All posts by Akivan Rooks

USC Village Job Walk Spring 2016

Pics from the job walk!

USC Village Job Walk Spring 2016

Panorama of the central plaza

A handful of students were given the opportunity to visit the construction site of the USC Village and get an inside look at the operations happening behind the fences.

The good thing about having construction going on so close to campus is the opportunity to see it up close and in person. At around 3:15 on a warm Friday afternoon, USC civil engineering students of all ages huddled into the main construction office on the south side of the site. There we were given an overview of the project and what all was being accomplished. It was fascinating to see the rows upon rows of construction plans and schematics within the office.

McCarthy Honors College Nameplate
McCarthy Honors College Nameplate

The tour began with a stroll to the side of Building 4, the future McCarthy Honors College. We were shown trenches dug for electrical and utility lines, and the etched out nameplate of the structure.

Next, we walked around to the west side of the building, and we were shown where the exclusive dining hall would be located. The huge openings will eventually be filled with giant stained glass windows.

Building 4 Dining Hall
Building 4 Dining Hall

After that, we took a scenic route to Building 1, the MEP building of the village. MEP stands for mechanical, electrical, and power, and Building 1 is one of the few structures that uses CMU for its construction. Inside, there were numerous water pipes installed, and it will house many of the behind-the-scenes aspects of the Village. In my opinion, this building was one of my favorites. It had plenty of mechanical detail and intricate features that I found interesting.

Interior of Building 1
Interior of Building 1

Once we left Building 1, we made our way between Buildings 9 and 4 to the central plaza of the Village. Building 9 will be a future location for undergraduate housing while Building 4 is strictly for freshman. Once we arrived at the plaza, were able to see the spire that was placed atop the clock tower just one week prior. It towers 145 feet above the ground, and it is quite a humbling sight to see. The central plaza is where most of the action of the Village community will go down. There will be numerous locations for dining, entertainment, shopping, and communal spaces for people to occupy.USC Village

In addition to these amenities, there will also be a central fountain (which has not been designed yet) and a statue of Hecuba, Tommy’s companion as some might say. In Greek mythology, Hecuba was the queen during the Trojan War.

Next, we toured the inside of Building 4, and we were able to explore the various bedroom layouts. We even got a view of the podium level courtyard in the center of the building and the interesting “Bridge To Nowhere.” This deceiving yet functional bridge spans the gap between  Buildings 4 and 9. The idea with this structure is that you would be able to walk into but not across to the opposite side. Study areas will be within this portion. It makes sense if you want to keep the freshmen separate from the upperclassmen. It is not impossible to cross, however. There is full access on the top level of the bridge.

"The Bridge to Nowhere" Occupants will be able to cross but not enter the adjoining buildings.
“The Bridge to Nowhere”
Occupants will be able to cross but not enter the adjoining buildings.

That pretty much concluded the tour as the sun began to set on that warm Friday evening. It was both a learning experience and a preview of what I hope to be involved in as a future civil engineer.

Podium level courtyard on the second floor of Building 4
Podium level courtyard on the second floor of Building 4

WSCL 2016

Sunrise in Anchorage (about 10:30 AM)

Last weekend, nine Trojans found themselves on a red-eye flight to Anchorage, Alaska for an amazing experience. Interestingly, four of the members were freshmen.

ASCE’s WSCL, or Workshop for Student Chapter Leaders, is an annual conference geared towards improving student chapters and creating better student officers. This conference is held alongside the Workshop for Section and Branch Leaders (WSBL)  and the Younger Member Council Meeting (YMC). In addition to presenting better ways to run a student chapter of ASCE with useful tips and workshops, the conference also provided many opportunities to network with Younger Members and Section and Branch Leaders within the civil engineering field.

Tyler and Spencer in the Chart Room
Tyler and Spencer in the Chart Room

After arriving early Friday morning, we tried to get what sleep we could before the busy day ahead of us began.  The day started “bright and early” at 9:00 AM (it was still dark) with a warm welcome from Shane Binder from the Committee of Student Members. After spending a few hours listening to speakers upstairs in the chart room , it was time for us ourselves to speak. Up next was the first round of breakout sessions.  These open discussions included topics like community outreach, financial management, and member recruitment.  The sessions were particularly helpful because it provided the opportunity for other schools to give insight and solutions to a problem that your chapter may be having and vice versa.

Following the breakout sessions came lunch where we had section and branch leaders sprinkled throughout the ballroom. I had quite an engaging conversation with a recently retired transportation engineer who did plenty of work in Orange County and even contributed to the Hyperloop project. During the second half of lunch, we were entertained by a special speaker: Norma Jean Mattei, the future president of ASCE and current president-elect. In addition, for the first time in ASCE’s 164 year history, the two upcoming official 2017 president-elect nominees for ASCE will be women.

Interesting discussion taking place in the Region 9 breakout session
Interesting discussion taking place in the Region 9 breakout session

Once lunch was over, we separated into specific region breakout sessions where we addressed possible solutions to various civil engineering and sustainability problems.  Since the session was region and section specific, this portion of the conference also gave us the chance to meet some of our Younger Members and other students from the Los Angeles area. Something that was introduced in this meeting was ASCE’s new movie Dream Big, coming to theaters in 2017. It is a movie designed to bring awareness to the world of engineering.

Next came another set of student breakout sessions, this time geared toward problems student chapters faced. We concluded the evening with a Q&A segment from ASCE heads, and finally ended with conversations with Alaskan job recruiters. Once the evening session was adjourned, we were free to seek out Alaskan cuisine.

Later that night, we attempted to find dinner, and we ended up pretty much exploring downtown Anchorage. Spencer and I stumbled upon Town Square Park which happened to have a plethora of unique ice sculptures. We ended up eating at Fat Ptarmigan, a restaurant that served wood oven fired pizza with countless toppings. The most interesting of them all was the one that included reindeer sausage. That was a first, and it was quite delicious.

Ice sculptures at Anchorage's Town Square Park
Ice sculptures at Anchorage’s Town Square Park

The following morning, we had breakfast with a presentation from Blaine Leonard, the 2010 ASCE president, who presented his Generational Differences slide show. I found it interesting that we live in a time where the workforce is comprised of four different generations with varying values and ideals. WSCL concluded back in the chart room with discussion about upcoming conferences and the location of next year’s WSCL, which will be located right here in Los Angeles.

WSCL group
WSCL group

Despite the six hours of daily sunlight, we definitely made the most of the trip. After the conference was officially over, we did the classic tourist thing: we searched for the perfect picture spots and explored Alaska’s gift shops. Probably the most exciting (and terrifying) thing for a few of us was the 7.1 magnitude earthquake that shook Alaska the day half of us left. Those that remained were safe, and the experience was a reminder that demonstrated just what civil engineers set out to achieve.

Sunset in Anchorage (about 4:15 PM)
Sunset in Anchorage (about 4:15 PM)