Category Archives: Civil Engineering

Create for Good in Florida

Illona Hartman

Illona Hartman,
Junior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 31 March 2019

During Spring Break, I had the chance to go down to Florida with Theta Tau, my coed professional engineering fraternity, to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. We were able to stay at the United Methodist Church in Flagler Beach, which was only 3 blocks away from the Atlantic and 20 minutes away from the work site where we volunteered for 4 days.

My friend and little in the fraternity, Sam (ISE senior), and I started our trip down to Florida on the Friday before break. Firstly, we drove 8 hours to Cleveland, Tennessee, to stay the night with Sam’s family and break up the road trip to Florida. The next day, we drove another 6 hours to Savannah, Georgia, where we found a hotel. Here I saw the first palm trees of our trip!

Habitat / Spring Break

For some reason, I get extremely excited about palm trees. These trees are the ultimate sign of vacation in my view. The next day, we had time to spend a couple of hours exploring the city of Savannah! This city had a lot of historical architecture at the riverbank and some crazy structures to visit.

Later that afternoon, we drove to Flagler Beach to meet our other brothers from 6 different chapters around the nation: Texas, Virginia (2x), Rhode Island, Michigan, and Ohio. We had dinner and found out that most of the volunteers were returners from previous years! They were extremely friendly and welcoming towards us, the newbies. After a free dinner from the church and Habitat, we spent some time bonding at the beach.

Habitat / Spring Break

For the next four days, we woke up at 6:30 am to leave the church by 7:30 am. Habitat for Humanity expected us to be on the site by 8:00 am to start the day with a dedication circle. Throughout the day, we performed different tasks such as roofing or siding.

Habitat / Spring Break

I joined the siding group for most of the days, so I was pounding nails in the outside of the house to finish the outdoor walls. I also spent a day or two on hurricane straps. These could be a real pain at times because both sides of a roof frame had to be nailed with 5-6 nails to the strap and wall so the wind could not blow underneath the roof. The angle of nailing and the fact that we had to nail them through metal while standing on a ladder didn’t make the job much easier!

Habitat / Spring Break

By the end of the day, we had a lot of fun and it was extremely rewarding work! On our last day, we finished almost the entire roof and the outdoor walls. We also got to dedicate another, finished house to a family which was a great experience. It was awesome to see how a finished house would look like!

Next year, I hope to come back to volunteer again as it precisely describes what I would like to do after graduation: combining civil engineering with natural hazard mitigation and humanity work in developing communities.

Spring Break Reunion

Haley Nau

Haley Nau,
Junior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 21 March 2019

This past spring break was one that focused on nostalgia. I stayed home for most of the week and reconnected with old friends. With my parents we stayed in most nights and had home cooked meals (which I didn’t have to prepare myself) and watched old movies we’ve already seen a hundred times, but never got old. A few of the mornings (where I didn’t sleep in) I would grab a coffee with whoever was available and hike the familiar trails in my area.

Hiking

To reminisce, I met up with my close-knit group of friends from high school at midnight at our local 24-hour donut shop just like the old days. We talked about how much things have changed since our graduation and how much we hope that continues. (But we still vow to stay in touch.) To celebrate growing old, me and another close friend grabbed breakfast mimosas just to show off our brand new 21 IDs and made plans to vacation with each other in the summer.

In the day I would go on walks with my dog and a few times I went to my local library to check out a new book. It felt good to relax for a week with no pending obligations and do the same things I used to enjoy from high school.

Engineering and Technology Day

Haley Nau

Haley Nau,
Junior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 27 February 2019

Last weekend, Renaissance Engineering held its second annual Russ College Engineering and Technology Day. Engineering and Technology Day is a day dedicated to educating Athens youth about STEM. This is done by gathering Russ College’s various clubs and having them each set up a booth and create a STEM activity relating to their clubs’ interests. The event is held in the ARC and Stocker and roughly 400 kids attend each year.

This was my first year participating, and I did it on a fluke. Some of my close friends are the heads of Renaissance Engineers and were putting the event together when they asked me for help to gather more clubs. Being roommates with active members of BSNorg (Bachelor’s in Science, Nursing Organization) I had the idea to bring in a club not founded through Russ College. I asked several professors and of course my roommates if this was possible. I was able to get the green light from both sides and that’s how I ended up as volunteering at Engineering and Technology day as a “Nurse”.

Nurse

The day of the event, the nurses asked if I could specifically work at their booth with them even though I was a generic volunteer. This would mean I would have to wake up a couple hours earlier to help them set up their activity, but they persuaded me into it by telling me I could wear a white nursing coat.

Nurse

Their booth consisted of making a set of lungs out of paper bags and straws. With the straws taped to the bags (that kids would color as the shape of lungs) the kids were able to see how their lungs expanded and collapsed by blowing in and out of the bags. We were also given permission from the college of nursing to use some of their stethoscopes and blood pressure monitors so the kids could hear their heart beat and learn how the equipment works.

The event lasted until three and by the end we were exhausted, but already talking about the activities that we can do next year. I can’t wait to come back and do it again!

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!