Here we are again…

Well, here we are again – another lockdown, another round of online learning.


But before I launch into stories about silent zoom sessions and lectures that are suddenly 1.5 times as long, I want to jump back to the start of Semester 2. Online learning hopefully won’t be a recurring theme in the future, so this will (fingers crossed!) be a better representation of the Civil engineering program.


The start of Semester 2 exhibited a perfect example of Auckland’s unpredictable weather – several showers a day, and brilliant sunshine in between. The government had recently announced it’s new climate-change-mitigation plan: discounts on new e-vehicles, and increased costs for higher emission vehicles. Fittingly, our courses in the second Semester had much more of a sustainability focus. 


Structural 201 began by examining three key building materials – concrete, wood, steel – including the environmental impacts of each. Our lecturer passed around various blocks of wood, one ~40cm diameter piece which he’d transported via mountain bike by strapping it under his vest.


Environmental engineering launched into a discussion on greenhouse gases, before switching to the three waters. For anyone who hasn’t heard of this term before, the three waters are: Drinking water, Storm water and Waste water. We discussed the treatment and design of each. My stomach grew a little queasy learning about the multitude of organisms that can be found in drinking water. 


After finishing the section on the three waters, we had a guest lecture from an environmental engineer. He really emphasized the enormous effect that proper wastewater and drinking water control can have on human health. Did you know that the addition of chlorine to drinking water is believed to have saved more lives than any other health development in history? (even antibiotics!)


Our third Civil paper is Geotech 200, an introduction to soil.

      …And rocks.

Doesn’t sound super fascinating, but it really is. The time scale involved in the formation of rocks is millions of years. Did you know the oldest rock “alive” has been dated back to over 4 billion years ago?

A testament to the quality of this course is how full the lecture theatre was, even though the lectures are held from 5-6pm.

Labs continue to be an important part of our course. So far this semester we’ve made concrete, played with dirt, and had an attempt at making mucky water look a little more drinkable. (see above)


We’ll see how the next few weeks pan out, but for now – some rock jokes!

Why are igneous rocks hipsters?        Because they were magma before it was cool!

Why shouldn’t you lend a geologist money?        They consider a million years ago to be Recent!

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