Software in Civil Engineering

Nowadays software is very handy in every field. Just like any other engineers, civil engineers use the various software in their field. From load calculation, designing to cost estimation, software is used in every process to complete a project.

Plan drawing is a major part of the construction. It contains general information, site plan, elevations, different building sections, etc. to help the architects, engineers and the contractors to coordinate their work. After the drawing is done, the contractors can move to the real work. Most of the drawing is done in software. Software such as AutoCAD, Revit, GIS, Civil 3D and others BIM software is vastly used to in construction field.

Even though the software is very advanced and making the drawing process easy, they still need regular updates. Sometimes software has limitations as well such as having access to limited general design. Sometimes the functions of the software are not flexible as desired. For example, even though Revit is proven as a very useful BIM software, interior design using Revit can be very frustrating and cumbersome. Everyone does not use the same software and the software do not sync. For example, GIS file cannot be compiled in Revit, but you can compile GIS file in Civil 3D. Then you can compile the Civil 3D in Revit. Very few software has both calculations and drawing functions. The calculations are usually done in one software and the drawing in the other.  

I am currently taking a Computer Science class to learn about computer languages. I am hoping using my programming skills, I would be able to utilize my civil engineering and computer science knowledge to further development of CAD software.


– Zaima Zeniya


Securing a Windows System

In the field of cyber security, one of the most basic, but important, things to know is how to secure a Windows system. One of the first things you should do when installing Windows on a new computer is create a secure administrator account. To do this, you should create it using a password that is complex, decently long, and uses special characters. It is also always a good idea to change your password regularly to avoid being hacked. A few other recommendations when managing your accounts is to change the name of your administrator account to something other than Administrator, and disable the guest account as it is not necessary to have and overall can be an extra vulnerability in your system.

There are many other things to do when securing a Windows System, arguably too much to list in one process description. A few more quick things you can do, however, is check to make sure that your firewall is turned on, turn on automatic updates to ensure that you get the latest security updates, and install a good anti-virus software.

I believe that most of the ability to improve this process is up to Microsoft and developers of third-party security tools. There are always new vulnerabilities being found, and sometimes there is not much that the user can do to protect themselves from them. Users should put more effort into staying safe online, but in the end the developers should also work to improve the security of their systems and applications instead of leaving it completely up to the users to protect themselves.

-Jackson Lear

Updating Mapping Information for a Construction Project

In construction, it is the responsibility of the field engineer to take note of all the changes the contractor makes to a site. All the notes taken will later be turned into what is called an ‘as-built’ drawing. An as-built drawing consists of every component that has been installed whether it was called for in the plans or not. This drawing must be to scale, and several measurements must be included as well. The drawing must be submitted along with valve, water service, and hydrant cards which are individual cards for each component installed that has enough measurements to guide anyone with a measuring wheel directly to the specified valve box, water service box, or water hydrant. Upon completion of a project, the field engineer must gather all their data, including offsets to the center of roads, varying depths of pipe, and at least three measurements to each bend, and piece together their cards and drawing. As soon as they are all complete, the drawings are submitted to the mapping department for review. Once reviewed, the drawings are returned to the field engineer so that corrections can be made. After all necessary corrections have been made, the mapping department updates the company database with the latest information.

The process sounds simple; however, it can be a rather long and frustrating one. While it takes a good amount of time to construct the as-built drawing, it takes even more time for the mapping department to review it. Every time the drawings are submitted, a new set of corrections are found, and the field engineer must resubmit everything again, hoping that was the last time. I do understand accurate measurements are necessary for an accurate representation, but most of the corrections are either easily determined based on all the other measurements that were provided or they are no longer attainable since all the components were buried months ago.

Another issue with the process of updating the company database is that many of the cards that are created end up being used as blow-up images on the as-built drawing so when the first round of corrections is returned to the field engineer, they often have to remake many cards and adjust some of the pages on their as-built drawing. The overall process can take anywhere from four months to a year after construction has been completed depending on the size of the project. I believe the procedure could be shortened if the cards were submitted before the field engineer began working on the as-built drawing. This way there would be fewer rounds of corrections. I also believe the as-built should be returned to the field engineer in sections so they can work on corrections for half of the drawing while the mapping department continues to make corrections on the other half. This would leave less waiting time for both parties.

Mydriatic Fundus Imaging

As a biomedical imaging student, I have spent the last two semesters imaging other students on the school’s mydriatic fundus cameras for my ophthalmic imaging specialization. While each camera a set up are different, there is a general process for capturing images of the patients’ retina with these machines. First the computer must be stared, and the camera. Once both machines are on, the image capture software can be opened. The patients’ information/file then needs to be inputted/opened. From there, images can start to be captured. The patient needs to be placed in the chin rest at the proper height and their chair adjusted accordingly. Once in place, the camera light can be turned on and brought to focus on the desired eye. The height, angle, and distance of the lens all must be adjusted to get a good exposure through the view finder. Once a decent exposure is made the patient must move their eye so that the desired field in the retina can be images. This can be done with a fixation light, oral instructions, or marks on the wall. The camera must then be maneuvered to focus on the pupil. Once refocused, an image can be captured.

This is where the process gets very difficult. Firstly, fixation lights only work of you are only imaging nasal portions of the retina as the patient cannot see temporally due to the lens being so close to their eye. Secondly, oral instruction cannot give a very precise location for the patient to look. Marks on the wall behind the camera can be effective if the patient has vision in their other eye. Even then, the height variation between patients would make it hard to have a standard marking system behind the camera. To improve this problem, I would make a mydriatic fundus camera with an internal fixation dot. This means that the eye that is looking into the light will see a small dot from within the lens that they need to look at. The imager would have access to changing the location of the dot through the software to image different portions of the retina. This technology is used in OCT and SLO imaging devices. I think it could also greatly improve mydriatic imaging as well.

Lauren Beattie

Cell Culture and Passaging

In the Cell and Molecular Biology course that I took during my second year, we learned how to maintain adherent mammalian cells in the lab. Cell Culture is used in biology to study how cells grow under controlled conditions. Since this is not a widely known topic, I will start off with defining and explaining some of the common terminology.

  • Culture Flask – transparent rectangular container in which cells grow.
  • Pipette – dispensing specific volumes of liquid.
  • Adherent cells – cells that grow by attaching themselves to the bottom of the flask.
  • Media – liquid that cells grow in that provide nutrients.
  • Confluence – state in which cells are spread completely across and covered the bottom of the flask.
  • Passaging –  process of removing cells from a flask and moving a portion of those cells to a new flask to glow until confluency.

The cells we used in our class were derived from hamster ovaries and made into immortalized cell lines which means that the cells have been mutated to proliferate indefinitely. Our lab instructor started our first flask of cells for us, then each student was responsible for keeping their line of cells healthy.

Passing Cells:

When the cells in a flask have reached nearly complete confluency, they should be passed to a new flask. The first step is to remove the old media from the flask with a pipette. Next, the cells must be “rinsed” with a buffer solution to rid the cells of leftover ions from the media that can cause the cells to stick together. Now the cells have to be treated with an cleaving enzyme called trypsin. This soaks on the layer of cells for several minutes and breaks the protein bonds the cells made to attach themselves to the bottom of the flask. Once the cells are visibly detached from the surface, a small volume of media is added to the flask to deactivate the trypsin. Then, depending on the density of cells desired, remove the necessary amount of cell solution from the flask and place in a new flask with media. The flask should be placed in an incubator set at 37 degrees Celsius with a flow of carbon dioxide. After a few hours, the cells will attach to the bottom of the flask and begin to proliferate. Within the next few days, the cells will grow, spreading throughout the bottom of the flask. It is important that the cells do not reach complete confluency before they are passed again. If this happens the cells may grow on top of each other or start to die off. An improvement that would be extremely beneficial would be a flask that could recognize when the cells are close to becoming confluent. If there was an LED light implemented on the flask and could signal when the flask was almost ready to be passed, that would save researchers from checking their flasks everyday.


Leah Felker