Undergraduate: Explore Civil Engineering

Civil Engineering

Maureen Kelly '15

“I got to spend my summer internship in Prof. Kenneth Lee's lab, working with Ajay Gupta, a graduate student on his research in the area of refuse-derived fuels. We were focused mainly on the potential of coffee husk as a pelletized fuel. Much of our daily work concerned the use of an acid leaching process to reduce the ash content of coffee husk samples. On my first day, I was warmly welcomed and immediately introduced to the working lab environment. Throughout the summer, I gained new knowledge on a daily basis, whether from reading relevant literature or participating in hands-on lab work. This internship was an excellent chance to see the real-world application of many principles that I had previously only read about, and many more that I had never even heard of. I can't wait to see how my internship experience will benefit me as I move forward in the field of engineering.”

Sarah Kurtzer '14

“For my summer co-p I am working with Ibrahim Cagatay Solak, a civil engineering graduate student, on a question that was raised during his thesis defense: Does the dielectric constant of sand change depending on how finely the sand is ground? The dielectric constant is how much energy a material is able to hold. Because sand has pebbles of different sizes, they do not fit perfectly together and there is air in the sample. If there is air in the sample, it might change the dielectric constant because it’s not just the sand being measured. This study would help with predicting the dielectric constant of cement mortar and concrete, which both contain sand. I will be preparing 16 samples of sand with different gradation. Using the sieve analysis method with then different levels of sieves, the sand will be separated by grain size and then separated into separate samples. Each will have a different level of grading and compaction to see if the grain size really does matter and if it allows the sand to be compacted more tightly. After the samples are prepared, the network analyzer will determine the dielectric constant of each sample, and it will show what changes are present or if there are none at all. This experience has not only made me feel more passionate about civil engineering, but it allowed to feel like I am involved with something more important than three hours of homework every night.”

Connor Sullivan '14

“I am a sophomore majoring in civil engineering, and I am working with Seth Robertson, a grad student in civil engineering with a focus in geotechical engineering. We are working for Prof. Pradeep Kurup, who is trying to develop a method for the detection of heavy metals in soil. My research is focused on using voltammetry in order to determine what metals are present in a solution and in what concentrations these metals are present. The tests I run involve applying an electrocial potential to a solution and observing how much current travels through the solution."

Jaime Muntz '14

“In my summer research group, we are exploring different properties of concrete when the ratio of its components are varied. In each set of castings, a specific ratio of elements (concrete, water, sand, and gravel) was varied. The castings are allowed to set overnight and then cure is a tub of water, and then dried. Once, they are finished with the entire curing process, the electric constant of each is measured. This allows us to determine a constant for each ratio of elements. With this data, materials in the field (i.e. concrete samples outside) can have their dielectric constants measured and the makeup of the sample can be determined and matched with its properties. As the research progresses, my role has been to mix the different samples of concrete, cast them, uncast them, and then see them through the curing process. Recently, while the samples are still curing, we have moved onto taking sample measurements of the dielectric constant of known samples to compare them to previous data. This allows us to become familiar with the coaxial probe used to take the measurements and reduce possible human error when taking the measurements of the samples to be tested. The research co-op has taught me much about the area of concrete mixtures and properties of the concrete. There were many trials and errors with the casting process, but this was a learning experience and these obstacles only furthered my knowledge. As the research continues, I hope to learn more about the non-destructive properties of concrete while developing my knowledge of the dielectric constant through the measurements we will take.”