Category Archives: Civil Engineering

Enjoying a Day Off

Mira Cooper

Mira Cooper,
Junior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 13 November 2015

It’s a rare occasion that students have a day off in the middle of the week. It’s even more rare that a day off will be adjacent to the day of a big exam. But I was lucky this semester, Veteran’s Day happened to fall on the Wednesday before my second Structural Theory exam. As a result, I woke up even earlier than I usually do for classes (no sleeping in for me!) and went to Donkey Coffee to spend the day studying.

As usual, my plans didn’t exactly…go to plan.

From 8:30 to 12, I was on fire, flying through problem after problem. Beams, trusses, and influence line diagrams flying past my head as I delved deeper and deeper into my studies.

Then, a fateful text message. “What are you doing right now? –Mom”.

I actually grew up in Athens, so whenever I receive a message like this, 99% of the time it means that I’m going to be dragged into doing something that destroys my productive flow. This time, it was lunch with my mom and sister on our days off. Free food? How could I refuse!

Long story short…A one-hour lunch turned in to a four-hour excursion, including going on a trip to Kroger, going to Petland to play with puppies, and five laps around the endless aisles of the Athens Staples. Come about 8 pm, and I hadn’t been studying for a while, but was too exhausted to continue.

Surprisingly enough, I’m not too worried about how the exam went. I guess those four hours at the beginning of the day helped a lot more than I imagined!

Fall at Ohio University

Robert Parker

Robert Parker,
Junior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 25 October 2015

It just so happens that my favorite season is fall, but being down here in Athens Ohio for fall makes the season so much better. I love when the trees start to turn and the air is cool and crisp in the morning. Even though all are signs of what is to come in the near future, the gloomy winter season ahead is outweighed by the sheer beauty around.

One of my favorite spots on campus has always been East Green, but I especially like it in the fall. The trees that line East Green drive are postcard worthy to say the least.

I love campus but from time to time it is nice to get out and away for a while. There is nothing more that takes my stress level down like a motorcycle ride with my good friends, as we love taking to the hills and curves that await us outside of the city limits.

Motorcycle Riding

I do not have any thing even remotely close to a hill where I’m from, so I ride down here as much as my schedule allows. The fall colors in the trees only enhance the experience.

I found that once I arrived to Ohio University is was crucial for me to find a stress reliever so that I could keep my stress in check. Well, let me tell you, taking a nice 1-hour bike ride around Athens County and the surrounding counties definitely does just that for me.

Geotechnical Engineering Lab

Mira Cooper

Mira Cooper,
Junior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 11 October 2015

One of my favorite things about being a junior is that I’m finally getting out of my general education classes and getting into my major-specific ones. For instance, this semester I’m taking Geotechnical Engineering, a staple for all CE students. Along with the lecture, this class comes with a lab requirement. I love lab requirements. Especially ones that let me just play with dirt for an hour!

In Soils lab, we test the various properties of different soils using the tried-and-true methods we talk about in lecture. It’s the perfect way to help remember the differences between procedures that tend to become indistinguishable after class lets out.

Geotechnical Engineering Lab

The best part about this class (other than getting to squish mud between my fingers every Wednesday afternoon) is that it’s so easy to see the applications of this work to real life. The things we do in lab are the things real geotechnical engineers do every day. The Proctor tests, the Atterberg limit calculations…It’s not like our professors are dumbing down complex concepts and giving us experiments that don’t apply to anything. They’re taking real life work and letting us have that hands-on experience that all engineers adore. It makes me feel like I’m working towards something real!

Internships Off-Campus and On-Campus

Jordan Sapp

Jordan Sapp,
Senior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 21 September 2015

As many have probably heard before, internships are a very important part of a college education. It is possible to work an internship at any time of the year. Some students choose to intern only during their summer while some choose to take a semester off of school to gain field experience working an internship.

This past summer I had the opportunity to work a three month long internship with Danis Building Construction. I worked on an eight million dollar hospital renovation in Youngstown. My position was intern project engineer and I was working on site with the project engineer along with the senior superintendent. While working for Danis I learned more of the engineering that goes into beginning and completing a construction project.

This semester I came back to school to continue with class but I also managed to get another internship with a very similar company, Elford. I am working on a bit larger project with Elford, a 24 million dollar remodel and addition of a campus building, McCracken Hall.

So, I am taking classes in the mornings and then working in the afternoons. I have learned a lot this semester about time management and making sure I am able to hold firm to all of the things I am committed to.

If I were to encourage anyone to do anything while in school it would be to get out into the field and get some experience through an internship. The Russ College offers career fairs where students can interact with companies and pursue internships and jobs.

As I continue to work through internships, I am able to learn about myself, what I enjoy doing and what I really dislike doing. If you don’t get any experience before you graduate, it will be very difficult to know exactly what you would like to pursue as a full-time career.

A CE in a ChemE Lab

Mira Cooper

Mira Cooper,
Junior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 13 September 2015

As a civil engineer, I don’t have to take very many chemistry classes. Which is sad, because I LOVE chemistry. So, when I found an opportunity to work in an environmental lab that combined my interests in chemistry and water quality engineering, I was so excited. I sent some emails, talked to a few professors, and wound up with the job!

During the semester I work 10 hours a week at the
Institute for Sustainable Energy and the Environment
(ISEE), which is part of the Ohio Coal Research Center. I started out working on a project with a goal of finding a chemical method of treating the wastewater from hydraulic fracturing natural gas extraction. I was in the lab, working directly with the chemicals, calculations, and analytical machinery needed to make progress on this project. I worked on that project for about a year, including winter break and over summer, where I would work 30-35 hours a week. It was awesome! I was involved every step of the way, from the writing of the standard operating procedure documents all the way to the analytical testing of the final product.

But, frankly, the best part of working at ISEE is the support that I get from everyone else who works there. There’s an amazing sense of teamwork and camaraderie–everyone is willing to help out in any way they can. We’re constantly learning from each other, and we’re learning things that typically aren’t taught to engineers in our respective specialties. I’m a CE essentially doing ChemE work, with a sprinkling of ME tasks here and there. I’ve learned to use power tools, which was a VERY big step for me because I’ve always been afraid of big, scary machines that could rip your hand off without a second’s delay.

I’m really glad that I ended up working at ISEE. In about a year and a half, I went from Undergraduate Research Assistant to Analytical Lab Lead. Now I have much more responsibility relating to the lab itself, rather than the individual projects that come through. It’s really uplifting to see so much growth in myself from when I started to now. It reminds me about how fluid education is, and how you’re always learning and always growing.

Relating the Classroom to the Real World

Robert Parker

Robert Parker,
Junior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 2 September 2015

With classes again in full swing and all the students back on campus, it feels like summer break was so long ago. This past summer I had the opportunity to work a co-op session with Kokosing Construction Company working in their heavy highway division. This was not my first job, but it was my first “technical” co-op.

I was located in Bowling Green, Ohio working on I-75. Our section of the highway construction was nine miles long and consisted of four bridge replacements and adding a third lane to both northbound and southbound sides. I worked directly with the project engineer doing take-off quantities; tracking and ordering materials; and completing erosion control inspections, force accounts, change orders and much more.

During the first part of my co-op I was kind of frustrated with the tasks that were being assigned to me. I felt more like an accountant than a civil engineer. None of my tasks consisted of structural analysis, differential equations, physics or any of the classes that I’ve worked so hard to pass. But that’s when I realized, that’s one of the purposes of a co-op. The theory is meant to be learned in the classroom and the reality is meant to be learned in the field. They go hand-in-hand. Even though it wasn’t obvious at the time, I still was used some of the things I had learned from classroom in the field. I still had to do calculations and most importantly I had to use my engineering mind to find a solution to an issue and then find out where the funding was coming from.

Back at school and in classes, I can see what I learned in the field coming up all the time in my classes. I understand blueprints, I understand the language and I can visualize the sequencing of the job.

Civil Engineering Bridge Design

Nick Sparks

Nick Sparks,
Senior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 26 April 2015

This past Friday marked my final day of classes for my undergraduate degree. In addition, I presented my final presentation for my senior design project.

I choose to do the structural senior design project which required my partner and I to design a bridge. We were given a bridge location, as well as the length and width dimensions the bridge must satisfy. Given this information, my partner and I began to create our bridge, which was a great challenge for my partner and I because we both did not have much experience in bridge design.

My partner and I began by conducting research on bridge design which led us to the finding that the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has a design manual. We found this manual to be most helpful during our project. Furthermore, we were given computer programs in order to help with the iterative process for the superstructure and substructure.

The most challenging part of this project was the girder design for the superstructure. We ran into many problems where the girders failed; however, not by much. This caused us to come up with a whole new design. This project was great for our senior project due to the fact it taught us that even after much research about bridges, we still don’t know everything there is to know.