Category Archives: Civil Engineering

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.

NSBE National Conference

Lance Jackson

Lance Jackson,
Senior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 30 March 2015

Every year in the last week of March the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) host a national convention that includes all of the NSBE chapters across the nation. This past week I, along with 16 others, were fortunate enough to attend the 41st annual NSBE national conference, which was held in Anaheim, California.


During these conferences, students are able to take part in plant/site tours which are given by nearby companies. There are a number of different professional development workshops that range from ones that help to refine interviewing skills to others that give tips on effective leadership.


On top of this there are two career fairs that NSBE members may go to in search of potential employment with one of the companies that attend along with hospitality suites, which are held by the companies and allow students to get to know employees of the company in a slightly more personal setting. In our leisure time, we were able to explore the city; some went to Disneyland while others decided to spend their time relaxing on Huntington Beach.

Before it was all over, we ended up having 8 of our members receive interviews from the career fair and one member receiving a $500 scholarship. All in all I would say it was a great trip and personally enjoyed being surrounded by so many driven and passionate engineers.

Project in Sustainable Construction

Nick Sparks

Nick Sparks,
Senior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 19 March 2015

When we got back from spring break, my Sustainable Construction class got assigned a project that is going to extend until the end of the semester. Our problem statement is to work with Ohio University to see what it would take to get various buildings around campus to a LEED Silver standard. LEED is the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED is one of the leading green building standards used throughout the country and parts of the world.

The group I am working with has been assigned Siegfred Hall, it is currently used as the Arts building. During this past week we have been taking multiple tours of the building to understand different parts of the energy use, transportation, environmental, and a few other components. Our group is tasked to see what it would take to in order to obtain the LEED Silver Certification.

LEED takes into account six major aspects:

  • location and transportation
  • sustainable sites
  • water efficiency
  • energy and atmosphere
  • materials and resources
  • indoor environmental quality

These six categories have different numbers of points that you can achieve and total up to 110 points for the highest certification of Platinum. For our project we have to reach a minimum of a Silver certification which is between 50 to 59 points. Our professor is challenging us not to just stop there at silver but to really see what it would take to get an even higher certification of Gold or Platinum.

Our professor also surprised us with the fact that once our projects are complete our report with be shared with the university along with a presentation to the sustainability department. They will be able to use our project as a starting point when it is time for a major renovation.

Preparing for Life After College

Lance Jackson

Lance Jackson,
Senior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 23 February 2015

A lot has come with the final full semester of my college career. Preparing for graduation, continuing to apply myself in classes, and hunting for jobs have been the main three things that have been occupying my time along with attempting to enjoy my last full year of college with my classmates.

There are a lot of things that must be addressed when preparing for graduation, like ensuring that everyone has somewhere to stay and making sure they all have transportation. Classes have become slightly more challenging since the finish line has become within seeing distance but I’ve managed to keep the deadly case of senioritis at bay by increasing my level of focus.

However, my senior year has been very rewarding in the aspect of job searching. I have received interviews with companies where I was treated to dinner, shown around the main office of the company, then given a tour of one of their project sites. These interviews have been particularly exciting seeing that I was able to actually experience first-hand what these potential employers had to offer. I haven’t made a decision on where I want to work after graduation but would not be opposed to being wined and dined a few more times before I finally committed to where I want to start my professional career.

Campus Jobs

Jordan Sapp

Jordan Sapp,
Junior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 10 February 2015

Something to consider when thinking about being a college student is whether you want to get a job or not. For me, I didn’t want a job during my first year in school because I wanted to establish a foundation in the transition from high school to college and focus mainly on my classes. As my sophomore year rolled around, I decided that I was capable of working a few hours a week so I got a job at parking services.

I really enjoy working, it gives me some time away from the classroom and homework and allows me to do some physical labor. My current position as event manager is quite a diverse job in that my role is never the same from day to day. One day I could be moving barricades another day I could be dealing with a customer who had their car towed. The ever-changing job tasks keep me on my toes and give some challenges outside of labs and projects.


As a junior now, it was imperative that I have a job so that I could buy groceries and pay for rent. I actually picked up a second job this semester driving a shuttle bus for Ohio University’s Transportation Services. I currently drive the purple loop CATS bus which is a free shuttle service offered to Ohio University students. Working two jobs has helped me in the ability to manage my time and ensure that I am getting all of my work done. Work is not always a bad thing, I would suggest if you can manage your time well work in college could be for you.

ASCE Steel Bridge Competition

Nick Sparks

Nick Sparks,
Senior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 19 November 2014

Every year the members involved in American Society of Civil Engineers participate in multiple competitions such as steel bridge, concrete canoe, environmental, and more. The competitions aren’t until March; however, we have to begin working now so that our teams will be ready for competition.

This year I am captain of our steel bridge team. For the steel bridge competition we have to design a 1/10 scale model of a steel bridge and every year the criteria are changed. This year we have to design a bridge that has an 18-foot clear span which means that the supports are only on the ends of the span. During the competition we are challenged to subject our bridge to various forms of loading.

To begin design we have to carefully read the rules. As a group we all suggest different ideas and begin to build off of them. This year we decided to go with a beam bridge design. As a group we are planning that we will use a built up T-member made from two L-members for the bridge decking. Our biggest challenge so far is to design the way to brace the bridge laterally. Lateral bracing is used to prevent side sway. After we decide what we would like to do for bracing our next step will be to make all shop drawings and then next semester we will begin fabrication.