Tag Archives: Engineering

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 !!

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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.


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.

 


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.


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!


Check Your Units!

Check Your Units!
It is a phrase that many teachers and professors have used and every science, math, or engineering student has heard. There are many times that, at least as engineers, we love to use dimensionless numbers. However, most calculations require dimensions to be understood. In structural models in the United States we usually use unites of Kip, feet or inches. In the UAE, they use the metric system in keeping with the British building standards. Distances and slab thicknesses on plans are assumed to be called out in millimeters unless otherwise noted and the forces are always referenced in kN. In order to check a design in a units system that is not the most familiar, requires a lot of converting to verify that the calculations that you are getting are in fact reasonable values based on past experiences or projects. For American companies working abroad, many of these references are generally still in US customary units. I am happy to report that I have become much more practically familiar with the metric system over the last few weeks. Although, I will still need to continue to label my units correctly. I will end this post with a friendly reminder to always, always check your units!


Concrete

The most common and preferred structural system amongst buildings in the UAE is concrete. It is significantly more economical than steel framing systems, for most applications here. Since most of the country is desert, sand and gravel are very readily available. Any steel reinforcement needs to be imported. This provides a significant savings over importing an entire steel structure. Especially since reinforced concrete should not contain more than a maximum of 8 percent steel by volume. For most applications in compression the percent of steel used is closer to 1 or 2 percent.


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