Student Grasps Structural Engineering…. “Problem Solving”
Samuel Campbell, a high school student at North Oldham High School and future engineering student at the University of Kentucky, has shared his insights from his day shadowing at Leonard Engineering. We were very impressed by his grasp of structural engineering and his ability to communicate what he learned. We hope you enjoy learning about his experience in this well written article:
Structural engineers are civil engineers who focus on the construction and architectural integrity of various types of public works. The main goal at Leonard Engineering and other structural engineering firms is to ensure that a project is able to withstand all types of stress. Structural engineers play a vital role in the safety and efficiency of many different types of buildings and urban developments. A structural engineer’s attention revolves around issues including design, finance, and construction of a plethora of projects from renovating a Victorian house to designing cutting edge structures.
After spending the day with the engineers at Leonard Engineering I received a glimpse into the life of a structural engineer. A portion of a typical day involves the design phase of a project. After meeting with a client or architect, the engineers at Leonard Engineering begin designing the project on a program such as Revit or AutoCad. The process of structural planning and design requires not only imagination and conceptual thinking but also a reliable knowledge of practical aspects, enforced over time with experience in the field. The design process is significant in determining how to solve a problem in a project and for estimating costs of a project for a client.
In tandem with the design process, the engineers at Leonard Engineering have the privilege of being able to go into the field frequently and delve into the projects and build relationships with the clients and architects. I had the honor to visit multiple current projects and work sites to watch how an engineer views an issue at hand and to view the designs being put into action throughout Louisville. One of the sites we visited at a restaurant had signs on the exterior of the building that would vibrate and shake when wind struck the signs. To an ordinary person, the signs would look great when there was no wind; however, seeing how an engineer and architect viewed the signs and the issue at hand expanded my knowledge of structures and the critical thinking required to be an engineer. A second site we visited was the Germantown Mill Lofts, a 260,000 square foot building constructed in 1889 that served as a textile mill until around 1970. This historic building posed multiple structural issues ranging from the heavy timber used to the brick smoke stack. The approximately 165 feet tall stack had deteriorated over the years and required extensive brick repairs.
Throughout the world structural engineers face many demanding projects and constantly have to think creatively in order to design the framework for modern society. Each engineer in every field has a common trait, problem solving, which is why engineers are so valuable in the modern society. Spending the day with a group of motivated engineers at Leonard Engineering allowed me to visualize the work performed by structural engineers. This experience will be the impetus for my deepening desire to learn about engineering and explore the field.
By Samuel Campbell