Which Area of Engineering Will You Choose?

More than 500 students greeted the Outreach Team during Sleepy Hollow High School’s assembly last spring. A sidebar from the presentation is the school’s first Engineering Club, which held its initial meeting immediately after the assembly.

Students and Engineering Club members are inspired after energizing presentation/New NY Bridge Outreach

Students and Engineering Club members are inspired after energizing presentation/New NY Bridge Outreach

Last week several club members met special project advisor Brian Conybeare and ARUP Senior Infrastructure Manager Martha Gross at the viewing area to learn about the project, and engineering careers, and educational basics.

“Math, physics and other sciences provide versatility, and are relevant to engineering projects,” Gross said. “Something you’re learning now might (just) be applicable five years from now.”

Engineering career basics: math, sciences/NNYB Outreach

Engineering career basics: math, sciences/NNYB Outreach

Civil engineering is most heavily represented on this project, she said. A few students nodded when she talked about structural engineering and the bridge’s strength. In the distance, we saw a teeny tiny fraction of the 140,000 vehicles it was never intended to, and does, carry daily. “As cars and trucks get bigger during the next 100 years, the bridge has to be able to handle them.”

“When you hear civil or mechanical engineering, there’s a lot of depth that goes into each one, which is why it’s good that you have speakers who come and explain each of these fields.” — ARUP Senior Infrastructure Manager Martha Gross

She pointed to the span; as if on cue, the gusts blew stronger.

“Today’s a good example of wind loads, and structural engineers take that into consideration: how to make the new bridge strong enough to hold those cars and trucks 400 feet above the water on a day like this, because the steel has to withstand temporary moves.”

While the new bridge will stand 419 feet high, its deck will remain 139 feet above the water, like the current bridge; a number determined by how ships pass underneath, Gross explained.

Hearty members of SHHS Engineering Club with ARUP Senior Infrastructure Manager Martha Gross and Science/Technology teacher Kevin Doherty/NNYB Outreach

Hearty members of SHHS Engineering Club with ARUP Senior Infrastructure Manager Martha Gross and Science/Technology teacher Kevin Doherty/NNYB Outreach

Remember last winter, when the Hudson River froze? The new bridge has to withstand chunks of ice that may hit it.

Electrical engineers’ focus is making sure the bridge has enough power. “As it goes further and further out (distance), you lose some of your voltage to resistance,” Gross explained. “A higher voltage system would mean the losses would be proportionately less so you can see the lighting of the bridge more efficiently. These questions may not come up in a short span bridge as they do here.”

“I’m a supporter of engineering education, and it was a thrill to see their eyes light up with ‘aha’ I’m trying to inspire them, to show them how even the even the basics they’re studying in school are applicable,” Gross said.

“I know you’ve seen a lot of renderings of how the bridge is going to be,” she said. “You might be thinking, ‘I don’t see very much.’ In 2015 this is going to grow quickly. By this time next year, the tower is going to be about 300 feet taller than the top of the existing bridge.”

Bet these future engineers can’t wait!

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2014

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