Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cover Letter Free Write

Why do I want to be this when I grow up?
I am currently a senior Civil Engineering student here at Clemson University. I decided to pursue this major because it allows me to solve real life problems and see an end product to my work. Civil Engineer is comprises of five major fields: Construction, Structural, Environmental, Fluids, and Geotechnical. I’m going to earn an emphasis in construction because that is the industry I would like to eventually get a job in. However, with the wide variety of areas I know that I will always have many options to choose from and hopefully I will never be “bored” with my job.

What has let me to this choice?
I initially choose the Engineering field because I enjoy working out problems, especially with numbers and specific methods. Also, English is my weakest subject so I didn’t want to do much writing! As a freshman in the general engineering program, I didn’t know what branch of engineering I wanted to continue with. I eventually choose Civil because it incorporates a wide variety of job opportunities, so I figured I wouldn’t become bored with it. Also, Civil Engineering was an appealing major to me because I like to work with other people and be able to visit sites.

Why do I continue to want to pursue it?

I have stayed with the Civil Engineering program throughout my college career for many reasons. First of all, the most of the classes have been very interesting to me. The upper-level classes have provided me with real life knowledge on how things are built and how different environmental, geotechnical, or structural problem affect it. I also have enjoyed most of my teachers because they are excited to teach the subject and usually are very helpful in the Civil Department. Many people ask if it bothers me that it is such a male-dominated field, but I think I can use that to my advantage. I don’t feel intimidated by that and I feel like I usually work better with boys in groups than girls.

I have enjoyed my experience here at Clemson as a Civil Engineering Student very much. I plan to continue my education here and earn a Masters in Civil Engineering. I believe this will provide me with more specific knowledge for my career and hopefully give me an advantage in the competitive job market.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Individual Proposal

Proposal for Alternative Energy Sources
For a Single Family Residential Home

October 20, 2009

Submitted by:
Kristin Cox
Civil Engineering
Clemson University

Prepared for:
Brandon Rogers, Emily Kitterman, & Lauren Rush
English 314 Group Members

Table of Contents
Table of Contents 2
Executive Summary 3
Introduction 3
Requirements 4
Alternative Energy Sources 4
Option 1: Solar Energy 4
Option 2: Wind Energy 5
Option 3: Hydro Power 5
Recommendation 6
References 6

Executive Summary

This proposal has been developed to recommend the best energy system selection for the Smith’s detached single family home. Solar, Wind, and Hydro Energy solutions were researched and analyzed based on four key requirements: the initial cost of the new system must be affordable, the system has to decrease the monthly utility costs, it has to have a positive effect on the environment, as well as meet the neighborhood’s Housing Association’s rules and regulations. In the end it was determined that the solar energy option would provide the most economical benefits while being environmentally friendly.


The purpose of this proposal is to research and analyze the benefits of three alternative energy sources: solar, wind, and hydro power. Ultimately the resulting information will lead to a recommendation for the most economically efficient and environmentally friendly energy system for a detached, single-family home.

In today’s society, 16% of the United States’ energy consumption is generated from residential buildings. The Energy Information Administration, which gives the official energy statistics from the US Government, conducts a residential energy consumption survey every few years. Based on the revised statistics from January 2009, it was determine that the average detached single family home containing three bedrooms consumes approximately 100.9 BTU per year which results in about $1,924 in yearly expenses. Most of the electricity used in the United States is produced by the burning of fossil fuels. However, fossil fuels are a non-renewable resource that we are quickly running through. The price of fossil fuels has continually risen due to the high demand and conflict with other countries. The instability of our economy, especially concerning fossil fuels, has caused anxiety about our future power source.

Also, the use of fossil fuels also has many negative effects on the condition of our environment. Fossil fuel-fired power plants alone create 67% of the nation sulfur dioxide emission, 40% of the man-made carbon dioxide emissions, and 23% of the nitrogen oxide emissions. These gases result in the deterioration of the ozone layer which leads to climate change, as well as immediate problems of smog and haze. As the availability of fossil fuels decrease, research has changed its focus towards developing alternative energy sources that use renewable resources.

The Smith family has become aware of both the increasing costs and negative impacts their existing heating and cooling system has on the environment. Our team has been hired to help determine the benefits of installing an alternative energy system in their three bedroom residential home. After analyzing each choice, a recommendation will be made for the best option.


In the past, alternative energy systems were not a feasible product for residential home. However, in recent years they have become readily accessible to those who wish to live a more environmentally friendly and economically efficient lifestyle. In order for the Smith family to proceed with the installation of any new energy system, there are four key requirements which must be fulfilled.

1. The cost and installation of the new energy system must be affordable. To be considered an affordable option, the total initial cost must fit into the family’s budget of $10,000.
2. The use of the new system should create a significant decrease in the utility costs of the home. The current utility cost for the family is approximately $160 per month. A benefit-cost analysis will be developed for each option in order to determine which would be the most economically appealing.
3. The replacement system must have a positive impact on the environment. The family wants to live a more “green” lifestyle; therefore the affects to the environment will be compared to their current system.
4. The neighborhood’s Housing Association requires that the system must be aesthetically pleasing. This means no bulky equipment and the system must been hidden from view in the street. Also, the system must be quiet and cause no distractions for neighbors.

Each requirement is equally important; therefore each option available will be analyzed based on these constraints. The final recommendation will select the energy system that best fulfills each requirement.

Alternative Energy Sources

Option 1: Solar Energy
The first alternative energy source research is using solar energy to replace the existing system. Solar panels installed on the roof allow for sunlight to be absorbed by solar cells which directly convert the energy to DC power. An inverter then changes the DC to AC power, which can be used by most common household appliances. The solar panels would provide during the day, while the current electric provider would supply power at night and on cloudy days. If the solar panels produce more energy than required for the home, the utility company will allow for net metering. This allows for the excess power to return to the grid and credit the family’s account.

The approximate cost of the equipment and installation of the solar panels is $6,500. The solar panels are estimated to produce 4.1 BTU per month, therefore reducing the monthly electric bill by $80. A major advantage in using solar panel is that there are no other electrical expenses required to power the system after it is installed. Also, solar panels normally require little to no maintenance over a 50 year lifespan. The installation of the solar panels will also add overall value to the home. If the homeowners choose to sell, they can advertise an environmentally friendly system that creates a fixed, lower monthly bill.

The placement of the solar panels will affect the overall efficiency of the system. Based on the orientation of the Smith family home, the front of the house receives the most viable sunlight. However, due to the Housing Association’s restrictions the panels would need to be placed on the back side of the home. The solar panel would still intake enough solar power to benefit the home.

Using solar energy has many environmental advantages. First of all it is a renewable resource that is readily available almost everywhere. Also solar power is a non-polluting resource, meaning it doesn’t emit any greenhouse gases nor harm the surround ecosystem during the acquisition. When acquiring solar energy no harm is done to the surrounding ecosystems

Option 2: Wind Energy
The second alternative that is available for the Smith family is the use of wind energy. Whenever the wind blows, the propellers rotate and produce electricity that is viable for residential use. As with the solar power system, if the wind generator exceeds the electricity required for the home net metering occurs. Therefore the electric company is practically paying for the excess energy yielded.

Since wind energy is a much newer technology accessible for residential homes, the initial costs are higher than other options. A wind energy generator would cost approximately $8,000 to $10,000 to purchase and install. Based on average wind conditions, the monthly electric costs would decrease by $500 to $800.

Wind is a renewable resource that virtually has no negative impact on the environment. It doesn’t emit any greenhouse gases or hazardous wastes. There are several concerns that arise when a wind energy generator is installed, especially in residential areas. One major concern about wind energy generators is the noise of the equipment during operation. The newest versions developed are much quieter and below most noise violations in the residential areas. Also, wind generators must be mounted high in the air to achieve an optimum efficiency. The neighborhood Housing Association would allow for the installation of the wind energy generator; however, several neighbors are opposed to the idea.

Option 3: Hydroelectric Energy
The last option the Smith family could choose is hydroelectric energy. Using water power is one of the oldest renewable energy resources. With the advances of technologies, hydroelectric power can now be used from single family homes. In order for hydroelectric energy to even be a viable option for the family, a water source must be located near the home. About a fifth of a mile behind the home, a possible steady stream to use is located in a wooded area. The stream would then be dam, so that the energy can be retrieved.

The family would have to obtain permits and/or an easement from the property owners of the lot behind the house containing the stream. This would increase the overall initial costs by about $1500. The total cost of the equipment and installation would be approximately $13500. The average savings for a residential, single family home using a hydroelectric system is $62.

The hydroelectric has both positive and negative consequences on the environment. Water is a renewable resource, as long as the flow in the stream is steady. The hydroelectric system doesn’t emit any harmful gases or wastes into the surrounding area. On the other hand, the damming of the stream could negative effect the local ecosystem, especially downstream. Since the hydroelectric energy system would be located in a wooded lot, its aesthetic appeal would be of no concern to the family or Housing Association.


After thoroughly analyzing the three options of installing a solar, wind, or hydro energy system in the single family home, it was decided that the most valuable option for the Smith family is the solar power system. First, the initial costs were compared for the each of the alternative energy sources. The cost and installation for the solar panel system, $6500, was significantly cheaper than both the wind and hydroelectric systems which were $8000 and $13500 respectively. Therefore, the solar energy source was initially selected as the best option.

Besides being the most economically beneficial choice, the solar energy also had several other advantages. The solar panels complies with the Housing Association’s regulation the best because it could be easily hidden from view. Also, the solar energy systems fulfills the environmental wishes of the Smith family because it doesn’t emit any greenhouse gases or other harmful waste products.

The wind energy system has many advantages, but there was one major factor that helped to eliminate it as a valuable option. Even though the housing association would allow for the installation of the wind energy system, it is large and not visually pleasing to everyone. Therefore, even though it is may decrease the utility costs it could also discourage buyers if the house was put up for sell.

The hydroelectric system had several disadvantages that caused for it to be eliminated from the practical choice for the Smith family. The extra costs of permits in addition to the initial costs of the systems are exceed the given budget of $10,000. Also, the stream couldn’t be predicted to be a viable producer of electricity over the lifespan on the system.

Overall, the economical and environmental benefits of the solar power system outweighed the improvements gained from the wind and hydroelectric energy sources. The final recommendation would be for the Smith family to purchase and install the solar panels. The initials cost could be recovered in a payback period of approximately 7 years based on a monthly savings of $80.


"Alternative Power Sources." Utility Free. Web. 17 Oct 2009. .

"Clean Energy." US Environmental Protection Agency. 12-Dec-2007. U.S Environmental Protection Agency, Web. 21 Oct 2009. .

"Hydropower." Renewable Energy World Network. Web. 21 Oct 2009. .

"Residential Energy Consumption Survey." Energy Information Administration. Jan 2009. Energy Information Administration, Web. 19 Oct 2009. .

"Residential Solar Panels." Solar Home. Mar 2009. Web. 21 Oct 2009. .

"Wind Energy Goes Mainstream." Southwest Windpower. 26 Jun 2009. Southwest Windpower, Web. 21 Oct 2009. .

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Editing and Revising Letter

July 29, 2006

Tom Trettain
99 Mangrove Road
Boca Raton, FL 33432

Dear Mr. Trettain:

In response to your letter, our Service Department has investigated your claim regarding the problem you encountered with your new Tandem Personal Watercraft Vehicle.

Our company guarantees that any Tandem Watercraft will continue to operate at peak performance levels under normal operating conditions. However, our Customer Service Department determined that the malfunction occurring in your Watercraft is caused by water being present in the fuel line. Our warranty covers only defects in craftsmanship or material; therefore, we cannot grant your request to repair the watercraft vehicle free of charge.

To remedy this problem we would advise you to have your fuel line flushed out and our Service Department would be pleased to perform this service at the nominal cost of $30 USD. For future reference be aware that precautions can be taken, such as avoiding poor quality gasoline, so that this problem does not arise again.

I have enclosed an authorization card that you may sign and return should you choose to have us perform this service.

Sincerely yours:

J. Brevard
Customer Service Manager

Tandem Watercraft
1234 West Dolphin Drive
Pompano Beach, FL 33060

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Cigarette Advertisement

After researching cigarette advertisements, I noticed that in the older ads the companies either focused on the “no harm” in smoking or used a strong sexual appeal to attract consumers. In the advertisement shown, the Tipalet cigarette company decided to use the sexual approach. The composition of the advertisement is very simple, consisting of just a man and woman with a solid yellow background. Both the woman and man are attractive and illustrate a strong sexual tension between each other. The slogan “Blow in her face and she’ll follow you anywhere” mirrors the sexuality of the advertisement. The advertisement implies that by smoking this type of cigarette, the smoker will be able to attract women more easily. I believe the company’s intended audience was young men who often idolize that specific lifestyle.

I think that during the time period of the advertisement it would have been very effective. It was used during a time when people though it “cool” to smoke and didn’t realize the harmful effects. However, if this
ad was used today I don’t think it would have the same appeal because the damaging effects are better known and the concept of smoking isn’t a new idea anymore. I don’t think the advertisement is crossing the line of being unethical, but there is definitely the underlying message that by smoking the cigarettes, women will flock around you. I think the consumer
should realize that this wouldn’t literally happen when smoking the cigarettes. Also, since the negative effects had not been made aware of yet, it can’t be expected for them to be listed on the ad.

This image was found at

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Monday, September 14, 2009

Misleading Graphic

During the outbreak of SARS in April 2003, the New York Times printed a graphic about worldwide epidemics. Many people thought the graphic was misleading due to the size and emphasis put on different diseases. However, I feel like this theory is irrelevant once the visual is examined more closely.

When initially looking at the graphic, the variation in font size and style is most noticeable. The diseases are bolder and larger than the corresponding text in each box. Some people believe that the New York Times was trying to correlate to the epidemic’s rectangle size to its prominence around the globe. However, that misconception can easily be disproved by reading the surrounding statistical information. I believe this technique of using various font sizes was chosen in order to draw attention to the different types of epidemics affecting people around the world. As stated in the textbook, “readers respond more positively to large visuals” (Dobrin, Keller, and Weisser 200-231). Therefore, using the oversize fonts intrigues the reader to go on and read the article as well as the technical statistics displayed. Also, the epidemic font size appears to gradually get smaller while moving down the page. This technique allows the reader’s gaze to move down the picture without being too overwhelmed with all of the text.

Another visual rhetoric technique used in the graphic is the variation of background color in the text boxes. The choice of colors helps to distinct the epidemic and related figures from each other. Also, the decision to have the background color dark with the white font color highlights the graphic’s purpose to present information on other worldwide epidemics besides the new scared of SARS.

Overall, the graphic is not misleading and is relevant to the corresponding article. The graphic’s use of font size and color help to draw attention to the collected data of various epidemics. By realizing that the font size was chosen only to make a statement and not for statistical purposes, I believe that the graphic was a good selection for this article.

Dobrin, Sidney, Christopher Keller, and Christian Weisser. Technical Communication in the Twenty-First Century. 2nd Ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2008. Print.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

"Race for the Prize"

After listening to The Flaming Lips song Race for the Prize, this image was created to represent what it makes me think of. In the first part of the song it talks about two scientists racing "for the cure that is their prize." So I was reminded of the sponsored races to raise awareness and money for cancer research.