Tag Archives: Civil Engineering

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.

IMG_5491

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!

IMG_5499

Our bridge deformed.


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.

Storm Flooding         IMG_5118

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!


Paths of a CivE: Part 1

Lehigh is great because it is a gateway to many options. Anything you read on this blog or another Lehigh blog is just one option of many. Don’t get me wrong if you read about someone who studied abroad and you want to follow in their footsteps, that is completely possible. However when it comes to Lehigh they are limitless. Take my group of friends for example. I won’t name names so lets call them Student 1,2 and 3. Thing three doesn’t exist to Dr. Seuss but for the sake of the post, he/she/it does now. It is important to note that everyone following is in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department! I decided to split these into multiple blog posts because it would be ridiculously Long

Student 1 is a CivE like me. He takes all the same courses and what not, but his summer plans differ greatly from mine. He is starting his own research project on Lehigh’s Mountaintop Campus. This is not normal for undergraduates, but at Lehigh these things are possible. He has a few professor’s backing and he will be paid healthily for his work. I believe he’s working on some kind of sustainable living on mars project. All his own creating, and all his own plan. If you are interested you can find more about it at http://www.lehigh.edu/mountaintop/proposals/index.html. Anyway Thing 1 lives in Rhode Island and is planning to become a writer on top of his CivE degree and Philosophy minor. Could see yourself doing this? Choose Lehigh CEE


Construction Site Inspector

Hi all!

 

Over the last semester, I have been away from Lehigh on a co-op with Remington & Vernick Engineers. My rotation ended a few weeks ago and I cannot even begin to write how much I have learned from this experience. I have grown in technical aspects but I also gained valuable insight in areas I never considered prior to this co-op. For my next few blog posts, I will be talking about projects I have worked on. Hopefully, for all the prospective civil engineering majors out there, you can have an inside look on what a civil engineering company actually does from an intern’s perspective.

One of the best parts of my experience was that my company gave me opportunities to explore many areas of the industry. You see, as a civil engineer, there are many smaller positions and concentrations I can focus on. A little over a month in my co-op, my department head asked me to help the inspections department for a week.

Inspecting job on a bridge crossing the Delaware River

Inspecting job on a bridge crossing the Delaware River

Construction inspectors are vital in any engineering project. Inspectors are the bridge between the engineers, those who design the project, and the construction contractors, those who actually construct the project. The construction contractors are given plans from the design engineers, which the contractors will construct. The inspector must ensure that the contractors are conducting the construction in accordance with the plans created by the engineers. The job is actually more difficult than it sounds because plans created by the engineers are not always constructible. Sometimes the terrain and geography of the location makes a design, perfect on paper, impossible to construct. The inspector must direct the contractors when the project must differ from the designs.

My brief experience as a construction inspector was particularly difficult for me because for the first time, I am supposed to be watching and supervising contractors who are much more experienced than I am. To describe my nervousness, I repeated thought to myself was that I am supposed to be telling people, who knew my job better than myself, what to do. Like many problems I faced in my co-op rotation, there was no clear textbook answer on how to deal with this situation. In addition, I cannot pull the “I-am-an-intern” card because I need to have the contractors respect my role as the inspector (if they realized that I’m actually just a student intern, they probably would ignore anything I tell them)!

At the end, I resorted to being incredibly respectful to the contractors while keeping a close eye on the specifications and drawing plans I was given. It was definitely an experience outside of my comfort zone, but I learned a lot!

Had to make sure that concrete was at the right level.

Had to make sure that concrete was at the right level.


Al Bahr Towers – Gulf Facades

The Al Bahr Towers have a wonderful façade design for the climate here in Abu Dhabi. Designed by Aedas Architects and Arup Engineers worked together to design a folding active geometric patterned façade that actively moves throughout the day to block the sun from having a harsh direct impact on the building, but allowing a wonderful view out the windows when the sun is at an acceptable angle. I have had the opportunity to drive past these towers during different times of the day. Although unfortunately, I couldn’t get a good photo of it several times. I also learned that here in the Gulf region it is rather common for the architect to come up with a general façade concept and the sub contract out the actual technical design of the final façade. I don’t know how that worked for the Al Bahr Towers, but for many of the building surfaces here the facades can be quite complex.

Al Bahar Towers

Check out http://inhabitat.com/abu-dhabis-stunning-al-behar-towers-are-shaded-by-a-transforming-geometric-facade/ for more great info on the Al Bahr Towers.


Summer Sessions

Hi everyone,

Hope everyone’s enjoying their Fourth of July weekend; my brother is home from Ohio and we had an excellent barbeque last night. The entire family’s going camping this next week, unfortunately I’ll be returning to Lehigh for classes.

I’m taking classes this summer because I’m part of the Engineering Co-op Program; in this program, students are required to take their junior fall semester classes the summer before their junior year, this way they are able to complete their first round of co-op rotation during the fall. Co-op students return to Lehigh for their junior spring semester, but they go back for their second and last round of rotation the summer before their senior year. The advantage of a co-op experience rather than a normal internship is that fact that you have at least 16 weeks of work experience during your first rotation (comparing to an average internship’s of 12 weeks). Since the company expects your return, you probably will have a better chance of your company rehiring you.

Summer classes are definitely not a joke. True, I’m only taking 14 credits instead of the normal 18 during the semesters, but the lack of time really makes the classes more difficult. There are only 12 weeks of summer classes (separated into two sessions of 6 weeks each) compared with a normal semester’s 15 weeks. The accelerated pace makes attending class even more important than during the semester. One three-hour lecture is probably worth an entire week’s worth of material. My second summer session’s schedule goes from 12pm – 5pm with a half hour break in break.

The advantage of these summer classes are definitely the smaller class sizes. My Soils Mechanics class is made up of 7 students, six of those in my class. It is clearly much easier to know your classmates since you will be seeing them every day. Probably just as important, it is much easier to get to know the professor with such a small class! As much as I’m complaining about the accelerated pace and long class time, the summer session does seem much easier comparing to the actual semester. This is probably because most clubs and organizations do not meet during the summer.

With that being said, there are definitely more than just studying in the summer. If willing, students are able to take hold of the few on-campus jobs. Some students have a lighter schedule than me, so many students are also involved with research with professors. During the actual semester, the heavy course load makes intensive research incredibly difficult. In the summer, it is definitely possible to get involved with research.

During the summer, co-op students are invited by Career Services to participate in various activities. A few weeks ago, many of us were offered to travel to Hershey Park (free of charge!). This Friday, Career Services is hosting 20 students to go to New York City to see the Broadway show, Wicked. I’ve posted previously about seeing Phantom of the Opera and Lion King with Lehigh, I’m incredibly excited to see Wicked.

The summer semesters are definitely busy with classes but there are still a lot going on around campus. I’ll be sure to write more soon!


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