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ARCE Student Helps in Haiti and Interns in New Zealand

Fourth-year architectural engineering (ARCE) student Shannon Abeling spent her summer abroad, but it wasn’t all rest and relaxation. She first went to Haiti with the campus group SESH (Structural Engineering Students for Humanity) and ARCE Professor James Mwangi and then headed to New Zealand to complete a two-month internship at the University of Auckland (UoA).
 
In Haiti, the students worked with Miyamoto Global Disaster Relief helping on a variety of projects, including a school, Lycee de Cite Soleil, and the Bernard Mevs Hospital. 

“We worked on CAD drawings and building reports; we got our hands dirty helping on a construction site,” Abeling said. “I left with a very positive image of Haiti and with dreams of continuing SESH’s legacy in years to come. We were able to contribute a lot of little things to the disaster effort there.” 

Abeling then traveled Down Under to become the first Cal Poly — and perhaps the first American — intern at UoA’s Civil Engineering Department. Her goal was to learn more about materials such as concrete and unreinforced masonry and to broaden her international viewpoint. The internship was facilitated by ARCE alumnus Lucas Hogan (2009) who is completing post-doctoral work at UoA.

“Because I was the first American UoA intern, I was kind of a test case, and I had quite a bit of freedom choosing which projects I wanted to work on,” Abeling said. “I spent a lot of time in the Civil Test Hall, learning about the experimental and theoretical aspects of structural engineering. My favorite experiments were those in which I got to use a shake table to break things,” she continued. “The most memorable was shaking a full-sized chimney replica, complete with metal sheathing for a roof. We had a complete failure, and bricks went flying. Luckily we were at a safe distance and managed to not ruin any equipment.”

Abeling said the internship gave her valuable knowledge and skills. “Cal Poly does an amazing job of teaching us the practical aspects of structural engineering, so it was an exciting change to work on more theoretical aspects, learning about testing equipment and procedures,” she said. 

Her internship was so successful that UofA is providing similar internships to ARCE students Peter Inman and Julio Mendoza this coming summer.
 

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