Volume 93, Issue 12

Wednesday, March 18, 1999


USC predicts financial upswing

Student elections could be online in future

New phones to have all the fixings

Senate to decide on disaster studies

Steel tree of knowledge to aid engineers

A college by any other name

News Briefs

Caught on Campus

Steel tree of knowledge to aid engineers

By Paul-Mark Rendon
Gazette Staff

A new teaching aid for civil engineering students is set to give them a constructive edge as they learn their future trade.

The device, measuring four metres high and up to two metres wide, is made entirely out of steel and resembles a large tree. It will be used to show students different types of ways steel can be connected.

Although the structure is complete, it is scheduled to be transported to campus and unveiled later this fall. It will be situated at the southern end of the engineering sciences building across from the boundary layer wind tunnel laboratory.

Mike Bartlett, a Western civil engineering professor, said even though the steel structure could be mistaken for a sculpture, it will serve a practical purpose by helping engineering students better understand the skeletal composition of bridges, buildings and similar structures.

"It will prove a very useful device for showing students about how steel is put together," he said.

Bartlett also said the teaching aid will serve to raise the profile of the engineering building. "It will be a signpost to say there's a faculty of engineering at [Western]," he said.

He added the teaching aid was painted purple and silver to make it easily recognized as Western property. "I assure you that no one else will have one like the one we'll have," he added.

According to Bartlett, the device was donated to Western by Central Welding and Iron Works of North Bay, Ontario, the same company who constructed the foot bridges in Gibbons Park. The total price of the structure was approximately $10,000, he said.

The engineering undergraduate faculty and students raised $4,000 to pay for the structure's foundation, he added.

Stefan Thomsen, president of Central Welding and Iron Works, said his company decided to donate the teaching aid because they wanted to improve students' understanding on the subject. "When I started in this business, I had nothing like this to help me," he said.

With the addition of the new device, Western will join the elite group of engineering schools across the country who have teaching aids.

Reinhold Schuster, a professor of civil engineering and architecture at the University of Waterloo, said their engineering faculty has had a similar teaching aid for the past two years. "I think it's extremely useful. I take my classes out there all the time," he said.

Schuster added the way the device helped students visualize and envision how similar structures would be put together enhanced the learning of the complex subject. "It's welded in some places, bolted in others, to show the strength of different materials and several kinds of steel design," he said.

Scott Hayne, a second-year mechanical engineering student, agreed the new structure will make learning easier.

Hayne, who worked as a summer employee at Central Welding and Iron Works, added bringing the structure to Western had been planned for some time, but the approval process for erecting structures on campus was lengthy. "It took a long time to get the approval for it," he said.

Hayne added he looks forward to the dedication of the structure, which will come some time in early October.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999