Steel bridge & statics

Two weeks ago, Lehigh University participated in ASCE’s Mid-Atlantic Region Student Conference hosted by Drexel University. One of the competitions Lehigh participated in was the Steel Bridge Competition. Since it was my first time going to the event, I was really excited to see what the competition was all about. (Throughout this semester, I helped in the construction of the bridge by cutting some of the angle-pieces, etc. and I was really excited to see where all my work was being used!) The build-team, which consisted of 5 students from Lehigh, ended up building the bridge in under 45 minutes, from which I understand is a big improvement from last year’s time.

Although the bridge passed the lateral test, it did not pass the vertical loading test. Our bridge deformed to an extent where the arches appeared to buckle under the weight added to it.

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Before the bridge deformed

As I watched the bridge deform under the load, all that came to mind was Mech003, which I took instead of CEE3: Engineering Statics, and the stuff we learned about bridges, distributed loads, stress concentrations, plastic deformations, bending, etc. It was really cool seeing what I had learned in a class setting I was seeing in real life and how the concepts and equations applied to real structures. As finals begin next week for all Lehigh students, the deformation of our bridge will definitely help me remember some of the equations used in Mech3 as I now have visual aids to help me remember!

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Our bridge deformed.


Engineering-Filled Weekend

The countdown is on! As we begin our last week of classes, it’s finally hitting some of us that finals are right around the corner. As engineering students, the amount of 3-hour long finals that await us is daunting. Good thing that this weekend, Lehigh hosted some fun engineering activities for students (all were, of course, welcome to come regardless of their major!).IMG_5556

On Friday, SHPE (the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers) and NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers) hosted the 3rd Annual Egg Drop Challenge. This Egg Drop required participants to create a device that would cause an egg NOT to break as it was dropped from various heights. The catch to this egg-drop though was that no parachutes were allowed. With this restriction, we were all excited to see what designs each team would come up with. While some used only cotton balls, others opted for straws and newspapers. The two winning teams would be selected by 1) having their eggs survive the fall and 2) having used the least amount of supplies. The two lucky winners were rewarded gift cards as prizes. As a host and coordinator to the event, it was fun watching the creativity of the students as they put a lot of thought into their designs!

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On Saturday, Tau Beta Pi and CREATE club hosted the 2nd Annual Engineering Day. This event consisted of 5 different engineering activities where teams were able to tap into different fields of engineering regardless (again) of their major! One of the activities was led by EWB where teams were required to build a canal of some sort using foil, straws, etc to transport water from a bucket at one end to a bucket at the other end using the least amount of supplies. Another activity put to use our knowledge of basic chemistry as we had to create a solution with a very acidic pH using common household supplies and food (ie, vinegar, oil, apple juice, etc). For this activity, we weren’t told what all supplies were, which is what added suspense to the activity. Were we adding an acidic liquid to our solution? Was the white powdered-stuff actually basic?  My favorite activity out of all 5 was a rocket-pressure activity. Using soda bottles, we had to tape wings of some sort that would have our ‘rocket’ suspended in the air for a long time after using water to launch it.

All of the activities were very fun. We got to put our knowledge of engineering to use and even non-engineering stuff came in handy (ie the activity were we had to build an airplane using cardboard, paper, and thin sticks. My teammates decided to put to use elementary school knowledge as they opted for making a paper airplane instead!)

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I can’t wait to participate again at next year’s Engineering! And a big congrats to the winners of this year’s Engineering Day: Coding For the Future !!


Lehigh CHOICES

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I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since Lehigh held it’s All-Day Activity for CHOICES. As a first time volunteer, I was really excited to see what the day event would be like and the turnout Lehigh would have. As soon as I walked into Iacocca Hall, I was amazed at the large amount of students that showed up to participate. The CHOICES girls were all middle-school female students and the volunteers consisted of SWE members as well as Lehigh faculty and staff. It was a full house in Iaccoca Hall as the girls immersed themselves in various hands-on engineering activities. The first activity they had was a fun ice-breaker with marshmallows and toothpicks. This was followed by balloon towers and then a presentation with Air Products on Liquid Nitrogen. The culminating event was an egg drop. This is the event I was able to go to after my classes were done. The girls were given some material (newspapers, cotton balls, balloons, tape, cups, etc) to build a design that would not cause an egg to break after falling from a certain height. They definitely worked hard on this event as the final designs stated creativity and careful thought were taken into account.

The egg drop competition itself was really egg-citing to watch. Although a good amount of eggs cracked, those that didn’t had very interesting designs to it!

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Overall, it was a fun event and it made me look forward to the campus-wide Egg Drop I am currently planning with my organization (SHPE) as well as another organization (NSBE). I can’t wait to see what engineering designs students here at Lehigh come up with once the final designs are called in.


Lehigh Engineering Candidates’ Day!

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This past Saturday, I signed up to volunteer at Lehigh University’s annual Candidates’ Day which is hosted by the Engineering Department. Candidates’ Day is the day when students who have been accepted into Lehigh (and more specifically into the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science) come with their parents to learn more about the opportunities Lehigh has to offer.As a student who has been here at Lehigh for three years and who has recently changed her major, I was more than excited to share my experiences thus far here at Lehigh! As part of my duty as a volunteer, I had to show up at 10am on Saturday (which is early for me as I like to sleep in on the IMG_4640weekends!) to hear Associate Dean Tonkay give a speech about the importance of our roles as volunteers as well as further instructions prior to our walking to Packard 101 (the big lecture hall in Packard). At around 10:30, we headed down to PA 101 where all parents and incoming students sat and listened to the opening session. After this, the parents and students were dismissed into groups (based on the student’s engineering-field interest) and then taken on a department tour. This is where we, the volunteers, came in. I, along with other CE and Environmental Engineering students, took my group to Fritz Lab which is where most CEE classes are held.

When we got there, some of the professors who were already present gave a small speech to the group about the CEE department as well as some background information about themselves. After this, the group then got divided into 2 smaller groups to tour the building. One of the groups was led to a lecture hall to hear one of the professors speak, and the other group was taken to a lab room to experience, first-hand, the Hydraulics lab CEE students have to take.In that room, Professor Lennon was waiting for us with a Hydraulics Lab ready. He asked for volunteers and three of the high school students who were touring quickly raised their hands.

In these images, the high school students can be seen getting first-hand experience with one of Lehigh’s hydraulics lab. It was fun watching them do this as it allowed me to see what I will be dealing with in the near future!

Apart from the touring done, the Engineering Department here at Lehigh also set up a parent panel for the parents as well as a student panel for the high school students. And right outside the hall where the panels were being held, Lehigh’s Marching Band, Marching ’97, were playing songs.

And did I forget to mention that it was snowing this Saturday?? On a morning in April (which is supposed to be Spring already!), we got snow!!

Rain Snow or Shine, it was a very exciting day for Candidates’ Day. I can’t wait to volunteer again next year!

 

 


When a Solution is more than just about Technology

This semester, I enrolled in EWB’s social class; at first I was not entirely sure what this would entail but after a couple of meetings in attendance and having met the faculty advisor, Dr. Orrs, I am slowly gaining a better understanding.As engineers, we are constantly coming up with new technological advances and implementing them to problems we face in our daily lives. As an engineer in EWB, we go one step further and aim towards ensuring that every human being has their basic needs met by use of these innovative and technological solutions. At last Monday’s club meeting, EWB invited Dr. Arup SenGupta to come talk to us about his past and current projects in various foreign countries. Although much of the work he spoke about revolves around making purified water available for the people of those countries, the solutions he uses to carrying out his project goes beyond being a water-relief system. For one specific project, he showed us how women were the forefront of the project. As he mentioned, aside from being a water solution, his project also became a source of opportunity for women empowerment and entrepreneurship. Furthermore, Dr. SenGupta  spoke about how sometimes the technology behind the solution was not what was important, but rather the solution itself. If the solution was a simple yet efficient one, it would be worth more than one with an intricate design that ends up failing in the long run. Dr. SenGupta’s talk was very motivational as he pushed towards making us see that a solution was more than just about technology.

When I met with Dr. Orrs, the faculty advisor and professor for the Social Class, I was not sure what to expect, but as soon as he began asking questions – such as whether or not a project was truly necessary or whether or not the social and political aspects of the country had been taken into consideration and would have an effect on our project- I began to think back to Dr. SenGupta’s presentation and piece things together. The questions Dr. Orrs asked tied back to Monday’s presentation as he began talking to the class about projects other EWB student chapters had carried out and seen fail. With various water project left abandoned after either neglect for maintenance or simply due to it being inefficient, he made me realize that Dr. SenGupta’s message on solution vs. technology was correct. As a future Civil Engineer wanting to go back to my hometown and fix the water-drought issue, these kinds of questions have to be acknowledged prior to carrying out a solution. My involvement in the social class is helping me see that technology should not simply be about how intricate a design can be but rather whether or not it will be a good and efficient one. As an engineer, I have not had these types of questions asked in my classes (at least not yet) but I am excited to continue to meet with Dr. Orrs, the professor leading the Social Class and learn how to connect both the social aspect and the engineering aspect to a solution, whether its as part of EWB or in my post-undergrad career. I truly feel that as engineers in general, it is important to ask these questions as well as we work towards bettering our world.

 


The Switch to Civil Engineering

Hello everyone! As someone who is new to the field of Civil Engineering, I am very excited to share about my recent experiences and what prompted me to make the sudden switch! For starters, I am making the change from Bioengineering to Civil Engineering for which many have told me is not a common thing. Before coming to Lehigh, I knew I wanted to major in Bioengineering partly because it was a relatively new field compared to other engineering fields but also because it combined two things I found interesting: Biology and engineering. It’s been a fun ride learning about a lot of new projects professors are carrying out at Lehigh within Bioengineering but going back home to Los Angeles, my hometown, definitely gave me a change of heart.

The state of California is currently in a drought; from reducing the use of water and implementing new regulations for water usage, California has been working hard to help ease the effects the drought has had in the state. This past winter however, much of Southern California was expected to receive massive amounts of rainfall as a result of El Niño. As exciting as it was to hear that Los Angeles would be getting some rainfall, it was also frightening to see the after-effects it would have in the city as some parts are prone to mudslides and flooding. While watching the news one day during the storm, a footage of an interstate freeway that was completely flooded and vehicles and school buses trying to make their way towards the freeway caught my eye. As a high school student who had to commute a close-to-20-mile radius to get to and from school, the school bus was a daily method of transportation for me. It was scary to see the bus in that situation and it filled me with wonder why a lot of the rainfall SoCal was receiving was not being conserved and led to reservoirs properly but was rather spilling onto streets and interstate freeways and causing mudslides and flooding and people to be stranded in the floods.

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Although this was disturbing to watch, one thing that proved to be positive was the LA River. I used to joke around about the LA River being more of an LA Stream just because of the lack of water the river had flowing through it, but this winter, the water reached almost a third of the wall’s height.

LA River Before-After

There were other things I witnessed firsthand this summer that prompted me to want to help Los Angeles better their water systems and structures (ie dams and reservoirs) and they all led me to make the change to Civil Engineering. As a Civil Engineer, I would be able to help design and maintain the structures that the city was using to help better conserve the water and produce clean drinking water for the citizens. Thus, once I returned to Lehigh, I joined Engineers Without Borders after learning that one of their ongoing projects was to build a water distribution system in Cebadilla, Nicaragua. I had witnessed firsthand the effects the lack of proper and efficient water resources can have on a community, and by being a part of the organization’s project, I figured it would be a great way to start to learn how to give back to a community via engineering methods. I am really excited about this change and I am excited to learn and gain all the skills necessary to help countries and cities such as Cebadilla and Los Angeles obtain better water systems. I’m definitely anxious to find out what’s in store for me here at Lehigh!


Talk on Emerging Contaminants

Lee Blaney, a professor in Maryland who did his undergraduate and masters degree here at Lehigh, came to give a talk about contaminants that are appearing more consistently in waterways and sediments.  He explained that in 80% of streams across the world, traces of pharmaceuticals and hormones have been found.  80%!! Some of the major chemicals that are affecting animals and ecosystems include BPA, the active ingredient in the birth control pill, and oxybenzone.  The active ingredient in birth control is fully synthetic and an anthropogenic endocrine disrupter.  For example, when 4 ng/L  of it was encountered by fish, the whole fish population suffered from intersex condition and became female.  Also, oxybenzone, which is the uv protectant in sunscreen, has been found to contribute to the bleaching of corals.  Dr. Blaney talked about the solutions that would ameliorate this problem of anthropogenic chemicals in our water.  His lab is currently doing research in using UV to destroy the chemicals, which could be implemented at a wastewater treatment plant.  However, when a some of these pharmaceutical chemicals are split up by UV radiation, their byproducts are more harmful than the original molecule.  Other byproducts are molecules that could react with other chemicals to form harmful products, or molecules whose safety has never been tested before.  So, anthropogenic compounds in our waterways lead to harmful consequences, and finding a way to destroy them is proving to be extremely difficult.  This is why Dr. Blaney’s research is extremely important; as long as these chemicals continue to find a way into the water, we need to figure out what they are doing and how to get rid of them, for the safety of people and the surrounding ecosystems.


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