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Modjeski and Masters is pleased to announce the acquisition of structural engineering firm Summit Engineering Group, Inc. Our combined engineering prowess and respective technical skillsets will enable us to provide streamlined design and construction solutions to best meet client needs.

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Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope Inspection

| View Projects:USA Green Bank, WV

  • Client:

    National Radio Astronomy Observatory
  • Service:

    Highways & Other
  • Status:

  • Overview

    At 9:43 p.m. on Tuesday, November 15, 1988, the 300 foot radio telescope collapsed. The cause? Sudden failure of a key structural element – a large gusset plate in the box girder assembly that formed the main support for the antenna. The telescope’s loss was attributed to a lack of inspection and maintenance. Between 1991 and 2002, a replacement telescope was designed and constructed. It was no ordinary instrument. It was, in fact, the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope. To help it avoid the same fate as its predecessor, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory sought the expertise of a trusted structural engineering firm to develop an inspection plan and procedure for their new landmark telescope. 
    They selected Modjeski and Masters for the job. The specs of the new telescope were awe-inspiring: a surface of 100 by 110 meters; a weight exceeding 16,000,000 pounds; and over 13,000 structural steel members and joints. Developing an inspection plan and executing an inspection appeared to be a daunting task. Modjeski and Masters was prepared for the challenge. We drew upon decades of steel bridge inspection experience and, with close collaboration with our client, developed an inspection plan and procedure. It ensures that all members of the structure are inspected in a manner and periodicity appropriate to their criticality. We also created a custom record-keeping database to use as the primary administrative tool for managing the inspection process, recording the inspection findings, and programming maintenance. 
    That the National Radio Astronomy Observatory was satisfied with the results is evident.   After completion of the inspection plan and program, they hired Modjeski and Masters to conduct multi-year inspections of the telescope. Paramount to the successful completion of the inspections was our bridge inspectors’ technical access training. These skills allowed our inspectors to reach and inspect all of the structural components; some located 100 meters above ground.
  • Description

    Tasks Performed
    • In-Depth Inspection
    • Technical Access
    • Asset Management

    Structure Geometry
    • Telescope Surface – 100m x 110m
    • Weight – 16,000,000 pounds
    • Viewing Area – the entire sky above 5 degrees elevation
  • Testimonial

    “…We are pleased to have had the Modjeski and Masters crew inspect our telescope structure. In all cases they work with a level of professionalism, thoroughness, reliability and competence rarely seen these days. We cannot inspect the entire structure ourselves but we can rest assured that the telescope is sound because of the trustworthiness of the fine folks of M&M - Thanks for the peace of mind…” - Harry Morton, Technical Support Supervisor, National Radio Astronomy Observatory.
  • Credits

    Dr. John M. Kulicki, PE, SE (Principal In Charge)
    Richard A. Little, PE (Project Manager)
    Michael S. Januszkiewicz, PE (Inspection Team Leader)