Interning with LeMessurier
This past summer I had the opportunity to intern with structural engineering firm, LeMessurier Consultants, at their Boston office location. Having completed my junior year in the CEE Mechanics and Materials track, I had taken a couple structures classes and participated in research, but I had not yet seen what working in industry looks like. As a result, I was very excited to join LeMessurier for the summer.
During my internship, I worked closely with Tim Nash, an engineer at LeMessurier, and I assisted with a wide range of steel and concrete design tasks for a student housing project at Kenyon College, located in Ohio. The tasks I worked on included sizing concrete foundation walls and isolated footings, performing a study on different options for bay window support posts, stair framing (specifically determining possible sizes for stair stringers and evaluating them for vibrations due to individual and group descent), relief details for supporting the exterior masonry façade, designing slender non-prismatic beams to support an entrance canopy, and sizing column base plates. One of the things I saw emphasized as I worked through these design tasks was being able to idealize a structural condition to a simpler statics problem that can be solved by hand. Learning how to simplify problems and make engineering assumptions was also a skill I had seen emphasized in problem sets and projects from several classes I had taken in Course 1, particularly 1.056 (Introduction to Structural Design) and 1.054 (Mechanics and Design of Concrete Structures). I was initially surprised how much of my work was done by hand in my first few weeks but looking back I appreciate how much it helped me improve my own intuition and understanding, even when I started using analysis software in addition to hand calculations.
In addition to this, I had the opportunity to work on a foundation repair project which is part of a larger maintenance and monitoring project LeMessurier is doing for several older buildings in the Boston area. Having been constructed in the late 1800s and early 1900s, many of these buildings were built on wood pile foundations. As groundwater levels decreased over time, these wood pile foundations were exposed to air which caused the tops of the piles to rot and deteriorate over time, resulting in settlement. Consequences of this settlement include the formation of large cracks on exterior masonry walls. For this project, I had the opportunity to participate in a site visit to photograph and document visible signs of structural distress in several of these buildings, analyze plumbness data, and assist in designing an underpinning detail in which existing wood piles were cut and posted and new helical piles were added in.
Overall, my internship experience was a very positive and enriching one, and it was valuable to see many of the concepts I had learned in my classes in Course 1 applied to real world projects. I appreciated being in a team-oriented environment at LeMessurier where everyone is collectively sharing knowledge, and I was fortunate to work with wonderful mentors who generously invested their time to support me in my learning.