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LAST FALL, two undergraduates approached Sigrid Adriaenssens, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, about working together on their senior-thesis projects, from different angles.
Lu Lu, who is from Chongqing, China, wanted to work on sustainable construction with a focus on design and digital modeling. Russell Archer, who is from East Orange, New Jersey, wanted to physically test building materials. Adriaenssens served as the adviser for both students, who graduated in 2016.
With the help of a graduate student in Adriaenssens’ lab, the seniors identified a partner, the Administrative Department of Environmental Management (DAGMA), in Cali, Colombia. The students and the group collaborated on a project involving bamboo architecture and construction — the entrance canopy to a park to be used by schoolchildren.
Bamboo grows quickly and is lightweight but strong. It has been used as a building material for centuries, but little engineering analysis has been done on it. Lu focused on the structural form of the canopy, and Archer analyzed the effectiveness of the fishmouth joints used in the designs.
Last March, with funding from the School of Engineering and Applied Science, they traveled to Cali to meet with the DAGMA architects and engineers, share their results, and inform the design and construction of the bamboo canopy.
“I couldn’t have imagined I would be traveling to Colombia,” said Archer, who plans to pursue a master’s degree in structural engineering. “I’m really impressed by the broadness of the entire project.”
“I really enjoyed this project because engineering is not only hard-core science — you calculate something but that’s it,” Lu said. “There’s a very strong social component.”
–By the Office of Communications