A simple bridge truss was the first structure I ever analyzed. The simple combination of beams that could hold cars, trains, and trucks over long spans of water fascinated me. Having the tools to analyze the loads on the truss further increased my interest in structures. I encountered the bridge in a textbook for my first engineering class.
Knowing that the professor, Mr. John Doe, was a tough teacher, I asked him for the textbook so I could study and get ready for the class over the summer. Just arrived from Belize, I was determined to succeed. In class we learned about forces on simple members and then we put the members together to form a simple truss. At this point I had almost decided that structural engineering was the career for me. From there the class just took off: We went on to frames, distributed loads, considered friction; basically we were incorporating real world considerations into structural members.
I loved the practical, problem solving aspects of the field.
At UC my classes were even more advanced. In my analysis and design classes, I especially enjoyed studying steel design because we not only learned the use of the load resistance factor design but also applied that knowledge -- I designed a four-story building. The professor was a practicing engineer, and he always related the subject to real life steel structures he had engineered, for example, the SB Medical Center, an all steel building with a base isolated campus. This is the kind of project on which I would like to work, designing the structure and considering how the building will respond to ground motion. After two quarters of structural analysis, I had come as close as possible to analyzing real world structures. Looking back I realize, I had learned great...