachusetts Water Resources Agency (MWRA) to process food waste at its wastewater treatment plant on Deer Island.

AD eggs at Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in Brooklyn, New York Courtesy of New York City Department of Environmental Protection
AD eggs at Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in Brooklyn, New York, photo courtesy of New York City Department of Environmental Protection

Connecticut and Vermont have passed similar laws, but they are using a more gradual approach. Both states currently only require businesses that are located within 20 miles of a suitable recycling facility and produce more than two tons of food waste per week to recycle, but expect full compliance by 2020. New York City is also implementing a food waste ban as a result of the success of its recently completed Food Waste Challenge, a six-month trial in which businesses voluntarily participated by donating unused food as well as diverting their scraps to a local treatment plant. The City noted that a key part of the initiative was food donation, as more than 25% of food waste diversion was a result of donations to local food banks. And businesses are supportive. Melissa Autilio Fleischut, president and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association, commended the program and supported the litigation. “The Food Waste Challenge proves that sending less to landfills is good for both business and the planet,” Fleischut said in a press release. “The New York State Restaurant Association looks forward to working with the city to advance this initiative in a responsible way that works for everyone.”

On the other side of the country, waste-powered cars are swiftly becoming a reality. Hyundai, who has been working with the University of California, plans to begin leasing a fuel-cell version of its Tucson crossover that can travel about 480 kilometers on a tank of hydrogen, which is produced from AD and has zero emissions. The eco-friendly Tucson, which will only be available to California residents, has low lease rates which include free fuel from nearly a dozen hydrogen pumps around the state. Toyota, Honda, Mercedes-Benz and GM are starting to sell hydrogen cars in California as well.

A recently opened filling station in California that utilizes methane from landfill sources
A recently opened filling station in California that utilizes methane from landfill sources

California has long been a pioneer in green technologies. However, Massachusetts is the first state in the nation to actually implement a comprehensive ban on organic waste. While utilizing waste for energy has largely been voluntary and thus slow-moving, this legal mandate will force large-scale organic waste processing facilities into production, either through retrofitting of existing facilities or new construction. And these new processing centers will produce large amounts of biogas. So will the east coast finally start seeing the alternative fuel filling stations and vehicles that are currently reserved only for the west coast? Let’s hope so. If we could combine east coast legal mandates with west coast alternative fuel technology, the nation could see zero emissions vehicles running on discarded organic scraps and sewerage. Keep excess garbage from our landfills while powering pollutant-free vehicles? Now that’s a win-win.

Sustainability of the Sagamore Lens Aquifer Water Resources

sagamore lens labeledLocated on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, the Sagamore Lens is the largest of six groundwater lenses included in the Cape Cod Sole Source Aquifer, and is the public drinking water supply for the towns of Barnstable, Bourne, Falmouth, Mashpee, Sandwich, Yarmouth, and the Massachusetts Military Reserve (MMR). It provides water for extensive agricultural operations including 236 square miles of cranberry bogs, croplands, nurseries, pastures, and orchards. The Sagamore Lens is mapped as a Priority Habitat by the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP) of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, and it provides the water for 153 vernal pools, 180 fresh water ponds, 20 streams and rivers, and 250 miles of coastal shoreline. It also supports a vibrant seasonal tourist population that brings millions of dollars into the Commonwealth. Unfortunately, the Sagamore Lens is experiencing increases in demand and contamination that need to be addressed.

Cape Cod was formed during the last continental deglaciation that occurred between 15,000 and 20,000 years ago, and the glacial deposits tend to contain medium to coarse sand with finer sands at depth. These immensely permeable surface sands make for a very high yielding groundwater system – and also make the Cape Cod Aquifer extremely susceptible to contamination. Public and private wastewater systems, the MMR, and emerging contaminants such as pharmaceuticals and personal care products have all contributed to the recent increased degradation of the Sagamore Lens. Fortunately, Cape Cod government and residents are acutely in tune with their natural resources and have taken steps to ensure the future health of the Cape’s Sole Source Aquifer.

wellhead protectionOver 30 years ago, policy makers and water planners worked vigorously to implement mechanisms to protect Cape Cod’s drinking water supply. One key implementation was the adoption of Wellhead Protection Areas to protect the lands that recharge wells. In addition, residents enthusiastically approved municipal acquisition of land for protection of wellhead areas, and cleanup of the significant MMR contamination began around this time.

Today, Tata & Howard is working with the Upper Cape Regional Water Supply Cooperative on an assessment of the sustainability of the Sagamore Lens. Sustainability requires that the aquifer not be completely used up or destroyed, and that it is protected and kept clean and plentiful for future generations. Unfortunately, the Cape Cod Aquifer has been recently compromised by contaminants of emerging concern (CECs), such as personal care products and pharmaceuticals, which have entered the aquifer through wastewater discharge. Tata & Howard’s study addresses the sustainability of the aquifer through 2030, taking into account different scenarios including drought conditions, wastewater injection, and increased demand.

beachThe study proposes utilizing a regional approach to manage withdrawals, construct adequate water supplies, monitor areas at risk as withdrawals increase, and to incorporate a Drought Management Plan. In addition, the study identifies preferred water supply areas as well as sources and areas at risk, and it proposes a management plan for wastewater disposal and MMR plumes, again using a regional approach.

For decades, Cape Cod government and residents have been progressive in their efforts to protect the area’s drinking water supply, and have taken steps to ensure that future generations are able to enjoy and inhabit this naturally beautiful and ecologically rich area of the country. Through careful research, planning, and cooperative implementation, Cape Cod will remain a healthy seaside mecca for years to come.

Groundwater Awareness and Protection

An Introduction to Groundwater

Groundwater is an abundant and renewable natural resource comprised of the water that soaks into the earth from precipitation. This water moves downward to seep into cracks, crevices, and other openings in rock beds and sand. Groundwater makes up 95% of the world\’s freshwater, with surface water (lakes, rivers, and streams) making up only three percent of all freshwater. To put it into perspective, hydrologists estimate there are currently over 33,000 trillion gallons of groundwater in reserve in the U.S. – which is 20 to 30 times greater than the total amount of water in all of the lakes, streams, and rivers of the U.S.

Why It’s Important

hydrologic cycleGroundwater is an integral part of the hydrologic cycle, which includes all the water of the Earth including the atmosphere, oceans, surface water, and groundwater. The system is cyclical in that water repeatedly moves through all of these elements. In addition, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimates that 25% of all U.S. rainfall becomes groundwater, and that 30% of U.S. stream flow originates from groundwater.

The U.S. uses about 80 billion gallons of fresh groundwater every day for public and private drinking water, irrigation, livestock, manufacturing, mining, and thermoelectric power. Over 40% of the nation’s population depends on groundwater for their drinking water supply, with private household wells comprising the largest percentage of all wells in the nation. Over 13 million households depend on private well water.

The Ogallala Aquifer

The largest use of groundwater in the U.S. is irrigation. Over 50 billion gallons of groundwater are used per day for agricultural purposes, up from just over 2 billion gallons per day in 1900. The nation’s largest aquifer is the Ogallala, which runs beneath 250,000 square miles stretching from Texas to South Dakota, and 90% of the water pumped from the Ogallala is used for agricultural irrigation. This massive and plentiful aquifer accounts for one-third of all U.S. irrigated agriculture, and creates about $20 billion in food and fiber annually. If the waters of the Ogallala were spread across the surface of the U.S., all 50 states would be covered with 1.5 feet of water. Yet, even though groundwater is plentiful and renewable, it still needs to be respected. Scientists estimate that if the Ogallala were fully withdrawn, it would take a whopping 6,000 years to refill it naturally. So we all need to take steps to conserve the groundwater – indeed, all water – that we have.

Best Conservation Practices

In the Home

  • Turn the faucet off when the water isn’t being used, such as while brushing your teeth or doing dishes.
  • Don’t pour fresh, unused water down the drain; use it to water plants or to fill a humidifier.
  • Install aerators with flow restrictors on household faucets.
  • When upgrading, choose water- and energy-efficient appliances, such as low-flow toilets and front-load washing machines.
  • Always repair a dripping faucet or leaking toilet; one wasted drop per second adds up to 2,700 gallons per year!
  • Only run a fully loaded dishwasher or washing machine, or set the water level to match the load size.
In an effort to save water, some golf courses, such as this one in Syracuse, NY, are allowing their signature lush green lawns to go brown. Dennis Nett/The Post-Standard/Landov
In an effort to save water, some golf courses, such as this one in Syracuse, NY, are allowing their signature lush green lawns to go brown.
Dennis Nett/The Post-Standard/Landov

In the Yard

  • Raise the mower blade to the highest level to allow your lawn to retain its moisture and to strengthen the root system.
  • Plant native, drought-resistant grasses, shrubs, and trees.
  • Don’t overwater your lawn. Heavy rain eliminates the need to water for up to two weeks, and a bright green lawn is truly overrated. As they say in California, where the drought has reached a critical state, “Brown is the New Green.” A lawn that isn’t perfectly and uniformly dark green indicates a future-minded, caring, and responsible resident.

Groundwater is clearly an extremely important natural resource, and one that deserves our care. Stay tuned later this week as we showcase a Cape Cod aquifer, its uses, safety, sustainability, and protection.

For more information on groundwater, visit https://water.epa.gov/type/groundwater/index.cfm.

For fun and educational kids’ activities, please visit https://water.epa.gov/learn/kids/drinkingwater/index.cfm

Environmental Remediation is Going Green

HW green remediation sprout and soilTata & Howard’s Hazardous Waste Group recently participated in the LSP Association’s Technical Practices Committee meeting which focused on MassDEP’s Green Remediation initiative. MassDEP is looking for involvement from the LSP community in drafting language for its updated guidelines that it hopes to roll out in May along with the new changes to the Massachusetts Contingency Plan (MCP). According to Tom Potter, Clean Energy Development Coordinator from the MassDEP Bureau of Waste Site Cleanup (BWSC) Clean Energy Results Program (CERP), the ultimate goal is to make “greener remediation” a standard practice for all aspects of cleanup work under the MCP. BWSC recognizes that the LSP community plays a key role in the promotion and application of Green Remediation, which is why their input is being sought. The next MassDEP BWSC Green Remediation Workgroup meeting is scheduled for March 11 from 10am-12noon at MassDEP’s Boston Headquarters, and Tata & Howard will be in attendance.

For more information, please visit MassDEP’s website at https://1.usa.gov/1ftS3gn or contact Joel Loitherstein, P.E.

Engineering Week: February 21, 2014 – Five Engineering Feats That Forever Changed the World

Today is the last day of Engineering Week, and we thought we’d try to choose the five engineering feats that had the most proofed global impact. Do you agree? Let us know!

glass water against skyClean Water

Choosing clean water as having the most global impact was easy, and not because we are a water engineering firm. Read our blog from earlier this week, and you will see how dirty water causes more death than all forms of violence combined. Major disease epidemics from the past were caused by contaminated water, and still are to this day in developing countries. Clean water definitely gets our vote as #1 (even if we are a little biased.)


Try to think of what the world would be like without telephones. Telephones forever changed the way we communicate, and connected the world in a way it never had been. From the inception of Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone to the smartphones of today, the telephone deserves a spot in the top five.


Electricity modernized the world, and now affects nearly everything we do. It heats our homes, powers our world-changing computers, lights the darkness, and allows simple and quick automation of so many tasks that were once time-consuming (washboard, anyone?)


Like the telephone, the computer has changed the world on so many levels. From automated manufacturing to global communication to computer-assisted surgery and the internet, our lives would not be the same without the invention of the computer.


The airplane changed the world by allowing fast transportation of goods and people. Transcontinental voyages that once took weeks now take hours, and global trade is now commonplace. In today’s world, overnight shipping is not a luxury but an expectation, with internet super-retailer Amazon considering using drones for package shipments.

Engineering has certainly changed the face of the world in so many ways. Do you agree with our top five? And what will be the top five in the next 100 years? One thing is certain: the world wouldn’t be the same without engineers. Happy Engineering Week!

Engineering Week: Thursday, February 20 Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day

Thomas Edison. Alexander Graham Bell. These are household names, engineers well known for their brilliant inventions. But how many female engineers can you think of? Throughout modern history there have been many female engineers who have contributed to the advancement of society. As we celebrate Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, a part of Engineering Week, we’d like to familiarize you with three pioneers in women’s engineering, and to introduce you to a few of Tata & Howard’s own female engineers.

Three Amazing Female Engineers in History

Stephanie Louise Kwolek (born 1923)

stephCountless law enforcement and military personnel owe their lives to Stephanie Louise Kowlek, who discovered liquid crystalline polymers while working for DuPont. The result? Kevlar. Kevlar contains fibers that are five times stronger than steel, does not rust or corrode, and is extremely lightweight. Kevlar is best known for its use in the bulletproof vest, but it is also used for fiber optic cables, airplane fuselages, brake linings, boats, parachutes, skis, building materials, and radial tires. Ultimately obtaining 28 patents during her 40 year career, Kowlek was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1995, received the National Medal of Technology in 1996, was awarded The Perkin Medal by The American Chemical Society in 1997, and was named to the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2003.

Hedy Lamarr (1913-2000)

hedyHedy Lamarr is best known as a beautiful and sought-after movie star of the 1930’s and 1940’s, but she was actually a whole lot more. Lamarr invented a remote-controlled communications system for the United States military during World War II. Originally from Austria and born of Jewish parents, Lamarr was deeply troubled by Nazi attacks. When German submarines began torpedoing passenger liners, she said, “I’ve got to invent something that will put a stop to that.” Lamarr came up with “frequency hopping,” an electronics radio system that would enable Allied submarines to avoid signal jamming from enemies, thus allowing far more successful allied torpedo attacks. In later years, Lamarr’s “frequency hopping” is what made cell phones, Wi-Fi, and other wireless developments possible.

Lillian Gilbreth (1878-1972)

lillianThere’s a common saying that necessity is the mother of invention, and it seems to have been coined with Lillian Moller in mind. Moller is known as the “mother of modern management” due to her education, scientific nature – and being the mother of 12 children! Along with her husband Frank, Lillian’s life is the basis for the books “Cheaper by the Dozen” and “Belles on Their Toes,” written by two of their children about life in the Gilbreth household. Frank and Lillian sought endlessly to find the “one best way” to perform any task in order to increase efficiency and productivity. These studies are called time and motion studies, and are still applied today in Lean Manufacturing practices.

After her husband died of a heart attack in 1924, Lillian wrote four books and taught industrial engineering courses at various prestigious schools including Bryn Mawr and Purdue. President Hoover asked her to join the Emergency Committee for Unemployment during the Great Depression, and she worked as a consultant for the government during World War II. Lillian is credited with many inventions, including the foot-pedal trashcan, the electric mixer, the L-shaped kitchen, and refrigerator door shelves.

During her lifetime, Lillian Gilbreth received many honors. She became the first female member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 1926, she was the first woman to be elected into the National Academy of Engineering, and she was also issued the very first membership in the Society of Women Engineers.

Tata & Howard’s Female Phenoms

shiraTata & Howard boasts some brilliant female engineers as well. As a firm, we employ a much higher percentage of female engineers than is the industry norm. Shira A. McWaters, P.E., pictured at right and who has been with the firm since its inception over 20 years ago, is an Associate and manages our Arizona office. Two of our six members of the Board of Directors are women, Karen L. Gracey, P.E., and Jenna W. Rzasa, P.E. In addition, we have many other female engineers at all levels throughout the organization, and their contributions to the firm are invaluable. Last week, we were able to stop some of Tata & Howard’s female engineers just long enough to pose for a photo. Pictured left to right are Jennifer Fruzzetti, Jenna Rzasa, Patricia Fox, Amanda Cavaliere, Hayley Franz, Vicki Zabierek, Justine Carroll, Marie Rivers, and Karen Gracey.

female engineers at THEngineering still tends to be a male-dominated field, and young girls are often overlooked even when their abilities clearly point to engineering. Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day is intended to bring awareness of the engineering profession to school-aged girls, and to encourage them in pursuing a career in the field. During engineering week, there are many special events across the country in which young girls can participate. Check out your local engineering universities for events. For online resources, visit www.discovere.org or www.asceville.org for fun activities and ideas to introduce the young girls in your life to engineering.

Women engineers have brought us not only the bulletproof vest and the basis for wireless technology, but also disposable diapers, windshield wipers, the compiler (which translates English into computer code), signal flares, noise cancellation technology, air pollution mitigation technology, and the Brooklyn Bridge – what could be next? Introduce a girl to engineering, and the possibilities are endless.

Engineering Week: Famous People You Didn’t Know Were Engineers

In honor of Engineering Week, we’ve put together a list of some people who were engineers before they were made famous for doing something else. Some may surprise you!

Tom Scholz, guitarist for Boston
Before Donald Thomas “Tom” Scholz became famous with the rock band Boston, he was an engineer working as a Senior Product Designer for Polaroid Corporation. Tom received both his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Mechanical Engineering from MIT. And apparently engineering runs in the family! In 2005, Scholz’s son Jeremy also received a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from MIT.

Dolph Lundgrun, Actor
Before starring in such Hollywood blockbusters as Rocky IV, Universal Soldier, and The Expendables, Dolph Lundgren received Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Chemical Engineering. In addition, he was studying at MIT on a Fullbright Scholarship when he decided to drop out to pursue acting.

Herbie Hancock, Jazz Musician
Herbie Hancock attended Grinnell College and double majored, receiving Bachelor’s Degrees in both Electrical Engineering and Music. While engineering was Hancock’s initial career choice, his incredible musical talent has provided him with an extremely successful music career spanning over half a century.

Alfred Hitchcock, Director
Alfred Hitchcock graduated from the London County Council School of Engineering and Navigation before pursuing his career in directing psychological thrillers. And his engineering background actually helped him have the incredible success that he did. When working on “Vertigo,” Hitchcock was told that to simulate dizziness on camera would be too expensive to produce. He put his engineering mind to work and pioneered a technique that involved zooming in with a camera while moving the camera backward, which made the shot seem to be in double vision.

Bonus: five more famous engineers
Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of England
Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter, 31st and 39th Presidents of the United States, respectively
Tom Landry, NFL Coach
Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert

Engineering Week: Tuesday, February 18 – Engineers Save Lives, and You Can, Too

third world waterIt has recently been argued that engineers save more lives than doctors, and for a very clear reason. While doctors treat existing maladies and certainly save countless lives in the process, there is no debate that the greatest contributor to saving lives and preventing needless death and illness is access to clean water and sanitation. In developed countries like the U.S., we don’t give modern plumbing a second thought. Here, grabbing a glass of water from the sink or having working toilets is a right, not a privilege. However, as of this moment, one in six human beings does not have access to clean, safe drinking water. That’s 1.1 billion people worldwide. Dirty water is responsible for 80% of all illness and disease and kills more people annually than all forms of violence combined – including war. Therefore, many underdeveloped countries are now looking to bring more engineers to their countries than doctors, maintaining that prevention of illness would be more effective in saving lives than treatment would be. And we here at Tata & Howard couldn’t agree more, which is why we support Water for People, a charitable organization whose mission is to provide clean drinking water and sanitation to all the people of the world. And it is an achievable goal. The U.N. estimates that the $30 billion dollars per year that the U.S. alone spends in bottled water would be enough money to provide worldwide clean water access.

It’s going to take a little time, and a little money, and the dedication of some charitable engineers, but we look forward to a time when clean, safe drinking water is a right – and not a privilege – to all the people who inhabit this earth. For more information on Water For People and how you can help, visit www.waterforpeople.org.

Engineering Week: Monday, February 17 – Team Hoyt

Today marks the start of Engineering Week 2014. This week, we will be showcasing some of the amazing and inspirational accomplishments of engineers, and how they have made our world better, more efficient, safer, and more technologically advanced – and also a little bit kinder.

Monday, February 17 – Team Hoyt and the Engineers Who Helped Them

Dick and Rick Hoyt
Dick and Rick Hoyt

Dick and Rick Hoyt are a father-son racing duo from Massachusetts who have inspired millions, and who have broken down many barriers for people with disabilities. But did you know that engineers are a big part of the Hoyts’ success? After Rick Hoyt suffered oxygen deprivation at birth due to his umbilical cord being wrapped around his neck, leaving him with cerebral palsy, doctors told his parents that he would always be non-responsive and should be institutionalized. The Hoyts weren’t buying it. They saw the way their son’s eyes followed them and the way he laughed at jokes. In 1972, armed with $5,000 and a love of their child, Dick and Judy Hoyt hired some engineers at Tufts who developed a device that allowed Rick to communicate with them by utilizing a computer on which he could type by tapping his head left or right. His first words? “Go Bruins!” Rick was later integrated into public school and went on to receive his bachelor’s degree in Special Education from Boston University, all thanks to the device that allowed him to communicate. He currently works at Boston College.

Statue honoring Dick and Rick Hoyt at the start of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, MA
Statue honoring Dick and Rick Hoyt at the start of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, MA

In 1977, Rick expressed an interest in running a charity 5K to support a local lacrosse player who had been paralyzed. Even though he was overweight and out of shape, Dick obliged and pushed his son in his wheelchair, a task that proved overwhelmingly difficult due to the weight of the chair and the awkward handling. Afterwards, Rick said he felt like he had no disability when he was running, and Dick knew that he needed to find a different chair so that they could run more races together. Once again, Dick and Judy hired local engineers, this time from MIT, and these engineers designed a racing wheelchair with lighter pipes, a single front wheel, and higher handles in which Dick could more easily push Rick. This incredible chair eventually gave birth to the jogger stroller, a now commonplace household device for families with young children, and also inspired thousands of others to push their disabled loved ones in races.

Dick and Rick Hoyt went on to race in over 1,000 races, including marathons, triathlons, and Ironmen, and broke down barriers for the disabled every step of the way. Pushing the disabled in wheelchairs, once prohibited and scorned, is now accepted and commonplace, all thanks to the love of a father for his son. This year’s Boston Marathon will mark the final running of the iconic event for the dynamic duo, now aged 73 and 51. Last year, the father and son team was honored by the unveiling of a bronze statue in their likeness at the start of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, and they were presented with the Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the ESPYS in Los Angeles. Team Hoyt is now a well-known charitable organization that inspires millions and has sub-chapters all over the country.

Ben Affleck presents Dick and Rick Hoyt with the Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the ESPYS, July 2013 JOHN SHEARER/INVISION/AP
Ben Affleck presents Dick and Rick Hoyt with the Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the ESPYS, July 2013

And it was all made possible by love, determination…and some brilliant engineers.

For more information on Team Hoyt, visit www.teamhoyt.com

How an Engineer Changed the Winter Olympic Games

snowboarderThe Winter Olympic Games are in full swing, and snowboarding has quickly become one of the most popular events. But did you know that the snowboard was invented by an engineer? In 1965, Sherman Poppen, a chemical gases engineer in Muskegon, Michigan, invented “The Snurfer” (affectionately named by his wife as a cross between snow and surfer) as a toy for his daughter. He created the Snurfer by binding two skis together side by side and attaching a rope at the nose onto which the rider could hold for added stability. The Snurfer was a big hit with Poppen’s daughter and her friends, and so Poppen licensed his snow-covered groundbreaking idea to a manufacturer. Half a million Snurfers sold the following year, and a new sport was born. Snowboarding was added to the Olympic Games in 1998.