The CCEE Department hosted 20 civil engineering students from Venezuela for a summer Practicum in July. The students are seniors at Universidad Católica Andres Bello (UCAB) in Caracas, the UCAB campus in Guyana, and Universidad Metropolitana in Caracas.
The Practicum included three weeks of classroom, laboratory, and site visit activities led by CCEE faculty and graduate students. Students were exposed to a number of areas of civil engineering including lectures and labs related to concrete design, bridge design, earthquake engineering, project management, lean construction, traffic management, asphalt materials, and environmental systems analysis. The exercises included competitions to design an earth foundation, a steel bridge, concrete beam, and a filter to treat pond water. Another competition was a “scavenger hunt” to locate and identify the most examples of damaged pavement on the NCSU campus and in nearby neighborhoods. In addition, the students traveled to Washington, D.C. and New York City.
Jose Aleman, a participant, describes the Practicum as “a wonderful experience that helped us grew as engineers.” Since 2001 approximately 340 students from Venezuela, in addition to others from Ecuador, Guatemala, and Puerto Rico, have attended 12 Practicums. Practicum alumni include engineers practicing in the U.S., Europe, Central and South America. Many students have returned to the U.S. for a M.S. or Ph.D. in civil engineering, including several who have returned to NC State, including Luis Mata MSCE, 2005; PhD, 2008, currently a professor at Lawrence Technical University in Michigan.
The idea for the CE Practicum was conceived by UCAB Dean of Engineering Jose Ochoa Iturbe and NCSU professor Dr. Downey Brill. UCAB Professor Jose Gerardo Castillo organizes the incoming students, and Dr. John Stone manages the on-campus program at NCSU. According to Castillo, the Practicum “has been over the years one of the most rewarding experiences we had, not only for the students, but also for the professors that have been part of it.” He goes on to state that the “CE Practicum has been a life-experience for students and we hope it will continue for years.”