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“Be willing to be uncomfortable. Be comfortable being uncomfortable. It may get tough, but it’s a small price to pay for living a dream” -Peter McWilliams

This quote has been my motto ever since my senior year of high school, when I decided I wanted to go to school in Florida… 3, 140 miles away from my home in Lake Tapps, WA. Most of my friends were choosing to attend colleges either in the state of Washington or in the surrounding states. Everyone thought I was crazy for wanting to go to school all the way across the country, but this quote is what gave me the faith to pursue my dreams and move to Daytona Beach.

Throughout my first four months of college, I can tell you that I have been uncomfortable many times. But being uncomfortable in this case does not have to have a negative connotation. I believe that being uncomfortable can also mean living outside of our comfort zone, and I am a strong believer that stepping out of our comfort zone is what helps us to truly experience growth as a person.

Making the decision to attend ERAU in Daytona Beach has been the biggest and most difficult decision of my life so far, but I am positive that I made the right decision by coming here. I am able to pursue my major, which is Aviation Business Administration, and also network with so many people who are high-up in the aviation industry. Embry-Riddle provides so many opportunities for students to meet with industry professionals and the Career Expo is just one of them. Had I not come to ERAU, I am certain I would not be holding conversations with professionals who are high up in the aviation industry, especially as a first semester freshman!

My suite mates and I at the Career Expo on campus.

My suite mates and I at the Career Expo on campus.

Not only do I love my school and all the academic opportunities that are available here, but I also love to experience new things. By coming to ERAU, I have been able to do so many things that I never would have been able to do if I went to any other university. These are just a few examples…

The Florida coastline from 3000 ft above.

The Florida coastline from 3000 ft above.

Here at ERAU, flying is in our DNA. Even though I am not a pilot, I still have a passion for aviation. There is something so freeing about being thousands of feet above, looking down and seeing the buildings get smaller and smaller, and then looking to your left and to your right and watching the clouds float past your window.

I want to give you a peek at some of my experiences I have had throughout my first semester…

Me standing on the Daytona International Speedway finish line.

Me standing on the Daytona International Speedway finish line.

The USAF Thunderbirds flying over the beach for the Wings and Waves Air Show.

The USAF Thunderbirds flying over the beach for the Wings and Waves Air Show.

 

I got to stand in front of a C-17 at the NAS JAX Air Show.

Me standing in front of a C-17 at the NAS JAX Air Show.

I went boogie boarding at Ponce Inlet.

I went boogie boarding at Ponce Inlet.

 

I got to tour the observatory at ERAU and see the telescope on top of the COAS building.

I was able to see the ERAU telescope on top of the COAS building.

The original ERAU Waco.

The original ERAU Waco.

I got to spend a day at the "Happiest Place on Earth".

I got to spend a day at the “Happiest Place on Earth”.

I am so glad that I decided to step outside of my comfort zone and attend ERAU. Peter McWilliams’ quote has held true for me throughout my first semester. Taking the risk of moving across the country, starting a new life, and beginning university is a daunting task for anyone, but it has definitely been worth all of the experiences I have already had, and will continue to have here in Florida. I am completely in love with my new life here at Embry-Riddle and I know that even though I am continuing to push myself to live outside my comfort zone, “it’s a small price to pay for living a dream”.

 

 

 

 

Up Up and Away!

Hello All!

It’s crazy how fast time goes by now a days! It feels like just yesterday that I first came to Embry-Riddle and visited the campus for the first time. It has been almost four years, two different changes of major, and countless life lessons since that day. But lets not get ahead of ourselves… Here’s a quick run down:

My names Kealey Cela and I grew up a Navy Brat; living all over the world and moving more than 13 times! I lived in places like Hawaii, Japan, Virginia, and California. Finally my family settled down in a small town in New Hampshire where I went to high school. I’m not the biggest fan of snow which is why going to school in Florida was such a nice change of pace!

I started my college career at a school in Northern Virginia, and then transferred to Embry Riddle for my sophomore year. Over the last three years of college I have learned just as much about my degree as I have about life.

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. -Lao Tzu

One of the most challenging life lessons that I learned during my time in college has been change. Change can present itself in many different ways. For example: The transition from home life to dorm life is a huge change, changing your mind about your major, changing clubs, or even changing your order at Starbucks. The hardest lesson that I have had to learn is overcoming change. Almost every college student at some point will question their major or their career path.

I came to Embry-Riddle with the mindset that I was going to be an Aerospace Engineer, and that I was going to work for a big company like Raytheon or Boeing one day. But it turns out that it just wasn’t for me. I thought about what I wanted to do with my life and after taking some different courses I ended up on Operational Meteorology, which I have more passion for now than I ever did with Engineering. The best advice I can give based on my experience  is to ultimately do what makes you happy in life even if its something you never saw yourself doing originally. If something truly is not making you happy anymore, don’t do it! Once I realized this I felt like I was able to navigate the seas of college life much easier!

Something else that has made me very happy in life has been everything that I have gotten involved in here on campus!

This summer I was fortunate enough to study abroad in Siena, Italy. I received 3 upper level and 3 lower level humanities credits while I was abroad! I would highly suggest getting involved in the study abroad program, it gave me memories and friendships to last a life time, and its the same price as staying on campus and taking classes over the summer!

Representing the U.S. on a bridge in Venice

Representing the U.S. on a bridge in Venice

 

The Pisa tower really does lean!

The Pisa tower really does lean!

 

Enjoying our last weekend in Italy in Rome at the Colosseum

Enjoying our last weekend in Italy in Rome at the Colosseum

Sigma Sigma Sigma 

During the Spring semester I joined Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority here on campus, and it was certainly one of the best decisions I have made while being at school. Sigma has helped keep me more involved in my studies as well as around campus and in the community!

Initiation!

Initiation!

Hope For Hayley 5K with my sisters!

Hope For Hayley 5K with my sisters!

Sigma Sigma Sigma

Sigma Sigma Sigma

I am also an Ambassador for the Women’s Ambassador Program here on campus, which is something that I am very proud of. We work with the admissions department to raise the female population here on campus! We also do lots of events to support women around our campus and in our community!

Ambassadors for the Women's Ambassador Program

Ambassadors for the Women’s Ambassador Program at our Waiz Welcome Dinner

College is all about embracing changes and going with the flow. Try not to get too stressed about anything, its honestly not worth it! Worry about things that you can change, and then change them. And lastly always do what makes you happy in life even if its a little unexpected! If you can do your best to live by these principles you’ll be Up Up and Away before you know it!

“This Isn’t ‘Goodbye,’ It’s Only ‘See You Later.’”

Hello there!

I’ll assume that if you’re reading this, you’ll have no idea who I am: which is good because I have a few lines to make a good first impression!

In addition to living in NJ, I also work in New York City!

My name is Billy Nguyen and I’m from Eatontown, NJ. For starters, no NJ is nothing like the TV show “Jersey Shore.” Actually, it’s quite far from it and I highly recommend coming down in the summer since the beaches and night life is pretty cool around here, or you can go to California: I won’t judge you. Growing up, I didn’t have that many opportunities to pursue my interest in engineering or really anything aerospace related. What I did to get by was take the engineering courses offered at my high-school and spend countless hours flying in Flight Simulator X. Still to this day, I fly regularly in that game.

Oh so artsy.

On the side I started doing photography, videography, music, acting, graphic design, drawing, and computer work; a mouthful right? While my hobbies weren’t directly related to my major of Aerospace Engineering, I was able to find some outlets for my hobbies to keep myself engaged and active during my first semester here at Embry-Riddle. Thanks to my ingenuity, I’m now a general member of the Avion newspaper and I regularly cover campus events as a photographer. I wish I had time to join the Acafellas and Riddle Players, but maybe someday I’ll tryout. (You have been warned.)

Adjusting to life at Riddle was extremely challenging: definitely a step-up from high-school for sure. As we near the end of the first semester I can really start to grasp how much I’ve learned and changed these past few weeks and it’s really amazing. I think I’ve changed for the better; I’m now more aware of how important time management is (note how I didn’t say I got better at time management,)  and I’m starting to learn how to navigate the world on my own. It’s a life changing experience and my curiosity and passion for learning is what will ultimately carry me through all of this.

As my high-school’s cheerleading manager of 3 years, the quote in the title was

adjust is to get involved. If you have a passion for

tossed around a lot towards the end of each season and it makes me think about all the things that could happen in the 4-5 years when you’re away at college; only time can tell how things will turn out for me. For now, hopefully I come home for Winter Break I can impress my friends with the MATLAB programs I can write.

My advice for anyone still trying to adjust is to get involved. If you have a passion for something, chances are there is a club for you; you don’t even have to join a

Wings & Waves was my first ever airshow and I was amazed.

Wings & Waves was my first ever airshow and I was amazed.

club on campus per-say. There’s plenty of opportunities in the Daytona area. There is literally so much you can do at Embry-Riddle but you have to take that first step. Also, keep in touch with your friends and family. I like to send letters to my friends and I think I’m one of the few people still keeping the post office running.

So on that bombshell, “Allons-y!”
Billy N.™

The Journey Begins

Hello there!
My name is Jack Harty, and I am a first year student in the Aviation Business Administration program in Embry-Riddle’s College of Business (COB). I am from Houston, Texas, and like my fellow students, I am very passionate about aviation.
I caught the aviation bug while flying about 16 years ago, and ERAU has10670056_599294093530215_28090309397519307_n been on my family’s radar for more than a decade. My ultimate career goal is to hold a high leadership position at an airline, and attending ERAU to study the “Business of Flight” was a no brainer.
Getting to where I am now was no easy task; it was road block after road block, but thankfully, things ended up working out. I sincerely appreciate all of my admissions counselors as well as advisors help, and they will be a great asset to you; they want to see you succeed and attend ERAU.
Now, I am quickly approaching the end of my first semester of college, and to say the absolute least, it has been a crazy ride.
College is very different from high school, especially since 10541812_575043562621935_5514735598720086369_nyou do not go to all of your classes everyday. The work load is different as well; sometimes it feels like there is no homework, but one should always study as many of the tests are very comprehensive. Additionally, it is a big change as for many this is the first time that they are living independently. There is a lot of freedom in college.
Looking back, it is hard to believe that I am in college, and I cannot imagine what doors will be opened over the next few years. In the meantime, keep checking back as I continue to share my experience and hopefully some helpful information.
Blue skies,
Jack

Senior Year Adventures!

“There are no secrets to success: don’t waste time looking for them. Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty to those for whom you work and persistence.” – Colin Powell

Through all my years of school, experiences, hardships, and opportunities, I have found that there is nothing more true than these words from Colin Powell. I have worked hard my entire life, keeping the main goal in focus, in order to one day reach my dream of becoming an engineer for a NASCAR team. And you know what? It has absolutely paid off!

This is what I love about Embry-Riddle.

Being involved at Embry-Riddle and being a part of the Mechanical Engineering department has given me more opportunities than I could ever imagine. Because of my successes at ERAU, I have recently taken on a position that I have dreamed of my entire life! I am happy to announce that I am now the Crew Chief for Elaine Larsen’s Miller Welding Jet Racing team for the 2015 season. I will be traveling with the team again for the 2015 IHRA Nitro Jam Racing Series and will be a part of the first all-female jet racing team! This position will be perfect for me as I look to improve upon my hands-on skills and continue to learn about the maintenance done on these jet dragsters. Check out the press release below:

 Larsen Motorsports Fiery Female Debut for 2015

Crew Chief Elaine and Paige

 

Besides taking on this new role, school has been extremely busy for me, like always! I am working on my Senior Design Project for the Formula SAE team. In previous years, Embry-Riddle has participated in the Formula Hybrid competition, but this year, we have switched to the Formula SAE competition because it coincides more with our Mechanical Engineering curriculum under the High Performance Vehicle track. I am currently on the Suspension team and the Vehicle Integration lead. My responsibilities include the design of the a-arms, tie rods and push rods, spindle, and upright, as well as ensuring that each subsystem in the vehicle works well in the overall design. Not only do we get to design the entire vehicle as a team, but we get to build and test it next semester in order to prepare for competition in May.

Formula Hybrid Vehicle

Formula Hybrid Vehicle at competition last year


Along with Senior Design, I have been learning Computational Fluid Dynamics in my Vehicle Aero class. This is an extremely tedious class, but I have been learning industry software in order to analyze the aerodynamics on a vehicle. This has by far been my busiest semester because of all of the long projects I’ve had to complete, but I have learned so much this semester with all of the engineering software I am learning and design work that I have done.

trex 3D grid shot

Screenshot of the grid used to analyze the aerodynamics of a vehicle

This semester hasn’t been all work. I’ve remained actively involved in my organizations, including Orientation Team and Sigma Sigma Sigma. I helped organize a philanthropy night at a Women’s Volleyball game called the “Volley Against Domestic Violence” in order to raise awareness for Tri Sigma’s local philanthropy, the Domestic Abuse Council. We sold t-shirts for the event, held a food drive, and raised almost $900 to donate to the DAC.

Tri Sigma at the Volley Against Domestic Violence

Tri Sigma at the Volley Against Domestic Violence

I participated in my last Orientation as an O-team ambassador and it was such a blast. O-team has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my college careers and I will definitely miss it. I am proud to represent the university and am proud that I am able to have such a huge impact on the new students and families. O-team has been a second family for me and has been such an amazing support system throughout my time here at ERAU.

Fall 2014 Orientation!

Fall 2014 Orientation!

My O-family!

Well, I will leave you with a couple pictures of my adventures this semester! Next weekend I have my first jet dragster race as a crew chief in training! (: I’ll keep you posted!

Tri Sigma Hippie Themed Recruitment Week!

Tri Sigma Hippie Themed Recruitment Week!

Welcomed 9 amazing women to our sorority!

Welcomed 9 amazing women to our sorority!

Participated in the Domestic Abuse Council's Purple Parade

Participated in the Domestic Abuse Council’s Purple Parade

Hanging out with the Deans!

Hanging out with the Deans!

Hanging out down Beale Street for the IHRA Nitro Jam World Finals in Memphis!

Hanging out down Beale Street for the IHRA Nitro Jam World Finals in Memphis!

Elaine Larsen lighting up the skies at the IHRA Nitro Jam World FInals

Elaine Larsen lighting up the skies at the IHRA Nitro Jam World FInals

 

 

 

Leaving on a Jet Airliner

Before I started the final week, I used my last work weekend to see the San Diego Symphony. A friend of my roommates came with me since the music theme was Fantasia. How can you resist that? I really wanted to see the Firebird Suite by Stravinsky, AND I DID! They played it and I was almost going to cry. The performance was outside in this park on the bay. It started at sunset and the buildings of downtown were so beautiful behind the stage. In the sky, the moon was the brightest it had been in months. I wish I could bring that back home with me.

The view of downtown

The view of downtown

The Symphony & Crowds

The Symphony & Crowds

A few days later I had to say goodbye to one of my best friends in San Diego, Christian. He has been featured in my posts regularly. He was heading to Florida to see his family, and so I had to say goodbye to him before everyone else. To make matters worse, his girlfriend, Desiree, left a few days after that. She was going to see family in Michigan. And so my list of goodbyes began to be checked off. The night before we left, she and I walked down the street to the 50’s themed diner. I had a blast just talking to her, which made saying goodbye even more depressing.

Shakes come and go but friends are forever!

Shakes come and go but friends are forever!

Thankfully, I went to a burger joint on the beach for lunch the next day with co-workers. Hodad’s is famous for it’s delicious, gigantic burgers and scrumptious onion rings. It is so popular that every morning at 11 am when it opens, there is a line down the street of people waiting for food. It was a good thing I filled up because later that day I found out the refrigerator at home was broken. For a few days the entire house smelled a little raw, like pure death. There was no opening up the garage door unless we were absolutely desperate. The good news is that it gave us all an excuse to go out every meal to eat. That got expensive real fast.

The line. wasn't even open yet

The line. wasn’t even open yet

The beautiful interior

The beautiful interior

My boss bought dinner for me and the other intern one of those nights. She brought along a friend from work. Lorraine has been working with my boss for years. She is an expert in what she does and has a firm grasp on the order or operations at SPAWAR where I work. So essentially, my boss is doing everything she can to get us rehired. And that’s why I adore her!! I am so incredibly lucky to have a mentor that truly cares about my development as a professional no matter where I will be.

On my second to last day at work I was surrounded by every intern. We were all presenting our posters to the crowds of employees at SPAWAR. I even got to keep it and bring the poster home so I could display my work in my lab at school. I have had two weeks to practice, so my conversations were not odd or rocky. Well they were little, but that’s not out of the norm. On my last day, I turned in my badge and said goodbye to everyone. I HATED IT! But when I got home, my roommates knew how to cheer me up.

Me, Deborah (my mentor), and Brittany (the other intern)

Me, Deborah (my mentor), and Brittany (the other intern)

My last bike ride to work

My last bike ride to work

They had held a party at our apartment with all of our friends. It was my last chance to hang out with everyone before I left. It was incredibly sweet for everyone to come over and spend time with me one last night. We had some games set up and food ordered. I had a blast and had a mini cry as each person left. The next day my roommates and I did something more. We all got dressed up and went to a restaurant called Solare. That night they had a jazz band play. We were the only ones that danced. But that’s ok the band decided to dance with us. I’m not saying we were the cool kids, but we were the cool kids.

Half of the game fun

Half of the game fun

The most popular one at the party

The most popular one at the party

Jazz band at Solare

Jazz band at Solare

The dancing continued the next night. Sharelle, Laura, Robert, and I went to a class on the other side of town. It was a class where they teach you the basics to Bachata and Salsa dancing. The girls all stand in a circle while the guys move from partner to partner. I basically did nothing. Just kidding I worked my butt off. I thought Bachata was easier, but Laura and Robert disagreed. They are of Mexican descent and are pros at Salsa dancing! After the class Laura was asked to dance immediately. She has all the skills. Robert helped me out a little and showed me a few cool spins that made me look like I knew what I was doing. People still avoided me, though, but it was a good attempt.

I spent the next few days relaxing and getting ready to leave. I said goodbye to my roommate Laura and my other roommate, Sharelle, drove me to the airport. It was so sad to say so-long. I never say goodbye because I always try to see all of my old friends. It is hard moving to different places, meeting new people, loving them as family, and having to say goodbye. So, I will always be a traveling body in order to see them all. I gave Sharelle my last “see you later” hug took off that night at 10:30. I’m not sure if I have complained enough about the awfully loud noise the planes make flying over my apartment out in San Diego. This time I was the problem. And I’m sure the entire city could hear me complaining as I flew over. I could see the lights from my apartment as I flew over and felt miserable. I loved everyone and miss them dearly. It was incredibly bittersweet. I was so sad to leave my new family, but excited to see my real one. My nieces and ERAU friends are waiting for me in Florida. No matter where I go, there is a warm welcome guaranteed. I have to see my nieces now that they’ve learned to walk and get ready to move to my new home in Daytona.

My empty room, just like when I moved in

My empty room, just like when I moved in

 

Got my bags packed

Got my bags packed

A new plane on the way home

A new plane on the way home

Took over 5 hours! Left San Diego at 10:30 and woke up in Miami at 6 am. Think about it for a minute

Took over 5 hours! Left San Diego at 10:30 and woke up in Miami at 6 am. Think about it for a minute

Newton signing off :)

Another Week in Sunny California

2 WEEKS LEFT! I can’t believe my first internship is already coming to an end. It feels like it was short and long at the same time. The projects I worked on were iterative, and therefore, required me to work on them continuously throughout my time at SPAWAR. At the same time, each day went by very quickly. I keep looking at the clock around 3 and find myself wondering what I did in the past 8 hours. Time goes by even more quickly on the weekends, unfortunately. On Monday I was working on something called a quad chart that shows everything I have been working on and what I have accomplished during my internship. It is amazing how much I managed to work on in the past 12 weeks. I was lucky enough to get recruited in some shape or form on half a dozen projects at my branch!

In one of my projects, I worked with a team of individuals whose work was based close to home in Florida. It’s always comforting to work with people from your neck of the woods, even if you’ve lived so many places that your neck of the woods is the entire forest. So we collaborated on the initial design of a system used to stop the trafficking of illegal drugs, weapons, and people. Working on something like this was very rewarding and is a great way to close out my internship. It is fulfilling to work on something that will help keep people safe, but also design a program more efficiently to keep the warfighter out of harm’s way on the job. Even if you end up doing something like data input, look at the bigger picture and take pride in your contributions that will help keep someone safe.

On Wednesday I met with a very inspiring individual at my job. Chris is a division head, in other words, my boss’ boss’ boss. I know what you’re thinking, big deal… someone’s got to have that job. Well the other thing is that he’s in his VERY early thirties. He started out as an intern, then was hired as a normal employee, moved up once or twice more, and is now overseeing 150 people and millions of dollars in projects. My advisor here arranged for another intern and I to meet with him for an hour and talk about anything we were curious about. For someone at this level with this limited amount of time to dedicate an hour to a few interns is unheard of! I felt comfortable asking him the questions I had, and he genuinely cared about our concerns and how to make our internship a better experience in the future. I adore the people I work with!

I was a little nervous for our get together because I did not want to make a bad impression, but I also did not want to present to him. As part of the meeting, the other intern and I pulled up our poster on the display screen so he could see what projects we would be talking about in our poster session next week. I was so nervous, but when it came time to talk I felt relaxed and on the level of an expert in what I would be talking about. Thankfully, my advisor had practiced the poster with me at least three times. She also said she would like to practice the poster with me a little bit everyday until the session next Friday. By then I won’t be so nervous…. and sweaty.

By the end of this week, I needed to create a quad chart showcasing everything I have done during my 13 weeks as an intern. I basically used my essay as an outline, and was done in 30 minutes. Internships are easy! …when you only have a week left. Since we had a fairly dead week, my boss took the interns out to lunch. It was to my favorite place in town! We ate at Slater’s 50/50 where they have 5 different kinds of macaroni and cheese crusted in bits of Cheez-its! Hold on, let me clean up my drool. Ok, I’m good. Of course you know what I got, and when we went back to work I fell asleep at my desk in a stuffed stupor.

On the weekend I met up with my roommate, Laura, and her brother, Robert. We went up the coast to Robert’s neighborhood and had brunch. We walked around his neighborhood until our giant stomachs shrunk back down to normal. He lives in a great neighborhood! Behind his apartment is a giant bay filled with sailboats and people on paddleboards. Across the bay is a little peninsula covered in beach shops, and wonderfully unhealthy restaurants. Past that is the Pacific! I would tell you what’s in there, but I’m not too sure about it.

Robert's view

Robert’s view

Laura and I went on to a market. Robert met us there later with a friend and an adorable Basset Hound. I wanted to steal it. The market celebrated the culture of Mexico, so I was blinded by every shade of every color… and loved it all! There were different types of pottery, jewelry, food, and artwork. It felt like the first 10 minutes of Aladdin. I used this awesomely cheap market to buy a bunch of gifts for my family and friends I made in San Diego. It’s ok, I don’t think they read this blog.

Some Mexican Artwork

Some Mexican Artwork

The adorable doggie, Ladybird

The adorable doggie, Ladybird

On Thursday, the other intern and I were taken out to a wine pub by the welcoming people at our workplace. We were given a few small gifts to remind us of San Diego. I was surprised we had not done this earlier in the summer. After a few hours my co-worker, Christian, and I walked down the street to a pub and played trivia. Because the questions covered sports and pop culture, I did not even understand what they were referring to in the questions. So we left and I fell asleep early enough to get up early enough the next morning for a swap meet. It kind of reminded me of a flea market, so I assume it was the same idea only under a different name. I saw antiques, cheap jewelry, and video tapes. They still exist.

The co-worker get together

The co-worker get together

The end of the week was the best, though. My roommates and a few of their friends met up with us at my friend, Robert’s house. He has an apartment with a full view of the bay just north of where I live. You just need to walk downstairs and you will be on the beach. He also has a pool which I used to force people to play childish games with me. I told them to play “swim like  mermaid” with me to which they responded with confused looks. But I know they were anxious to play. We walked around the bay and played football and volleyball. I hate volleyball. I always have red, sore wrists afterward. But I wanted to reenact the scene from Top Gun, so I manned up and put myself through pain. At the end of the night, we built a small fire (it was contained) and roasted some marshmallows for s’mores. It was Robert and Laura’s first time having a s’more. Can you believe that?! Those poor souls have not fully lived yet. I loved creepily staring at them as they ate it, though. The addiction has begun.

The BBQ with roommates & friends

The BBQ with roommates & friends

The pool <3

The pool <3

Campfire on the bay

Campfire on the bay

Stay tuned next week for my last post!

Ending Summer.

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Just a couple of #ERAU pilots

The fall semester starts on Monday! I’m pretty excited except I only really got a week break from classes this summer; time to break out the last minute check-list for books and essentials!

This past week I flew back home to San Diego and I’m definitely missing beautiful Southern California already, but it’s good to be getting back into the swing of the semester.  It was a perfect time to get my bearings and get some relaxation in before another semester. I will officially be starting my junior year (scary) at #ERAU and I’ll be taking lots of classes concentrated around my major. I’m super excited for my Terrorism Insurgency & Irregular Warfare class – not to mention I get to take a cool Globalization & World Politics class! This semester is definitely bound to be extremely busy, but that’s what makes the fall semester… well, fall semester.

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Location: Final for 27 into SAN

Lots of exciting things are in store for this semester, especially now reaching Junior year. Junior year is an important year because internship season is really falling upon us students. It’s now time to start researching the adult world and defining which path we would like to take, and doing these things now really eases tension for senior year, so if you’re a Junior – get started!

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Location: Backyard

If it’s your first week at college, welcome to ERAU! The first month is always exciting with fun activities and events going on. Here are some tips for your first week at college:

1. Use your time wisely! With everything going on around you, it can get overwhelming. I’m talking staying up until 4am getting to know everyone in your dorm, to waking up early for events, running all over campus trying to fix schedules, running last minute errands, to trying to catch your breath when you finally have some downtime.

2. Plunge into your classes! The sooner you do this, the more relaxed your semester will be. Print out all syllabi and make sure you have organized notebooks or binders for your classes. Start having the “few weeks from now” mindset.

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Chair flying the Cessna 172

3. Introduce yourself to professors. This allows you to create an invaluable bond in college, and even a lifetime! It will allow you to reach out easily to them during the semester if you have questions, concerns, or even ideas you may have for the class!

4. Find your TWO quiet places. And I don’t just mean the library, but if that works for you, then great! First, try to find a place where you won’t have many distractions so you can study, and also find a place where you HAVE a good distraction to take you away from studying – like a place to watch airplanes or soak in some sun.

5. Develop a habit of studying often; this takes practice. Try not to get into the procrastination mindset (we’ve all been there), or “massed cramming” mode.

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Over the Atlantic

I hope you all have a great first week at Embry-Riddle if you are coming for the first time or if you’re returning for another awesome year. If you happen to see me on campus, please come say hi or ask any questions you may have!

#GoEagles

That’s a wrap, folks!

1470133_10152371397308719_2856600370498912047_nSo tomorrow is the penultimate (that means second to last in fancy talk) day of my internship at SETI.

It’s crazy how fast the time here went, and at the same time I managed to pack so many amazing things into ten short weeks. I’m pretty sure that I can say this has been the greatest experience of my life. But I’m getting ahead of myself a bit, I still have a couple weeks of adventures to write about!

Since my last entry there has been less fun stuff and much more work – not that we skimped on the fun stuff at all. Shortly after I last wrote, I had to give what’s called a Journal Club talk, where we were each assigned a published research paper and then expected to give a fifteen minute presentation to the other interns and a handful of scientists that found the time to attend. This allows for skill-building both in reading scientific journal articles and in presenting scientific work. The paper that I was assigned was titled “Time Evolution of Viscous Circumstellar Disks due to Photoevaporation by Far-Ultraviolet, Extreme-Ultraviolet, and X-ray Radiation from the Central Star”, and was written by my mentor. It provided a really good foundation for understanding my own project, because I was using a lot of the same methods/modeling techniques. All-in-all I would say it was a successful experience.

The dome of the Lick Observatory Great Refractor telescope at sunset.

The dome of the Lick Observatory Great Refractor telescope at sunset.

The next big event for us was a trip up to Lick Observatory for a tour and star party, which was way cool. We got to see the 3 meter telescope – and stood outside the dome at sunset as it rotated around… what a view! While waiting for the sun to set completely, we were given a really cool history lesson about James Lick and the observatory. He’s definitely a really fascinating dude, look him up sometime. Then once it was finally dark we went inside the dome of the Great Refractor, the original telescope built in the late nineteenth century, and each got a chance to look at a few really cool celestial objects through it. And telescope or not, the sky up there was gorgeous – we could see the Milky Way once the moon set!

Five of us were asked to participate in an interview for a documentary called Madame Mars.

Five of us were asked to participate in an interview for a documentary called Madame Mars.

After the Lick trip the rest of the week was spent by some of us frantically working to get abstracts written and submitted to AGU (The American Geophysical Union), in order to attend the Fall Meeting in December – which is one of, if not the, biggest conferences in the country. I am one of the two or three SETI interns that submitted an abstract, which is titled “An Investigation of the Streamline Geometry of Photoevaporative Winds from Planet-Forming Disks” and can be read here by anybody who is interested! Another cool thing that happened that week was that I got interviewed for a documentary called Madame Mars, which is about women scientists studying Mars… more about that project here.

Whoever thought to put an amusement park on the beach had the right idea!

Whoever thought to put an amusement park on the beach had the right idea!

A lot of work always gets done as the deadline approaches, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t find time to have fun. For our penultimate Saturday a few of us took the train/bus journey down to Santa Cruz to check out the campus of UCSC, which is gorgeous by the way. Most of us are getting to the point where we need to start picking grad schools, so it was definitely a good trip to take. Then we spent the evening at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, which – get this – is an amusement park… on the beach! We had a blast. Sunday I slept until noon and didn’t change out of my pajamas all day – which was much needed as I hadn’t had a single day without something planned since arriving.

Taking a very expensive selfie with my fancy new camera!

Taking a very expensive selfie with my fancy new camera!

My next big piece of news is about my big purchase – I’ve acquired a Canon 60D DSLR camera that is totally awesome and with which I am in love. I wanted to treat myself to a big purchase with some of my internship money (I mean, paying off my credit card debt was fun, but who wants to just pay bills all summer? I needed a new toy!) and after throwing a few different ideas around I think I definitely made the right choice. The thing I’m most excited about is astrophotography. I’m sure you all heard about the “super moon” last week, well I got an awesome picture of it. Just from my camera on the ground, no telescope or anything. I also got a cool photo of the big dipper – you might need to click on it and view the full size photo in order to really see it.

My photo of the super moon. Gorgeous, ain't it?

My photo of the super moon. Gorgeous, ain’t it?

My first try at long-exposure astrophotography - the Big Dipper!

My first try at long-exposure astrophotography – the Big Dipper!

My dad sent me a hand-me-down telephoto lens, and it is awesome. I totally feel like a paparazzi.

My dad sent me a hand-me-down telephoto lens, and it is awesome. I totally feel like a paparazzi.

Project-wise, I spent a lot of time during my final few weeks just de-bugging my model. That thing did NOT want to cooperate. Luckily, I finally got it working last night at about 11 pm, just in time to get some results for this morning’s presentation. But I’ll talk about that later.

Took a selfie with Echosmith!

Took a selfie with Echosmith!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last weekend was the last one before I fly back out to Florida in a few days, so I sought to make it epic. First off, there was no way I was going a whole summer without a concert – and by a stroke of luck, Echosmith was playing a free show in San Jose last Saturday! How cool is that? The best part about a free show is that I could actually take photos with my camera – concert venues tend not to allow DSLRs, which is a bummer, because I love photographing concerts. Then Sunday I spent all day at the San Francisco Zoo! I love the zoo. And I love taking pictures of animals, which is exactly what I did. My final photo count for the day was 1063 RAW photos, at about 22 MB each – needless to say my memory card was plenty full. I got some AMAZING shots, which you can feel free to peruse here. I’m still working on processing most of them, but I have a good number of great shots done and online already, and I’ll be adding more to that album as I get around to it. And for those of you too lazy to click the link, here are a few below…

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A few of us at our last Indian Lunch Buffet outing... :'(

A few of us at our last Indian Lunch Buffet outing… :’(

As the weeks started to wind down there have been a lot of “lasts”. We had our last lunch outing to the awesome Indian lunch buffet that is five minutes from the Institute. Tonight I went to my last yoga class of the summer (oh yeah, I’ve been doing yoga. It’s neat.) And Friday is our last day. It’s very surreal, and also very bittersweet. This week the work is (in theory) done, and it’s been mostly presentations every day. Yesterday we had to do what are called “Lightning Talks”, in which each student has 3 minutes and 3 slides to get up and talk about their project. These talks were open to the public as part of SETI’s colloquium series, and also filmed and put on their YouTube channel here. Mine starts around 7:35, if you’re interested in watching.

Suited up and ready to give a talk!

Suited up and ready to give a talk!

In addition to the lightning talks, we each have to give a fifteen minute presentation of our project in much more detail. I gave mine this morning and I think it went pretty well, but I don’t have a video of that one for you (darn, right?) Giving talks like that is nerve-wracking, but there’s something I do enjoy about getting all dressed up in my snazzy suit and talking about smart sciencey junk.

I’m not going to talk much about the details of my project right now, I’ll save that for when I have it all done and ready to show at AGU – and I’ll have a poster to link as well! But to give a basic overview (this information is all in the lightning talk video linked above), I worked on modeling circumstellar disks, which are the regions around young stars that planets form. Basically, the gas in these disks gets heated by the star and blows outward due to pressure changes from the temperature increase – fluid mechanics knowledge came in handy. This causes the disk to disperse after a few million years, which is why you don’t hear about new planets forming in our solar system nowadays: the disk is gone. My project specifically dealt with modeling the flow of these winds and generating a lot of plots using different cases, in order to determine how the geometry of the wind affects the disk. Simple, right? ;)

Selfie with the one and only Dr. Jill Tarter, who is both an amazing scientist and an amazing person, and I'm so fortunate to have gotten to meet her.

Selfie with the one and only Dr. Jill Tarter, who I’m so fortunate to have gotten to meet.

All in all, I’d just like to wrap up this entry by saying again what an amazing summer I’ve had interning at the SETI Institute, and I’d give my left kidney if I could participate in the program a second time. I’ve learned so much about my field and my interests, I’ve gotten career guidance, seen some amazing sights, lived in a part of a country that’s as close to paradise as I’ve ever seen (I really hope to move back here one day!) and, most importantly, I’ve met some really awesome people, both in the scientists at SETI and the other students. So I just want to say, for anyone relevant who may be reading this, how truly grateful I am to have had this opportunity to have done everything I’ve done, learned everything I’ve learned, and met everyone I’ve met.

I want to close out this entry by directing you to Dr. Tarter’s TEDtalk here. I hope you all understand how awesome and important SETI really is as a scientific endeavor, and that it’s not a bunch of crazy people with foil hats looking for aliens. :)

P.S. No, we didn’t find any aliens during my internship. :(

Closing Things Up

This week I felt very close to home with the technical seminar we had this week at work. The guy presenting talked about using gloves to communicate in extreme environments. My research at ERAU has to do with testing usability of space suit gloves. On top of that, I am the president of the Human Performance in Extreme Environments club on campus. It is amazing that I saw a presentation combining both of those areas from work they are doing here at SPAWAR. Since this project was ongoing, it leaves me with a desire to come back and work with this team. So, I talked to the guy presenting and gave him my information. Hopefully, this leads to some cool work opportunities in the future.

I was welcomed this weekend by some other Embry-Riddle students. There was a competition this week at SPAWAR for robot submarine vehicles. There is a giant pool-like structure that can be used for testing these vehicles. High school and college students from all over came to test and compete with their vehicle designs. There was an EMBRY-RIDDLE TEAM! They were from the Daytona Beach campus, too! I was very proud to see my university being represented at a competition with other highly respected schools. You go ERAU RoboSub Team!

I am moving to the end of my internship. Only 3 more weeks until I fly back to Florida and begin my final semester at ERAU. I can’t believe that I was walking down Doolittle hall to my dorm room 3 years ago. I remember everything very clearly. My first impression of ERAU was vastly different from how I see it today. At first, I felt out of place and insecure living with people I had never met before. It didn’t take long for that to change, and now I feel more at home here than anywhere else I have lived. Living on this planet for 21 years, and having moved to many different places, that is saying something!

I wrote the final paper for my internship and turned it in early this week. I cannot believe I was coming in for landing 4 months ago wondering what my internship would be like, where I’d be living, and who I would meet. Now I am summing that all up into 5 pages and handing it back to school. I wouldn’t say this internship went by fast, but I definitely made the most of my time here. The internship gave me a chance to learn a lot and explore my field, but outside of it, I was exploring a new city and trying things I may never have the chance to do again. It’s important to say yes to as much as you can, because in the end you will see your experience as a successful one.

My final paper almost finished

My final paper almost finished

One of the first people I met at my internship is Christian. Although he annoys me like there is no tomorrow and is essentially my adopted, pesky brother, he is one of the most important people I met here. He has helped me with my work and guided me through a major project, introduced me to a great program for new employees, and has invited me to every get together he hosts. He introduced me to his girlfriend, Desiree, who also became a great friend. We actually went on a “girl date night” this Thursday. She invited her friend and I invited my fellow intern, Brittany. We all went out and painted pottery. It was so much fun that Brittany and I went out the next night to do it again. It is relaxing, but it also gave us the chance to make going away gifts for the people we have grown to adore here. I made a cup for my mentor and a plate for Christian and Desiree.

Desiree, Brittany, and me

Desiree, Brittany, and me

For my boss :)

For my boss :)

She likes flamingos!

She likes flamingos!

A llama painting for my friends.. that's not weird at all

A llama painting for my friends.. that’s not weird at all

This week was Brittany’s birthday. She turned 21 on Sunday and I definitely had to make a fun day for her. On Friday, I baked cupcakes for work since we were having a branch meeting. The night before I had made the discovery that we did not have a muffin pan. So I poured the batter into cake cups and laid them out on a flat pan. I was assuming they would hold up ok. I assumed wrong. The cups spread out making the cupcakes shape into this weird oblong figure that looked like the elliptical path the Earth makes around the Sun. So I told my coworkers it was this new style or that I got them from the bakery and they bought cool, new pans. They all picked up a cupcake, gave me a dirty look, and walked away. It doesn’t matter how it looks, because everyone loved them and they tasted great! Brittany was happy someone remembered her birthday, especially someone like me!

We celebrated her birthday by taking a tour of a brewery up north, drinking her first beer, and taking her first sip of wine. She hated it. Not really surprised there. Stone Brewery is famous in San Diego. During Comic Con, they had Wil Wheaton, Drew Curtis, and Stone creator Greg Koch get together to brew their own beer creation. If you are just turning 21, it would be the best place to try your first taste of beer. But you will hate it the first time you taste it. Afterwards, I took her and her fiancé, Jeff to Outback so she could eat and try a mixed drink. That was not very tasty to her either, though. For many people, a 21st birthday is both the best and worst day of their life. Be warned, and be careful!

First time getting ID'ed. She was very excited

First time getting ID’ed. She was very excited

Trying out horrible tasting drinks :)

Trying out horrible tasting drinks :)

How they brew

How they brew

The end of the tour.. it was hot!

The end of the tour.. it was hot!

The extra fluff gets poured out into this big bucket

The extra fluff gets poured out into this big bucket

This weekend I had brunch with my roommate and her brother. We got to see the area he just recently moved to and planned out a fun night for us to use the amenities. He moved to an apartment with a pool, fire pits, and a view of the bay. So we will have the roommates and friends get together before I leave for Florida for s’mores and fireworks. I also went with them to shop in an area close by called Old Town. There was a Mexican market going on this weekend, so I was able to pick up a few gifts for my siblings and mom. Everything there was so colorful and hand-crafted. It’s much nicer than sending them a “Wish you were here” postcard.

Old Town

Old Town

An old hotel bar

An old hotel bar

After that I went to my friend, Christian’s barbecue. It was supposed to be a fun picnic outside, but the clouds that day decided they would rain for the first time in 4 months. What good timing; thank you sky, you are so considerate. That’s the only thing that bugs me about San Diego. On the days I have to push my bike up a mountain to get to work, it is sunny and in the high 70’s. On the weekends when I would like to be outside, it is cold and cloudy… or raining apparently. That didn’t bother us because we just packed all of us into his small apartment and played games. And the food was glorious! There were bacon wrapped peppers and sliced peaches. I made mini cupcakes which were gone 5 minutes after being on the counter. At least they were better than the orbit cupcakes I made earlier this week.

RAIN?!!?

RAIN?!!?

Corgi! I almost stole it

Corgi! I almost stole it

Playing games at the Barbecue

Playing games at the Barbecue