DIS-TRAN Steel Blog

Engineering Schools, Jobs and Resources

Posted by Wendy Gintz on Mar 22, 2017 6:43:00 PM

Engineering is such a broad industry with so many different disciplines. So let's break it down a bit. In this blog we will discuss Engineering Schools, Disciplines, Job Opportunities as well as some specific everyday resources used by the DIS-TRAN Steel engineers.


According to Grad Schools, the top 5 Engineering Schools are:

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, MA
  • Stanford in Stanford, CA
  • University of California - Berkeley in Berkeley, CA
  • California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA
  • Carnegie Melon University in Pittsburgh, PA

Not to completely leave out the Louisiana Schools that ranked for Top Engineering Schools, here are our locals:

  • Louisiana State University (LSU) ranked 100
  • Tulane University ranked 105
  • Louisiana Tech University ranked 139

Now that you know where the best schools are, here is a list of the main Engineering Disciplines and Job Opportunities.

1. Chemical Engineering is expected to grow 2% between 2014-2024. Not much growth here but many opportunities. Some continue to be Biomedical Engineers, Chemical Technicians, Nuclear Engineers and Chemist & Materials Scientist.

2. Civil Engineering is expected to grow 8% between 2014-2024. These seems to be the opportunity for some growth in this field. Job opportunities may consist of Architects, Civil Engineer Technicians, Construction Managers, Environmental Engineering, Mechanical Engineering as well as Surveyors.

3. Electrical Engineering is expected to show little to no growth between 2014-2024. You may look into Aerospace Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Electricians and even Sales Engineers.

4. Software Engineering is expected to have the highest growth rate (17%) between 2014-2024. Opportunities consist of Computer & Information Research Scientist, Computer Hardware Engineer, Computer Network Architects, Computer Systems Analyst, Mathematicians and Web Developers.

These are just some of the TOP disciplines in Engineering. As you can see, there are many opportunities in the Utility Industry. DIS-TRAN Steel provides civil engineering services along with our products. We design, detail and fabricate steel transmission and substation structures. Our engineers focus on designing structures that can withstand the loads needed to transport electrical systems to the end user like you and me. The two main structure types are Standard Steel and Tapered Tubular. Each structure is made from different steel shapes. Standard Steel structures are made from preformed beams, angles, plates and tubes. Tapered Tubular structures start off as a flat piece of plate that is then bent and formed into a tapered pole. Just like these structures use different steel pieces they also use different design software and standards.



Design Software:

Standard Shape - typically use an analysis software (RAM, STAAD, SAAP, etc.) as well as calculation sheets created in either Excel or Mathcad. At DIS-TRAN, we currently use RAM Elements as our analysis software and rely heavily on Excel to create supporting calculation sheets (i.e. load development & connection design sheets).

Tapered Tubular - The standard edition of PLS-CADD is a line design program that includes all the terrain, sag-tension, loads, clearances and drafting functions necessary for the design of an entire power line. TOWER analyzes, designs and optimizes steel lattice towers for transmission and substation applications. PLS-POLE analyzes and designs structures with wood, laminated wood, steel, concrete or fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) poles, or modular aluminum masts.

Design Standards:

Substation Steel Structures - relies heavily on both the AISC Steel Construction Manual (Fourteenth Edition) as well as ASCE 113-08 Substation Structure Design Guide. There may also be specific design standards requested by the customer.

Transmission Steel Structures- relies on ASCE/SEI 48-11 & 74-09 for the design of steel transmission pole structures. Others are RUS Bulletins 1724E-214 (Guide Specification for Standard Class Steel Transmission Poles) and 1724E-204 (Guide Specification for Steel Single Pole and H-Frame Structures).

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Tags: Engineering, engineering solutions, engineering resources

DIS-TRAN Steel’s Quality Engineering Practices Ensure Towers Are Built to Last

Posted by DIS-TRAN Steel on Aug 23, 2016 11:57:19 AM

On Dec. 14, 2009, the failure of a broadcast tower in Tulsa, Oklahoma had engineers scratching their heads. The chief engineer said when the guy wire was tested a few months earlier “everything seemed fine.”

Remarkably, 31% of all substation tower failures occur because of the construction crew’s poor judgment or a lack of basic engineering know-how, according to a recent Consolidated Engineering Inc. (CEI) report. Engineering oversights can cause a significant risk to the integrity of a tower and its foundation, which can ultimately lead to collapse.


DIS-TRAN Steel has built its company on simple values backed by honest customer relationships. Since 1965, customers have put their trust in us to deliver products – from simple substation structures to complex transmission poles – that are made using the best manufacturing process and the highest-quality engineering in the industry.

We offer the kind of security that comes from knowing exactly who is designing and fabricating your structures and how.

Unfortunately, some standards aren’t consistent across the industry. The CEI report found the top five causes of tower failure are caused by construction errors, ice, aircraft, special winds and anchor failure. The Tulsa tower’s failure was attributed to the latter two factors.

A CEI forensic specialist found in every wind induced tower failure he investigated, the tower wouldn’t have passed the current design code. It is important to design, manufacture and erect per current design codes to minimize the risk of poor structure integrity.  Quality issues are not only costly, but dangerous as well.

So how can you ensure you’re working with the right manufacturer?

  • Look for solid investments in the latest equipment and technology
  • Attention to best practices and quality assurance
  • A focus on hiring the most experienced engineers
  • A commitment to top-notch customer service.

So what has DIS-TRAN Steel done?

  1. Doubled its manufacturing capacity and capabilities at its 300,000-square-foot, state-of-the art facility in Pineville, Louisiana
  2. Employ the latest fabricating innovations and rely on real-time scheduling and product tracking to ensure projects never fall behind
  3. Our in-house quality assurance and quality control program ensures every structure is examined by independent quality inspectors
  4. We are certified by the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) and American Welding Society (AWS) and adhere to a strict quality standard. All of our welds are performed by certified welders and inspected by certified inspectors.
  5. Our engineering department is highly skilled at combining computer-aided design and drafting with numerical control fabricating systems to create the most efficient structures
  6. Provide Project Managers and Coordinators to be at your beck and call for the outstanding service you have come to expect from DIS-TRAN.

After five decades in business, you can trust that DIS-TRAN Steel is using the most innovative technology available to deliver structures that are both sound and incomparable in quality. No one can afford to skimp on quality manufacturing and engineering when it comes to transmission and substation structures. We pride ourselves on the unrivaled attention to detail, solid communication, and genuine customer service that all point to why we’re the elite steel supplier.

Steel Structure Quote Template

Visit DIS-TRAN Steel to learn more about our unique capabilities, mission, team and more.

Tags: substation structures, transmission poles, Engineering

2015 ETS Structure Conference - Broken Down DIS-TRAN Style

Posted by Wendy Gintz on Nov 16, 2015 2:30:00 PM

Did you take good notes during your sessions at the 2015 Electrical Transmission and Substation Structure Conference. Don't worry, we've got your backs.

Buzz Words from ETS Structure Conference

These are a few of the buzz words remembered by the DIS-TRAN Steel Engineers during the industries most electrifying conference.  While so many of the worlds finest engineers from manufactures, contractors, epc, and utilities from around the world gathered to Talk the Talk, there may have been a few that were not able to participate.  Doesn't make you any less finer in our minds. 

Here we hope to briefly describe some of the sessions that our engineers found most interesting and some of their key take aways.  How often do you get to read the notes of other engineers.  Pretty exciting!

Structural Analysis 1 - Mike Miller, P.E., M.ASCE
Presentations based on the most common engineered structure, tubular steel poles and testing these structures.

  1. It's benefitial to see results of full scale tests, especially when confirmating the designs are adequate.
  2. The prefered is not always the best. Options must be reviewed.
  3. There is simplicity in Slip Joints AND they work.  
  4. Using a non-traditional structure configuration can be a more efficient solution.

Special Design Considerations - Marlon Vogt, P.E., M.ASCE
We are not always only looking at the functionability of a structure but sometimes it's aesthetic value can be a huge issue.  In these  papers a worldwide view on structure aesthetics was discussed.

  1. BOLD (Breakthrough Overhead Line Design) has changed the transmission line needs to be more appealing.
  2. Using the induction heat bending process for bending tapered tubular sections.
  3. The more visual transmission lines are becoming the more emphesis is pused on aesthetics.
  4. Engineers play a key role in the NEPA team providing technical support.
  5. Utilities are researching alternative materials for transmission design and applications.

Structural Analysis 2 - Robert Nickerson, P.E., F.SEI, M.ASCE
Learn how lattice tower analysis is still relevant, the challenges and the eccentric connections of these towers.

  1. The use of graphical analysis can be done with a CAD software along with full scale diagrams can be created.
  2. Two-Deminsional CAD tools have no automatic feature for evaluating eccentricities.  The actual behavior of the structure can can differ from the theoretical model.

Construction Challenges - Dana Crissey, P.E., M.ASCE
Following teams that were faced with challenges and overcame them by thinking innovatively to get their projects done.

  1. Starting from complete scratch involves creating standard/best practices and designs (foundation and structural) from the ground up.
  2. River crossing foundations can be complicated due to the land around the river where the soft adn highly variable soils can decrease accessibility.
  3. Safety can be a challenge and has led to added specifications in the design phase which  incorporate fall protection requirements.

Rerating and Upgrading - Tim Cashman, P.E., M.ASCE
Making the decision of fixing and tearing down lines to rebuild is the questions these papers discuss.  Hightlights from three upgrade projects to overcome congestion.

  1. Increased load requirements calls for improving the existing systems and decisions must be made on how to most effectively accomplish this.
  2. Major considerations are: old vs new codes, life expectancy of the existing structures and should you reinvorce or rebuild.

In conclusion, the theme this year seemed to be focused around Challenges and Solutions.  Of course, that is what Engineering is all about.  Over the last three years, since the last ETS Structure Conference an engineers dream and dread are based on solving problems.  When you think of Creativity we tend to think of Artists, Graphic Designers, Marketers but these Engineers have Creativity mastered the art of engineering.  Whether the challenge was Cost, Time, Design, Right of Way, Aesthetically pleasing to the eye or Environmental they were all addressed by using best practices and thinking outside the box, CREATIVELY.

How have you used what you learned at the ETS Conference during your day to day activities?  What take aways did you have? We would love to hear your point of view.

 Dive Deeper Into the Transmission World

Tags: Engineering, design

9 Must Haves for a Steel Structure Specification

Posted by Wendy Gintz on Apr 22, 2015 3:30:00 PM

Specification are to Steel Structures like...Cherries are to a Banana Split.BananaSplit

Specifications come in all shapes and sizes.

From the very informal 3 page document to the all-encompassing formidable documents.  The specification is a tool for the Owner (End User) to convey their minimum project requirements to the supplier.  Defined by Wikipedia, it is a set of documented requirements to be satisfied by a material, design, product or service and also a type of technical standard.

In the utility industry we see specifications presented in many different formats.  As a result, it is very important that a specification be clear and easy to follow.  Be careful about providing multiple specifications and documents that start contradicting one another. In these wordle_2situations the Owner’s requirements and overall message can get lost in a sea of documents resulting in different interpretations by the suppliers.  This can ultimately lead to proposals that can’t be compared properly, Owners not getting what they want, or additional unforeseen costs. When it comes to fabricating substation and transmission steel structures there are many variables that need to be relayed during the design, detail, and fabrication phases.  These specifications provide that direction.  Whether you are using an already created specification, updating a previous version or crafting a brand new one, there are certain sections you want to include.  Below are 9 sections that are not to be missed when deciding the content for your specifications. 

  1. Purpose/Scope – This is the heart of the document.  This is the owner’s chance to define the purpose of the document and clearly layout their expectations for the scope of work.  Example: Intended to serve as a system wide guide for structural design of steel structures.
  2. References – This section typically lists out the required design standards and any other applicable documents.   (e.g. ASTM Standards, ASCE Design Stanards, etc.) 
  3. Submittals – This section typically covers the owner’s expectations of any document to be submitted by the supplier.  This includes things like bid proposal requirements listing out the needed forms and design summaries.  It also covers formal design and drawing submittal requirements.
  4. Loading and Geometry – If the scope of work includes design, this section typically covers the minimum information needed by the Structure Designer to design the structures.  This would include things like loading criteria, unique weather conditions and terrain for the service area, and any other usual loading conditions the designer should consider.    This section also covers the different structure types, general layout of the structures, and the types of connections permitted.  (e.g. slip-fit vs. flange, embedded vs. base plated)
  5. Design – This section typically includes any restrictions to the design, material, field erection, fabrication, etc.  Examples of this include anchor bolt circle limits, minimum material thicknesses allowed, deflection limits, aesthetic preferences, weight limitations, etc.
  6. Fabrication – This covers owner’s expectations of workmanship and quality. 
  7. Finishing/Coating – What type of coating is supposed to be used such has galvanizing, painting, sandblasted, etc.
  8. Inspection – This section typically covers the type of inspections and testing required for the project. 

Of course these are just a few of the main sections.  There may be other sections that pertain to your specific product need, corporate formalities and/or industry.  No matter what your final Specification Document instills, it is important that you and those that use them agree on what is expected from a product and/or service.  This form of communication between the two parties can be a key component to a successful project.

How do you communicate your expectations to your vendors?  We would love to hear from you so please leave a comment below and let us know if this information has been useful.

Pole Design References

Tags: substation design, specific standards for structures, Engineering, design of steel transmission pole structures

DIS-TRAN Overhead Solutions: A 50 Year Supplier of Wood Utility Products

Posted by Melissa Hines on Apr 1, 2015 3:52:00 PM

DIS-TRAN Overhead Solutions, LLC has been providing distribution crossarms to utilities for 50 years. Today, we design, manufacture and treat a complete line of Douglas Fir and Southern Yellow Pine distribution crossarms, end plated crossarms, ground wire molding and wood transmission arms and assemblies. We're celebrating 50 years in the business by reflecting on some of our major milestones. 


In July 2006, we began production in our newest location in Vancouver, WA. With two separate facilities located in Pineville, LA and Vancouver, WA, we are available to customers from coast to coast for quick lead times and amazing response to storm restoration. These two locations enables flexibility and allows us more opportunities to effeciently serve the entire country.

Through Columbia Vista Corporation, DIS-TRAN Overhead Solutions, LLC plant facilities in Pineville, LA and Vancouver, WA have both been Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified, COC #SW-COC-00244. We have made a commitment to the environment and to promoting the improvement of forest management. We are also the only certified environmentally friendly "green" wood products supplier.

We added transmission products to our scope of work in October 2011. These transmission products include x-braces, vee and knee braces and tension braces along with the necessary hardware.

50 Years in the Making
With the addition of a full time engineer on staff, we can provide you with detailed drawings of structures and assemblies along with accompanying material lists to aid in planning and construction. Our engineer is also available to answer any questions related to our products. 

Is there any additional products you would like to see DIS-TRAN Overhead Solutions, LLC carry? Please let us know. We are always looking to pursue new opportunites especially if it will help fulfill the needs of our customers.

Make sure to follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn to stay up-to-date with the latest happenings.

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Tags: wood distribution crossarms, transmission structures, manufacturing, wood transmission structures, Engineering

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