Articles

CE Club June 2017 Update

Water Resources with Kimley-Horn

Troy Hotchkiss of Kimley-Horn spoke to students about dams, water distribution, and the politics involved in sharing water between municipalities. He has been dealing with a situation like this recently and took it as an opportunity to show the students some of the challenges and roadblocks that civil engineers can face, especially when dealing with somethings complicated, yet essential, as drinking water. 

To help illustrate this concept the classroom was split into multiple groups to represent different municipalities. One of the groups was given a large container of water to represent a lake reservoir while all the other groups were only given an empty cup to represent a water treatment plant for their municipality. Troy then asked the different groups to share their thoughts on what was the best way for the city with the lake reservoir to share and distribute the drinking water they had with the other cities. They were asked to consider the tough questions like:

  •       How much water should each city get?
  •       How much should they pay for the water?
  •       How will the water get to all the other cities?
  •       Who will pay for the systems and pipelines to distribute the water?
  •       Who's responsible for making sure the reservoir water stays clean?

To complicate matters, Troy explained that the recent project he's been working on has a bottom intake in the lake, which is where all the dirt and organic material settles in the lake. The students were asked to consider the engineering, financial, and political challenges and consequences of updating such a system. These challenges included thing such as TCEQ requirements, organic materials requiring special disinfectants, and financing options that don't always make governments and their tax payers very happy, even when it's something as important as their drinking water. 

All in all, Troy's presentation was a very practical demonstration of many of the important factor civil engineers must consider when working on large municipal projects besides just the nitty-gritty design and calculations. The students really enjoyed having the opportunity to consider and openly debate many of these issues. Additional photos can be found online here.

 

Geotechnical Engineering with Terracon

Tim Abrams of Terracon returned to the CE Club this year to talk about geotechnical engineering and lead a great group activity. He started off by explaining the main elements of geotechnical engineering including soil and rock analysis, foundation system design, and earth retention design. Various foundation systems were also explained, including the drilled shaft pier foundation system underneath Woodrow Wilson High School. Tim also explained that, unfortunately, as a geotechnical engineer, 90% of your work will never been seen. However, it is still an extremely important field of design and truly tests your ability to analyze and predict soil environments since most investigations only involve a handful of boring samples over a large area.

Finally, the students were shown a design problem that required a contractor to cut away a hillside for a building construction project. They then discussed the pros and cons of the various retaining wall solutions which included a tied back drilled shaft wall, a soil nail wall, a cast in place retaining wall, and a mechanically stabilized earth wall. Tim then challenged the students to build their own retaining wall out of pieces of paper cut to resemble soil nails. They were asked to consider how friction could contribute to the capacity of the retaining walls, and how soil nails could be optimized to give the safest and most efficient design. The team that built a retaining wall with the shortest amount of paper soil nail length was deemed the winner in each class. Additional photos can be found here and here.

May Field Trip

As a reward for some of the top performing students in the Civil Engineering and Architecture Design class, the ASCE Dallas Branch organized an all-day field trip for Mr. Carver and 10 students. This was a great opportunity for these students to soak in a full day within the engineering professional realm.

Thanks to the efforts of Fernando Ceballos, the day started off at the offices of Pape-Dawson Engineers where the students got a tour of the engineers’ work stations. The students were broken up into group of two or three and got to sit at the desks of Matt Gilbertson, Luigi Basalo, and Dustin Wentz to learn about the daily tasks of a young engineer. Additional photos can be found online here.

Next, the students traveled up to Addison to attend the ASCE Dallas Branch luncheon which also happened to be Younger Member month. The students were seated at two tables at the front of the room where they got to mingle with some ASCE Dallas Younger Members and listen to the main luncheon presentation by Dr. Mo Najafi of UT-Arlington on the underground freight transportation. The students were also formally recognized at the luncheon by Jonathan Brower, the ASCE Dallas CE Club Champion. 

Finally, the students headed to the Cypress Waters development in Coppell where James Bryan of Kimley-Horn Associates showed them around the lift station that was under construction, including the flow meter vault and equipment in the electrical room. Additional photos from the site visit can be found online here.

Engineers Without Borders

Julie Jones of Nathan D. Maier Consulting Engineers came to the CE Club at Woodrow Wilson High School to talk about her experience with the international organization Engineers Without Borders. She shared about the positive impact?that engineers can make in the world outside of their?daily places of employment. Engineers Without Borders allows engineers an avenue?to donate their time and engineering skills to assist?communities that would otherwise have minimal or no?access to such resources. Julie explained to the students?that the mission of EWB is to serve communities in order that they would have the capacity and sustainability to meet their basic human needs.

Julie then showcased a recent project that the EWB North Texas Professional Chapter has been working on in Bolivia. She started off by describing the village they were working in by showing pictures of the livestock and simple, adobe brick houses. Most of the structures in the villages were constructed with rock foundations and pine straw roofs. The main need in this community was water utilities. The village had a small pump house from the 1980s but it had fallen into disrepair long ago.

Engineers Without Borders conducted land surveys, collected soil samples, gathered GPS coordinates for all the buildings and major landmarks, and spent a lot of time listening to the concerns and input of the community. Many community members felt that their quality of life would improve drastically if they could just have some clean water to wash their fruits and vegetables and wash their clothes and children more often. Finally, Julie answered lots of questions for the students about her job as a private consulting engineer as well as her philanthropic involvement in organizations like EWB and ASCE. Additional photos can be found online here.

Traffic Engineering with Urban Engineers Group

Omar Venzor and Hasan Raza of Urban Engineers Group talked with the CE Club students about traffic engineering and the path that they each took to becoming an engineer. They outlined what it takes to become a traffic engineer, including the licensing requirements. Students were also shown that they could work for either public organizations such as cities, counties, airports, and TxDOT or private corporations that do consulting work.

Next, Omar and Hasan explained the types of projects that traffic engineers work on. The students were shown the reports that are produced from traffic studies that determine the existing conditions and capacity at a location, as well as future analysis to determine what improvements should be made to achieve a prescribed level of service. They also discussed signal timing, signing and pavement marking design, ITS design, and roadway illumination.

Finally, to bring this all together into something tangible for the students, Omar and Hasan printed out sets of plans from the roadway and signal design that UEG performed at the intersection of Greenville and Ross. Additional photos can be found online here.