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In the Spotlight - Zephrine Gabriel, '17 and Thomas Kennedy, '17
Spring 2016

Z and T
Meet two of our students who are very passionate about civil engineering and what they're studying.  Zephrine (left) is interested in transportation and structural engineering.  Thomas (right) is focusing on structures and plans on attending graduate school after he finishes his program at Stony Brook.  In their own words:

Zephrine: "I am a junior in the Civil Engineering program at Stony Brook.  Throughout my academic career, I have always been fascinated by the composition and fabrication of structures. Growing up in Brooklyn, NY, I attended Edward R. Murrow High school and was intrigued by the program at Stony Brook University due to the affordability and research opportunities available. I wanted to become a civil engineer because of my desire to help build the future. My dream is to help society by creating a physical, lasting product, that can withstand the test of time. I am also an avid Environmentalist and would like to implement some of those ideas during my Civil Engineering career.

As a student at Stony Brook University, I have been exposed to a number of opportunities. I joined the National Society for Black Engineers (NSBE) and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) to gain knowledge and network within the field to become more well rounded. I currently have an internship at KLD Labs INC., where I work with Engineers from a variety of different backgrounds and disciplines. My primary role is to assist them in completing their various projects. I have helped Electrical Engineers design a brakescan system for trains that can detect if the brake pad is worn out in real time. In addition, I have helped the Mechanical Engineers design how the brakescan system gets built into the train tracks.
One of my major accomplishments at KLD Labs was being in charge of designing the new office space at our current building the company moved into for expansion. When I graduate Stony Brook University with my Civil Engineering degree, I want to design and create sustainable structures with LEED certification and help make a difference in the world."

Thomas: "I am a current Civil Engineering student with a passion for the sub-discipline of Structural Engineering. I likewise aspire to be a graduate student performing research on structural dynamics and sustainability. During my experience at Stony Brook University I have found a particular interest in structural failures and their implication on future preventative measures. I believe that public safety is of the utmost concern for the Structural Engineer, and with respect to our current understanding, he or she must design the safest structural system. The collaboration between academia and real world application is a powerful force that has been proven to protect the public.

A particular experience at Stony Brook University sparked my deep interest in earthquake mechanics. While attending a seminar held by professor Daniel Davis of the Geology department, I had my first exposure to the devastating effects of earthquakes. Professor Davis focused his lecture on the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami and emphasized that earthquakes are impossible to predict. The only safety factor that engineers can develop are reactive solutions, and this resonated with me. At the time, I wondered what the best reactive solutions were and where current research might be headed. Dr. Davis commented on Japanese warning systems, and their effectiveness at notifying the public within a second of the first tectonic slip. This measure, though impressive, does not address structural failures. Theoretically, a person in an open field and not positioned atop a fault line, could not be harmed by man-made objects during an earthquake. However, that same person within an urban environment, and equipped with the best warning system available is still at risk of injury from structural failures. Therefore, a different reactive approach is necessary for solving our problem. The idea of diminishing seismic energy by means of passive damping systems can very well serve as a vector for safety.

When I first discovered the opportunity to participate in research and found that Dr. Giles in our Civil Engineering department was investigating the effect of passive damping systems, I actively sought to join his research group and contribute to earthquake prevention measures. The privilege of working in an experimental setting with an expert in structural dynamics is providing me with important learning experiences not found in the classroom. I look forward to continuing research in the Sustainability & Health of Urban Infrastructure Laboratory and furthering my understanding in structural dynamics and sustainable infrastructure." 
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