By Davor, Civil Engineering major; Sophomore
Today was the day we visited the largest self-operating robot in the world. Two computers operate the Maeslantkering storm surge barrier that protects the Rotterdam harbor, along with the all the residents in the surrounding areas. A true marvel of engineering, six motors on each side will push out both gates over a 30-minute period, closing off the canal when the water level rises three meters. The barrier extends over the 500 meter wide canal and sinks down 17 meters to provide a solid steel wall, closing off the canal from the raging North Sea.
The ability to observe the Maeslantkering with such a diverse group of individuals was a fantastic opportunity to see their perspectives. As an engineering student, the size, scale and the functioning components fascinated me, because I love knowing how stuff is constructed along with the technology used to develop it. Walking past massive steel beams 180 cm in diameter, really emphasized the size of the structure as a whole.
Oosterscheldkering was the second storm surge barrier that we visited that day and it was even more massive then the first. We first visited the Neeltje Jans museums where we watched a movie about how the three-kilometer long barrier was constructed in pieces and then set in place. After the brief documentary we got the opportunity to walk along and through the barrier with our amazing tour guide Fred, who happily explained to us how the entire structure operated and all the functions That the barrier served. He explained to us the importance of the barrier allowing all the sea life to pass through and maintaining a balanced ecosystem behind the barrier, while the barrier also served its purpose of protecting the people.
The enthusiasm of both of our tour guides was great and the both obviously loved what their work, I couldn’t have asked for a better time. We were able to cover all the essential components of each of the barriers while playing fun interactive games in the museums, along with exploring the museums and being able to absorb all the knowledge that they these places had to offer.