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Lessons for Life

Posted On : December 4th, 2013

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Chris Ellicock didn’t just want to graduate with a civil engineering degree from Sacramento State. He wanted to be confident that he could put classroom theory into practice and then successfully convey his ideas.

That’s why Ellicock took part in a competition that had engineering students at his alma mater, Chico State, UC Davis and University of the Pacific vying to find the best solution to a single structural design challenge.

The 26-year-old Ellicock was a member of one of those winning teams a year ago. He and his peers constructed an asymmetrical truss, then presented their design and analysis to professional engineers for judging.

This year, Sac State won first place in the 2013 contest, the fifth time in six years that the Hornets have walked away with victory.

“These competitions definitely help you grasp what’s actually happening in real life compared to the theoretical predictions you’re making in your mind,” Ellicock said. “It also helps you be a better designer because when you’re looking at the piece of paper and you draw an arrow for a load, you can picture in your head how it’s going to react with something in real life, how this might bend or how it might fail or where the larger loads are going to be balanced.”

Ellicock now works as a project engineer for Magnus Pacific, part of a team reconstructing levees on the Feather River in Yuba City. He said the contest experience taught him things that are crucial to his work today: letting go of his ego, listening to everyone’s concerns, speaking with confidence, managing conflicts, trusting people you may not know very well, and visualizing the balance of forces at work on a single structure.

“It not only helped me get a job,” he said. “It helped me get through school, because I was hanging out with other people who had the same interests as me.”

It’s an environment that the most recent winning Sac State team – Nelson Tejada, Kyle Cameron, KB Khan, Leslie Fung and Max Hardy – also have embraced. They built a timber-truss structure and impressed a group of professional engineers who judged their project’s design and analysis.

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