More Engineering Fun

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We have discussed the concrete canoe competitions that engineering students around the United States have competed in for many years now.

If that wasn’t enough to show the fun side of engineers, we take a look north, to Canada, where they recently held the 39th annual concrete toboggan races. Numerous universities show up near Vancouver to take part in this competition. See the report here.

Observation #1: It is good engineers are, in general, smart, because they won’t make it as athletes.

Observation #2: Don’t get too excited about seeing entire toboggans made of concrete. It is only the runners that are made of concrete. But a lot of engineering goes into that (I think).

Observation #3: With a 26-page rules booklet, one can tell the competition has a heavy engineering influence.

The guy interviewed on the video said that there were 23 universities and 470 engineers. How could that not be fun!

Engineers – The Fun Ones in Life

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Many people may have the mistaken impression that engineers are not fun people. This far from true.

Here are a few examples of quotes from college civil engineering websites that prove engineers are fun!

From the UCLA ASCE web page:  “It’s super fun mixing and patting concrete and you get to hang out with all the cool ASCE people.” This is in reference to joining them for a concrete canoe casting.

From the University of Alabama in Huntsville ASCE web page, they extol the pleasure in concrete canoes by stating, “… it remains a fun way of learning to explore the potentialities (and limitations) of concrete.”

And from the Case Western ASCE web site, students are quoted as saying things like: “…many ASCE activities are just plain fun.” and “the competitions are some of the most fun times you will have in college.” and “Being active in ASCE, the Concrete Canoe team, and the Steel Bridge team helped me learn time management, leadership skills, and especially the fun side of engineering.”

There you have it. Fun, fun, fun! Engineers are cool. Their competitions are fun. It’s all on the internet. It must be true.

And all this is only from civil engineering. Can you imagine the rootin’, tootin’ blast a mechanical engineer or, dare I say, electrical engineer would have in their association meetings?

The Creative, Green, Fun Side of Engineers

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Some may think that engineers are often not incredibly creative, except for finding some bizarre, convoluted way to “solve” a problem. Some may wonder if engineers are really that interested in saving the environment. Some may think engineers are not all that fun. Well, if you are any one of those, it’s time to rethink your view of the engineer.

To combat all these views of engineers, we turn to Bellingham, WA, where the Public Works Department has written a new specification for the use of recycled material in non-structural concrete, thus the green nature of engineers. The creative side comes out since they are using a new material that is being recycled. The fun aspect of engineers is what that material is. The material now allowed to be recycled as part of the aggregate in non-structural concrete in Bellingham is: toilets.

But beyond mere theory, according to a recent edition of the publication Equipment World, a sister publication to Better Roads and Aggregates Manager (I kid you not), Bellingham recently included 400 used toilet seats in one of their sidewalk and path projects. Most will enjoy the name for this new type of concrete: Poticrete.  The project manager stated, “We did it because it was the right thing – and it was fun.” I’ve said this before – engineers know how to have fun!

He also said, and here I will confess that I am not sure if this comment was meant to come out this way, but he said, “We are not only using toilets, but looking into capturing a bigger waste stream.”

This may well change some of the non-engineers view of the engineer as they consider Poticrete. The engineer is green. The engineer can be creative. But most of all, the engineer is FUN!

For those that think I have possibly made all this up, please visit: The Story on Poticrete (The photo of the toilet seat that is bragging about Poticrete is worth the price of admission there.)