Civil engineers are normally thought to be designing structures, investigating site’s and even analyzing structures, however, we also have a considerable amount of lab work, we need to understand and use when designing structures. As Dundee has a great geo-mechanics department, I have had the opportunity to take part in two soil laboratories this semester already.
The first one was an odometer laboratory, in which I and my group applied an incrementally increasing load onto a sample of clay over a period of a week. This required us to be in at 8am during the week to begin the testing and check back throughout the day. Something which my friends struggled to understand why I was heading to university an hour before classes started! Following this testing stage, we needed to analyze the results in excel and write a report. As a civil engineering student, you will need to accept that excel is going to become one of your most used programs, whether you like it or not.
The next lab was a triaxial laboratory which was investigating the effect of shear stress on a sample of clay. This thankfully only took one afternoon to test. I am still working out how to analyze the results.
For the rest of the semester, I only have on laboratory left, which is a concrete laboratory, although I did a lot of that last semester, in which in groups we designed concrete mixes and created concrete cubes which we tested in compression and tension. It’s a great opportunity to see the theory ‘in action’.