Engineering New York City

Next week is the start of a busy Fall semester.

I am teaching “Civil Engineering Data Analysis” again where I cover applied probability and statistics for engineering students. It is an introductory class that provides fundamentals in exploratory data analysis and descriptive statistics, probability distributions and their applications in civil engineering problems, statistical inference and hypothesis tests, and finally introduces regression and non-parametric models.

The student groups will develop statistical models for analyzing the reliability and resilience of New York City engineering systems. This is my take on finding Engineering in New York City:

“From now through your senior years, you will learn a variety of concepts in Civil Engineering that will enable you to solve societal problems by efficient application of the underlying scientific principles. New York City adds a special flavor to your ongoing pursuit of mastery in engineering discipline. It is among a few on the planet where you will witness a collage of interlinked systems working coherently for a smoothly functioning city providing a fascinating urban experience. Perceive the marvels in your city, for nowhere in the world will you notice an entire civil engineering manual in practice.

Some of you may end up as structural engineers where you learn the theory of structuresstrength and properties of materials, building designs and loadings. You will be reinforcedwith the concepts of pre-stressed concrete and steel designs. Remember to stop, think and appreciate the massive building construction projects that you come across daily. You may be designing them in the near future.

Do not curse the subway workers for delays on your way back home during the wee hours. Perhaps they, like you, are finishing up their homework on surveying and site investigation. They are conceivably the best experts on geology, soil and rock mechanics and tunneling.

Occasionally, embrace the complexity of the city’s road and highway networks whether you are simply walking down the block or commuting from suburbs via tunnels and bridges. One of these days, you will be asked to come up with a “lowest toll charge for optimal traffic flow inbound and outbound of the Lincoln tunnel” or infrastructure upgrade for the growing populous. Oh, did I forget how busy you will get, changing signals with your computer models when you have to evacuate people during hurricanes.

Your soaring water and sewer bills are invisibly gravitating oceans of clean water from Catskill Mountains to your house and disposing your sewage to the oceans. While you are grumbling about the raising bills, look for opportunities to repair and retrofit the crumbling water infrastructure in the City and the Country.

If you don’t like water supply, stretch yourself towards the waterfront to power the “city that never sleeps”. While you are at the harbor front, try your luck as an impressive maritime engineer over a hot summer break.

Brag about the Wall Street while you are a New Yorker, for one day, you may also become the director of innovative financial insurance company that hedges the risk to the civil infrastructures.

Recognizing the inherent uncertainties in engineering systems, let us develop “statistical thinking” that will give us valuable tools to understand and incorporate the variability into final decision making process.

Throughout this semester, we will work on analyzing and designing New York City’s engineering systems. So, groom your calculus; assimilate your Math skills; fortify your Csc 102 and finally assemble your logical deductive reasoning for an amazing semester long statistical engineering experience.”

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