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Student Achievement


Congratulations to the students that presented Last Night in Little Havana!  Good job!

Our Department is co-sponsored, along with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a community meeting to look at the work of two groups of our senior design students who have been working with the community and a developer on a means to identify acceptable projects for the Little Havana neighborhood.  The event was held in Little Havana at the Ball & Chain, which provided the use of the back patio and the stage at no charge. The Mayor of Miami opened the “Community Discussion,” to discuss the work of the FAU students. The National Trust sent a senior staff member from New York to participate in the Discussion.

For many years there has been public and private argument about the future vision for Little Havana. Yet, in many instances there has been little graphic presentation of the components of a vision. The National Trust for Historic Preservation designated Little Havana as the 11th most endangered site in America.  The work of these students provides possible templates for mixed-use and multi-family residential development, proposals that now show what can be designed and built under current rules and regulations. The National Trust for Historic Preservation co-sponsored this community discussion to share their philosophy on urban revitalization, and as a continuation of their commitment to Little Havana — by helping the community respond to actual designs and through dialogue, hopefully reach a consensus over the next few months that will move the revitalization efforts forward in a positive manner for all stakeholders.

The students provided extensive graphics and can give you excellent options to provide visual elements to the story. This presentation marked the mid-way point of student efforts, and provided stake holders with the opportunity to review initial concepts and to comment on the proposals.  Participants saw what is allowed under current land development regulations and have the opportunity to discuss changes needed to protect Little Havana’s character. In addition, students were seeking continuing input during the Spring semester as designs are modified to address concerns of the community.

Good job students.  And thank you Frank Schnidman for setting this up!


Collaboration between students, faculty and the real world is an excellent means to integrate students into real world situation and provide them valuable experience.  I have done this with several communities to date.  Below are the installed OASIS street improvements in Dania Beach.  Students did the drafting.  Also a stormwater pipe in Boynton Beach.  Excellent learning experience.  The campus mapping project is one that our Facilities Management Department needed.  Very cool 3D map.  We did stormwater assessments in Davie, plus flood mapping.  Of course the Dania Beach nanofiltration plant, the first LEED Gold water plant in the world.  Still.  Here is the cool thing with working with students – they have all kinds of ideas and have all kinds of tools that they can access – they just need guidance.   They will create tools (our app for asset management). to make the job easier.  Most collaborate well.  And most want to learn about the profession.  As an industry we should promote this more.  Go to the local universities, talk with faculty.  Find the right faculty mentor who is interested in local outreach.  Work with them.  But students should not work free.  Pay or pay in grades.  It’s only fair.

 


Summer Kids – Get them early

FAU sponsors summer camps for middle schoolers on campus. The camps are a week long.  The kids come it and learn about some aspect of civil engineering.  I did two summer camps for civil engineers – I call it the make it and break it camps, because that is what we do.  Make stuff, then break it.  The kids love the breaking part.  We tried out a series of project – dropping eggs from 2 and 5 stories, concrete Frisbees, concrete cylinders, geotechnical fill made of recyclables, did a little surveying, made bridge. Then broke stuff!  They had fun, but it really speaks to a larger issue.

I see the University of Miami recruiting an 8th grader for the football team.  College and pro sports do this all the time (recall they were scouting LeBron James in middle school or earlier).  Why do we not do this in our industry?  Getting middle schoolers on campus is great; they think it is really cool, but we need to keep in contact.  Future camps, seminars, invitations for research participation, helping with clubs, offering classes, mentoring.  All things we need to do to track the kids right into the college and the industry.  If an FAU professor mentors you and puts your name on a paper, you think that kids is going elsewhere?

Sports sees money in athletes, but because only the athletics are spending money, it makes the athletes seem more important than other professions.  But we all need water.  We all need sewer.  We all need many things we take for granted.  So perhaps the colleges and industry needs to think about how we elevate our profession to those kids we want to have become part of our organization.  Most do not have the talent to play sports, so get left out.  But I am convinced that middle school is the place to start recruiting them our way.  High school is too late and they are too distracted by “life.”  Middle schoolers can be “formed” into future water professionals.  Let’s think on that.

Meanwhile enjoy their work….

 

 


IMG_1272

In a deviation from the normal water/utility agenda, I wanted to note that two of our senior design classes has the privilege of presenting their projects to the University President on Tuesday.  The President is interested in fostering a town-to-gown type relationship with the City of Boca Raton, much like that in Chapel Hill or Clemson where the university and the City partner to accomplish many good things.  Boca might be a little tougher since its history is not dependent on the university, although the university is the largest economic engine in Palm Beach County, and in Boca Raton by far.  Our President is particularly interested in creating an enclave of students, grad students, visiting professors and newly graduated student housing area on the east side of campus that would connect directly to the main campus, reduce commuter traffic and improve interaction between the university and the community.  All good goals and if you have been to Chapel Hill or Clemson (or many other university towns,) you know this can be great.  Our students pursued a project based on some input from our planning students (and their advisor Frank Schnidman, Esq) and our architectural students to create a catalyst – mixed use building serving students and area resident services plus amenities.  He was very impressed with what the students did.  Their presentations were excellent.  Judge for yourselves – realizing they have a few thousand pages of backup material and design documents for these.  Hopefully the plan can proceed – maybe these project will serve as the basis for a design build project, much like we had happen for the Dania Beach nanofiltration plant.


Congratulations FAU owls for placing 7th overall at the Southeastern ASCE student Competition. (28 schools)  In under 15 years we moved into the top 10 in a region with SEC schools like Alabama, Auburn, and Vanderbilt (that we finished ahead of), Tennessee and Florida (#2 and 3).  It’s FAU’s first time in the top 10.  It is a good launching point for next year when FAU hosts the competition – Civil Goes Green in 2017 (for St. Patty’s day).  And you all should be there!  Sponsorships available. 🙂

civil goes green

http://public.eng.fau.edu/design/asce2017/index.html

 


My apologies for being offline for a month. It has been very busy.  I got back from Utah, and it was tests, reports, etc.  Then Thanksgiving – we went to Disney for my stepdaughter.  Then the Florida Section AWWA conference, then student final design presentations with President Kelly present for some of it, then finals, then a trip to the west coast, then posting grades, then it’s now.  Crazy.  And my kitchen is being worked on -see the photos of what is left of it.   Not much, and Christmas is how far away.  Yikes.  At least the wrapping and chopping are 99% done!

In the meantime a lot has happened.  Congress cut SRF funding, but passed the transportation bill.  They passed WITAF, but provided minimal funding.  The debates roll on.  A recent South Park episode is all about illegal immigrants from Canada escaping, then there is a wall built, by the Canadian so t hose who left don’t come back, and then we find out who the new president in Canada looks like… well you just have to watch and be scared.  Very scared.  If you do not follow South Park, well you are just missing it.

Russia had a plane brought down by an apparent ISIS bomb.  The Egyptians deny it.  Too much arguing about was it or wasn’t it to garner much of an outcry.  Best wishes to the friends and families of the victims.  Then France had their 911 event sponsored by ISIS, and most of the world is sending their best wishes to the victims, the victims families and the French population.  In such events, most of the world comes together.  Everybody was French for a day.  Best wishes to the friends and families of the victims. Then the couple in California.  Best wishes to the friends and families of the victims. But it raises a very disconcerting question, and one fraught with far too many xenophobic concerns as ISIS and their allies like the Taliban, Boko Hiram and others continue to reign terror and violence on the rest of the world.  The xenophobic response will be – whom do we trust in the Muslim world?  If you don’t believe in blowback, listen to the debates.  One commentator points out the xenophobia may actually help ISIS (Donald are you listening?).  LOL – of course not.  But utilities should expect another round of security costs and analyses in the future.

The Florida Section conference was great.  The venue was great (Renaissance at Sea World).  The program garnered a lot of buzz and comments.  Who knew at a water conference that potable reuse would be the big topic?  I also won two awards at the Florida Section conference – a best paper award and the Alan B. Roberts award for Outstanding Service by a member.  Wow!!  I am humbled.  A lot of great utility folks were present at the FSAWW conference.  It is a great event for the water industry (that includes wastewater, storm water etc.).  The technical program is designed to be good, timely and useful to those that attend.  While all utilities struggle with costs, please make time to send your folks if possible.  The training cost is reasonable for what you get and who you meet.

My students did well on tests and presentations.  President Kelly was impressed with their presentations and projects at the Dean’s Design Showcase.  We have never had the Dean at student presentations, let alone the President of the University.  My sincere appreciation to him, his staff and those that made it happen.  The students were pleased and impressed.  And they are getting jobs easily.  You can tell people are building and working on infrastructure as most of the graduates get jobs right away, if they don’t have them already.

Grading and the west coast went well.  The Fort Myers News Press-Sunday Headline was “Where has all the water gone” – a discussion on how groundwater is depleting across the country including south Florida which gets 60 inches of rain.  But the article points out what that climate, rainfall, recharge and other factors have been altered in south Florida as a result of development.  We really do make an impact and it is affecting utilities today. This follows another article last week on depleted groundwater around the world.  I have lots of photos in my travels from the air – groundwater use is highest where surface waters are limited – i.e. dry areas.  Except in dry areas, the groundwater does not recharge.  I had a student do a project for his master’s degree that estimated that groundwater depletion is a measureable percentage of sea level rise.  More to come on that.

Next the kitchen.  I will post photos in another blog.

As I said, a busy month.


I have a friend of mine ask this question to me.  His contention was that there would be a lot of answers but the answers would  generally be characterized as outside influences.  You see this a lot in life.  So I asked a very narrow group of my students (seniors) this question.  These were their answers:

Myself or some part of it 30
A class 6
nothing 3
FE Exam 2
money 2
IRS 1
44

My buddy was both wrong and amazed.  Nearly 70% of the students said the issue involved them.  of those 30 responses above, the most common of the answers was time management, somethings students struggle to learn.  I wonder how many people would see things this way as well?  My buddy was really impressed with my students.  Now he should come see their final presentations and prepare to be really impressed.

time mgmt 13
Me 4
fear of failure 3
lanugage 2
communication skills 1
confidence 1
disorganization 1
haiving limits 1
indiscretions 1
interpersonal skills 1
see the big picture 1
taking responsibility 1

Of course the “IRS” and “indiscetions” answers might be the more interesting….

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