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Mixed Reviews

07.26.17 by Heidi Wallace
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Having taken an embarrassingly long – decade, perhaps? – break from reading books of my choosing for pleasure’s sake rather than a grade or knowledge acquisition, I recently decided I would once again take up my childhood hobby.

My endeavor back into the reading world was daunting … where to start? I suppose my reentry to reading for pleasure started with reading pages and pages of book reviews.

Or does that once again fall into the category of reading for knowledge? Perhaps so.

The reviews made me wonder how it must feel to have a profession in which all of your work is reviewed by the masses, ranked against both your own work and the work of your peers, praised and torn apart based on the whims of the reader.

What would it look like if my work, as a civil engineer, were put through a similar process? I quite enjoyed where my imagination took me.


Description:  Once again, Heidi C. Wallace has brought us a delightful little sanitary sewer extension. From one manhole to another, she’ll have your interest rising right along with the flowlines of the profile as you journey along this 175 linear feet of suburban Tulsa.

Reviews (2):

5 Stars – Would Recommend SS

Looking for a quick study, I found myself reviewing the Sanitary Sewer Extension. A small set of plans, a mere two pages, one of which being largely general notes, contact information, and the like — it was short and sweet. Nothing overly complicated, no bulky calculations to cause my mind to ache and my eyes to glaze over. It was just what I was seeking for the afternoon’s light entertainment. The multiple gas line crossings intrigued me, but not as much as the note stating that the location of the crossings was nothing short of approximate. It left me wanting more. Will the contractor hit any lines? Will there be conflicts with the flowlines? For such a short set, I am eagerly awaiting the construction to begin.

2 Stars – SS is Nothing Noteworthy

The only thing I remotely enjoyed about this plan set was its brevity. It was lackluster at best. There was but one true calculation in the entire set, and ordinance flow is nothing over which one should get excited. It’s merely a plug-and-chug empirical formula based on who-knows-what data. Perhaps worse than this yawn-inducing set of plans is the lack of intrigue in the final product. At the end of construction the only evidence of the entire job will be the two or three rows of sloppily lain sod and one lousy manhole cover. How uninteresting! I’m not likely to waste my time on one of these little sanitary extensions again. Sure, we all enjoy the modern benefits of a properly designed sanitary main, but I don’t desire to be bothered with the pathetically pedantic plans, personally. Not Ms. Wallace’s most interesting plan set. I’ll stick to her earlier works.

Shall we proceed? How about one more?


Description:  Not yet formally named, Elementary School is a unique solution to a complicated puzzle. From lot combinations and easement vacations to 50 feet in elevation change and utility main extensions of several varieties, this plan set is sure to have something of interest for any reader.

Reviews (2):

1 Star – Most Miserable Night of My Life

Where do I begin? I picked up this Elementary School thinking that it would be a relaxing read for my weekend at the lake in the event of a storm keeping me indoors. I couldn’t have been more wrong. (The only thing I was right about was the storm.) The sheets were huge, and there were so many matchlines that I had a difficult time even trying to get the whole picture. Sure, there was an overall sheet, but the scale was so large that I could barely discern the features of the site. Trying to remedy the problem, I set out folding the sheets at the matchlines and aligning them neatly on the floor. No sooner than I got the Demolition & Erosion Control Plan sheets set up, my dog came bounding in with muddy paws and made a mess of the whole thing. If this set had been more reasonably sized, I could have read the plans on the table and avoided the whole disaster. Resigning myself to reading the rest of the plans one enlarged sheet at a time, I quickly became overwhelmed by the drainage and detention calculations. There seemed to be about a hundred drainage areas and just as many area inlets. Don’t get me started on the floodplain fill and compensatory storage. My advice: avoid these plans! It wasn’t worth my time or energy, and it ruined my weekend at the lake.

4.5 Stars – Elem is a Must Read

This set of plans was breathtaking. I wasn’t sure I was going to like it. This project didn’t even have a proper name yet. But then again, the lack of a name was intriguing. The uncertainty was enticing. Once I started into the plan set, I couldn’t put it down. I even used some PTO Monday morning to stay home and finish the set. How would they resolve the grading challenges? The retaining walls alone could bust the budget if not terraced with the utmost precision. And the sanitary service! Only the perfect footing elevation would allow for both balanced cut/fill and sufficient slope on the sanitary service line. My heart raced as I poured over the drainage tables. So many areas to analyze, and all releasing to the detention pond with the perfect amount of freeboard on the 1% storm. You can be certain that I will be driving by this project site often once construction begins. This set should be required reading for all civil undergrads and Engineer Interns.

So, there you have it. A little peek into the strange and possibly unsettling way that my mind works. I hope you enjoyed it at least a little bit. Either way, feel free to leave a review.

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Heidi Wallace, PE


Heidi received her Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Oklahoma State University and her Master’s in Construction Project…

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Heidi Wallace, EIT

Civil Engineering

Heidi joined our Wallace Engineering family in June, 2016 after she worked here as a summer intern in 2014 and 2015. She graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Oklahoma State University in 2016. Her activities include active involvement in the American Society of Civil Engineers, Engineers Without Borders, The Table College Ministry, Chil Epsilon Civil Honors Society, Engineering Success Coaching and Engineering Freshman Council. Heidi’s interests include art projects, baking, teaching preschool at church, hiking and time spent with her dog, Lio. She is also bilingual in English and Spanish.

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