In engineering, you can learn the theories, study the blueprints, and calculate the mathematical models to build a bridge.
In engineering, you can learn the theories, study the blueprints, and calculate the mathematical models to build a bridge. But, nothing compares to standing on the actual structure with the professionals who planned it, designed it, and built it. For 12 Oregon Institute of Technology civil engineering students, a trip to Portland was an opportunity to talk shop with professionals over dinner and tour two of Oregon’s bridges.
Students were selected to attend the American Society of Civil Engineers annual Host-a-Student Dinner hosted on November 16, 2010 by the University of Portland at the Lloyd Center Doubletree Hotel in Portland. Students from engineering programs around the state attended and networked with architectural planners, designers, and engineers from OTAK, HDR, KPFF and many other firms and organizations represented at the dinner.
Matthew Nicholson, an OIT sophomore civil engineering major who participated in the dinner and tours, commented, "The Host-a-Student Dinner is a unique opportunity for students at OIT to network and learn from an evening spent with professional engineers from all over Oregon. This was my first year attending and I was able to glean much from the professionals working in industry, especially with regard to the job landscape in this economic slowdown.
“We were also fortunate to visit two bridge projects in the Eugene area as we travelled back to Klamath Falls. The first was the construction of a pair of bridges for I-5 that cross the Willamette River; visiting this site gave us an opportunity to converse with and learn from project managers while touring an active bridge construction site. The second site we visited was the Delta Ponds Pedestrian Bridge in Eugene. This bridge was built to connect a highly active bike path across the Delta Highway and is unique in both its design and the methods which were implemented in construction. Overall, the trip provided highly enriching experiences for us and we were able to interact with the professionals we aspire to be one day."
Charles “C.J.” Riley, assistant professor in OIT’s Civil Engineering Department, believes that experiences outside of the classroom are a valuable addition to the curriculum. “Standing on an arch that will carry millions of pounds of force when it’s completed is a rare opportunity. Watching a project come to fruition and witnessing the project in progress makes the theory we develop in the classroom come alive and mean so much more. Combining our campus labs with the learning laboratory of the real world is critical to serving our mission of turning out practice-ready engineers.”