007 Study Abroad Continued.

10154897_10203209384772142_272986979081192414_nC-130s over Normandy! Kid in a candy store moment. It was so neat seeing 5 of them or so casually flying over at extremely low altitudes. All of Normandy was filled with great patriotism; we were all a part of something bigger in remembering those who had fought for our soil and freedom.


In the streets of Normandy, France, squandering for crepes

After Normandy, we took a ferry and headed back to England. Here, we first went to Swindon to check out the German Enigma machine at Bletchley Park. If you don’t know much about the machine, the British used it to decode messages that the Germans were sending to one another during WWII. The whole place used to be a huge intelligence base.

The next day, we went to the Culture in Conflict conference at the Defense Academy of the UK. It was a three day conference consisting of various speakers from all over the world- people from the military, government agencies, companies like Lockheed Martin, civilian contractors, and intelligence companies to the Israeli Air Force.


Cranfield University/Defense Academy of the UK

It’s things like this that confirm my passions. Hearing these people speak from all over the world was very eye opening. Most of them had spent time in Middle Eastern regions like Beirut or places in Afghanistan doing research. I was intimidated, but I was inspired. I couldn’t take many pictures here…sorry, guys! But the memory of this conference will remain ingrained in my mind forever.


Bath, UK

We had a free day in Swindon, so a few of us decided to visit Bath. Bath is a place that is exactly as it sounds; it’s famous for its ancient Roman Baths.


Somehow, I managed to come across this quote while I was abroad:

black background

It definitely struck me. This trip had opened my heart up to many possibilities in terms of where I could take my career. I never knew how many petals this rose of the intelligence field could have. And wow, am I amazed. Studying abroad is such a great idea if you’re thirsting for more knowledge. I went only knowing so few things and came back so much richer than before. Let travel change you. You learn a lot about yourself, too.. which is probably the most important thing you could understand, especially when you’re trying to find out, well, what you want to “do.” Make your passion so big that you can’t fully grasp it even if you travel the world. You can never know enough about your passion.. I guess that’s what makes it what it is. That’s what makes you discover brand new petals of the flower over and over again.

We’re in London next. I’m excited to visit again.

More coming!

USA Games!!!

Right now, as we speak (well as I type & you read) 17 SO athletes are competing at the 2014 USA Games in Princeton, NJ. The games are held once every four years and it is such an accomplishment to be chosen to compete. Our athletes are competing with other athletes all over the country and have already done some incredible things. The games officially started on Monday and will continue through Friday (June 20). This week is actually not so bad since I get to sit at a computer all day and look through pictures. The only downfall to that is that the 2014 USA Games page has over 5000 pictures just in the Opening Ceremonies page. Believe it or not, The Big Show from WWE was a part of the Opening Ceremonies as well as Jane Lynch. WWE is one of the sponsors for the USA Games. There was a bunch of other famous people who did some kinda of something at the Opening Ceremonies but I have no idea who their names are.

You know how they say everything is better in Kansas? Well, it’s true. We birthed the now 2014 power lifting champion, Chevi “The Manimal” Peters. Chevi won gold, two silver, and bronze medals in power lifting already! Another athlete, Morgan Dias won gold in the 1500M and 800M. We were really close to having another athlete win gold in the 1500 but his score was disqualified since his final run was 25% or more better than his preliminary score. When I heard that this morning, I was completely mortified and heartbroken that someone’s skanky politics could take away a dream like that. I literally wanted to cry right then and there.


Eric Kling, Gladys Figeroa, and Trevor Hallman. Each of these athletes participated in aquatics and place in the finals. Kling in 4th place swimming the 25YD Backstroke in 28.68 sec, Figeroa in 5th place at 34.13 sec, and Hallman in 2nd place at 20.01 sec. Congratulation to these wonderful athletes! #TeamKansas


Chris Leon holding his flowers after winning 3rd place in the 1500M. His time was 9 min, 3.04 sec. Congratulations Chris! #TeamKansas


Our ultimate powerlifting champion Chevi Peters. Chevi placed; 3rd in the male bench press with a score of 47.50, 2nd in the male squat scoring 92.50, second in male combo, and first in deadlift with a score of 132.71. Congratulations Chevi on such an accomplishment. #TeamKansas is so proud of you!


Our soccer team defeated Team New York twice and are now 3-1!


Morgan Dias (middle) won gold in the 800 M with a time of 9 min, 15.40 sec. Go Morgan! #TeamKansas.


The lighting of the cauldron during the Opening Ceremonies in Princeton, NJ.

In other news, my first press release is public! It was pretty hard adjusting to the style of writing here but it gets easier. Hopefully there will be more to come! Check out the link below!


When Life Hands You Lemons.. Ignore Them and Make Fried Chicken

This week began with a rough start. While I stopped at a store, my bicycle was stolen. I was actually getting a new pair of sneakers so I could be more comfortable on my ride in to work. What a happy coincidence! I contacted everyone I could, asked around the neighborhood, and filed a report. So, with my fingers crossed, I will keep on keeping on. On the bright side, I work with some incredibly kind and giving people. My roommate, Sharelle, and a co-worker, Christian, have offered to give me a ride whenever I need. I  have been treated so kindly by everyone that I work with, and although I was not feeling the best about having my primary mode of transportation taken away, I was awfully happy and appreciative of everyone around me for their help. I never thought I would get a chance to work with such kind people!

Although I may have started the week in the wrong gear, I certainly wasn’t going to continue on without changing it up. So the next morning I went on a 2-hour cruise with my roommate and our friends. Working for the military has its perks, and apparently one of them is getting on boat tours for $7. It was fun going around the bay and main island. There were all kinds of military ships at dock and fighter jets skipping along the main island’s airport. After that, we got delicious fish tacos and walked around the beach area. California has pretty beaches, but the water is not as clean or warm as it is in Daytona. So, I’m Embry-Riddle homesick, but I’m sure I will be missing San Diego when I head home in 10 weeks.

On the boat tour of San Diego

An actual ship from the Pirates of the Caribbean Film

Want this job!

USS Midway

What a Life!

Titanic has forever ruined the view of ship captains

Monday morning, I got to work and immediately started working on my project to create Human Factors professional classes and workshops. My mentor will be in charge of presenting and organizing these events for other professionals at our company. The goal is to teach professionals in other fields the proper user and usability test methods. I also worked on making a final report about the research I did last week on visually impaired people using a company-wide website. I am so incredibly sleepy from writing the 11 pages it took for me to get my points across to the designers and programmers. But boy do I love bossing around engineers and telling them that they’re wrong! I had it finished just in time for the weekly meeting. My boss said that I have good time management skills. That poor lady knows nothing about me, either that or I am very talented at making things seem more incredible than they really are.

I stepped up for another project at work. This time, I will be working on designing a website for a training group. I will be doing something called wire-framing. This is a process of sketching out design ideas and continually changing them until you reach the final design which will be coded by the programmers. You start this process by drawing out the design using a pen and paper (or towel or toilet paper). You will need a more high fidelity wire-frame to accurately test with people. This can be designed on PowerPoint or other design software. For now I am taking the list of activities someone can do using this website and grouping them into a logical pattern. In user-centered design, people call that designing the information architecture.

At my workplace there’s something called the New Professional Program that allows newly graduated students to try different projects going on with the different branches at our company. It’s a great program because it allows the student going through it to explore the options in order to find work that they enjoy doing. This week I was assigned writing up the projects at my branch to make us sound, “young, hip, and cool.” Which would be a somewhat accurate feel for my branch, aside from the whole young part. Most of the people I work with are 50 years old and up, so a majority of time they are worrying about their hips going out or complaining that they are too cold. No, I’m just kidding. But not really because they are very old. That gives me an advantage, though. If I can take in all of their advice and experiences, it will help me greatly in my career one day. Always take hand-me-down wisdom!

On Thursday, I learned how to shoot a gun… or 6. Since this week was only 4 days long for me, I went out with a few friends to a shooting range for my first time shooting a gun. I am not a huge fan, but I had to try it once just to say I tried it. It was very cool, but I had horrible aim and have the arm strength of a fetus. So, the shooting range was an unsuccessful success… if that makes any sense. And I realized it’s about time I start working out. So keeping to this thought, I went out with those same friends and ate half a pizza. The next few days were used catching up on a few Riddle-based projects.. and by Riddle-based projects, what I really mean is sleep. Sleep was greatly needed.

I think I look cool!

I ended this week at the Corvette Diner, a 50’s themed restaurant. I had a root beer milkshake with fried chicken (oh I miss the South) and watched the waitresses shamefully dance with their co-workers. I was appalled and felt slightly uncomfortable as our waitress came up to our table and started spinning my hair around in a twist. I began to growl at her little when she started putting straws in my hair to keep the twist in place. Thankfully, my roommate, Sharelle, who had joined me said that was part of the “act” at that restaurant. I ignored Sharelle the first few times she said it was ok, but she got my attention when she sprayed water in my face and yelled, “Bad Carolyn!” My hair did look pretty lovely. I will definitely be coming back so that she can style my hair with straws for my wedding.


A bow-tie out of straws!

Keep coming by!

Fun at Work

I did not want to go to work this week. I was having so much fun this weekend. I had kayaked across the San Diego Bay (and by across I mean about 30 feet). It goes right alongside the airport so I was secretly being a Riddle geek staring at planes when I should have been paddling. It’s ok I only got yelled at twice. I had gone with my roommate Laura, her brother, and a friend. Afterwards, we were so hungry we went to a restaurant downtown and I had a giant burrito, even though I really wanted the chicken and waffles. That night, as I was still eating the burrito, I watched some reruns of The Nanny. Don’t make fun of me, you all love that show you just don’t know it yet. And Fran Drescher has the voice of an angel.

I don't even have a paddle in my hand. What a surprise!

I want it I want it!!

Not paying attention

On Monday I went to lunch with a co-worker who gave me a lot of information on the benefits of working for the government. He talked about how being an employee at our company funded the education for his higher-level degrees. This was good to hear in the hopes that this company invites me back for another internship or possibly a job. I also applied for graduation this past week! Since I got an internship, I get 6 credits knocked off of my requirement to graduate. That means I will be graduating an entire semester early! Guess I’ll have to start practicing walking across a stage. No I won’t actually do that, if people saw me they would recommend me to a psychiatrist.

For my current projects here, I have been tasked with some pretty unique projects. I have been researching control interfaces for operating unmanned vehicles. I was also tasked with creating a set of classes and workshops for human factors instruction. These will be courses given to people working for Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) on how to make designs user-friendly and how to do user/usability testing. I used a lot of material from those expensive books I bought for my classes. So, they may come in handy for at least one other short period of your life.

Later in the week, I was tasked with doing research with the employees at SPAWAR who are completely blind. I asked them to do a “think-out-loud protocol” while they used a screen reader to navigate through a website. Human Factors researchers use this method to “see” what is going on inside the head of a participant (without opening it up). We ask a participant to say what they are doing, thinking, or feeling while they perform a task. For this particular study the participants were using software called a screen reader that reads everything shown on a webpage to them as they navigate through it. Imagine navigating through a website with a blindfold over your eyes based on how someone is describing it to you. That’s what the participants were doing as we tested. And they did awesome because they use that program for every task they do for their job. I finished that day feeling like a lazy employee compared to these guys.

Within SPAWAR, my division decided to promote the awesome people that work here. So they decided to get the branches from our division and film a couple of clips of the people in each branch dancing to the song “Happy” by Pharrell. My boss brought in embarrassing clothes and accessories and laid it all across the table. Since I am about 3 weeks old here, still very timid, and trying to make a good impression, I did the only logical thing I could think of for that situation. I picked up a princess tiara and pink sunglasses out of the pile of accessories put them on the 50 year old guy standing next to me, and somehow convinced him to let me be the leading man in a swing dance. We danced better than everyone else, except I was too short to spin him around.

On the subject of dance, I also signed up for some classes. A few weeks ago I signed up to do a beginner’s adult ballet class. I remember enjoying it as a kid, but I got pushed up to an advanced class too early and did not understand any of the French these crazy teachers were speaking. I could remember looking at the other girls’ feet on the night of the recital. So, I decided to have another go at it in the hopes that my chicken arms get some tone. In reality chickens probably have much more upper body strength than me. Anyways, I did my first class and surprisingly remembered a few words and positions. There were a few girls around my age, but most of the women were older.

As part of giving interns out-of-work learning experience, every Thursday SPAWAR hosts a technical seminar in a variety of areas. This week was advanced photonics and the potential uses for this area of study. Another speaker brought in Google Glasses and showed some of the cool functions of it. As part of the Human Factors GEARS Lab, I was the only student in this group who had even seen Google Glass in person. In case you were wondering, yes, I felt special. The same speaker talked about some cool apps available that can turn a sheet of paper into a 3-D image, or overlay a digital image to a 6-sided block. If you have a smart phone, download Elements 4D by DAQRI or Enchantium. They both are cool augmented reality apps for your phone!

On Friday night I learned how to play poker. I had played Texas Hold ‘Em before, but forgot everything I learned. My roommate, Sharelle invited me to her friends house where there were two very large tables set up. I actually received tremendous help from the gentlemen at my table. Two of them would look at my cards and tell me what to bet, when to stay in, and when to give the other guy dirty looks. I bought in for $10, and walked out of that joint with a whopping $7 more. Don’t act like you’re not impressed. Not bad for a first-time-in-a-really-long-time-er. At that point I had decided that there is no way I will make more than $7 and decided to cash out and go to another friend’s house. Once we got there, we busted out the Wii and played Mario Kart. Sleepy and delusional I crashed into every wall in the game and came in 7th place at best. My gaming ability was really top-notch that day.

Rolling in the chips

From Spring to Summer

Wow am I tardy on writing! Sorry about that – I promise I’ll keep up this summer, especially because I’ll have plenty to write about.

Spring semester went out with a bang. The Semester of Death has been vanquished, and not a moment too soon! I had four final projects to do, four final exams to take, and my senior thesis proposal to write. Combine that with moving to a new apartment and putting on a musical and you get one stressed out future-rocket scientist. But as I am writing this from the end, I’ll skip ahead and tell you that it all works out okay.

I figured I’d tell you guys a little bit about some of the cool final projects I worked on in my junior year at ERAU. For Optics we designed a satellite-based camera that can take pictures of Mars rovers from orbit around Mars. This was done using some math and some CAD (Computer-Aided Design) software, and the end result turned out excellent. In my Microcomputers class we had to design, build, and program a sun sensor with a ton of other features. That one didn’t turn out amazingly – you know how it goes, it works great for you and then you present it for the professor and it just decides not to work for no reason – but it was definitely a very cool project. I also wrote and submitted the proposal for my undergraduate thesis, which you can read here if you’re interested.

I was also inducted into Sigma Pi Sigma – the national physics honors society – this semester! So… yay!


3D CAD drawing of the telescope lenses used in our camera design for Optics.

A picture of our sun sensor. It may not be pretty, but you can see how complicated and totally awesome it is.

A picture of our sun sensor. It may not be pretty, but you can see how complicated and totally awesome it is.

Hitting the books for finals! This was the stack on my desk for a couple weeks.

Hitting the books for finals! This was the stack on my desk for a couple weeks.


Back behind my saxophone to put on a production of Jekyll & Hyde!

Back behind my saxophone to put on a production of Jekyll & Hyde!

Oh, I mentioned I played in a musical. The Riddle Players Theatre Company put on the first musical in like 9 years or something along those lines…. Jekyll & Hyde! The story of the aspiring scientist who splits into two personalities: one good and one evil. It’s a great show; I’ve been addicted to the soundtrack ever since. I got to play my saxophone in the pit, and it was a ton of work but a ton of fun. We put on a fantastic production, and I loved having the opportunity to get back into playing some music, which really doesn’t come too often at ERAU, unfortunately. It was also cool to see a bunch of engineers/scientists/pilots/left-brain people put on a musical, and do such a great job of it – we really have a lot of undiscovered talent hidden within all of this math and science.

I’m not going to write a ton of words in this entry. I’ll just throw a bunch of pictures at you to show some of the cool things I’ve been up to….


I moved out of my own apartment and into a two-bedroom with a friend of mine. It's cheaper, and she makes me breakfast sometimes. So no complaints there. It's also much nicer - same complex but new appliances, cabinets, and I have a giant bathroom and closet.

I moved out of my own apartment and into a two-bedroom with a friend of mine. It’s cheaper, and she makes me breakfast sometimes. So no complaints there. It’s also much nicer – same complex but new appliances, cabinets, and I have a giant bathroom and closet.

Sally the Space Hamster is still doing well. She likes to watch me do homework and climb all over my books and notes.

Sally the Space Hamster is still doing well. She likes to watch me do homework and climb all over my books and notes.


These are the kind of problems we did in Classical Mechanics. Quite whimsical, but they lose their fun once you start to work through the math!

These are the kind of problems we did in Classical Mechanics. Quite whimsical, but they lose their fun once you start to work through the math!

With school being done, May is a fantastic time of year to hit the beach in Daytona!

With school being done, May is a fantastic time of year to hit the beach in Daytona!


My roommate and I made a Pi Pie after finding rhubarb at the Daytona farmer's market. Strawberry rhubarb - it was yummy!

My roommate and I made a Pi Pie after finding rhubarb at the Daytona farmer’s market. Strawberry rhubarb – it was yummy!

I drove my boyfriend up to Savannah, GA for his internship with Gulfstream and stayed up there for a couple days. It's a neat place. But I think he's going to write a blog so I'll let him talk about that!

I drove my boyfriend up to Savannah, GA for his internship with Gulfstream and stayed up there for a couple days. It’s a neat place. But I think he’s going to write a blog so I’ll let him talk about that!


Back home in Minneapolis for a couple weeks. The longer you spend away from home the more you appreciate it, even if growing up you thought it was the worst place ever and wondered how anybody could ever live in such a frozen tundra. But now I'm like "hey, the summers aren't death, and the city is shiny and pretty."

Back home in Minneapolis for a couple weeks. The longer you spend away from home the more you appreciate it, even if growing up you thought it was the worst place ever and wondered how anybody could ever live in such a frozen tundra. But now I’m like “hey, the summers aren’t death like Florida, and the city is shiny and pretty.”

My little brother graduated from high school this weekend! I guess he's not so little anymore. I tried to recruit him to ERAU, but he wasn't interested - darn!

My little brother graduated from high school this weekend! I guess he’s not so little anymore. I tried to recruit him to ERAU, but he wasn’t interested – darn!


I head out to Mountain View, California on Sunday to start my summer at SETI, so you’d better believe I’ll be writing about that. I just wanted to pop in and give a quick update on all the things I’ve been doing since my last entry. As always, feel free to shoot me an email or comment on this post if you want to ask questions or just chat with an awesome Riddle student.

Until next time!

Giant’s Causeway & Normandy, France.


On Wednesday we went to Giant’s Causeway up in Northern Ireland – an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns (mostly hexagonally shaped). These uniquely shaped columns along the ocean are the result of an ancient volcanic eruption on the Northern Ireland coast. It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.





We arrived in Lisieux, France on Thursday night for the 70th Anniversary of D-Day on Friday, June 6. The celebration was incredible. A bunch of important people, from Obama and Queen Elizabeth to the US Secretary of the Army, to name a few, were there. We started by going to a museum to see a 1,000 year old script written on William the Conqueror, followed by a stop for crepes. I had never seen so much busy-ness in a foreign country. The gendarmerie (French military force) were on every street corner asking every car where they were going and who was in the car. The security was very serious. We headed to Arromache beach first for the celebration; the beach was completely covered with D-Day re-enactors, military tanks and vehicles.



After that, we headed to Omaha beach, one of the beaches where the US fought on. We also visited the American cemetery above Omaha, where Obama had previously spoken a few hours before. That night we headed back to town and had a great talk about D-Day over dinner. Needless to say, we were all speechless.


I loved France. It was a perfect time to put my French to the test and I don’t think I spoke English once except to the students with me. I want to go back already! Please mom…


On Saturday, the D-Day festivities continued. We went to Utah beach (another US beach) and a few museums. We also went to a neat festival in the town and grabbed a couple eclairs and jambon et fromage baguettes. We also got to meet the Secretary of the US Army and some secret service. That was definitely neat. It was also nice to see a lot of American military present at the celebration, they had already been there for about a week beforehand.

DCIM100GOPROView from my room in France

Today, we decided to go to Juno beach where the Canadians fought. These beaches were very solemn but had freedom written all over them. Some of the German bunkers were still intact and we got to walk inside of them. There aren’t many times where you can say you’re just hanging out on top of an old World War German bunker at the beach, especially on the D-Day 70th Anniversary. These past 3 days were a blessing.


We took the bus back onto the ferry to England and drove to Swindon, where we will be staying until Friday when we head to London. Tomorrow we’ll be going to Bletchley Park, where we’ll get to see the German Enigma Code Breaker. Very excited!

Three Day Week

Two weeks into my internship and I have learned so much about what I will be doing in my career one day. Being able to apply the methods I’ve learned in class to real-world applications is like a sigh of relief. I have paid A LOT for my education, and it is finally paying me back. It’s comforting to know my education will allow me to not only support myself, but to support the things I have wanted to check off my bucketlist.

This week was only three days long! It started off with Memorial Day. I celebrated it by going to this area called Cabrillo National Monument with my roommate Laura, her friend, and her brother Robert. We took a bus down past my workplace and down to a monument surrounded by the gravestones of fallen soldiers. The area surrounding the monument is called Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery and had over 100,000 graves lined along the rolling hills that protrude San Diego bay and the Pacific. They had a service celebrating the lives of those who died in service. I was particularly comforted when the address was given by someone close to home. Major General Steven Busby was introduced as an alumni of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. I was very proud to share the same alma mater with  the distinguished guest speaker who stood before this crowd of thousands of people. Embry-Riddle students are going places!

Some of the gravestones



Met up with some French Horn band geeks like myself. They performed at the ceremony.

Steven Busby

After the service, we all walked amongst the gravestones. The three people I had joined that day had either served or were still enlisted. I used the holiday to ask them about the many great experiences they had in the military, a lot of it applying to what I do my research in. We went out to a great restaurant near the beach and talked about plans for the three day weekend coming up. It was a relaxing day to start my three-day work week.

Myself, Laura, and her friend after lunch.

Tuesday morning I was in charge of creating a questionnaire to send out to employees at SPAWAR. The employees will be using a new online system and I was tasked with asking them what functions are most important in their line of work. I was also using that same system to test with people who are visually impaired. There are people employed by SPAWAR who are completely/partially blind, and this company strives to comply with ADA standards. Everyone here is seen as equal and should be allowed the same employment opportunities. My boss is tasked with ensuring they are being treated equally. I was very proud to work on a project that is intended to help those with a disability.

Aside from work tasks, I am also working on a project with a team at Embry-Riddle. We are working on changing the voting system so as to make it less of a “burden” and more of an enjoyable experience. For this system, it is pertinent that everyone eligible to vote can do it and can do it easily. In this project, I was able to use what I learned at work with the project I’m doing for school. Ensuring the visually impaired are considered in the design of our new voting system will keep us a step above the other competitors in this project.

Although it was a short week, it was certainly a busy one. Because my employer abides by the rotating work week, every other Friday is taken off. So, on my “empty” work day I woke up to the smell of bacon and pancakes. That’s right my roommates are awesome. Sharelle, who’s room is just above mine had made breakfast for Laura and I. I stumbled upstairs in a sleepy stupor to find pancakes covered in bananas, strawberries, and drenched in syrup. Sharelle had made me a plate of pancakes, eggs, and bacon. I don’t think I will ever wake up happier in my life. I never want to move back, I never want another roommate, I just want to stay here forever!


As if that weren’t enough free food for the day, Laura’s brother Robert invited us over for a barbecue that night. So I made a bowl of macaroni salad and was welcomed there with ribs and delicious sides. I have never been this spoiled in my life. I slept like a fat baby that night. Getting up on Saturday morning was an overwhelming struggle. But I woke up so that I could join a co-worker in an area called Balboa Park. There was an introductory class on archery that I just had to join. And I didn’t do half bad. After a half hour of practice, there was a competition to get the arrow closer and closer to the target. You had to keep all of your arrows within a certain ring around the target, and I made it to the 7th round! I dropped out when we had to make it in the third surrounding ring. To celebrate we all got balloons, pinned them to the target and had to pop them. I made it on the first try! It looks like I’m going to the hunger games. Afterwards, we walked around the park area. There were so many different museums, gardens, art galleries, restaurants, and performance halls. It was a great side of San Diego I hope to explore in the future.

Hunting for Dinner

Outside the Air and Space Museum in Balboa Park

Some pretty views

Keep coming back!

KC Torch Run & Summer Games

All of the work I’ve done up to now has finally payed off. This weekend, the Special Olympic Summer Games is going on in Wichita, Kansas at Cessna Stadium. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to attend the opening ceremonies, but I’m still getting a lot of enjoyment from all the photos taken prior to. All this weekend, residents of the five different regions have carried their torches to the next region, ultimately arriving at Wichita for the Summer Games to commence.

For me, the highlight of all this is seeing the athlete profiles I wrote on the Hall of Fame inductees inside the actual program that EVERYONE received! Of course I had to get a copy of it for myself to keep, but that is freakin’ awesome!!!!

I just wish I would’ve gotten to see the opening ceremonies for myself, but I’m sure it was a great time.

You can also check out what’s going on via Facebook: @Special Olympics Kansas!

Local residents of Lansing, KS running the torch throughout the city.

Local residents of Lansing, KS running the torch throughout the city.

CEO Chris Hahn (center) with an SO athlete and donor.

CEO Chris Hahn (center) with an SO athlete and donor.

KC Torch Run. Olathe, KS was the first city this year to start the torch run.

KC Torch Run. Olathe, KS was the first city this year to start the torch run.

Summertime And It’s Business As Usual

cubWell hello fair readers, it’s been a while since I’ve updated you!

My Spring semester was one of the most challenging so far in my time here at Riddle, Primarily because of Physics II, but I passed, and we’re on to better things. I’m staying in Daytona beach this summer to finish CFI and CFII, I’m almost done with CFI and then I can apply to work here at Riddle as a Flight Instructor! that’s something I’ve been looking forward to since I got here in Fall of 2011 as just a student pilot with 17 hours. I’ve learned so much since then, and grown in my knowledge and experience.

I’m also here to start on my SENIOR YEAR. How wild is that? I could have sworn I was moving into Doolittle hall just a few weeks ago as a freshman

I’ll be taking AS408- Aviation Safety, and AS402-Airline Operations. They are both senior level courses teaching the higher level correlation of knowledge. In Safety we report on Aircraft accidents, our presentations analyze the accidents from a Crew-Resource-Management standpoint. It’s a sobering project, as we see the mistakes that led to a breakdown in control and the subsequent crash.

“A Smart man learns from his mistakes, but a wise man learns from the mistakes of others”

In Airline Ops we study the structure of  part 121 air carriers and management techniques. We answer questions like, How does an airline run? How does it make money? what makes an airline successful? why do airlines fail? It’s also a really fun class. I feel like these courses are pulling together all that I’ve learned over the past few years and testing it.


I got the chance to go flying in the Piper J3 Cub again the other day with my friend Michael Breshears. He’s the same guy that took me flying in my last blog post from Early April. We left from Deland Airport (KDED) and flew to our home airport at the Spruce Creek Fly-in (7FL6). I moved into the flyin at the beginning of May, and it’s like a dream come true. The Spruce Creek Fly-In is a community of homes built around a 4,000 x 150 foot runway. There’s also an 18-hole Championship Golf course too! too bad I’m not really a golf fan.

While flying we practiced some fun turns and maneuvers, as someday I’m gonna get my tail wheel endorsement. He let me take the controls and soar around. And boy, It’s a real airplane!  My days of being lazy with the Rudder in a 172 are over. It’s essential in a more basic plane like the Cub. We floated above swamps in the golden sunlight of a passing Florida Summer day. The air was cool, and the wings willing to take us wherever we wanted.  We then flew back to Deland as it was getting dark. The J3 can’t fly at night, as it has no lights and would violate 14 CFR 91.209!


I’ll also be working as the Editor-In-Chief of The Avion Newspaper this summer. I was the only one who was qualified and wanted to stick around for the summer. It allows me to bring a little bit more of my personal creativity (and lots of airplanes) into the Newspaper. I really enjoy writing, and I hope to include it in a career someday. The Avion has been instumental to my growth while here at ERAU, it’s given me real-world experience in dealing with organizations outside of school such as the Kennedy Space Center, United Launch Alliance, and the Daytona Beach Rotary Club. I’ve learned a lot of practical skills too such as professional photography, editing copy, and working with Adobe InDesign. More than that, I just love it! work hard to find multiple passions while here at ERAU, it’s not just about getting a degree, it’s about forming yourself into a well-rounded individual. A professional!

Does anyone know of any jobs from traveling Pilot journalists? ha, I guess I’ll dream on for now.

cub2_50The Flight line is just about to get a replenished fleet, so I’ve spent a lot of time communicating with the head of the Flight Department about the arrival dates and information on the aircraft. I visited the hangar to get some photos of the new Piper Arrows! we’re getting 5 new Piper Arrows with Garmin G500 glass cockpits. We’re also getting 21 new Cessna 172 NavIIs with Garmin G1000′s. After the new planes arrive, the fleet will be all glass for the very first time.

arrowIf you’re coming to Embry-Riddle this fall, or soon, you have an amazing array of great experiences lined up for you. All you have to do is go after them! If you have any questions, feel free to email me at wilkinsz@my.erau.edu and i’ll help you out. This is truly the best university in the World!





007 Study Abroad: Belfast, Ireland.

IMG_84702.5 Week Study Abroad in Ireland, France, Great Britain


Greetings from Ireland! Location: Belfast Peace Walls

Official Day 2 has just ended and it’s 10pm in Belfast right now, but feels like it’s 5pm! Most of us arrived in Belfast on Sunday. After a 6 hour flight, sleep deprived, hungry, and after having an interesting encounter with customs, we were ready to go to bed. Of course, with the time change, we couldn’t until later that night. So, that day we walked around the streets of Belfast gathering up Belgium chocolates, last minute essentials, and a crazy amount of shepherds pie. Our hostel, the Vagabonds, is extremely nice and is filled with various free souls (mostly students) from all over the world. Every hall is decorated with historical pieces of Belfast and sprinkled memories. It’s cozy and quaint. I couldn’t complain.


IMG_8394Inside the hostel

BpHN3uXIEAAxXrVDowntown Belfast

IMG_8425For the beginning portion of Summer A, us students took two main courses: HS 405, Emerging Topics In Homeland Security and HS 325, Terrorism: Ideologies, Origins, and Goals. We mostly discussed the time of the Troubles here in Belfast, the time of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and their experiences with the British Government.

saSigning the Peace Wall
(this peace wall was intended to separate the Catholics from the Protestants during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The city people do not plan on taking the wall down anytime soon.)

Yesterday, we had two political tours around the city of Belfast; one tour from an ex member of the IRA and the other from an ex member of the UUP. To say the least, it was a very interesting experience because we got to hear both sides of the story during the times of the Troubles.DCIM100GOPRO

sa5sa6Oldest pub in Belfast

Today, we went to Queen’s University for a lecture. The University was beautiful! We listened to two professors from the Institute of Conflict Transformation and Social Justice; they mostly spoke about the time of the Troubles here in Northern Ireland. We certainly gained a few gems of wisdom on the conflict.

10367162_10203175519045520_1323439026141113012_nDCIM100GOPRODCIM100GOPRODCIM100GOPROCity Hall

DCIM100GOPROTomorrow, we’ll be hopping over to Giant’s Causeway for a tour of a great volcanic plateau on the ocean and experience old Irish castles and whiskey tasting. Thursday, we head to Normandy, France for the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

If you are interested in studying somewhere outside the US, definitely consider it for the future. You will gain a completely different perspective on not only social aspects, but also academics as well. And take the risk of going to somewhere foreign to you! The leap is totally worth it, after all.

Here’s a great quote on growth: “It is not that we love to be alone, but that we love to soar, and when we do soar, the company grows thinner and thinner until there is none at all. …We are not the less to aim at the summits though the multitude does not ascend them.”- Henry David Thoreau

Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and get uncomfortable. Safety does not always lie in security, which is why we grow when we are in unfamiliar situations. Allow yourself the chance for that growth.
Keep you posted.