As I look outside my window and see the spring colors returning to campus, I am filled with a sense of joy for what the new year will bring. It is ironic, though; spring also means that the end of the school year is rapidly approaching. Like any proud educator, I look forward to hearing about the successes of our newest soon-to-be civil engineering graduates. At the same time, it is always a little bittersweet seeing all the students I have made connections with over the years leave us.
CE Impact Magazine - Spring 2019
Sometimes the best way to gain a taste for something is to sample a little bit of everything — and the Lyles School of Civil Engineering now allows Purdue students to do exactly that. In fall 2018, the school began offering a series of one-credit courses as part of the College of Engineering’s "Stackable Ones" modular course plan. Stackable classes are one-credit-hour courses focusing on an area of study that can be "stacked" to create a custom curriculum. For example, the college provides a series of one-credit courses in the field of data science.
Purdue researchers continually innovate how structures are built — and that includes improving the very soil that structures are built upon. A chief concern when designing structures in areas vulnerable to earthquakes is liquefaction. Liquefaction is a phenomenon in which the strength and stiffness of a soil are reduced by earthquake shaking or other rapid loading. It is a result of the pressure build-up, during shaking, in the water-filled space present between the sand grains. Liquefaction is a common occurrence during seismic events and can lead to catastrophic failure of structures and lifelines.
The Lyles School of Civil Engineering strives to make every avenue available for undergraduate students to participate in meaningful research — and that includes opportunities at the Robert L. and Terry L. Bowen Laboratory for Large-Scale Civil Engineering Research. The 66,000-square-foot Bowen Laboratory is home to research and investigations on the behavior of large structural models and elements subjected to loads representing extreme events, such as earthquakes, blasts and impact. With the knowledge gleaned, engineers can design future structures to better withstand extreme events.
When entering the cozy Traffic Lab in Purdue's Hampton Hall of Civil Engineering, you're met by a life-size traffic light hanging from the ceiling. (Yes, it’s functioning!) Road signs and street signs line the walls. Students are manipulating colorful shapes and graphs on computer screens. Officially called the Harold L. Michael Traffic Operations Laboratory, the facility is a hub for transportation research at Purdue University. Darcy Bullock, Lyles Family Professor of Civil Engineering, leads the lab and directs the Joint Transportation Research Program.
A professional civil engineer for over 30 years and author of three children's books, Purdue Civil Engineering alumna Cheryl Cunningham (BSCE '80) says she wants girls to feel empowered to pursue interests in STEM fields such as engineering. She would like the next generation of children to have even more female role models. In short: Cunningham strives to be the example for young girls that she never had.
Lyles School of Civil Engineering students will assist in global research that aims to create long-lasting solutions for low-income countries. In August 2018, Purdue University was awarded a five-year, $70 million grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to lead a multi-university consortium — titled Long-Term Assistance and Services for Research (LASER), Partners for University Led Solutions Engine (PULSE) — and build capacity of in-region higher-education institutions to devise evidence-based solutions to global developmental challenges.
Today, many top engineering undergraduates want to participate in high-end research, and each year the Lyles School of Civil Engineering provides outstanding opportunities for these ambitious students. In addition to research efforts of Civil Engineering faculty — efforts that often include undergraduates — the school is involved with two programs that encourage students to work alongside researchers over the summer. These programs are the Purdue University Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) and Purdue Undergraduate Research Experience (PURE).
The first phase of the $5 million renovation project for the Delon and Elizabeth Hampton Hall of Civil Engineering was officially completed in December 2018. Renovations to the Lyles School of Civil Engineering's facilities included upgrades to the ground floor and basement areas. Improvements to the building are an accessible entryway, improved air circulation, updates to existing laboratories for state-of-the-art civil engineering teaching and research, and new flexible-use teaching laboratories. The plan includes the following:
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