Fall Schedule

We had registration last week, and my schedule is finalized (I hope!). I know ARCH 243 is going to be really really really time consuming and demanding, so I hope this semester doesn’t kill me!

Fall 2014

CEE 266: Construction Management An overview of scheduling, estimation, construction methods, financial controls, contracts, labor relations, and organizational forms in construction. My internship this summer is construction management, and I’ve heard great things about this professor, so I’m excited for this class.

CEE 142: Soil Mechanics Physical properties of soil: stresses, strains, flow through porous materials, deformation, laboratory experiments. I’ve heard really good things about this class and professor as well.

ARCH 214: Architecture and the City since WWII Architectural and urban theories and projects since 1945; analysis of the relationship between architecture and the city. This class counts as one of my history/theory electives for my architecture degree. It will also be writing intensive.

ARCH 243: Architectural Design 3 Basically exactly what it sounds like. This is with the same professor that teaches ARCH 214.

CEE 203+ME 111: Professional Development Professional ethics and writing, responsibilities of an engineer. (Yeah, 203 conflicts with ARCH 243; that’s why I am taking ME 111 as well. I’ve spoken to the professor, and he is totally fine with this.)


Throwback Thursday to when Lehigh was covered with snow. Spring is finally showing itself!!

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Field Trip-Waste Water Treatment Plant

Last week, we went to the Bethlehem Wastewater Treatment Plant for intro to environmental engineering. Our instructor was super excited about it. He said that his first visit to a waste water treatment plant as an undergrad was what really made him want to pursue environmental science. Although environmental isn’t really my thing, it was still cool to go out and see environmental engineering in the real world rather than just on paper.






Steel Bridge Competition

Hello everyone!

It’s been a long time since my last blog. I apologize, I have been working on a few videos for the department and haven’t had the chance to write anything lately. It was also the middle of exams so I was not able to spare any time for this blog! However, I’m back now and I hope to post more on a regular basis.

I’m sure you’ve read posts from Katie about the Steel Bridge club at Lehigh University. I was fortunate enough to be involved with the club and I was able to attend the regional Steel Bridge competition (if you want to learn more about the competition, I’ve provided a link here: http://www.aisc.org/content.aspx?id=780). This year, the competition was held at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. We actually just got back from the competition Sunday afternoon so everything is still pretty fresh in my mind. It was actually a perfect weekend and almost everything turned out right.Bridge in pieces

The Naval Academy

It’s always fun to visit another college. Even as a prospective university student, I’ve always loved going onto another campus and seeing the culture. A little bit off-topic, but doesn’t the idea that each university has its own culture, people, and buildings make you feel so small? Anyways, even though I consider myself to be motivated, I felt absolutely lazy when I was at the academy. My first impression: everyone was running. It didn’t take long for me to realize the discipline and pressure these kids go through. While a long day at Lehigh meant an 8 hour study session in the library, I can only assume how these cadets go through so much more.

The campus was beautiful. I’m not sure what the undergraduate (are they even called undergraduates?) population is, but Lehigh’s campus is absolutely dwarfed by the size of the academy. Even the biggest buildings at Lehigh seem to be moderately sized at the academy. I honestly wish I had taken more pictures.

2014-04-12 14.34.53The Bridge (before competition)

Going back to the topic of the bridge, I’m sure Katie has written a lot on the topic, but I’ll recap briefly. The Steel Bridge competition is an engineering project where different universities design and construct their own bridges and to ultimately test them against each other. These bridges measure 20 ft in length and around 30 feet in width, which is around 1/10 of an actual bridge. We started from scratch, just a pile of steel plates and steel rods. For the few months leading up to the competition, we designed our bridge using a 3D software. We were up in the lab ATLSS (Advanced Technology for Large Structure Systems) using plasma cutters and welders to construct each individual members of the bridge. By the time we were ready to go off to the competition, we have a whole bunch of bridge members that we can bolt up to create an actual bridge.

The Competition

There are three parts to the competition: (1) build speed, (2) lateral load, and (3) vertical load. These tests are pretty self explanatory. We are to assemble the bridge (remember, we’ve already had the individual members, now we just need to bolt them up) as quickly as possible. Next, we put a 50 lb lateral load on the bridge. Lastly, we see how much weight we can apply vertically onto the bridge.

Unfortunately, since our team was very inexperienced (most of the team is comprised of underclassmen), we did not perform as 2014-04-13 08.28.48well as many of the other teams. Our build speed was 25:02 (maximum time was 30 min) and we failed the lateral load test. Since we failed the lateral load, we were unable to continue to vertical loading.

Despite our low rankings, it was a wonderful experience. Our team learned many vital lessons on how to improve our bridge. The most important of which is to allow time for the bridge. Instead of cramming the entire construction into a matter of weeks, we must begin our bridge earlier. One of our biggest failures this year was that we started too late. We didn’t even begin building our bridge until just a month ago. By giving our project more team, we can improve our results greatly.


MOLES Field Trip – 2nd Avenue Subway

The CEE Department at Lehigh offered a field trip for all junior and senior CivE’s to the construction site of the new 2nd Avenue Subway being built in downtown Manhattan.  The bus left campus at 5:30am, a Friday morning and we were in New York City by 7:15, right above the site.  There were 16 of us students with a proctor and as we climbed down underneath the busy, traffic-filled street, we were handed hardhats, gloves, and safety vests and glasses.  We entered an underground chamber with hundreds of other students and sat down for a short introductory presentation.  The Moles are a special civil engineering society based around NYC that contains many of the designers and workers that helped construct a lot of big projects in the area over the years.  Every year they offer a tour of a current, active site for civil engineering students of all colleges around.  The site of the 2nd Avenue Subway is about as large as you can get.

Our tour consisted of 14 different stations, where a representative from a company explained their unique role in the project.  We were not allowed to take any pictures so I’ll list the stations as best as I can from my memory:

1.  Remediating concrete piles of any buildings whose foundations were damaged or settling unevenly due to the tunneling

2.  Removing sludge wastewater out of the tunnels to set concrete walls around launch zone

3.  Preparing the launch zone, or initial downward excavation where tunneling began, by digging around and redirecting utility lines

4.  Using form work to mold concrete sections of the underground walls

5.  Installing scaffolding underground to support concrete ceiling until fully dried

6.  The actual process of tunneling directly below the street

7.  The design of the station chamber that was 66′ tall!

8.  The excavation of the station chamber from the street level 100′ above us

9.  The geotechnical design of a single earth column at one end of the chamber

10.  Laying the subway track down along with the electronics (lighting) in the tunnels

11.  Earth freezing process – the tunnel cuts directly through solid bedrock except for one end where the weak soil layer dips down.  Tunneling through that would have caused a sink hole in the street above.  They decided to freeze that soil until the concrete tunnel was fully in place by running cooling pipes all throughout that ground area.

I forgot the other stations, but the ones here give an idea of how big the project really is.  I could physically see the scale of it and it amazed me.  All the firms that came together to work on this subway system cover every single aspect of civil engineering.  Walking through those tunnels as it was being constructed was definitely one of the coolest experiences I’ve had at Lehigh.

Capstone is almost finished….!

Capstone is almost finished....!

So things have been rather busy in the last two weeks for senior civil engineers, the reason being: CAPSTONE. The picture above was taken at about midnight in Gibson lab last Thursday night (our 90% submission was due Friday at 5pm). Since then, our awesome Professor has given us feedback to get our projects ready for the 100% submission.

Next week will be the presentations ! Monday and Wednesday will be presentations from 4:00-6:00 (all are welcome!) and each group will be displaying their designs for this project. Then Friday, my last day of school for a while, we will submit the calculation set, drawing set and complete design documents. Hoping my team does the best hehehe.

Adventuring in Pennsylvania – Civil Engineering Everywhere

Since the snow has melted and the days have gotten warmer, the Outdoor Adventure House, which I live in, has started planning more trips on the weekends.  A week ago, seven of us drove out to a trail and hiked up to what is known as the Pinnacle in Hamburg, PA.  The four mile trek up to the rocky ledge allows you to see the whole Lehigh Valley which stretches on to New Jersey.  The starting point was only a 20 minute drive from campus.  A few people brought backpacks along to practice hiking with the extra weight but we all packed a small bag with lunch, water, and anything else.  It was a cool morning but as soon as we began, the sun came out and it warmed up to around 60 degrees.  We reached the top fairly quickly in just over an hour, took photos and sat on the ledge eating lunch.

Soon we climbed down the rock face and discovered some caves!  These caves were among the small openings between cracked boulders holding up the lookout ledge.  We crawled through as many spaces as we could, one was so small you had to inch your way through like a worm, taking videos on a GoPro.  Many of them fit at least four of us comfortably and were so dark we needed a flashlight.  The last one we went in was the largest.  The entrance was formed by a split in the ledge that went straight up about fifty feet.  Probably around 80 feet into the cave, we reached a T, to the right was a dead end but to the left was a tiny tunnel less than 3 feet in diameter.  Despite the wet rocky surface and limited flashlights, we all ventured onward, one at a time.  We were moving through the cave for over a half hour and it was impossible to tell how far we had gone.  I was last in line and couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of me, but could hear that the person leading was easily 50 feet in front of me.  When we all finally decided to turn around, I figured we were about 100 feet underground and almost 200 feet into the cave, and apparently we didn’t hit the end of it!  We’re all hoping to go back again and discover more with the proper equipment.

The trail looped back down a different way which we followed to a man-made reservoir.  Walking around the body of water, I recognized many characteristics I had been learning about it in Hydraulics (CEE 222).  A small runoff stream was flowing down the mountain into one end of the reservoir while the other end was dammed.  We walked across the earth dam to check out the concrete spillway on the other side.  There was a steady flow over the section that continued into a more controlled stream below.  There was a pier that stuck out into the middle of the reservoir directly above an underground pipe running through the dam.  It connected to the end of the spillway but was most likely powering a turbine for electricity.  All the water led to a water-treatment house near the parking lot.  The reservoir was serving a duel purpose: controlling and storing the fresh water and powering the treatment facility.  Being able to understand the entire concept and design of the hydraulic structure made it so fascinating.  It also made me realize how prevalent civil engineering is all around us, even in the middle of the woods.


The Pinnacle looking out over Lehigh Valley

The Pinnacle looking out over Lehigh Valley

Some crevices in the rock face.

Some crevices in the rock face.

Upstream side of the reservoir.

Upstream side of the reservoir.

The dam with spillway on the other end.

The dam with spillway on the other end.


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