Tag Archives: Undergraduate

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 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!


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.


Wicked

Wicked

Hi everyone!

Hope you’re all enjoying these few beautiful days. I always love it after a thunderstorm, all the humidity goes away. I’m currently writing this piece in the little patio between the library and STEPS building, absolutely amazing today.

As I’ve written in an earlier post, I’m involved with the Engineering Co-Op Program. The Co-Op program is a internship based program; students have the opportunity to work with a company in their junior fall semester and the summer between their junior and senior year. However, in order to graduate in time, students are required to take the fall classes they would miss during the summer between their sophomore and junior year.

WickedClasses are definitely difficult. This is made harder for me especially because many of my housemates and friends are on campus doing research, which means that they are done at 5pm. While I’m trying hard to study for my soil mechanics exam, they are busy distracting me with Mario Karts. Luckily, the Engineering Co-Op Program understand the troubles of a summer student and they offer many other activities and trips we can be involved with. In May, we were offered a trip to Hershey Park (which unfortunately I could not attend because of a lab session I needed to participate in). Last week, twenty-some of us traveled to New York City to watch the Broadway show, Wicked.

No spoilers here. Wicked is essentially a side story to the Wizard of Oz. In the Wizard of Oz, the main character, Dorothy Gale, is sent to the Land of Oz in a tornado. In her efforts to return home via the wizard, Dorothy is seen to be tormented by the Wicked Witch of the West. In Wicked, the twist is that the “Wicked” Witch of the West is actually a good and passionate woman who is misunderstood by society. The story in the Wizard of Oz is told from the perspective of society, who sees the witch as murderous, crafty, and wicked. In Wicked, the witch, Elphaba, was shown to born to a normal set of parents, however, the witch was born anything BUT normal. As a green child, Elphaba was shunned by peers, adults, and eventually society.

I won’t spoil it for you in case you’ve never actually seen the show (or read the plot). Absolutely amazing, I cannot wait for my next Broadway trip!

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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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