Category Archives: Civil Engineering

Enjoying my Last Semester

Nicholas Burton

Nicholas Burton,
Senior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 25 February 2019

I never thought I’d say it, but I don’t have enough to do this semester (knock on wood).

Turns out, when you’re a fifth-year, the last half of your victory lap is very chill. On top of that, with the job hunt being out of the way, there is a lot of free time and nothing really mandatory to be done. I’ve never had a semester that has had less than 16 credit hours, and the classes I am taking this semester don’t have a lot of homework that is involved, so there really isn’t anything pressing most of the time. Please don’t see this as me WANTING to have a busy schedule by any means. I kind of look at it more as my reward for the past 4-1/2 years before I enter the grind of a consistent 40+ hour work week.

I am really looking forward to the upcoming warm weather, as hopefully this will get me out of my apartment and off of Fortnite more. My final Fest Season is in the near future, so I am looking to take full advantage of these weekends with the all of friends I’ve made here. In addition to this, March Madness will be in full swing following spring break. This is usually one of the best times of the year, so there is plenty to look forward to.

Why OU is one of the prettiest campuses in the US

Illona Hartman

Illona Hartman,
Junior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 21 February 2019

Welcome back everyone, I hope your semester or quarter is going well so far and that you enjoy our posts on the ambassador blog. Get ready for a virtual tour through the most beautiful campus of the United States of America. You will see that there is a connection between most of the buildings and roads by the famous red brick culture. Throughout this tour, you will also understand why I believe a lot of the American culture more than the Dutch comes down to networking.

Halls
Firstly, I would like to talk about different academic buildings on campus. On West Green, the part where I lived for my freshman and sophomore year, we have a couple of halls but mainly dormitories. The bigger halls are called Stocker Center (engineering), the Academic and Research Center (engineering and health sciences), and Irvine Hall (health sciences).

As shown below, the most remarkable thing about the buildings is the similarity with the European architecture such as classicism. For example, most halls have Doric columns at the entrance or a tympanon on top—the triangular shape of a temple.

Ohio University

Ohio University

Irvine Hall (top) and Stocker Center (bottom)

Another interesting building is by no doubt Baker Center, shown on the picture below and situated at the border of West Green and College Green.

Ohio University

This building contains a lot of offices plus a theater, dining court, restaurant and coffee shop. The most remarkable about this building is the foundation and structure, since it is built along a steep hill! The picture shows the top of Baker Center, 5 floors above the base of the hill.

Furthermore, almost all academic halls have a concrete or steel structure from the inside and a brick wall from the outside. Some of them might be based on masonry bricks only, like the Dutch “schijvenbouw” (= disc construction / traditional unreinforced masonry design), since the university was founded in 1804. This makes it the oldest university in the state of Ohio.

College Green, our next stop, is the oldest part of the campus with the historical gateway shown below.
Ohio University
This gateway is located at the edge of the campus which continues in Court Street, a shopping and bar. At the beginning, Court Street made me think of those typical streets shown in Western cowboy movies, haha. Probably because of some of the facades and green parking meters.

Our tour will continue to South Green and East Green where you will mainly find on-campus housing and dining halls. Notice the arty details here and there:

Ohio University

Ohio University

Dormitories
Secondly, most residential buildings are constructed with timber structures on the inside (HSB in Dutch). The floor plan of my dorm was designed in a way that two rooms are separated by a massive, load-bearing wall on one side and closets and drawers on the other side. This latter wall does not have any acoustic value, so when the air conditioning is switched off, you hear every single word of what your neighbors say, haha.

Luckily, air-conditioning is turned on 24/7 since it gets hot and humid during summer, but also during winter when they switch on the heaters. On the picture below you can see West Green with the typical crossed paths in the center and my old dorm on the left. Notice that you can also see the previously described Stocker Center and Irvine Hall in the background.

Ohio University

Dining Halls
Finally, we will end the virtual tour with the dining halls. Two of them, Nelson Hall and Shively, are located on South Green, but the most delicious dining hall is definitely Boyd Hall on West Green.

Ohio University

These dining halls serve different kinds of food every single day which usually repeats every other week. Most dining halls also have a market, coffee shop, or smoothie bar to get your meal of the day bought by meals on the so called “swipes” or Bobcat ID. By the way, the Bobcat is the mascot of our school.

Most students either have a flex-14 or traditional-20 meal plan. The number stands for the meals per week and flex means that you can use your fourteen meals whenever you want (breakfast, lunch, dinner). The maximum meals a week is twenty because the dining hall does not serve breakfast on Sundays.

Hope you liked our tour and we hope to see you soon at our beautiful campus!

Customs of the Netherlands

Illona Hartman

Illona Hartman,
Junior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 27 January 2019

Over winter break, my boyfriend—born and raised in Ohio—and I traveled down to The Netherlands, my home country. During this busy, but fun trip I realized once more that two Western countries can still have a lot of differences.

When I first traveled to America about 3.5 years ago, my first experience was based on a 7-hour layover in a “fish bowl” a-like airport in Newark. Then a quick stop at MacDonald’s in Athens for my “late dinner” before passing out on a couch at my former teammates’ apartment while my body clock told me it was past 4 am. Ever since that day, I have experienced many other, foreign situations and differences in the Dutch and American culture:


  1. The Dutch love their cheese and eat it with a flat cheese slicer.

  2. The Dutch can eat bread for every meal, especially with “Calve Pindakaas” (peanut butter) and “Hagelslag” (chocolate sprinkles).

  3. In The Netherlands everyone bikes to school or work, even in winter when it is freezing outside and/or snowing.

  4. The Dutch LOVE black licorice candy, especially the salty kinds and in the shape of a Dutch herring.

  5. A typical dinner in a Dutch restaurant takes at least 2 hours and it is normal for the waitress/waiter to not introduce oneself and the customers may see at least 3 different faces to serve them over the span of the evening.

  6. Ohio is five times the size of my country, while The Netherlands houses twice the population of Ohio.

  7. It takes you 5 hours to drive from Athens to Michigan, while in The Netherlands you would have crossed Belgium to reach Paris, France, in the same amount of time.

  8. Americans normally get a driver’s license around 16 or 17, in The Netherlands the average age to start driving a car is 22.

  9. In America it is not common to go to graduate school (right) after an undergraduate degree, in The Netherlands it is basically required to get a master’s degree after a bachelor’s due to a leveled education system.

  10. The Dutch McDonald’s is much better and more modern even though it was first established in America. Especially the Dutch milkshakes are yum!


Even after this trip with my boyfriend and pointing out those differences once again, I still equally love my 2 home countries and I am excited to get the best of both cultures while studying at Ohio University.

Job Search Complete

Nicholas Burton

Nicholas Burton,
Senior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 27 January 2019

It’s great to be back in Athens for this last semester. It was a wonderful Christmas break, but I was excited to get back here and to get to enjoy being with my friends again.

A big moment in my life actually happened over break, as I officially accepted a full-time job in Columbus. I went through the interview circuit prior to the semester beginning, and was fortunate to find a company that I really liked, so it feels good to have that off my chest. I also get the chance to live with some of my close friends from school and from growing up, so overall I am very happy with the opportunity to start my career in Columbus.

This semester looks to be very promising from the standpoint of me getting to enjoy the time I have left in college. I only have 3 required classes remaining to graduate, so I only have class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. So far, this has been incredible and I honestly don’t know what to do with all of the free time I have—knock on wood. Hopefully this semester continues to be a breeze and I can make the most of the remainder of my time here!

One More Semester

Nicholas Burton

Nicholas Burton,
Senior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 15 December 2018

I am writing this today as a senior with only one remaining semester of college. I’ve been waiting to get to this point pretty much since I started college and now that I am here, I kind of want these last 15 weeks of school to slow down a little bit. A couple of my close friends are graduating after this first semester, so it all is starting to feel more real.

As far as the job search goes, I have three interviews coming up over winter break in three different locations in the country, so I am excited to get out and see what all there is to offer.

Next semester, I have probably one of the most manageable semesters I’ve ever had in college. I only have 2 required civil engineering classes remaining, so this makes it so that I only have classes on Tuesday and Thursday. I have never had a day during the week that I don’t have class scheduled, let alone 3, so I am excited to have a lot of free time to enjoy Athens one last time. On top of this, all of the extra time will give me plenty of opportunity to study for the FE Exam in February.

Reflecting on Mid-Semester

Nicholas Burton

Nicholas Burton,
Senior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 21 October 2018

As we approach week 9 of this semester, I find myself asking where has the time gone? With the weather finally starting to feel like fall, and the stresses of midterms behind us, I sit here reflecting on how fast my senior year is going.

It has been easy to lose track of time, since a majority has been focused on senior design, but seeing all of the familiar faces that came back on this homecoming weekend and catching up with old friends made me really appreciate where I am right now in Athens and I want to focus on enjoying the remainder of my time from here on out.

With that being said, the focus of finding a job is now becoming more of a priority. From the time I last wrote about finding a job to now, I have gone through a few interviews and spoken to a number of different companies about future employment.

Luckily, I still have some time before I have to make any big decisions since I don’t graduate until the end of the spring, but I look forward to the rest of the ongoing process that comes with finding a job and where I will begin my career as a practicing engineer.

Running 4000 Miles Across America

Illona Hartman

Illona Hartman,
Junior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 18 October 2018

Hey everyone, welcome to the first official 4K update on the engineering ambassador blog. A lot of things have happened over the past year. However, I will try to keep it short and give you a summary on all the events to raise money and awareness for cancer.

In August 2017, I saw an advertisement on social media about a “run across America” to fight cancer. This “4K for cancer” run caught my eye so I started the application process. That summer, one of my coworkers at my Dutch internship was very involved in the cancer community and he introduced me to it. I signed up to be a bone marrow donor in honor of his cousin who was going through treatment for leukemia. My coworker and his son even biked from one side of the Netherlands to the most Southern part to raise money and awareness for cancer. I was so impressed by this fundraising event that I wanted to get involved as well.

Running 4000 Miles Across America

During the application process for the “4K for cancer” in September, I heard the devastating news that my own family faced: my cousin’s baby of 6 months old was diagnosed with a rare kind of myeloid leukemia. Her name is Leighton Hailey van Leeuwen.

After the news, a rollercoaster of events happened in a short amount of time. In the next six months, I got accepted in the 4K for Cancer with “Team Baltimore”, I presented my cause to many organizations, I started online fundraisers (i.e. Yankee Candle, That’s My Pan), I traveled home to finally meet Leighton over winter break, I cut 25cm of my hair as a donation to a wig charity, I raised the minimum fundraising amount of $4500 for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults in less than three months, and I still organized five big fundraisers in Spring—Dutch Bake Sale, a Bone Marrow drive, Selling Valentine’s flowers, a Dopper Sale, and a T-shirt sale—with the help of many people and organizations at Ohio University. With those last fundraisesrs I raised another $3000.

On top of this, Leighton got a bone marrow transplantation herself (transferring stem cells through blood from a donor) in January 2018 and things finally got better for her. My schoolwork and training for the run on top of three hours of field hockey practices was going well too; I was in the best shape of my life.

Running 4000 Miles Across America

It was in March—I just got back from Spring Break in Orlando—when things started to go downhill. In this six month period, I had daily contact with my cousin and family at home, mostly over “WhatsApp”. Two weeks after Leighton’s first birthday in March 2018, they wanted to video call so I could see Leighton. She was not doing so well and things got worse real quick. Less than 24 hours after we hung up the phone, I got the devastating news that our little princess lost the battle with this terrible monster called cancer.

Running 4000 Miles Across America

In the summer of 2019, I will dedicate every single mile of my 4,000 mile journey across America to our little princess Leighton Hailey. Why not this past summer? That is because of my recent post-concussion syndrome, caused by a collision at field hockey practice in March 2018. This third concussion resulted in a medical disqualification for field hockey as well as the 4K for cancer run. This diagnosis happened within the same week of Leighton’s passing and my flight home to attend her funeral early April.

Running 4000 Miles Across America

This year, you can expect a lot of new fundraisers (e.g., a yoga session and 5K run/walk on campus) to continue the 4K journey. I am very excited to raise more awareness with the help of my Theta Tau brother Sara Barnett who signed up to do the 4K bike ride in opposite direction. She will bike all 4,000 miles in 75 days from Baltimore to San Francisco! Our first two fundraisers are coming up soon:


  • Chipotle Fundraiser, Homecoming Saturday October 20th, 5pm-9pm, “33% of your burrito proceeds go to the Ulman Cancer Fund (UCF)”

  • Pancake Breakfast @Applebee’s, Dad’s Weekend Saturday November 3rd, 8am-10am, “Buy $5 tickets or show up at Athens’ Applebee’s restaurant, all proceeds go to UCF”

Running 4000 Miles Across America

For more information:
https://ulman.z2systems.com/illona-hartman