A Path Paved with Writing

Writing has never been my forte and (sorry to say) this four month long journey has not managed to change my opinion. However, it would be total nonsense for me to say that my writing (skill, technique, approach, etc.) has not improved at all because everything I have learned in WRTG 3030 has been a great experience and will help me further down the line in my career.

When I had first entered the class I had a variety of mixed feelings.

– I hope this teacher is nice.

– I hope this class does not turn out to be really boring.

– She won’t make us survey people, right?

– I really hope we do not have to write long papers.

I certainly felt a little discouraged when she immediately told us we’d be writing a 12 page final paper (that is very long to me) although it was nice that my other thoughts turned out well.  We, the class, were given much freedom in this class. Lectures, more or less, revolved around the students thoughts and every topic assignment (this blog included) we were handed gave us the opportunity to write about we wanted to. And, through it all, I have personally learned a great deal about professional, concise writing as well as have been given the chance to improve my public speaking.

Despite my lacking interest of writing, I have managed to thoroughly enjoy WRTG 3030 and hope that my reader(s) (Amy) have enjoyed the stories I have had the opportunity to tell.

Immaculee Ilibagiza: A Rwandan Genocide Survivor’s Story

On Monday, December 12, 2013, the University of Colorado at Boulder invited Immaculee Ilibagiza, Rwandan author and motivational speaker, to tell her story of how she survived the 1994 Rwandan genocide, found God, and came to forgive those who murdered her family.

She started off her presentation with a short video which introduced the beautiful country of Rwanda, showing off several landscapes throughout the country. The video then transitioned into the beginning of her story starting with the shooting down of the Rwandan president’s airplane and then, within one hour, the entire country turning into a mass of chaos.

She then proceeds to tell her personal story. Being brought over to her father’s friend’s home by her father, knowing she will never see him again. Being put into a 3′ x 4′ bathroom with 7 other women, almost being discovered by the rebels, and having to stay in said bathroom for 91 days before being let out. Part way through her concealment in the bathroom she had become an active believer of God, to which she believes is the reason she is still alive today.

Immaculee’s story was very heartfelt and emotion. On occasion I found myself welling up in tears and even some of the people around me were crying. She had told a beautiful story and even after all the terror she had gone through came to the decision to forgive her offenders and even met them face-to-face and consoled them. “We are not given the chance to decide what race we were born to, who our family is, or even what country we will live in. Anger is a poison. We need to learn to love ourselves so that we can come to love others.”

 

Improving One Nano at a Time

Reference: Ganesh, V Kartik. “Nanotechnology in Civil Engineering.” Nanotechnology in Civil Engineering. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2013.

The research paper, Nanotechnology in Civil Engineering, just as the title implies, touches down on nanotechnology, which Ganesh defines as “the understanding and manipulation of matter on the nanoscale”, and how it is used/or will be used in Civil engineering. [He] goes on to explain that nanotechnology, very much like construction, has undergone and will continue to undergo great changes over the course of history despite either of [them] not being anywhere close to a new science or technology (Ganesh, V Kartik).

This paper goes into great depths to introduce what exactly nanotechnology is in the field of civil engineering and, for a beginner with no knowledge about nanotechnology, is very informative. The paper goes into great detail, beyond background information and what [it] is, about the various methods and uses of the technology in construction today. Some such methods would be concrete strengthening and healing, increased corrosion resistance in steel, the addition of fire-protection to glass, and material/structure performance monitoring nanosensors among many other uses (Ganesh, V Kartik).

Last but not least, just like mostly everything in this world, the paper highlights many different advantages and disadvantages of using nanotechnology in construction and civil engineering.

This source will prove to be very useful when it comes to writing my paper on civil engineering related nanotechnology due to its extensiveness on the subject and my desire to give a complete overview on nanotechnology’s development and usage in the world of civil engineering today.

A Vast Connection

Being in the era of technology there are countless ways to get your point across and share your ideas with the world. Nowadays  we all have a Facebook or twitter account to keep in contact with friends, families, and simply share our lives with the world. There are sites such as Webmd, where doctors and the like post information and findings to order to aid the general public (or anyone wanting to use it) when they may have concerns or a thirst for knowledge regarding their body. Seeing that sites such as that exist there is no surprise that a site would exist (most likely dozens) that would be a coming together of “scientists” to share their findings with each other.

Recently I have come across an article regarding structural health monitoring of structures using wireless technologies on the site hindawi, which is an open-journal site where people of all fields of science can upload their research for the public to see. This article interests me a lot because it touches on a important topic in structural analysis of bridges which is what I am aiming to do in the future. The paper references using wireless technology to mitigate structural problems brought on by age as well as nature (earthquakes, rain, etc.)

When reading the abstract and introduction of this paper you can come to realize that, due to its simplistic writing style, it can be geared to any sort of audience, engineer, scientist, or the general public, that is interested in bridges, the threat nature has on the structures we interact with, or perhaps, in this specific article, the Adolphe Bridge in Luxembourg City, Germany. As the paper progresses it gets more “sciency” though maintains a simple enough style for most people to understand.

 

You Learn Something New Everyday

Through past interests and my current college life I am slowly making my way to becoming a Civil Engineer. As a child I had always imagined a civil engineer being this super smart person responsible for building all the structures that we see through our everyday lives. They did not have to worry about paperwork or homework; they just went to work and started designing and building. Man was I wrong!

Since starting college, through my classes and by meeting people, I have had the opportunity to begin learning about the true workings of a civil engineer. On the contrary to what my younger self had thought, civil engineers are not the ones responsible for actually building the structures and nor do they begin the day (ordinarily) by starting off at the project site. I had the privilege of “interviewing” my construction classes’ professor, Professor Morris, and he said, “Construction projects require precise documentation to establish contracts, roles and responsibilities, convey design intent, coordinate schedules, request clarification, direct others and ask questions.” This statement too is another contradiction to my past self’s beliefs because communication is a vital part of a construction project’s success, whether it be verbal or written.

I have come to learn through my “talk” (email) with my professor that good communication will lead to good vibes in the work place and in turn lead to success. There are many jobs you can be thrown into, as a leader or simple worker, and it is always good to be prepared. It is impossible to know everything and as with my professor there will come a time when you are confronted with something you do not understand and/or are uncomfortable with. When that time comes always remember people prefer honesty.

“…don’t pretend to know something that you don’t.  Otherwise, your ability to communicate and lead is severely impacted….”

A Double-sided World

Everybody likes a good argument, whether it is between two friends or two complete strangers. How about an argument between a scientist and a normal everyday working citizen? Despite the amount of interest I would find in two completely different minds battling off I personally do not think it would be very enjoyable to listen to, partially due to the fact that I have come to learn that science is ’emotionless’. That, however, seems to be a necessity; we would not be anywhere as advanced as we are today if we took into account the feelings of every person affected by the actions of science.

Animal experimentation has brought forth many medical findings and it can also be said that human experimentation has brought forth some important findings as well. Despite all this I do not exactly find happiness when listening to a podcast that involves bringing a woman to tears, all while ignoring what she has to say so that a ‘scientist’ can get his point across. This may make me seem like a bad guy to some people for putting down science but, on the contrary, I agree with both sides of this argument. Science may seem cold but I believe it means well. As such lets take a look at the controversy regarding nuclear power as I previously talked about.

In Japan (you may realize by now I am infatuated with Japan), there are always anti-nuclear power rallies going on. As I have said before I have seen a couple personally, such as the June 2013 60,000 person rally in Tokyo by the Diet building. This is due to the recent failings of the Fukushima Nuclear Plant and yet, despite the country-wide disapproval of nuclear power, there are plans to build another nuclear power plant in Japan by 2030. As such this too is science ignoring the pleas of the people with the intent of bettering the nation. If we have to dirty our hand to make the world a better place then so be it!

Nuclear Power and Its Price

On Earth there will indeed come a time when we run out of fossil fuels and have to rely on our renewable resources such as Wind Power, Solar Power, and Nuclear Power. What is the safest? What is the most reliable? There is no telling whether one is better than the other but lets take a look at nuclear power. For countless years now the use of nuclear energy as a renewable resource has been a very controversial issue. Like all things in our world it has its advantages and disadvantages though, in the case of nuclear energy production, they tend to range from very beneficial to catastrophic. On the plus side it is known to produce far fewer greenhouse gases than other forms of electric generators such as fossil fuels and the electricity of which it produces comes in far greater amounts than other methods such as solar power. However, as we all know, for every up there is a down. Nuclear power plants have a high potential to be targets of terrorism, nuclear waste lasts hundreds of thousands of years, and then of course there is always the risk of a meltdown, leakage, or overall collapse. I am sure many of us are familiar with the Chernobyl disaster in Russia, the Fukushima disaster in Japan, as well as the Three-Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania.

It would appear that to most of the world, regarding the usage of nuclear power, is it highly opposed. A poll conducted in 2011, consisting of 24 countries, showed that only 3 of 24 nations, America, India, and Poland, were in favor of nuclear power where as the other nations, Germany, Italy (which has banned nuclear power), and Japan for instance, oppose the use of it. Many nations have changed their views on nuclear power due to the Fukushima disaster (which occurred in 2011) that even now is causing a lot of trouble in Japan as well as America. Protests against nuclear power are very frequent as even I myself have witnessed them in action, crowding the streets of Akita and many street corners of Tokyo, while abroad in Japan a year ago.

However, despite the damages and dangers, many organizations, such as the World Nuclear Association, strongly believe that nuclear power is a necessity for the future due to the increasing population, which results in an increase of fossil fuel and energy usage, thus increasing prices. Nuclear power usage also leads to cleaner air, reduced greenhouse gases, as well as a continuous supply of electricity.