Category Archives: Civil Engineering

Being a Part of Cru at OU

Jordan Sapp

Jordan Sapp,
Junior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 3 September 2014

The start of a new semester is always quite exciting thinking about the new obstacles that lie ahead. It feels like I just finished overcoming classes and projects from last semester, but I am ready to face the new ones.

One thing here at Ohio University that has helped me in my endeavors to receive a diploma has been my involvement with a student organization called Cru. Cru stands for Campus Crusade for Christ and is a ministry here on campus. Through this organization I have met some of my closest friends. These are friends who have encouraged me through difficult times and challenged me when it seemed to be easier than it should be.

This past summer I had the opportunity to go on a six-week mission trip with Cru to a little country called Slovenia. Slovenia is an absolutely beautiful place and is filled with so much to discover. While in Slovenia, our mission was to connect with students attending The University of Ljubljana and learn about their perspectives on life while sharing with them the opportunity they had with the Cru organization there. In Slovenia, this partnership is connected to the same Cru here at Ohio University, but it is for the Slovene students. It’s an organization where students are welcome to come and ask questions and find answers about who God is and what it means to have a relationship with Him.

The six weeks I spent in Slovenia were life-changing and one of the greatest things I have done in my life. I am thankful that Ohio University offers such intimate student organizations where you can truly find who you are and what you are most passionate about.

ASCE Ohio Valley Student Conference

Joe Cook

Joe Cook,
Senior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 25 March 2014 – This weekend is the Ohio Valley Student Conference, a conference where schools like Ohio State, Youngstown State, Pitt, and Ohio University compete in civil engineering based competitions.

You may have heard of the concrete canoe and steel bridge, but I’m part of a smaller regional environmental competition. Every year teams are challenged to treat a polluted sample of water that is relevant to current environmental policy issues. Competitions have included treating drinking water contaminated with manganese, hydraulic fracturing flow back water contaminated with toxic metals, and simulated storm water runoff with high levels of orthophosphate.

This year, we have been challenged to create a treatment system from materials available at any local hardware store to treat simulated flue gas desulfurization (FGD) water. The water is not actual process water, because high levels of toxic hydrogen sulfide and toxic metals are present. The goal of the treatment process is to reduce the level of calcium present in the water and, if possible, reduce conductivity of the water while maintaining an acceptable pH.

The challenge is difficult, but necessary, as the EPA may begin to impose stricter outfall permits on FGD landfills. These landfills are part of all modern coal-burning power plants and are necessary to reduce the amount of sulfur dioxide released during the combustion of coal. Chances are an environmental engineer working in the Ohio Valley region, known for its coal deposits, will work with FGD in their career. I’m excited to see all the different methods for treating this contaminant.

Rethinking Hydraulics Lab

Nick Sparks

Nick Sparks,
Junior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 26 February 2014 – This semester, my hydraulics lab has changed my thoughts about labs. Earlier lab classes that I have taken follow the same format: the professor writes the pre-lab and then we follow the steps without fully needing to understand what is going on.

This semester, our professor has changed the format of the lab so that we are able to design and conduct experiments. Each lab takes two weeks. The first week we are first introduced to the equipment and are able to ask the professor questions how this equipment works and what it is used to find. Then we take a week to research and write a pre-lab, which is is traded with another student who had written a pre-lab for a different experiment. Then in week two we conduct an experiment that was written by another student.

At first I did not like this new process, but after the first two weeks and getting a better clarification from our professor, this has to be one of my favorite labs. I like how we are able to create the lab by telling someone what readings to take and what those readings mean by going through a data analysis. It feels really cool to be the person telling someone what to do during an experiment for once.

This class is helpful because it is giving me a better understand of the equipment I am using by having to figure things out on my own. It is nice to have a piece of equipment and think to yourself “If I turn this knob, what effect it will have on the system?” It is neat being able to figure that out for myself instead of having a professor tell me.

Getting Started on the Job Search

Joe Cook

Joe Cook,
Senior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 10 February 2014 – This semester is unfortunately my last semester at Ohio University. The great thing about graduating college is the prospect of starting my career.

Over the past few weeks I’ve sent my resume to several engineering design firms and started scheduling interviews. The hiring process is equally exciting and terrifying. Fortunately, Russ College has helped me along the way, with my two internships and numerous leadership positions I have no shortage of talking points during my interviews. My experiences, coupled with course work, have prepared me to hold and excel in conversations with professional engineers.

It’s great to meet OU alumni in the “real world”; guys just like me that have excelled and become hiring managers and principal engineers at various companies. I’m hoping to have some luck at the Russ College Career Fair next week as well.

The past four years in Athens have forced me to grow and develop as a professional and I feel confident in my ability to grow as a professional in the water resources and environmental engineering field.

Bobcats Building a Better World

Evan Boso

Evan Boso,
Senior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 22 January 2014 – One of the student organizations I’m currently involved with is Bobcats Building a Better World (BBBW). This organization’s main goal is to help disadvantaged communities through the application of economic and environmentally friendly engineering projects as well as giving students an ability to travel and develop respect for others across the globe.

Since 2006, BBBW has had a strong connection with Maase-Offinso, which is a small village in Ghana that is about 45 min. northwest of Kumasi. Over the past few years, students at Ohio have designed and installed various projects that have included a pump station to bring up ground water and a house for teachers’ accommodations.

More recently we have focused on the creation of a wastewater and water collection system for the teachers’ accommodations. This is in hopes to entice better teachers to the school and inevitably offer a better education to the children in the village. The picture below shows the group who traveled to Ghana last summer, including Russ College Associate Dean Dr. Giesey.

BBBW in Ghana

Currently there are about fifteen student members in the organization, running the gamut of the engineering majors here, and we are always looking for more. So if you are a current or future Bobcat and any of this interests you, I would highly recommend joining. I know I have loved the group and it has been an amazing opportunity to learn, travel, and help others!

Preparing Our Concrete Canoe

Nick Sparks

Nick Sparks,
Junior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 8 December 2013 – During the past two years I have been involved with American society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and every year in March we compete against other schools in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky with our concrete canoes. Yes, we make concrete float and race them with up to 4 people in the canoe.

Although the competition isn’t until March, we spend the entire school year preparing by constructing a mold and designing a new concrete mix because the specifications change every year. The past two years we have tried to do something we have never done before. Last year we did an injection mold and this year we are using per stressed wires.

Per stressed wires is something we wanted to give a try but problems keep showing up for our first test. First, we had to come up with a way of keeping the wires from being pulled out of the concrete after the tension is released. We need to have some object attached to the wire that will not move and provide contact points throughout the concrete walls. So we decided to use crimping nuts.

Secondly, we need to keep the wires off the mold so that they are in the middle of the wall to provide the best strength. We have decided to use flat head screws and drill them into the mold at a desired distance and the wire will rest in the grove of the screw head. Finally, we need to add about 100 to 150 pounds of tension to the 18 wires. We have decided to go with using a turn buckle to reach the right tension. A scale model with all of our solutions will be conducted the beginning of spring semester.

Environmental Engineering Class

Evan Boso

Evan Boso,
Senior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 2 December 2013 – This semester, I’m taking an environmental engineering course as a civil engineering elective. Although, my focus is in structural I thought it was best to try to mix it up and try something new. The class itself included a wide range of topics that covered everything from basic definitions of sustainability to mapping air pollution.

One of the things we had to do within the class itself was to create a life-cycle assessment. The purpose of a life-cycle assessment is to evaluate all the energy, material, and overall impact a product has on the environment. Although this may seem straightforward, I assure you by the end it will leave you wallowing in your tears.

Ok, maybe not quite that far but, when even given a simple example one can see how much work goes into a life-cycle assessment. For example, a basic wooden pencil would have to be broken up into its basic components. This would include the wood, graphite, the eraser, the metal around the eraser, and the yellow paint.

Then from there you would need to find the components that make up each one of those. For instance, a modern day eraser is most likely made up of synthetic rubber, which is made up of a polymer, where polymers are derived from petroleum byproducts. Then the machining or processing of each component is also analyzed. This would include the energy or any other major inputs necessary to complete the processing or machining. The same would be done during the final assembly of the product. Finally, the actual use and disposal of the product would also be analyzed.

In summary, a life cycle assessment really goes as far as its creators care to push it. Meaning they can include anything they deem appropriate, such as energy for transportation, equipment used, or waste created from processing. Overall it really made me think about how much really goes into each product I use daily and how big of an impact those things have on the environment in total.