Why consult a design engineer?

In my thirty years of experience as an engineer and as a consultant, I have dealt with large national and international projects, such as the disposal of industrial iron and steel waste, the remediation of contaminated sites, and the disposal of wastewater from ships.

For these major works it is normal, and often required by law, to contact a competent practitioner.

For small projects, however, the situation is very different.

Small customers are convinced that they do not need a project and can go directly to a supplier without consulting a design engineer.

I am going to give you some examples.

The plumber
In 1995, I designed and built the hydraulic system of a private house. In 2005, the customer called me because the plant had problems. The pressure was lower. The water flow decreased. The boiler worked badly. Sometimes it did not go into operation, sometimes it worked intermittently. During the survey, I found that he had made changes to the plant. The customer justified himself surprisedly, saying that he had called the same plumber. I had to explain to him that the plumber did the job following my designs, my drawings, and my calculations.

The smith
In 2000, a customer called me for a survey. He was rebuilding a cantilever roof and replacing a shed with the help of a smith, who had built a beautiful porch for him in a different place years before. I found an incomprehensible three-dimensional tangle, with no structural or aesthetic sense. They had improvised on the field, both the customer and the smith. The customer, by guess-work. The smith, satisfying him and taking advantage of the situation. The customer was surprised because he had called the same smith of the veranda. I explained to him that on that occasion the smith had followed my designs, my drawings and my calculations. And I left them to their three-dimensional tangle.

The garage
In 2005, a customer asked me an opinion about the gate of his garage. During the survey, I explained him that his garage had some structural problems, which had to be solved before intervening on the gate. In particular, the access opening needed a new flat arch. After these works, he had to install a new gate of different structure and dimensions. I asked the smith to reinforce the old gate, and deferred the replacement after that the consolidation work had been done. Meanwhile, the customer turned to surveyors, who pretended to be engineers, and to handymen, asking for various opinions. My solution annoyed these improvised suppliers, who wanted to take advantage of the superficiality and of the ignorance of the customer.

Especially in small projects and with customers with less economic resources, the intervention of a practitioner is paramount. To comply with time and costs. To assess risks and opportunities. To coordinate the work without overlapping. To select the right suppliers and the most suitable materials. To assure easy maintenance and durability. It is the most appropriate opportunity to implement economic sustainability, ensuring efficient and prudent use of the few available resources, in addition to the environmental and social sustainability.

A project is needed and this project needs to be managed effectively. And projects need to be paid. This is to answer an acquaintance, who asked me with her big surprise: “Why? Do we have to pay for projects?”. Yes, and for professional consultancy too.

In conclusion, even for small projects and for small everyday needs, it is better to consult in advance engineers with experience in a particular sector. They can help you with the disposal of solid, liquid and gaseous waste. They can assist you with a technical inspection before purchasing a new house. They can help you with moisture, condensation, aeration, and lighting issues. They can suggest a technology, a material, or a supplier. They can provide you with energy-saving solutions.

Do not call them only after that the “do it yourself” has produced results different than expected, or a real disaster.

To choose an up to date and well trained, judicious, and reliable professional, read the curriculum, also on the Internet. Perform cross-checks, for example, by calling or sending e-mails to compare the data on the resume. If required, make sure that they are enrolled in a professional order. For example, you can refer to this article: “Difference between professional order and category association”. (Available only in Italian).

A woman engineer (in Italy) is called engineer, and not mistress, or miss, or doctor.
Design engineers are, without any discrimination, both men and women.

Paola Morgese, PMP
Civil Hydraulic Engineer
M.S. Sanitary and Environmental Engineering



Paola Morgese’s photo: With the workers at a contaminated Site of National Interest

Translation of the Italian blog post: Paola Morgese, “Perché consultare un ingegnere progettista




Labor Day

Close your eyes and imagine living in a nation based on the well-being of the people, a nation that is free to manage its public money and to distribute it to its inhabitants as it thinks best.

Money is a human invention, it is not a gift of nature and is conventionally used in the exchange of goods and services among people.

Let us assume that every citizen has a dowry at his or her disposal from birth, which allows them to lead a dignified life. For example, if compared with the cost of living at the present time, this amount could be a thousand dollars net per week.

If these citizens are children, this dowry would be managed by their parents. If they have good parents, they will find themselves with some savings, which they will manage when adults. If they have bad parents, they will find their dowry squandered when adults.

If these citizens are adults, they may make important and independent decisions for their life. They could choose to be satisfied with the dowry, which allows them to live with dignity. This would allow them not to work under remuneration, to arrange their time according to their needs, their wishes and their loved ones, and to perform social volunteering.

Adult citizens may decide not to be satisfied with the dowry and to earn more money, choosing a job. They could look for the job that they want most and in the sector that is most congenial to them, both as an employee, as a freelance, and as an entrepreneur.

In any case, they would be free to look for the solution, which satisfies them most. It would not be a constraint, as for most adults now, but a free choice. These adults, who work under remuneration, would do it for personal enjoyment. They would do it because they like their job, or because they like the money. In any case, they would have satisfied a personal wish.

In such a society, most people would be engaged in performing activities that they like, according to their own needs and attitudes, and only for individual choice.

What are the three main benefits that may be there?

  1. The disappearance or the drastic reduction of incompetent, negligent and bully-minded people, who enjoy the privilege of a steady job with a guaranteed salary;
  2. Time management according to personal needs and the retrieval of interpersonal relationships and of the relationship with oneself;
  3. Widespread well-being, satisfaction, and serenity.

What three main disadvantages could be there?

  1. The disappearance or drastic reduction of the buying of votes, which ensures a steady job with a guaranteed salary to incompetent, negligent and bully-minded people;
  2. Devaluation of the power of money;
  3. Free, happier, healthier and richer citizens, therefore less needy and less manipulable.

Now, breathe deeply and reopen your eyes.

It was just a guided meditation.

Namastè! 🙂

Paola Morgese, PMP
Civil Hydraulic Engineer
M.S. Sanitary and Environmental Engineering



Why most people fail to see a bright green future

While helping my teenager niece to do her English homework, we found a question about how she sees the bright green future, which was described in a leaflet printed in the book.

Just to be clear, a bright green future is a world with less pollution, less waste, with more renewable energy, more recycling, and a healthy place to live in.

Her answer was that she sees it positive. With my huge surprise, she added with a full conviction: “Positive, but unrealistic”.


“Because we cannot do it now. We have too many problems. Future generations will create a green future”.

My conclusion is that a general and common pessimism, that is generated spreading bad news, disable the ability of people to see a different world and to trust their own skills. Most people surrender. And, if also the new generations surrender, this is extremely serious.

Recently, I found many articles published by colleagues on official magazines about sustainability and project management. Just a few years ago, it was unbelievable to find so many publications on this subject. We really need them to go in the right direction and to thrive.

One article is about modern stakeholder management and sustainable development principles included in project management standards. Refer also to my article about modern stakeholder management. Yes, my article is in Italian. As a general consideration, this shows a big limit for all these publications: they refer only to articles written in English language. They exclude all articles, journals, books, conference papers and research about sustainability and project management developed in different languages. This huge gap demonstrates that, if we don’t know a language, it doesn’t mean that there are no significant research results in other languages on the same subject. I don’t think that this practice is “sustainable” and that the English literature must be dominant. Anyway, let us proceed with the review.

Another article is about the finding that sustainability is one of the two major themes in today project management research and practice (the other is governance). Experienced project management practitioners work and write about this subject.

Another article identifies key variables of sustainability in project management and describes new parameters to measure the project success including economic, environmental and social benefits.

Another article is about the pursuit of sustainability in the construction industry based on the results of interviewing expert project managers. They found, briefly and for instance, that sustainable constructions aims to cost savings, employee satisfaction, green procurement, innovations, and survival of a company in the long term. Among barriers and challenges to the integration of sustainability, they found, for example, lack of awareness, lack of responsibility, lack of training, lack of organizational support, and ambiguity in government policies.

A further article describes how and how much sustainability is taken into account in project management decision making. In a traditional assessment, quality, time and costs are considered. Risks can be added. But, what happens to the environmental, social and economic variables of sustainability?

Thanks to these colleagues. Our daily actions and thoughts create our world and our future.

If people can see it, then they can really create a bright green future.

Paola Morgese, PMP
Civil Hydraulic Engineer
M.S. Sanitary and Environmental Engineering



References will be provided on request.

The study of science protects from being manipulated

Science is a set of ordered and coherent knowledge. Subjects like chemistry, physics, biology and natural sciences are all disciplines dealing with the phenomena of the sensible world for descriptive and interpretive purposes.

Scientists are expert scholars in a particular discipline.
In the study of nature, the scientist uses the sense organs or some increasingly sophisticated tools. The results, to be totally objective, should be independent from the activity of the scientist, from his or her personal, social and cultural story. That is, scientists should be independent from any kind of pressure and conditioning to impartially perform their work.

In reality, this does not always happen because of large economic and power interests linked to the applied sciences, that is the application for practical purposes of scientific laws and results. The scientific and technological progress could be driven from the outside towards a specific, single and interested direction.

The continuity of the scientific and technological progress should instead be always and equally assured in all sectors, in order to obtain more and better knowledge for the common good and well-being. Sustainability should be the single and wide direction to follow. Science and technology should ensure the continuity of life on this planet with a biocentric and non anthropocentric perspective, which respects the rights of all living beings. The right to health and to environmental, social and economic well-being should be guaranteed to all future generations. Equal opportunity and availability automatically generate trust in ourselves and in other people, cooperation, and emotional security.

Personal learning, deriving or not from school education, of scientific disciplines and of some simple basic notions, protects against possible distortions of scientific results. Science is based on facts, on numbers, on measurements, and not on words. Someone at school might not have studied chemistry and physics, because the matters were cancelled or because the teacher was not friendly. Or even because the teacher was not able to explain and made the subject incomprehensible and unapproachable for the majority of his or her students. To get started, just look for a good, clear and passionate teacher or book.

We should have no doubt, for example, about pH, acid rain, electromagnetic waves, chemicals and chemical reactions, antibodies, viruses and bacteria. They are not abstract topics. They are the environment where we live and the food that we eat. They are the remedies that we use for our health and the water that we drink. They are the substances contained in household cleaners and body creams. They are the clothes that we wear and our personal belongings.

Words can be manipulated, their use can be changed, their meaning can be altered, their sense can be turned upside-down. Classic examples of distortion of words are given in this blog post: “1984, the book symbol of manipulation”.

If we have some simple basic scientific knowledge, we can instead make independent cross-checks. We can have fun while making experiments directly and in a conscious and informed way. We can repeat the experience, if we are not satisfied. We can go deeper. We can go further and trust our reasoning, our intuitions, and our personal results.

Namastè  🙂

Paola Morgese, PMP
Civil Hydraulic Engineer
M.S. Sanitary and Environmental Engineering




Translation of the Italian blog post: Paola Morgese, Studiare le materie scientifiche per non farsi manipolare



Recipes of the past century

While browsing a cookbook used by my grandmother, I came across a chapter, where I found some simple recipes, mostly healthy and vegan, with a strange title: “Recipes of the famine”.

The book contains some of the many thousands of recipes that listeners sent to the presenter of a widely followed broadcast of a private radio of the Seventies. Those of the chapter on the famine are about fifty.

To give you an idea, here are some titles: pre-alarm artichokes, poppies and beans, 1943 chestnut cake, chestnut cake for the shelter, chicory (lupine, chickpea, bean, and the like) coffee, chickling soup, dumplings of the poor people, seaweed pancakes, trolley-car bread, omelet of the poor people.

This is the introductory note to the chickling soup recipe: “Chicklings, which are a species of legumes with scarce edible value, but very good feed for animals, made their appearance during the war when the precious legumes disappeared from our tables. Their appearance was a cross between a broad bean and a lupine… “.

Maybe it was the dark atmosphere of the war years that created misunderstandings about these ingredients. The chickling soup has been part of my vegan diet for some time. I was impressed to read that they were regarded only as an “animal feed”. They are delicious, rich in protein and nourishing like the other “precious legumes”. Indeed, now they are perhaps more exclusive and more expensive than other most popular legumes.

However, I used the best of my ability and have tried a few of them, such as the vegan omelet and the dumplings of the poor people. They are delicious, healthy and nourishing. But these are common recipes, which are already part of our eating habits.

It was rather a surprise to literally bring back to life again an unknown “trolley-car bread”. While kneading it, putting it into the oven and beginning to smell its aroma while it baked, it has been like making a journey back in time. It is the recipe for a snack for children of about a century ago. And, when I tasted it, it almost seemed to me to see those children. To give shape, color, taste, odor and to materialize something from the past has been a sweet and exciting experience.

These old tasty recipes are made with ingredients that are natural, cheap, easily available, locally produced, and often personally produced, and with high quality raw materials unfairly downgraded. They are small masterpieces of sustainability.

Paola Morgese, PMP
Civil Hydraulic Engineer
M.S. Sanitary and Environmental Engineering



Various authors, Le mille e una… ricetta – Frijenno magnanno, by Gianni de Bury, Radio Antenna Capri, Edizioni Tursport, Naples (Italy), 1977.

Translation of the Italian blog post: Paola Morgese, Ricette di un secolo passato published at Sostenibile.com

How to deal with a mourning sustainably

Each of us has a different and unexpected reaction to the death of a loved one, either person or animal. You can happen to smile, or to cry in a desperate and incessant way, or even to remain impassive.

Each time, the pain takes possession of us and wraps us up in a different way. At first, it leaves us bewildered, stunned, and dejected. Then, we feel abandoned and forgotten. Then, regrets assail us for a further gesture of affection, which we would have wanted to make. Then, the anger and a sense of injustice assail us. Then, we want to vent somehow.

There are various things that we can do to deal with such a painful loss. To let the pain go out without harming ourselves and without throwing it on other people, animals or places. To take, both chronological and emotional, time to work out a death. To surround ourselves with people, who love us and understand us. To remove, even if only temporarily, those who can not understand us. To walk. To be in the sun. To cook something good for us. To take a break. To go for a walk alone, without a destination and without a commitment, with calm and serenity, letting us be guided by our intuition. To give us a gift. To cuddle ourselves. To take the “rescue remedy” of the Bach flowers. To write down thoughts and emotions. To put aside the everyday and personal belongings of the dear one, who left us. To keep photos and other objects linked to the most beautiful memories. To keep alive the memory of that person, or of that animal, with the people who loved him or her, sweetly and serenely. To create and to share new happy memories with those who have remained to be part of our life.

The death of a loved one can find us unprepared, arriving suddenly, or it can smolder during a long illness, or it may arrive at the end of a long life. In whatever way it happens, we are not prepared to face it. It is a profound shock, and an immense separation. It is a part of us, which we feel is going away. It is a moment of abandonment, that we can not manage. Nevertheless, it is our only certainty in this life and, instead of ignoring it, we should talk more about it and accept it.

The death of the most important person in my life found me completely unprepared. I have always thought that she had abandoned me, that I had been left alone, and I drowned in my pain. I just could not accept it. For years, for too many years. When I finally realized that she continues to be with me every day, although in a different form, I felt much, really much better. Several messages had arrived to me, but I had not understood them. Then, something enlightening happened. I went to visit some dear friends on the occasion of their wedding. A few days later, they organized a pleasant trip to a national park, just in an area that I did not know. While we were in the car, joking and laughing together, I felt choked by a desperate cry. I looked at the friends and saw that the conversation continued serenely. I put the attention to my body, thinking that it was an illness, but instead I was very well. I looked out of the car window, thinking that something serious had happened outside. Everything was normal: avenues, trees, walls, road, and sky. Then we arrived to a square and I recognized the place.

It was the pine forest near the lake where every Thursday morning there was the market. And we used to go there together, when we were there on vacation in the summer. Something of my loved one had remained in that place, where she had been happy. Where we had been happy together. I stopped crying suddenly. The very strong, also physical and widespread, pain vanished and an immense joy enveloped me. I think that my friends in the car have not noticed anything. Even today, in the summer, sometimes I like to wear that white “vintage” shirt that we bought together in that market. Just during these days, thirty-two years have elapsed since the most important person in my life died and I feel her closer than ever. I know that she did not abandon me and that she never thought of doing it, not even when she died.

So, if you want to meet your loved ones who died, look for them within yourselves and in the places where you have been happy together. They do not abandon us, and now they are and they will be part of us forever and will accompany us on our journey. They belong to our words, to our actions, to our thoughts, to what we eat, and to our gestures.

Several times in my life I faced up to the death, for instance in a plane accident, for an emergency surgery, during a panic attack, and during a heart attack. Rationally, I always thank the professionalism of the personnel of Alitalia and of the Police Station of the Palermo Punta Raisi airport. Or the competence and the empathetic support of my very good surgeon friend. From the emotional point of view, in those moments I always thought of one thing, and always of the same thing. I saw again the people and the animals, whom I loved and with whom I shared my life at that time, and the places that were dear to me. I never worried about myself: my thought always went to my dear creatures and to the places of my heart. When the dangerous situation was resolved, I could not wait to hug my loved ones again or to go back to a place that I loved.

Something of us forever remains with the people with whom we have been happy and in the places where we have been happy. So, there is a single answer to the question: “How to deal with a mourning sustainably?”.

Be happy!  🙂

Paola Morgese, PMP
Civil Hydraulic Engineer
M.S. Sanitary and Environmental Engineering




Translation of the Italian blog post: Paola Morgese, Come affrontare un lutto in maniera sostenibile



A project in a book: how project management defeats narcissistic abuse

The launch of the English version of “Holistic Solutions to Emotional Manipulation” is the opportunity for unveiling a secret about this book. It is a project that uses a project management methodology to defeat narcissistic abuse with holistic solutions.

If you are a supporter of project management, you can add a brand new success to this discipline.

Here are the reasons.

The book is divided in five chapters, each of them representing a specific process group: initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing.

There are instructions to develop an action plan to defeat emotional manipulation and a check list to organize the work.

Each section analyzes ten project management knowledge areas in detail: scope, time, costs, quality, human resource, communications, procurement, risks, stakeholders, and integration.

A project management methodology is applied to the solution of narcissistic abuse through the use of holistic disciplines, which work on body, mind and spirit simultaneously.

You could say that this is a strange experiment, using a rational matter as project management in order to treat something that is often evanescent, spiritual, and intangible. But I can assure you that it works.

I tested this method on myself because, being an engineer and a project manager, this approach belongs to my own behavior and habits.

The readers, men and women, of this book, who are very far from being project managers and who maybe do not even know what project management is, used it for their own particular cases. And this method worked for them too.

Here is what a reader wrote to me: “The book has shown me a very useful method to remove the author of the manipulation forever, …”. You can read the complete interview in this blog post.

These encouraging results are a further proof of the power and of the versatility of project management.

We, as project managers, can be very proud of its magic.

The birth of a new book is always exciting. Who knows where it will go, who will browse its pages, and who will take it in her or his heart. Welcome! “Holistic Solutions to Emotional Manipulation

Paola Morgese, PMP
Civil Hydraulic Engineer
M.S. Sanitary and Environmental Engineering