It’s 11:54pm and I’m done! The last lab report of my undergraduate career is being sent to the printer, and it’s not even midnight.

One of the perks of being a civil engineering student is that you get to break stuff and there aren’t many things more satisfying to the nerd in me, than seeing a perfectly predicted stress-strain curve show up on the computer screen as load is applied to a beam.  This week in lab, to wrap up a semester filled with preparing samples and breaking them (some of which exploded!), we revisited our freshman year classes and designed beams using CAD software. The beams were 3D printed and then we got to put them in the load frame to test their behavior.

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Our super awesome beam design

My group’s beam was the first one tested, and it did pretty well considering that this small piece of plastic and was able to hold 596lbs applied to (almost) the center of the beam.

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Max Load: 596 lbs

This semester has been a true college experience and I am so happy that the late nights in the lab have come to a close, at least momentarily. Looking back on all of the things I’ve learned this year, it’s really cool to think about how much I got to do in all of the classes. Soil Mechanics (as anyone who talked to me this semester probably knows) was not my favorite class, but we still got to do some cool work in the lab. One thing we did was test the strength of soils in Houghton and we built models to predict how the soils will act under various foundation designs. In Civil Materials (the one where we get to break stuff) we got to make our very own super secret concrete mix and test its strength. Our sample totally exploded, and failed in a close to perfect 45 degree failure cone. Turns out the textbooks are actually right about some stuff!

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The final report

Walking out of the lab last night, with the last lab report of my undergraduate career in hand, was a great feeling. A great feeling made even better by my classmates who decided to litter campus with snowmen. I am reminded all the time how lucky I am to have found Michigan Tech and the civil engineering department. The people here are so happy and haven’t forgotten how to embrace their inner child. Watching adults chase each other around campus, push one another into snowbanks, build snowmen and have spontaneous snowball fights, are all things that remind me how important it is to keep having fun. With finals week right around the corner, and stress levels reaching all time highs, it’s important to keep this in mind. As my dad often says, “everyone’s a kid of somebody.”

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Snowmen guards outside Dillman, protecting the students from too much brain strain

My homework is done and the sun is out, I think its time to go play in the snow!

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