Tag Archives: Civil Engineering Department

Co-op and Changing

Lehigh never ceases to amaze me with its ability to mold me into a marketable engineering student.

With freshman year I was able to make connections with professors, get used to living on my own, and organize my goals for the future. Last semester I was finally introduced to classes within the Civil Engineering Department. I got aquatinted with actual engineering education and put it to use in many group projects. This year is the most astounding yet in my development. Before this semester I couldn’t even fathom applying for jobs in the engineering field, I wasn’t quite sure how to create a resume, write a cover letter, or introduce myself to a potential employee, but the co-op program has changed all of that in 1 short month.

What is a co-op?

Co-op stands for cooperative education. The program at Lehigh consists of 2 work rotations (like internships) with the same company. The first rotation occurs in fall of your junior year. Instead of taking classes you work with the company you were hired by for 4 months. The second rotation occurs during the summer between junior and senior year. You are paid, receive excellent in-field experience, and credits towards your major.

Sounds Great, So Whats The Trouble….

You have to get hired. This is where I am right now. I was accepted into the Lehigh co-op program itself, but in order to participate I have to be hired by a company offering a co-op position. This involves applications, resumes, interviews, phone calls, and getting familiar with companies.

So back to how Lehigh has improved me this semester!

I haven’t secured a position yet, offers don’t come out until march. However, even if I am not able to acquire a job I am excited with my new skills. I’ve been to several resume critiques and my resume is now something I can be proud of! I’ve interviewed for  two positions already and after the first one my confidence level has tripled. I no longer tremble at the thought of an interview. Finally I now know where to look for jobs, how to appeal to employers, and the etiquette required in interviews, information sessions and so on. I feel like even if I don’t get a co-op that I am extremely prepared for the job market when I graduate. Something that only a place like Lehigh could allow me to achieve in a month!

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Surveying

After finishing just over a month of classes I have already completed my first CEE course! Surveying was only a partial semester course. It ended recently to make way for the less than exciting engineering statistics that now takes up my M/W/F morning time slot.

Although it was brief, the required Surveying course was very important for us to take as sophomores in the department. Basically what we learned was how to calculate elevation changes, read topographical maps, understand the properties of angle measurements, and learn how to use the basics of surveying equipment. As an engineer I most likely will not be surveying. Whatever company I work for will likely hire someone who has earned a license in the field for that purpose. However, all of these things will be useful in civil and environmental engineering because it is important for us to understand how to read a map and surveyors notes and be able to work off of those numbers.

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Leveling Instrument and Rod

The true reason I enjoyed the class was the labs. Every thursday we would have to meet on the front lawn of the University Center and use the provided equipment to study the topography of the lawn. First we found the elevation and grade of the lawn. The next week we found the angle between objects. Eventually at the end of the program we were able to find the height and elevation of nearby buildings using our knowledge of the equipment and calculations used previously in the course. If you were wondering Fritz Lab (home to the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department) is around 70 feet tall.

UnknownTotal Station: for measuring angles and distances

Although the course did not teach me exactly how to do my job in the future, it did prime me to become a better all around civil engineer. This is something that I find Lehigh does a lot. They don’t just show you how to do your job. They create graduates who have a specific knowledge of their field accompanied by an overall arcing understanding of the fields around them. Surveying was a class that successfully  added to that understanding.


Memes for the Final

Hi everyone!

I’ve just finished studying for my Introduction to Environmental Engineering class. Lehigh is starting its finals week tomorrow. My first exam is Introduction to Environmental Engineering, then Computer Science and Linear Algebra are on the days immediately afterwards. I’m just taking a little study break by posting some memes then I’ll get right into coding, I promise!

In Game of Thrones, the seven kingdoms have been warned to prepare winter, and they've been warned for multiple seasons ... just like we've been told to prepare for final for multiple weeks...

In Game of Thrones, the seven kingdoms have been warned to prepare winter, and they’ve been warned for multiple seasons … just like we’ve been told to prepare for final for multiple weeks…

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Fortunately, most of my classes aren’t that difficult yet. But I suspect that Structural Analysis is going to be taught by Professor Gandalf.

FINALS-MEME-10I’m trying!!!!

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Awh – but seriously, even though you’re studying for finals, make sure you’re getting enough sleep. I know that there are a lot of material to cover … quit procrastinating just because there’s no class. Fun can come after the exams, you’ve got all summer!

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Guilty

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Can’t believe my first final is in three days!! GAH!

EngineeringInception

I really hope this isn’t me!

To all the students, hang in there. This is the last straw. You’ve been working hard all semester and this is where it counts! Be strong for that last bit and it’ll all be over. Unless you’re me and have classes over the summer!

Good luck.


Bridges to Prosperity

Hi everyone!

Finals are approaching … you can feel it in the atmosphere. It’s still pretty quiet in terms of the library; but anyone can tell that eerie ambiance is merely the quiet before the storm. In a few days, people are going to be crowding the library and our schedules will once again be hectic. I’ve already filled up my schedule of when I want to study what topics. Lucky enough, I’ve only got 4 final exams and one presentation. Comparing to many other people, I’ve got the good life!

B2P logoI want to write about a club that is very meaningful to me. Bridges to Prosperity is an organization where students literally build a bridge for developing communities. I’ve said this several times before, I am very passionate about developing undeveloped regions. Organizations such as Engineers Without Borders are wonderful, but in the Lehigh University chapter, they focus mainly on water resources. Personally, I am more interested in structures rather than water resources. This is why Bridges to Prosperity is truly meaningful to me.download

Why is Bridges to Prosperity important? Imagine that you have two rural villages. One

village has the only medical facility and education system. The other village has extended families from the first village. Also, this second village has the only road that connects to the outside. The problem is that a river or some sort of natural barrier divides the two villages. During the wet season, it can even become very deadly to cross this river. You can see how this can easily before a problem.

Throughout the year, our executive board and the members have been in contact with Bridges to Prosperity. We identified a community in need of a bridge, and we have been tasked to design a bridge. Our student chapter is responsible for creating a design for the bridge, raising the money to pay for supplies and labor for the bridge, and we are also responsible for the construction schedule. Not only is this an engineering design project, it also includes construction management aspects.

This is a picture of our surveying team's work over the winter break

This is a picture of our surveying team’s work over the winter break

In our university chapter of Bridges to Prosperity, we are tasked with designing a bridge in Vallecito, Panama. Since this is our first bridge that we have a small membership, the bridge will be smaller. The team traveling will be gone for about 2.5 weeks. Knowledge for the local language (Spanish) will be very important because the construction team will be working hand-in-hand with residents

Site where the bridge will be constructed over

Site where the bridge will be constructed over

in the community.

Unfortunately, I would not be able to attend this trip because I will be busy with summer classes. I have been accepted into a Co-op so in order to graduate in time, I will be a full time student over the summer and a full-time student in the fall semester. However, I am looking forward to be more involved with the club!

 

Please click here to visit the Lehigh B2P website!

If you want to help support our cause, you can donate however much you are able to! Please press here


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.

 


Construction Engineering

Hi everyone!

I’ve managed to get homework done today, but really – it’s difficult to get motivated! I actually had a 3 hour nap while trying to get some computer science homework done, looks like I’ll just have to compensate by staying up later tonight. It’s scary to think that Spring Break is already winding down and I better step up the school work or there would be a lot of regret next week!

It was a good day today, we had a big birthday party with our family friends for everyone’s whose birthdays are in March. I actually just got back an hour ago. It was definitely great getting to see everyone today. Ever since getting into college, I haven’t had time to really see anyone, especially since I was gone most summers and winter breaks. It was definitely a good change to see family friends again!

Construction engineering is a blend between civil engineering and construction management.

Construction engineering is a blend between civil engineering and construction management.

Tonight I’ll be writing a little bit about construction engineering. This is the fourth article in the sub civil engineering post I wrote a few weeks ago. Same as before, I’ll be talking about the nature of the work and current opportunities.

What is Construction Engineering

According to Wikipedia, construction is a professional discipline that deals with the designing, planning, construction, and management of infrastructure. These infrastructures contain highways, bridges, airports, railroads, buildings, dams, utilities, or any other projects where you can imagine people in yellow hard hats and orange vests.

Civil Engineering vs Construction Engineering

I’ve actually been confused on this topic for some time; what’s the difference between civil engineering and construction engineering? In the same way, what’s the difference between a construction firm like Turner or Kiewit and a civil engineering firm like Langan or HNTB?

Civil engineering focuses more on design rather than managing a budget and schedule.

Civil engineering focuses more on design rather than managing a budget and schedule.

While both types of engineers can apply for PE (Professional engineering license), civil engineering concentrate more on the design work, construction engineering have to study construction management as well as design work. Construction engineers essentially take the approved plans and maps out a schedule as well as a budget for the project. In a way, construction engineering is similar to reading a set of instructions, but they have to figure out what to do and in what order to complete the project.

Current Opportunities

Due to the collapse of the housing bubble in 2008, the construction industry has been hit very hard. In fact, at the worse of the crisis, unemployment rate of the construction industry was around 27% (about three times the national average).

Personally, I feel that the best construction opportunities are overseas.

Personally, I feel that the best construction opportunities are overseas.

However, in today’s times, job prospects are growing. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, construction managers have a job outlook of 16% – which is faster than the average jobs (civil engineers are at 20%). Since the country’s infrastructure rating by the American Society of Civil Engineers are at a D+, there may be an incentive on the government to invest on construction.

I hope everyone enjoyed this post. Please leave any comments for improvement and feel free to like this post if you enjoyed it!

Sam

Good thing that we're civil to each other! ... get it?

Good thing that we’re civil to each other! … get it?


Spring Break Ideas

Hi everyone,

It’s currently Day 4 of spring break (I know it’s early – for some reason, Lehigh University enjoys planning spring vacation when there is still snow out!) and this is probably one of the first times I’ve opened up a Word document. This year (same as last year), I had some extraordinary plans for spring break – but for procrastination and budgeting issues, the planning did not go according to schedule and my awesome spring break did not happen. So for this week, I’m at home relaxing and catching up on my studies instead of being in Florida. I figure I’ll post some of the Spring Break ideas I’ve had while I have some time to myself!

SPRING BREAK IDEAS

Luxurious Vacation:

These are the stereotypical college spring break vacations. Fantastic beaches in Mexico or unforgettable memories backpacking trips in Peru, the most luxurious spring breaks are usually far far away from your university. I know – the first thing that pops into most students’ heads are the life-savings-depleting price tag that are usually associated with these trips. However, here are many ways to get around this problem. My friend managed to fund his multi-week backpacking trip across Western Europe through photography and fundraising websites. My university offer projects that send students to Cambodia, Uganda, and many other exotic prices for a very subsidized price.

Beaches are very common for spring break.  If you have the funding, Cancun is an obvious place to go!

Beaches are very common for spring break. If you have the funding, Cancun is an obvious place to go!

Spring break is also a great time to embark on some adventure - like trekking to Machu Picchu!

Spring break is also a great time to embark on some adventure – like trekking to Machu Picchu!

Budgeted Vacations:

While there are ways to get around a heavy price tag, it is difficult to find those loop holes. However, budgeted vacations can be just as memorable. These are actually the kinds of vacations that I thrived on. I find that the difference between a “luxurious” vacation and a budgeted vacation is a plane ticket (and expensive resorts). Packing your mom’s mini-van with a bunch of friends and driving off to Texas (I’m from Pennsylvania) can probably be just as fun as flying to Texas. I can’t say for everyone, but I would also enjoy backpacking through the Appalachian Trial and camping around Pennsylvania.

A vacation can be just as memorable during the 3000 journey to the West Coast (or East Coast depending where you are).

A vacation can be just as memorable during the 3000 journey to the West Coast (or East Coast depending where you are).

Backpacking Trip

Externship:

Spring breaks can be spent professionally rather than leisurely. Lehigh University has an externship program during the winter break where students are sent to shadow professionals in companies around the area. Although I have not heard many people doing this, it will be beneficial to reach out to companies asking to shadow. This is especially helpful for underclassmen so they have a better sense of what they wanted to work in. Companies are more likely to accept externs because they have less of a commitment.

Study Ahead:

This goes without saying, spring break is a valuable time to study ahead. You have a week of free, undisturbed period where you can concentrate purely on your studies. During the semester, most people are encumbered by club meetings, homework, and other commitments; it is difficult to find a low-stressed period where you can focus on your subject. Perhaps you can actually enjoy your studies.

Spend time with the family:

Last but not least, spending time with your family is probably the most valuable way to spend spring break. Think about it, after you graduate you’re going to have very little time at home with your family. It’s very depressing to think that there are very little weeks where my entire family will be together at one time. Even though spending time with the family seems less exciting than the Grand Canyons or the Florida Keys, your family are the most important people in your life!


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