Life Update…Prepare Yourself!

I admit, it’s been way too long since I’ve last updated you guys! So prepare yourself, because not even I expected this much to happen to me since August. Let’s just say that I have been extremely blessed. I am so grateful for all of the amazing opportunities that I have been given. It’s such a great feeling to reflect on all of the goals that I have set for myself since the start of my college career and to see them come to life. Don’t get me wrong, my junior year of college has also been the toughest for me. I’ve definitely had my fair share of struggles, but have managed to get through them shiny side up with the support of my family, hard work, and my strong faith in God.

Sigma Sigma SigmaSo here is a quick summary of everything that you’ve missed. Last semester I unexpectedly took on the role of president of my sorority in order to fill the position of a sister who took an internship. It also happened to be the same semester that I was taking my toughest classes. I somehow managed to pull through while still maintaining a 3.9 GPA. It was a very stressful time, but I learned so much being the leader of my sorority and wouldn’t change it for anything. My best advice to get through times like these: don’t be afraid to take on a challenge, even if it looks impossible. During times like these, you will surprise yourself at your potential and what you are really capable of accomplishing. I know that this was the case for me. I really learned the meaning of being a leader and also learned how important it is to push aside any prideful thoughts and ask for help when I really needed it.

DISSpeedweeks in February was definitely one of the highlights this year. Because I interned with NASCAR last summer, the department I worked with was awesome enough to get me passes to every race. I made it to as many races as I could, despite all of the assignments and tests that were thrown on me. I went to the Sprint Unlimited and NASCAR Home Tracks promoters hospitality event, the Camping World Truck Series race, Nationwide race, Daytona 500, Battle at the Beach, and saw the K&N East Series race at New Smyrna Speedway. You could say I was in heaven.

NASCAR Fans Pit Road

Boeing Scholarship Recipients

At the end of February, I got to take the trip of a lifetime!! This year I was selected as one of the Boeing scholarship recipients. Boeing invited all of the scholarship recipients from the Prescott and Daytona campuses to come tour the Boeing factory in Seattle, all expenses paid for. This was the first time that Boeing has ever done anything like this, so it was truly and honor to be selected to go on this trip. It was absolutely incredible walking through the factory where Boeing manufactures all of their planes, and then to walk on the flightline where these planes are delivered to the customers. We also were able to walk through a brand new 787 and 777! Can it get any better than that??

One of my goals for this year was to get involved in more engineering projects and focus more on my academic involvement because I already have a lot of experience with the social organizations I am involved in. I am proud to say that I have been initiated into Tau Beta Pi (an engineering honor society), Order of Omega (an honor society for Greek organizations), and I am currently working on a project that involves the design of a jet engine test cell.  Last semester I was involved in Formula SAE as a Special Topics credit. Special Topics is such a great way to get hands-on project experience while also receiving credit hours towards your degree program. I was a part of the engine team and assisted in the selection of new engine and the preliminary design report.

Space Needle

Elaine and I I’m happy to say that I have continued my work at Larsen Motorsports and am officially traveling to every IHRA Nitro Jam race with the team for the 2014 season! How lucky can a girl get?! I have taken on a marketing position with Embry-Riddle in order to market the university in conjunction with Larsen Motorsports. As a result, I get to work every event with the team in the all new Jet Technology Center presented by Embry-Riddle. This is an interactive fan experience at the race track that will take fans through the engineering, human factors, fabrication, and art work behind every jet dragster. Fans will have the opportunity to see future Larsen Motorsports jet dragsters built in front of their own eyes.

Houston RodeoOver Spring Break I went home to Houston for part of the week to catch up with the family. It was definitely a much needed trip and nothing ever beats going back to Texas. Some of the highlights included Whataburger (of course), Houston Rodeo (always a tradition), amazing Mexican food, family time, a new cowboy hat, and home-cooked meals!

 

 

Rodeo with family

Selfie with Roxy Family

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ERAU Jet DragsterAt the end of the week, I traveled to Tucson, Arizona for the first race of season with the Larsen Motorsports (LMS) teams! This year the LMS teams doubled in size. The team consists of 4 female jet dragster drivers who come from a variety of backgrounds but all have a passion for racing. Elaine Larsen, co-owner of Larsen Motorsports drivers the Miller Welding jet dragster. Marisha Falk, a double Embry-Riddle alumnae, drives the Embry-Riddle jet dragster. Kat Moller, one of the newest LMS drivers, drives the Matrix Systems jet dragster. And lastly, Dawn Perdue, the 2nd newest driver, drives the Sport Aviation jet dragster. Last weekend I headed back to Texas for the second race of the season in San Antonio! I’ll update you guys later about life on the road with the Larsen Motorsports teams. I have so much to tell you about our first two races and I’ll even include my race recaps.

At the trackLastly, I am excited to announce the launching of my new website!! It was designed by Star Computer Services, a business that my parents own. I guess having your mom design websites for a living has its perks. (: Check it out! I would love your support! www.paigesanchez.com

Be on the lookout for race updates next week!

Just Plane Crazy

The Piper Pawnee tows the ASK21 gilder

The Piper Pawnee tows the ASK21 gilder

 

My spring break started out pretty normal as far as Riddle-kids go. I slept in a little, I read a few hundred pages of Charles Lindbergh’s “Spirit of St. Louis”, and I took pictures of airplanes. I was satisfied with my quiet spring break, but it got much better on the Thursday of that week when a few good friends of mine from the Sport Aviation Club (SAC) called me up. ERAU students Matt Colan and Billy Janus invited me to join them and a few others at Pierson Municipal Airport (2J8), a 2,600 foot grass strip located on the OMN VOR 260 radial at 18.4 miles. They needed a cameraman for some aerial shots they were after. Folks in aviation say, “It’s good to know people”, well that came true in a rather modest way that day.  It was a perfect day to play in the sky, one of those days that you live in Florida for. Let me put you there:

The winds are westerly at 5-7 knots; a refreshing breeze is satisfying under the 82 degree sun which warms your skin. Above you, clear blue sky arcs in all directions with some wandering lines of clouds. The smell of freshly cut grass hangs in the air, reminding me of the football field. Oh yes, this was a good day.

From left to right, Matt Colan, Billy janus, and Martin Hollatz.

From left to right, Matt Colan, Billy janus, and Martin Hollatz.

 

For the flight we would have a Piper J-3 Cub flown in by Mike Breshears, and an ASK-21 glider trailered in by Martin Hollatz. Both of these aircraft are owned by Eagle Sport Aviation (ESA), a flying club based in Deland. A PA-25 Pawnee was also present, the Pawnee is the tow-plane for the gliders based at Pierson. An old cropduster, the Pawnee is basically the equivalent of an airborne tractor. After unpacking the glider, we had a careful discussion of the planned formation, as well as what photographs we’d like. We take safety seriously, even in simple operations.

The Piper J-3 Cub

The Piper J-3 Cub

When everyone was happy with the plans, it was time to go fly! I got to cram myself into a Cub for the first time ever, and it was also the first time I’ve been in a tail-wheel aircraft. Getting in a Cub requires gymnast-like precision when you’re 6’4”. I’ve been pretty fond of the aircraft for some time, so it was a proud moment. Earlier last year I had helped put some of the coating on the fabric of that very aircraft, while SAC and ESA were recovering the wings.  The Piper Cub is a simple aircraft, and one of the things it lacks is a starter for the engine. This means the prop must be pulled through for the engine to start, which is called “hand-propping”. With a yell of “contact!” and a quick pull the 65 horsepower engine churned to life. We lined up on runway 5, and Michael pushed up the throttle. A few hundred short bouncy feet later we we’re aloft. The Cub’s door is located on the right side and is removable, so it was kept off for best photography results. Martin and Matt were in the glider, so we communicated over a transceiver to coordinate our formation as well as a photo pass at high speed. We spent about an hour in the air, and Michael even let me take controls for a bit. The Cub has a stick rather than a yoke, and it felt light in my hands. I thought of Lindbergh, Bleriot, Saint-Exupery, Amelia, and other early aviators who often flew with a stick at aviation’s dawn.  The words of the poem High Flight, by John Gillespie Magee also came to mind as we soared through the morning air. I also relearned the importance of rudder for coordinated flight; we’re pretty spoiled with these Cessna Skyhawks. The flight re-invigorated the part of me that wants to get a tailwheel endorsement; it’s been dormant for quite a while. Does anyone know a good instructor? I’m a firm believer that it would make me a better pilot.

After the Cub flight it was time for the Yellow friend to head back to Eagle-Sport Aviation at Deland Airport (KDED). So I took a few more photos of Mike taking off again to head home, what a great time it was! Matt Colan had brought one of his RC planes, an Extreme flight Edge 540T, so he flew it around a little while and I took some pictures of aerobatic maneuvers.

Matt Colan's ExtremeFlight Edge540T

Matt Colan’s ExtremeFlight Edge540T

Mike and Martin preparing the Glider for a tow

Mike and Martin preparing the Glider for a tow

 

Billy Janus flying the Piper Pawnee

Billy Janus flying the Piper Pawnee

Then something pretty cool happened, I was offered a ride in the glider as well! I had never been in a glider either, and I proved this fact when I asked Martin if I needed a headset. He looked at me funny, because you see, the thing is, you don’t need one for intercockpit communication in a glider. It’s quiet, there’s no engine, go figure! Billy cranked up the Pawnee again and we hooked up the ASK-21 with the towrope. The jolt of the glider (or Pawnee) starting it’s roll caught me by surprise, the canopy was closed around me, and I felt a bit trapped. But that passed quickly, because once again, I was in the air. It was impossible to feel trapped in the wide blue openness that was aloft that day. We we’re towed to about 2,000 feet before Martin released the towrope. I didn’t even notice, I was too busy looking all around me.

The View of Pierson from the glider at around 2,000 feet

The View of Pierson from the glider at around 2,000 feet

 

Sailing was another vastly different experience. I felt more ‘In-tune’ with the sky then I ever have. Glider’s depend on thermals to climb. Thermals are like wide pockets of warm rising air. An instrument in the cockpit called a Variometer shows the rate of rise or sink of the glider. It’s similar to a rate-of-climb instrument in powered aircraft. We spent an hour and a half aloft, used no gasoline, and lost no altitude. We sailed up to 4,500 or so on the backs of the thermals, and went North of Pierson past lake George and to the southern shore of Lake Crescent.  I took around 700 pictures that day, and was able to share them with the guys that flew me around. A fair payment I think for services rendered! It’s a delight to see others enjoy your work and a greater delight still to spend a day in the sky.

Matt Colan and Martin Hollatz as we pass by in the Cub

Matt Colan and Martin Hollatz as we pass by in the Cub

 

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Onwards and Upwards!

The Final Stretch of Spring Semester

Hello hello!

I left my last entry on a “will Lynsey get a summer internship?” cliffhanger, so I think I’ll address that first… I will officially be spending my summer in Mountain View, California (AKA the most awesome city in the country – look it up) with an REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates – the science version of an internship) at The SETI Institute! (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) I’ll be working with one of their scientists to study the formation of planets around different types of stars, and investigate how these planets could form to support life. I’m very excited for this opportunity, and pleased to announce that I will be blogging again this summer, so you’ll get to hear all about it!

The beach near Ft. Lauderdale. Beautiful, turquoise waters.

The beach near Ft. Lauderdale. Beautiful, turquoise waters.

Spring break came and went, and it was really awesome. Being at Riddle is great, because all of the major spring break destinations are really just a few hours away by car. I cruised down to Ft. Lauderdale at 90 mph down I-95 and spent the week there, where my boyfriend is doing an internship with Spirit Airlines this semester. He spent the days at work, and I spent them swimming, sleeping, relaxing… oh, and gambling. Ft. Lauderdale is on the Seminole Indian Reservation, so there are lots of casinos! One of my guilty pleasures is blackjack; in Minnesota the gambling age is 18, so I used to go down to the casino every couple weeks, and I usually had a pretty good turn out. Over the break I went to a couple different casinos (mostly in search of a good $5 blackjack table, which are not as common here as they are back home), and over four trips I ended up winning twice, losing once, and breaking even the last time. It’s dangerous to my finances that the casino was only 20 minutes from where I was staying – probably a good thing we don’t have any up here in Daytona.

Ville Valo of HIM at their concert in Ft. Lauderdale - we had a great view of the stage, this is an iPhone picture!

Ville Valo of HIM at their concert in Ft. Lauderdale – we had a great view of the stage, this is an iPhone picture!

While in Ft Lauderdale, one of my favorite bands, HIM, had a concert at a club downtown (a great coincidence!), so we got to see them. They’re the first band I’ve seen three times, and in three different states for each tour, and they put on a really great show – a very long set, and a good mix of some of their really old music and their newest album. This was also my first concert as a 21-year-old, and let me tell you, it ain’t cheap.

On another music-related note, The Pretty Reckless launched their new album a couple weeks ago and it’s great. That is all.

Picture of some reef fishes taken with my underwater camera in Key Largo!

Picture of some reef fishes taken with my underwater camera in Key Largo!

One of the highlights of the break was snorkeling down in Key Largo. They take you out into the ocean about 30 min by boat – to the point that you really can’t see any land – and toss you in the water, equipped with a wet suit, mask, snorkel, and fins. And the water was so nice. There is a shallow reef of the coast of Key Largo, so you swim out to the reef and get to see all sorts of really cool corals, fish, and even some jelly fish and stuff. It was an awesome experience, and I highly recommend it if you ever have the opportunity. The coolest part was having an underwater camera – pictures below! I’m doing everything I can to do “Florida things” while I’m living in Florida. Overall, this was definitely the best spring break in my three years of college. It was a great escape, and just what I needed to get back into the swing of the whole school thing, after feeling pretty burnt out the last few weeks.

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There’s less than a month left of Spring semester, and frankly I can’t wait for it to be over. I mentioned a couple times that this semester had earned the title “semester of death,” and I think I have to agree. So I wanted to pass along a lesson that I’ve learned to any and all of you reading this, especially those of you sitting in high school having never gotten anything below a B+: college will test you. You, most likely, won’t get out of an engineering degree with a 4.0; not to discourage you from trying of course, because I certainly have been, and I’m, of course, not giving up. But I’ve had a bit of a mid-life crisis (well, quarter-life, I suppose) about my grades this semester, and I’m finally starting to learn some things:

  1. Always give your best, and realize that you can’t give more than that.
  2. It’s not the end of the world if you can’t get the A.

I’m a huge perfectionist/over-achiever/etc., and I focus so much on grades. I remember when I got my first few B’s in high school, and it felt like the end of the world – I was convinced that I wouldn’t get into the colleges I wanted to. Well, I love my college, and now I don’t even remember what my GPA was in high school. So my words of wisdom are: grades aren’t everything. Put in your best effort, learn as much as your brain can hold, and that is what makes you successful, regardless of the number on your transcript. Don’t have a mental breakdown over a poor exam grade – take that as a lesson, and improve on it in the future. Stress never helps.

Speaking of the future, I’m beginning to figure out mine. Every EP student has to complete a senior design capstone project, which you start planning during the second semester of junior year and then work on throughout your senior year. Well, I was asked to be the Guinea pig for a “senior thesis” option, aimed at students looking to go to grad school, in lieu of a group design project. I’m really excited about it, and I even have a topic, as of last week. I’ll be developing a one-dimensional atmospheric acoustics model in FORTRAN and MATLAB with flexible atmospheric parameters, which means that the model will be able to run for any planet. Then for my master’s thesis, I’ll use this model to do some scientific investigation into the propagation of atmospheric acoustic waves in the atmospheres of Venus, Earth, and Mars – three very different planets. This project will be a good mixture of planetary science, atmospheric physics, and development of a scientific tool.

Doing some homework with Sally the Space Hamster

Doing some homework with Sally the Space Hamster

That’s about it for this entry. Lots of cool stuff on the horizon, and still a lot to do before this semester comes to a close. I have three final projects and a thesis proposal to do, as well as third midterms, final exams, and standard weekly homework assignments before I’m free to go hunt aliens all summer. I’m also looking forward to having a nice long visit home before I start at SETI mid-June. And because I only needed a one-way ticket between here and home (since I’ll fly right from Minneapolis to San Francisco on SETI’s dime), and because the tickets were surprisingly cheap, I get to fly first class! That’s one to cross off the bucket list.

Oh, one more thing. ERAU does some really cool events, especially with all the different student organizations on campus. The week before spring break one of the fraternities hosted a fundraiser where you could pay $5 to sit in a pen full of puppies for 30 minutes. Who doesn’t like being climbed on by adorable puppies?

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Excuse the extreme Florida-ness of my hair in this picture.

Puppy selfie! Excuse the extreme Florida-ness of my hair in this picture.

A Riddle Student’s Spring Break!

Spring Break 2014 is a wrap from all of us here at ERAU!  I just wanted to have a short “photo” blog on what an “ERAU Student Spring Break” might look like…

Inflight meal service via Biscoff cookies is a must on ANY flight!

Inflight meal service via Biscoff cookies is a must on ANY flight!  Enroute to Sebring, Florida for the 12 Hour race night practice to kick off spring break.

Flying with my dad and girlfriend is always a great time!  Here we are enroute to Muncie, Indiana from Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Flying with my dad and girlfriend is always a great time! Here we are enroute to Muncie, Indiana from Grand Rapids, Michigan.

I had a few chances to go flying over break and my dad's 1950 Piper PA20 Pacer was exercised quite a bit!
I had a few chances to go flying over break and my dad’s 1950 Piper PA20 Pacer was exercised quite a bit!

Descending into ATL from IND on a Delta A320.

Descending into ATL from IND on a Delta A320.

 

A full Order of Busyness With a Side of Airplanes

 Hello there everyone, long time no see! I got a haircut while I was away. It’s good to sit down and write a little bit!

On a beach in San Diego, CA.

Me on a beach in San Diego, CA. I was there with the  Avion exec board and our Advisor, Wes, for a Conference.

Let’s catch up! the last time I posted was about 5 weeks ago :) First things first, I got the opportunity to be interviewed by the Daytona Beach News Journal about my place here at ERAU. They sent a photographer and put together a pretty nice story which can be found here. It’s an honor to represent my school, and just plain cool to be on the front page of the local newspaper too! I was referred for this opportunity by Ken Byrnes, the Chair of the Flight Department. I serve on a board of Flight students called the Chairman’s Advisory Council, and we meet with Ken weekly to discuss the Flight Program. Through that position I also was interviewed by Fortune 500 magazine on my view of the Regional Airline career path.  So if those aren’t two  good reasons to get involved on campus then I don’t know what is! I want to encourage you prospective students to set down roots here as quickly as you can. Embry-Riddle has so many staff members and professors who are looking for talented and dedicated students to represent our wonderful University. So, come with the intention to get involved and contribute to a better ERAU!

 

As you may or may not know, Here in Daytona we host the D  a  y   t   o  n  a  5  0  0          NASCAR race. I’m not a big fan of race cars, but it does bring a few billion dollars worth of amazing jets to DAB airport for the week. I, of course, took a few hundred photos of them and have created a Facebook airplane spotting page for them which you can join here to see the photos!  Most notable among them was the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. who performed the flyover. I’ll throw some of my favorites here in the blog for you to enjoy. I used a Canon 70D with a 100-400mm lens to shoot all of these. As an executive member of The Avion Newspaper, I get to use our camera equipment, that’s a definite plus! if you have an interest in photography or writing, consider joining the Avion once you get here!

 

An F-16 Falcon, one of the UF Air Force Thunderbirds!

An F-16 Falcon, one of the US Air Force Thunderbirds!

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From February 25-28 I went to San Diego, CA with other staff from The Avion Newspaper for the 2014 Associated Collegiate Press Conference. At this conference we get together with staff from other collegiate newspapers from Journalism Schools all around the country.  I got the chance to attend seminars on writing, editing, and photography taught by collegiate professors from some of the most well-known names in journalism. I sharpened my writing skills and realized many things that I’ve been doing wrong. There’s always room to get better, that’s one of my favorite things about a hobby. It was strange being there as a representative from a school as unique as Embry-Riddle, many of the people I talked to weren’t big fans of airplanes at all! They thought we were pretty neat, as most of the other colleges were liberal arts universities. It was a nice change of pace.

This week is Spring Break for ERAU students, so I’ve gotten plenty of time to relax. On this past Monday and Tuesday, I got a really great opportunity. I was hired by the College of Aviation Dean’s Office as a photographer for the 2014 National Training Aircraft Symposium. This landmark symposium was first started by Dr. Tim Brady, Dean of the CoA. It brings together representatives from Aviation Universities, Air Carriers, Aircraft Manufacturers, and the FAA to discuss the Aviation Industry. It was really neat to listen to more than 60 aviation professionals discuss how to make our industry run better in the wake of the ’1500 hour rule’. I also got a few business cards and talked with some awesome ERAU alumni who are working for major Airlines.

I’m at the point in my college journey where I’m getting pretty busy, but I still find time to answer the occasional Email, I’ll write some blogs more often too, I promise! So if you have any questions about ERAU and how to get involved here, email me at wilkinsz@my.erau.edu

Sitting in a Cirrus SR-20 at this years NTAS Conference

Sitting in a Cirrus SR-20 at this years NTAS Conference

Onwards and Upwards! 

School, Space, and Stuff

Oh man, I’ve really been neglecting my dear readers – it’s been a while since my last post! Luckily I have plenty on which to fill you in!

Beautiful shot of the new COAS and new Quad, courtesy of my friend Johanna Petrocelli.

Beautiful shot of the new COAS and new Quad, courtesy of my friend Johanna Petrocelli.

Spring semester is well under way, and I certainly understand why they call it the “semester of death” – five 300-level EP classes together aren’t easy! I’m learning things from designing camera lenses to programming microprocessors to how to design a satellite form the ground up, and boy is it a lot of material. College always has a point where it really hits you what your major is, which is usually around the third year. The first couple still feel pretty high-schooly course-wise, with general calculus and physics, maybe delving into some advanced mechanics like solids or fluids, but overall it’s very general. Once you start taking 300-level classes like Spacecraft Systems Engineering, you really start to get a look at what you’ll be doing for the rest of your life… and you better hope you love it! Which I really do.

It’s crazy to think that I’m almost done with my third year of college. My advisor has been dropping words like “thesis” and “GRE” and I’m just like, yeah but that’s way later – except it’s not anymore! I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about grad school lately, and I think I’m going to do a PhD in Planetary Science, and have even started looking at some schools – really leaning towards UC Boulder; they have a great program, and Colorado is gorgeous. Nonetheless I still have two years left here at ERAU, so I’m trying not to get too ahead of myself.

Time does fly though, we’ve already started registering for fall classes. I’ll be taking three undergrad courses: Space Physics, Electricity and Magnetism, and Senior Design, as well as two grad courses: Advanced Planetary Science (excited for this one!) and a PhD course titled Computational Atmospheric Dynamics that my advisor teaches and talked me into taking (nervous for this one!) He says that PhD classes aren’t much harder, but he already has his PhD, so how can I really trust that? :P Nonetheless, it’ll be good knowledge to have for when I write my thesis, which will be on computational atmospheric dynamics, so I can see why he wants me in the class.

My work in the lab is going well. I’ve been working on learning FORTRAN to make some changes to our 1D wave model (yes, people do still use FORTRAN!) The other day I was able to successfully implement a feature that allows multiple simulations to be run in a row, without having to come back and reset the parameters. For example, we can run a 1 meter wave, a 2 meter wave, and a 3 meter wave all in a row, and then just get all the results at once to compare, rather than having to go back to the lab in between just to change one number and hit start. I’m very proud that I was able to get that working – FORTRAN is a very different beast from the modern-day programming languages I’m used to working with!

My parents and I at KSC!

My parents and I at KSC on my birthday

So what else has been going on with my life in the last couple months… Well, I turned 21 in February, and celebrated by (can you guess?) a trip to KSC! My parents came down to both visit me and escape the frozen wasteland, and it was a lot of fun. We did the Cape Canaveral: Then and Now tour, which was about 3 and a half hours of bussing around to different historical buildings and launch sites. We even got to go into a couple of the intact control rooms from which they controlled some of the first manned launches! It was a very cool tour, and a very fun birthday. And totally more fun than waking up the morning after your 21st birthday and not even remembering it (though I did go at midnight on my birthday for a long island iced tea at Applebees, so I didn’t completely ignore that right of passage.)

Me with Sally the Space Hamster

Me with Sally the Space Hamster

For my birthday I got a 1/200 scale model of the Saturn V rocket from my parents, which looks gorgeous next to my 1/200 scale model of Space Shuttle Discovery. I also got a lot of birthday money in the mail, which I used to purchase a new furry hamster friend (living alone gets lonely.) Her name is Sally, named, of course, after Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, and she is hilarious and adorable. I built her cage out of a plastic bin (trust me, I’m an engineer), and decorated it with lots of fun space stickers… which she keeps eating, but we’re working on that.

Some of the stickers that I have up in her cage

Some of the stickers that I have up in her cage

She likes her spaceship :)

She likes her spaceship :)

Teaching her to eat my homework

Teaching her to eat my homework



 

Obligatory picture of my boyfriend and I with Disney ears in front of the castle - that crane thing kinda ruined it though >:(

Obligatory picture of my boyfriend and I with Disney ears in front of the castle – that crane thing kinda ruined it though >:(

I also got to visit Magic Kingdom for the first time in February, and it’s name is well-deserved. It really is pretty magical, and very well-done. It was a super fun trip. I’ve also gotten to see a couple more launches in the last month – one from KSC, one from campus – and attended a really cool colloquium about weather on other planets. Planetary atmospheres are incredibly interesting, I could definitely see myself doing that for my PhD.

Me with Eric Whitacre! Composer extraordinaire

Me with Eric Whitacre! Composer extraordinaire

For those of you who don’t know me, beyond being a total space geek I’m also an avid musician. Well, used to be… my one dislike about ERAU is its lack of any music program. So, unfortunately, my saxophone sits neglected in my closet. Nonetheless, in high school I was in every possible band – music was my life (I even have a saxophone tattoo.) But I digress. Last week, my favorite band composer was in Orlando giving an informal Q&A at UCF, and I was lucky enough to get my hands on a ticket. Eric Whitacre! He’s unbelievably cool – and I told him that at the end when I got to meet him. His talk was both funny and inspiring; he told us stories of how he got inspiration for some of his pieces, and had a lot of advice for aspiring musicians. It was a fantastic evening, and really made me miss band. And I got him to sign one of my favorite band pieces. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: living so close to Orlando really presents a lot of opportunities! Because EVERYONE visits Orlando at one time or another. And it’s only about an hour drive.

Well, I guess that’s all I have for you guys for now – I’ll try to write more often, sorry about that! I’ve got some cool projects on my radar that you’ll definitely get to hear about once they get going. I’m still waiting to hear back about my internship applications to NASA and SETI, so maybe in my next entry I’ll have some good news to share. *fingers crossed*

Until next time!

And feel free to email me, I don’t bite. :)
schroel2@my.erau.edu

Rockets, Racecars, and other fine things

Hello readers, it’s been a while since I’ve shared some stories with you, but let’s catch up!

It’s been a busy first few weeks this semester, mainly because of my new position at The Avion Newspaper, which I believe I mentioned before. I work as the News editor, and I manage the content which we run each week. It’s an honor to do, and I love all the new things it has been teaching me. You can read all of our issues by clicking here

My classes this semester are:

Physics 2, Turbine engines, Crew Resource Management, FMS Systems, and Aviation Legislation. It’s a pretty good variety of subjects and will keep me busy. I’m starting to get to the point in my degree program where the courses are much more specialized.

On to the cool stuff now!

My press badge. SO COOL. In the background is the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB)

My press badge. SO COOL. In the background is the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB)

On January 23rd I got the opportunity to drive down to KSC, (or Cape Canaveral, The Kennedy Space center, or whatever you prefer to call it) There, I was covering a rocket launch and had full PRESS accreditation as a reporter from The Avion Newspaper. I went with my managing Editor, Matt Micholowitz. We spent the evening hanging around the press area before we got on the bus to go to NASA static test road to watch the launch. United Launch Alliance was launching their TDRS-L satellite, which is a communications satellite for NASA’s Space Network. The Rocket was a Delta V-401 configuration and launched at 9:33 pm. It was really cold that night, and i was surrounded by a few dozen other anxious photographers waiting to get the perfect shot. My best photo we included in the Avion after I wrote a story on the launch, you can see my photo below. It was so cool to get to attend this launch, and I couldn’t have done it without being involved in The Avion Newspaper.

The Rocket lifts off at 9:33 PM, it lit up the entire area, it was awesome!

The Rocket lifts off at 9:33 PM, it lit up the entire area, it was awesome!

A few days later on the 25th  I got to go to the ROLEX 24, which was a 24 hour Endurance race featuring some of the most powerful supercars in the world. I spent 8 hours at the D  a  y  t  o  n  a    S  p  e  e  d  w  a  y with some other Avion Photographers: Trey Henderson-Editor in Chief, Matt Micholowitz-Managing Editor, Richard Weakly- Advertising Manager, Austin Coffey- Photo Editor, and Lynsay Hurilla-Business Manager.  I held a Canon 60D close and took some great photos!  it was the first time I got to use a professional quality camera and glass. The atmosphere was in an uproar of revving engines and screaming tires. I stayed from early afternoon until late at night, this allowed me to get a great variety of photos at the event.  It was the first time I had been at the track and will not be soon forgotten. I had a blast spending a day there, take a look at my favorite photos below.

A lot of power in this picture!

A lot of power in this picture!

rolex2 rolex3 rolex4

So as you can see, it’s been quite a ride so far this semester, my opportunities have opened up a lot through being at the Avion. These are the lives of students at ERAU, we get to do incredible things. It’s an honor to share them with you on this blog, as always, you are free to contact me with any questions about flying and life. It’s fulfilling to write this page, but the real value in it for me is when someone contacts me and wants to talk.

I get pretty busy here at school, and sometimes it can feel discouraging. It wears me down. Throughout last week I had a song in my head, it was from Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory. All week long it played over and over:

“If you want to view paradise,

Simply look around and view it,

Anything you want to, do it

Want to change the world?

There’s nothing to it.”

So, you know what I did? I took time in the middle of the day to watch Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory. Sure maybe I had other things to do, but the time i spent refreshed me to get through the week. It was much more important that I was focused and relaxed.  Sometimes you just have to escape into paradise for a while, and that’s what I did. Those words have become sort of a motto for me. If you want to make an impact, then just go do it! don’t let anything hold you back. If you look for the good things in life and take joy in them, you’ll be propelled by that Joy to do things you never felt possible. I’ve done things and gone places while at ERAU that I never imagined I would do.

wonka

Please email me at wilkinsz@my.erau.edu if you have any questions or just want to talk to someone about ERAU.

 

A banner tower circled above us for most of the daytime. I couldn't resist snapping a photo.

A banner tower circled above us for most of the daytime while at the 24. I couldn’t resist snapping a photo.

 

 

NBAA Regional Forum: Great Success!

On January 30th I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the National Business Aircraft Association’s Regional Forum in Boca Raton, Florida on behalf of Embry-Riddle.  The exhibitor area and static display ramp were sold out with over 80 vendors and 20 aircraft.

The exhibitor area was packed with vendors and potential customers alike, really putting a positive vibe over the whole event.

The exhibitor area was packed with vendors and potential customers alike, really putting a positive vibe over the whole event.

The advances in technology were at the forefront in the static display area with Cessna showing off its newest revision Sovereign aircraft alongside its TTx piston rocketship and Gulfstream bringing its G280 demonstrator.  Turboprop aircraft were also shown off including a new Quest Kodiak, a Beech King Air 250, and the ever pleasing Piaggio Avanti II, rounding out the new aircraft contingent.  On the technology side, FltPlan.com was there supporting their online and mobile flight planning applications and many vendors were selling new iPad and wireless capable apps for everything from flight and performance planning to inflight wifi.  The ever changing technology is sure driving the revived business and general aviation markets!

 

Technological advances are really driving the business and general aviation markets as a whole.  New flight deck systems such as this Garmin system in a new Cessna Citation M2 are not only making pilot's jobs easier, but also making flights more safe and reliable.

Technological advances are really driving the business and general aviation markets as a whole. New flight deck systems such as this Garmin system in a new Cessna Citation M2 are not only making pilot’s jobs easier, but also making flights more safe and reliable.

The real purpose of traveling down to Boca was to interview five industry officials and get their take on the state of business and general aviation as a whole and maybe provide some insight into the future.  First I heard from Gil Wolin of Wolin Aviation Consulting, a man that grew up in the back of his dad’s V-tail Bonanza and has been in the industry for over 70 years.  He brought up the points that aircraft sales are up and that new aircraft are driving these numbers even higher, validating my point that new technology is again driving a prominent industry in a time of uncertainty.  We then heard from Mr. Steve Johns, an aviation insurance broker from Michigan with over 25 years of experience in the industry.  Mr. Johns spoke about insurance rates and that they are decreasing and have been for some time now, helping the unstable market in these times.  Mike O’Keeffe from Banyan Air Service also spoke with us about FBO and aircraft sales being positive in late 2013 and early 2014, again showing good signs for our industry at the moment.

Check out the recap of the entire NBAA Forum in Boca Raton on our COB YouTube page!

Check out the recap of the entire NBAA Forum in Boca Raton on our COB YouTube page!

To wrap this all up I just want to reassert that general aviation is such an important piece in the global economy.  It isn’t only a thing of pleasure, it is a definite business tool for everyone from middle managers to top level management in all sorts of industries.  Flying in an airplane is a true form of being able to time travel, something that people have been dreaming about for quite some time.  Being able to travel anywhere quicker than the airlines, get closer to the destination you are really going to, and still have an office to work in with wifi connectivity makes business aviation a go-to answer for any sized company or family really.  Thanks to organizations like NBAA, AOPA, and EAA and initiatives like No Plane No Gain, general aviation is on an upswing and might once again return to its glory days.

No Plane No Gain

For more coverage of the NBAA event in Boca and other ERAU College of Business and aviation news, join me on the new COB Report video series on our YouTube channel at youtube.com/user/eraubusiness and view our newest video recap on the NBAA event in Boca Raton (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lmefabO_nI).

Happy flying,

Kyle

Me at NBAA BCT

 

Welcome to 2014!

Hello again, dear readers!

I hope you all had a great holiday. I will be blogging about my shenanigans throughout spring semester, so tune in here for that! Shall we begin?

Two days down of the “semester of death” (named so by previous generations of Engineering Physics students), although most of the classes sound less intimidating than their reputations. This semester I’m taking 15 credits, consisting of the following… My first course Monday morning is called Electro-optical Engineering, which is basically just a whole semester of optics (i.e. designing telescopes and such so that we can look at neat things in space, or really really small things.) After a three hour break, which I’ll probably spend working in my lab doing SCIENCE, my last course of the MWF day is Classical Mechanics, which I call “physics I for grown-ups.” Essentially you take all the mechanics from physics I and do the problem in the real-world rather than making assumptions, such as that a falling box is not just a single point with no air resistance, or calculating the air speed velocity of a swallow without assuming a spherical swallow in a vacuum.

Why does my EP 391 book have a lion on it? What’s electrical about a lion? Textbook covers are so random.

Tuesday/Thursday is my longer day, starting bright and early at 9:45 am (early for me) with Spacecraft Systems Engineering. This course is about every single different system of a spacecraft, such as the cooling system, power system, optics system, etc. The professor told us that we will basically be learning a new system every week, resulting in net learning of like a bajillion things – in fact I already have four pages of notes just from the first day! (Disclaimer: In college, you usually don’t get a free “get the syllabus and learn everybody’s name” day.) Next up is my junior design class, which preps us for working on our final senior design projects that will take all of next year. Those tend to be like developing a numerical model or building a small satellite or something super cool along those lines – looking forward to it! Last, but almost definitely not least, I have Microcomputers and Electronic Instrumentation, which is more circuits and electrical engineering. Most of the class is a lab where we will be building some crazy electronics.

The coolest thing about this semester is that the new building is up and running… mostly. I know my lab currently lacks a desk, and a few of my classrooms got temporarily moved because the room is missing a wall… but I’m sure everything will be sorted out soon! I spent a good chunk of time yesterday wheeling a cart of very expensive computers over from the Lehman Building – good news is I didn’t break any of them! Once all of the moving and settling in is done, I will pretty much be spending all of my time on campus in that building – every single one of my classes plus my job. I wish they’d put a cafeteria in the first floor so I wouldn’t have to leave. The building is pretty fancy schmancy though; I should’ve taken some pictures but I didn’t get around to it – sorry!

-20F with -44F windchill. And this wasn’t even the worst of it. I was certainly happy to be sitting here in Daytona that day :P

My winter break was pretty great. I spent about 10 days back home in good ol’ Minnesota – and managed to avoid the worst of the winter weather! It got down to about -50 wind-chilll on Monday; the entire state was pretty much shut down due to the fact that you will get frostbite in 5 minutes at that temperature. Uffda. And here in Florida it was actually below zero at night, and in the high-30s/low-40s the next day – I was sitting at the mall and I heard a woman say “it’s so cold out there, it’s unbelievable.” And I’m sitting there in a t-shirt because I had just spent almost two weeks in single-degree daytime temperatures. I guess it’s all relative. Nonetheless those single-degree temperatures didn’t agree with my new-found Floridian-ism, and I arrived back home with a 102 degree fever and a nasty cough. Probably not the greatest moment of my winter break.

Our new doggie Helen :)

Highlights of my winter break include seeing The Phantom of the Opera live in downtown Minneapolis, which was amazing! Live theater is always so great, it’s too bad it’s not a big part of our society anymore. We also got a new fur baby! She is a three-year-old rescue doggie named Helen, and is thought to be a mix of hound and terrier. She’s the sweetest doggie ever, loves to be around people and is super well-behaved. Everybody in the family has fallen in love. I’m definitely her favorite – my mom says she was whining and kept wanting to go in my room after I left. Awww.

I wanted to take her to Florida with me but the rest of my family just wouldn’t have it. I’m sure she would’ve liked it better here though because she can’t stand the cold!

 

Cooking! If I ever make smoothies and they somewhat taste like curry, this will be why.

Other winter break events included sleeping 20 hours a day, playing some Pokemon and Zelda on my 3DS, and basically just doing nothing and loving it. School is hard – it’s nice to have some time to chill and do literally nothing for a whole day. One thing I did do was attempt to make some Indian food from scratch – like actually start from spices, veggies, and water, not just cut up some chicken and add it to a jar of sauce. It actually turned out pretty good, although the spices were a bit off. I’m going to try again this weekend. That is like my crowning culinary achievement though, because usually my idea of cooking is Shake ‘n’ Bake. This took three hours, which included bawling my eyes out chopping onions, measuring a ton of different spices (and forgetting the difference between TSP and TBSP), and blending everything together into a curry in my fancy new blender. It was 11:30 PM by the time we ate – just in time for the new year!

That’s about it for my Spring semester update. This should be an eventful semester, so check back every couple weeks to read all about it! Also, my birthday is in less than a month, and I expect a present from each and every one of you.

And as always – my metaphorical email door is always open! schroel2@my.erau.edu

-Lynsey

P.S. More new doggie pictures…

The best advice you could ever take

Hello Readers!

 I hope the New Year has been a good one for you so far. There are many exciting new things happening on campus to kick off the New Year. Our campus has been graced with a beautiful new building, the College of Arts and Sciences (COAS). I took a walk through it on this past Monday and what a sight it is! Five stories of the most modern classrooms and labs you’ll see, topped with the largest collegiate telescope in Florida. I have a physics class in the building and I’m quite certain it will be my favorite class simply due to its location there.

The New College of Arts and Sciences

If I could provide the best advice for success while at Embry-Riddle it would be summed up in one simple phrase…

Get involved!

Here at ERAU there is a wealth of resources available to students who are willing to go after them. 2013 was a transformative year for me at Embry-Riddle simply because I decided to do more with my time here on campus. It all began with the decision to pick up an election packet for a Student Government Association position. I was unsure of my place within Embry-Riddle and I didn’t know where I really fit in. With the election packet, I was tasked with gathering 50 signatures from the student body and writing a short essay. It was hard to ask students to support me in something I wasn’t totally certain of myself–but I did it anyway, I knew It was the right choice for me to get involved.

After a few weeks and some basic campaigning I was a student elected SGA official, specifically, a Representative for the College of Aviation.

With SGA involvement follows the opportunity to enhance student life at Embry-Riddle through the provision of services, events, and representation while providing a means for students to address issues with the administration. With my position I gained many exciting opportunities to meet staff on campus, interact with students, and do neat things I would have otherwise missed out on.

“Think of Embry-Riddle as being like a large buffet, you should chew and absorb as much as you can in your time here”

By far my favorite (and most tiring) part of 2013 was Fall orientation. From waking up at 6am to help signup new flight students for flight badges, to helping set up a dance party in the student center past midnight—I got to be an essential part of new students first days on campus. And it was a blast! What followed throughout my first semester was an expansion of my experiences and opportunities so fulfilling that I cannot even recount it all.

But that wasn’t all. I also took interest in The Avion Newspaper, which is the campus news outlet and a branch of our Student Government. Again, I was unsure if it was the right place for me to get involved but I attended meetings anyway, just to see what it was like. I wrote my first article in the paper and attended my first production on a Sunday afternoon to layout the paper. I wrote another article, and then another. I couldn’t seem to get enough, I loved what I was doing there, and the other staff members were very welcoming to me. By semester’s end I was among the top contributors to the paper, and I was offered a position as News Editor for Spring 2014. I took it.

 

 

 

 

My simple decision to get involved on campus with SGA led me down a path to many more neat experiences which have enriched my life here at ERAU. Through my experiences I was even able to acquire this blog writing position. It’s a truly humbling opportunity which I don’t deserve. Through this blog I get to interact with many prospective students like you and tell you about this great University.  Embry-Riddle has so much to offer you even beyond  its incredible degree programs. I encourage you to take a look into what is offered here, then come schedule a visit. Don’t let doubts hold you back, there could be a world of opportunities just beyond the next hill. There was for me.

You are always welcome to contact me with any questions, I am greatly encouraged by email feedback  wilkinsz@my.erau.edu

“You always miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take” — Wayne Gretsky