Each of the following courses were taken at ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology)accredited Auburn University, and furthered my development as an Ecological Engineer. These courses are listed below, with a brief description and how it contributed to my understanding of engineering as a whole. This page puts into perspective each of these classes and how they build upon one another to reach a further understanding of how the environment and humans interact in various systems. The fundamental understanding of these courses helps to build a scientific foundation of how many factors in the environment are all interrelated, which, in turn, is the basis of environmental law issues.
The Biosystems (Ecological option) Engineering curriculum can be viewed at the following link.
Prerequisites for this class included statistics and basic soil science. Geospatial technologies included GPS, GIS, and remote sensing systems applied to biosystems. We collected, managed, and analyzed spatial data for agricultural and forest systems. The button below displays the work involving GPS. For this lab we went to the Auburn University Ecology Preserve to collect data on our positions throughout the area.
We performed GIS work during the second half of the class. This part of the class was an extension on the watershed analysis we learned previously in Natural Resource Conservation. Two of our labs consisted of analyzing a wetland area in Agriculture Heritage Park on Auburn University campus. This was done by downloading raw data from USGS National Map Viewer and projecting it into the particular coordinate system of UTM Zone 16 State Plane Alabama East. This ensured that all the data would be in the same coordinate systems so that the analysis would be accurately represnting the area. I then created two-foot, ten-foot and one-meters contours in ArcMap, show in the image labeled "Agricultural Heritage Park Contours" on the left.
These contours were also used to draw a watershed around the parts of campus where rain water from a storm event would travel across campus the outlet point. The underground stormwater drainage system was imported and shown on the map with the lengths of the pipes. This information was used to determine the parts of campus that were routing storm water off site. These areas of campus were not included in this watershed, which is the reason for the lack of the watershed layer covering the north-east corner of campus. This is shown on the second image to the left labeled "Agricultural Heritage Park Watershed". After the watershed was delineated, the final project was then exported into AutoCad.
Site Design for Biosystems
This course helped me develop skills in computer-aided site design and restoration by using rural and urban best management practices to reduce environmental impacts. We learned to design culverts, develop low volume road designs, road alignments and road profiles through hand calculations and through AutoCAD Civil 3D. The picture (Right) shows a group during lab performing infiltration tests on different surfaces with variable permeability. The semester project was to assess an urban area for its feasibility for a neighborhood subdivision based on various factors such as storm runoff, storm-water management, sewage, drainage, roadways, utilities, soil, erosion and sediment control practices and construction costs. We added swales, ditches, detention ponds, and culverts to re-route storm runoff and then created footprints for houses and driveways along our designed road. Ultimately this class combined knowledge of previous classes into a real-world application for a subdivision design. This course applied previously learned concepts of Hydraulic Transport, Geospatial Technologies, and Natural Resource Conservation to develop an efficient subdivision that meets various City of Auburn regulations.
Our team measuring the different porosities of various concretes and asphalts.
This course included non-point source transport of nutrients, sediment, pesticides, pathogens, and chemicals from agriculture, forestry and urban activities. There was a semester project to engineer a balanced closed aquarium that would support the needs of one crayfish for a specified amount of time. This enclosed tank could not allow any mass crossing the system boundary for a week. This involved studying the exchange processes of nutrients and chemicals for several weeks before closing the system. I was the team captain for this project, helping to lead and organize activities within the group. We combined shrimp, snails, beetles, duckweed, alligator weed, various other plants, water and rocks from a fisheries pond (nutrient loading) and the crayfish to create a balanced and sustainable ecosystem. We continuously measured parameters to ensure the health of the crayfish. This class took into account knowledge from Heat and Mass Transfer, Environmental Engineering (a Civil Engineering course), Chemistry I and II, Biology, Ecology, and Differential Equations to determine the requirements for the crayfishes health to thrive. We originally added to the tank a cup of soil from the fisheries pond, which loaded the tank with organic matter. This allowed the crayfish to thrive for month until the organic matter, zooplankton and algae started consuming too much oxygen in the water compared to the production rate. In response to this, we disinfected the tank, heated (100 degrees F) the rocks and soil for 24 hours, replaced the water with clean spring water, and added 70 more milligrams of plants. This class taught me to look at all aspects in a system because even the smallest thing have huge impacts. It also taught me the fine details of water quality and the impacts that each component has on the overall water quality. This same concept can be applied to a larger water body or river, and is the science behind the environmental law degree I would like to pursue.
Engineering Design for Biosystems (Senior Design)
The Final Design including the Detention Pond, Filter Berm, Overflow Weirs, and Settling Pool.
This is a capstone design course in biosystems engineering emphasizing teamwork, communication, safety engineering and economic analysis to complete an engineering design project. The project I worked on was constructing a wetland for reducing phosphorous loss from agricultural fields through designing a filter berm system. This would control areas that are "critical source areas" in agricultural fields where the potential for phosphorous loss is with channel flowing water by designing a detention and treatment pond leading into filter berm made of sand and flue gas desulfurization gypsum, all flowing into a settling pond.
A detailed website including more information and final reports can be found here.
Final Presentation Poster
Waste Management and Utilization for Biosystems
This class taught animal waste management problems in confined production systems. We learned about the uses of poultry litter in agriculture systems and the litter effects in downstream ecosystems. Toward the end of the semester we designed biological treatment and processing systems for different wastes to help resolve the negative effects on ecosystems.
I also incorporated my senior design project into this course by gathering poultry litter from the Auburn Poultry Lab and then diluting it into a slurry to replicate the litter during rain-fall in a storm event. I then treated it with FGD gypsum as a means to reduce phosphorous run-off into downstream water bodies. The gypsum was found to remove 48% phosphorous with only 30 minutes retention time. This then was taken into account when we designed our retention pond in our senior design project.
The first half of this class taught the hydrologic modeling system HEC-HMS while the second models non-point source pollution using Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) watershed modeling. This class really made me explore the underlying processes that control movement of runoff and pollutants. This class builds off the knowledge from Natural Resource Conservation Engineering and Hydraulic Transport to understand the dynamics of water flow and watershed analysis in order to model watersheds that will work efficiently in particular situations. At the end of the semester we had three consecutive labs that built off of one another including downloading and importing data to delineating a watershed, sensitivity analysis, calibrating and validating the model for total flow, base flow, surface runoff, and nitrate flow.
This course uses engineering analysis applied to natural resource systems. Topics that are covered include design principles and practices involved rainfall-runoff relationships, evapotranspiration and infiltration, soil erosion and its prediction and control, hydraulic structures, water structures, open channel hydraulics, pollution, water quality, hydrology, statistics (focusing on return periods having to do with storm events) and mass balances of different environments. One example of a watershed delineation is shown in a homework assignment below. This was the first assignment that I ever had pertaining to watersheds, so my knowledge on the topic was lacking. I learned the importance of communication between classmates in order to develop a better understanding of topics. I also learned that every student involved in constructive communication somehow contributes.
This class taught me how to analyze hydrology and designs of hydraulic systems for uses and conservation of natural resources. This same concept is applied to following courses such as site design, geospatial technologies, and ecological engineering, as well as our senior design project. We also discussed terraces and vegetated waterways, which introduced us to the ecological engineering course.
Biological and Bioenvironment Heat and Mass Transfer
This course was a continuation of thermodynamics and included basic principles of heat and mass transfer with special applications to biological and environmental systems and steady state and transient heat conduction. This class continued our Hydraulic Transport knowledge in laminar and turbulent flows and energy conservation within biological systems. We also learned about convection, radiation, diffusion, transmission, simultaneous heat and mass transfer, and generation and depletion of heat and mass in biological systems. One interesting concept that I learned in this class was how the human body insulates heat and how all the blood vessels work together with the insulation of clothing to warm your system. We also learned how the human body exchanges heat with its immediate surroundings. One of our questions on a test consisted of how the human tongue lost heat to the surroundings when your mouth was open. I thought it was really interesting how we could actually calculate a rate at which we were exchanging energy with our surrounding system, even if it was at small rate.
Hydraulic Transport in Biological System
One concept that I will always remember from this course is Bernoulli's Equation and how it can be applied to nearly any situation. The bernoulli equation is a statement of the conservation of energy pertaining to liquids depending on whether the flow is compressible or incompressible. When I was in the class, I thought I only needed to remember it to get a good grade for the class, but I have since noticed that the concept of increasing velocity creates a decrease in pressure really does apply in many different areas. I opened my flight book two years after taking this class and found the principle is applied consistently in a plane's fuel system and wing's design for lift.
In this course we explored several topics including fluid properties, non-newtonian fluids, fluid statics, the energy equation, mass and momentum balances, pipe flow for newtonian and non-newtonian fluids, dimensional analysis and compressible flows. This course taught us to analyze the pressure, hydrostatic forces, buoyancy and stability of various fluids. Two practical scenarios that we discussed were the hydraulic effects of dams and air flow along the curves of an airplane. This course taught me to identify important properties of fluids in biological systems and compute the forces and moments on various objects in fluids. I also learned how to compute losses in pipes, which will be a concept that further classes expand on. We performed a particular lab to observation pressure losses in orifice meters and venturi meters. This pressure loss report is shown below.
The knowledge in this class helped us learn about the way mass and water moves within a system and is applied in courses taken later, such as Natural Resource Conservation Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Ecological Engineering and site design. The pressure losses of the lab above is used in site design to develop stormwater management practices during high storm peak flows.
Instrumentation and Controls for Biological Systems
This course was used to understand the fundamentals of electrical circuits, sensing and sensors, simple digital electronics, analog measurement circuits, introductory digital signal processing and computer data acquisition. We learned how to put various electronic devices in circuits and how to read the differences in voltages and currents.
Engineering Methods for Biological Systems
This was an introduction to basic engineering design and problem solving methodology for Biological Engineering. This strengthened visualization skills including computer aided three-dimensional solid modeling of parts, two-dimensional engineering drawings, engineering design processes and safety. These computer programs help engineers display their data and designs visually to the public as well as other engineers. The programs included excel, LaTex, AutoDesk and AutoCad. One report below is of many labs that was performed during the semester. During the lab, we tested various temperatures on balloons to see if there were any effects on the pressure by measuring the amount of time it took for them to pop.
While at Auburn, I obtained a general business minor which consisted of five courses: Marketing, Management, Economics, Accounting and Finance. I greatly enjoyed these courses, especially Finance due to my love for math.
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