Advice for students who want to start research in Civil Engineering

  • #1
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Summary:: I'm a Physics instructor (no formal Engineering training) in a private college. As part of my job I had to teach Statics and Mechanics of Materials. They now formed a student group to start activities looking to do research and they wanted me as advisor.

Hello guys.
So basically I had to step out of my teaching area, which is Physics, in my job. I taught Statics and Mechanics of Materials to Civil Engineering undergrads. They are well motivated and formed a student group aiming to start learning and conduct research in areas such as
Structural Civil Engineering,
Bridges and
Earthquake Engineering.


Now they want me as one of their advisors. I myself am trying to make a research career for myself but I would like to help them not only in encouraging in general. I am aware that I am not an engineer and they need other advisors, something they already managed to find.

With my Physics background and experience teaching Statics and Mechanics of Materials, can you help me in coming up with ideas as to provide them with projects that could help them find connections with other scholars?

I thought of trying to help them with workshops in specific topics in Physics and Math but maybe I can get some specific topic accessible for me that I can present to them (they want training in research).
Any thoughts or advice I will appreciate, thanks
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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Perhaps have a look into folded plate structure analysis ##-## bringing to bear your understanding of e.g. multivariable calculus and Fourier transforms ##-## the learning of techniques associated therewith would be helpful to them in many other areas of engineering endeavor . . .
 
  • #3
berkeman
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Summary:: I'm a Physics instructor (no formal Engineering training) in a private college. As part of my job I had to teach Statics and Mechanics of Materials. They now formed a student group to start activities looking to do research and they wanted me as advisor.

but maybe I can get some specific topic accessible for me that I can present to them (they want training in research).
Fun project, thanks for taking that on. Perhaps look at some current events in the news that involve lots of CE content and are a bit sensational to help capture the students' interest. Like:
  • Surfside condo collapse in Florida
  • The leaning of the tall Millennium Tower skyscraper in San Francisco and the efforts to fix it
  • Failures of levees in hurricane Katrina, and how they were re-built to work better with the recent hurricane Ida
 
  • #4
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Some Civils go toward structures, which offer a lot of projects. Others are much more into soils, drainage, ground water flows, etc. which should offer some other project possibilities.

If you want to look at earthquakes, you will need to get yourself and your students well into multi-degree of freedom vibrations and convolution. It is interesting stuff, but not easy to teach (from one who has tried to do it).
 
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  • #5
CalcNerd
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One other important aspect for Civil engineers. As a group, they are the most likely to need licensure and should always work on preparing for an NCEES FE exam around the time of their graduation to help them in there employment. Having passed an FE (or sometimes call an EIT) exam will greatly enhance their employment prospects upon graduation.
 
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