July 4th with America

Well, I did it. I am now an adult! That’s right, I was approved for a credit card. So I guess it’s time I recognize my impulse to buy chicken wings and illegal zoo animals, and buy them anyway! Just kidding government, I don’t do that. I just sell them. Just kidding again.

Also kids, apparently it’s not good to buy whatever you want with credit cards. That’s your lesson for the day. The rest of this post will be pure nonsense.

I didn’t do much on Monday. I continued working on all of the pages of the website I am helping design for military training. Tuesday, I made the website look stunning. By the time I was done with it, you could switch between different pages of the website and interact with all buttons and icons that were on the display. I may not be programming, but I am getting the same result. I also made a survey on surveymonkey to send out to the project leads at my branch asking about what they were working on.

On Wednesday, I presented the progress I made on a website to a very scary person on the opposite side of my workplace. He is the type that is about 5’3”, but incredibly intimidating. Coming in to the branch where there are many computer scientists, it was very hard to prove to my co-workers that I was capable of creating something. And this computer scientist in particular was very anti-human factors. In other words, he didn’t quite understand what I could offer to the project, and was a skeptic to the importance of human factors input.

As one of my mentors and I walked down to give the presentation on what I had created since our last meeting, I was a little nervous. We walked through the giant, heavily locked doors in the basement of the building and I got my computer ready to present. He sat down, looked at the home page, and said, “You guys did this?” My mentor replied, “No, Carolyn did this.” He looked at me surprised, and said “This looks very nice, great work!” He went through the rest of the website I had created and picked a few things on each page that should be fixed. At the end, I had a list of little details that needed adjustment, but overall he was impressed with the quality and the number of pages within the website I had created in the previous week. The feeling you get when you prove someone wrong is comparable to that awesome feeling you get when you sneeze or when you punch a shark. It’s the best feeling in the world.

The weekend started early because of the fourth of July. My roommate, Sharelle, and I went to two malls that were really close to our apartment. We had to go shopping for some shoes and clothes since we will be spending next weekend in… VEGAS! That’s right! I had to spend Friday morning shopping for new shoes and a nice shirt, or two. What a bummer!

When we came home I dropped off my 57 shopping bags and ran over to the park across the street. It is a long, dog/human park that runs along the bay, and had tons of people flying kites, playing games, and talking with friends. Some of my co-workers were there along with all of their friends. They were having a barbeque, so I hung out for a while eating watermelon and throwing water balloons at people I don’t know. Then the other intern (Brittany), her fiancé, and I went to the San Diego fair. It was not that far away, but it took us an hour and 15 minutes to get there. There were so many people there that we were stuck in traffic on the exit for an hour. Yes we went 1 MILE AN HOUR! The line to get tickets was even longer, but when we finally got in to the fair we went crazy with food. I got a giant turkey leg and was the happiest kid in the world.

Co-intern/ERAU master Brittany Swigert with her dog, Shae.

Co-intern/ERAU master Brittany Swigert with her dog, Shae.

Fun at the park across the street

Fun at the park across the street

This cute little kiddo who wanted to pet Shae. Looking very American!

This cute little kiddo who wanted to pet Shae. Looking very American!

ME WITH MY TURKEY LEG! As big as my face

ME WITH MY TURKEY LEG! As big as my face

A goat standing on a table. Not sure what else to say about this...

A goat standing on a table. Not sure what else to say about this…

The real reason I went to the fair on the fourth of July was for the band that was playing that night. They are called AMERICA; can you think of a better band to play on independence day? On top of them perfectly fitting the celebration, I love the band itself. I have been watching videos of them for years and listening to their music for as long as I can remember. They are really old, were popular in the 70’s, but people still know the songs they wrote today. “Horse With No Name” and “Sister Golden Hair” are some of their bigger hits. Ohhh, now you know who I’m talking about, right? No? Alright, I have an old person’s taste in music. Anyways, they were PHENOMENAL! These guys have been singing for 40 years and can still sing higher than I can! It was an incredible show with incredible fireworks and an incredible turkey leg. When everyone was putting their hands up during the songs, I was putting my turkey leg up. So, I think it’s safe to say they definitely saw me in the crowd. Even if it was as the crazy girl dancing with a giant stick of meat.

The awesome band America at the Fab Fair in San Diego. Playing the awesome song, "Sister Golden Hair."

The awesome band America at the Fab Fair in San Diego. Playing the awesome song, “Sister Golden Hair.”

Me, with Brittany Swigert, and her famous fiance from UCF, Jeff Abrams with America behind us.

Me, with Brittany Swigert, and her famous fiance from UCF, Jeff Abrams with America behind us.

Representing turkey legs at the concert

Representing turkey legs at the concert

The next day, I stayed in to get ready for another big night my roommates and I have been planning for a few weeks now. We invited some of our friends and all got dressed up to go to this place called Café Seville. It was a dinner/show where a singer and guitar player performed older Spanish music as three people did Flamenco style dancing. I ate so much which usually makes me happy, but this particular day was not the best time to eat a lot. Towards the end of the show, the two female dancers walked around the tables and they each grabbed one person to pull up on stage. I was not paying attention, and instead thought that they were just dancing around the audience. I was wrong.

The flamenco dancers at Cafe Seville, incredibly talented and beautiful

The flamenco dancers at Cafe Seville, incredibly talented and beautiful

I turned around to smile at one of the dancers and then she told me to stand up and come with her. So, I  agreed not knowing I was being led up to the stage. Yup, I embarrassed myself. I danced on stage in front of a load of people I don’t know, and even worse, some people I do know. Well now they know me a whole lot more. I was given a flamenco dancing lesson for the entertainment on others, and boy was it entertaining. I should only be dancing in a small dark room with nobody but myself.

To finish the night we took a cab ride around town. This was not an ordinary taxi, though. In San Diego, they have pedicabs where 1 person pulls up to 5 or 6 people on a bike! And here I am complaining about riding up hills to work. The people who drive them decorate them in all kinds of lights, fabrics and sometimes put roofs on them. I got to pick the music as we drove along the “Gaslamp District.” When you play the right music, people walking along the sidewalks will sing along with you as you go by. We got a tour of the party district without having to walk (which is great when you’re wearing heels). Even though I was very lazy and paid some poor guy to pull me along on his bike, I still slept for a good 12 hours when I got home that night. I think that’s only necessary for what’s coming next week.

Pedicab ride around town with some fantastic ladies

Pedicab ride around town with some fantastic ladies

Taking selfies with the pedicab driver while driving... causing accidents and stuff

Taking selfies with the pedicab driver while driving… causing accidents and stuff

The Secrets to Staying #ERAUFit: How to Stay on TOP of Your College Life.

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“Let the beauty of what you love, be what you do.” – Rumi

Location: ERAU

When I first came to college, there were a ton of various activities going on. Freshman year was so exciting yet so overwhelming because I was so thrilled about classes, flight, events, joining clubs & organizations, you name it! It wasn’t actually until my sophomore year that I realized things were buckling down; I had to prioritize. So what is the first step toward college success? Confidence. You can’t expect to succeed if you aren’t feeling determined!

TIME Magazine asked several students on what their secrets were to success in college- it’s probably not what you’d think! Leading off the confidence note, college is here to inspire you, to nurture you and to grow you. It’s up to you to determine your college experience. Let that soak in!

In that case, it’s important to pursue passion, not A’s. Wherever your passion takes you, you’re sure to succeed. If you go into a class with the wrong mindset, it can truthfully determine your success in that class. Ambition and innovation secede grades every time. Go into a class with curiosity, interest and attraction- not just a simple willpower to pass or make a good test grade. There is no substitute for the joy of doing something you enjoy and doing it well.

Get comfortable with failing. Sometimes, you’re going to have a bad test score, that’s ok. Actually, sometimes failing can be the best educator. You learn from mistakes and move on.

Set goals and make them real. If you really want to manage your time wisely, set realistic short term and long term goals, and give them a deadline. This will motivate you to work toward your goals without excuses. It will also help you develop a crystalized vision.

Make a personal connection to your studies. Leading off the growth aspect, it’s important to view your studies as something that is going to benefit and cultivate you as a young professional. College is a time to develop into you and who you want to be. Learning is about you. If you look at it this way, you’ll be sure to work harder and gain much more than just facts and concrete information; you’ll be able to see things in other perspectives and all different types of angles and be able to apply it to your everyday life.

Be active. This doesn’t mean just physically, but mentally as well. It’s important to indulge yourself in all the facilities and amenities your college offers such as a physical fitness center, tutor labs, study groups, clubs & organizations, etc. Expand your web network through Alumni associations (www.ERAUAlumni.org) or clubs on campus. Utilize tutor labs when you are unsure of a topic in class. Stay active at the fitness center (http://bit.ly/1sjI1UY) or join an intramural team and choose healthy options in the dining areas (www.eraudining.com). I couldn’t stress enough how much this will help you to flourish in your college career!

Find a way to contribute. Whether it be through an eco-club, a job, or even helping out a fellow classmate, find a way to give back to your university. Not only does this help you get out of your comfort zone, but it allows you appreciate the community around you and it grows your networking web. Try it!

Manage your time. I really stress this one because when I was a freshman, I wanted to join everything. First semester can be pretty overwhelming, especially if you’re coming from across the country like I did. Let your first semester be a trial phase on what you are truly interested in. Be picky about which clubs/organizations and activities you would like to partake in. Unfortunately, I wasn’t too selective with my time, and I ended up being slumped by spring semester (side note: Sophomore slump is a real thing, google it!). So choose activities that truly interest you and will benefit you. Also, take time to plan out your schedule around your classes e.g. when you will be studying, working out, eating dinner, hanging out with friends, etc. and stick to it! The earlier you learn these tactics the better off you’ll be in the long run. Form good habits now!

Go after what you love. You’ve already decided you want to go to college, now what could stop you? Sometimes, between the general education requirements and prerequisites, a must-do for any major, it’s easy to get caught up in the routine of everything and lose sight of your intellectual interests and gifts. If you see this happening, try to take at least one class that really sparks your interest every semester. Ever since I started college at Embry-Riddle, I’ve always had at least one class each semester that has made me super excited to learn more! Don’t forget why you’re at college in the first place- to find, learn, and ripen the thing(s) you are so passionate about. If you have the passion, use it. That’s how dreams are achieved.

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(For more tips, email: giannotw@my.erau.edu)

Hunting Aliens in California

Greetings, Earthlings!

First off, I apologize for being so tardy on this entry. I’ll try to be more timely for the rest of the summer. Anyways…

10460212_10152259266303719_86456628812285147_nI am writing to you from sunny Mountain View, California, home of the SETI Institute! For those of you who aren’t familiar, SETI is the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, a.k.a. professional alien hunters. You may think that that sounds like science fiction, but they are a legitimate research institution doing real science, which covers topics including geology, astronomy, biology, and everything in between. And it’s the coolest place ever! Mountain View is basically paradise on Earth – sunny every day (we were told not to expect rain all summer), temperatures in the low-60s in the morning when I leave for work with daily highs in the mid-70s, and NO FLORIDA HUMIDITY.

California is a neat place, with a lot of differences that I’m still getting used to. One of the first things I learned about the Bay Area is that grocery bags cost money – you have to bring your reusable bags or specifically ask to buy paper bags. I was very confused on my first grocery run when the cashier just piled my $60 worth of groceries at the end of the counter and then asked me if I needed a bag. I certainly wasn’t going to carry them all in my arms!

Riding the CalTrain up to San Francisco!

Riding the CalTrain up to San Francisco!

The thing I like most about this area is just the environment and culture. You walk through downtown Mountain View, and it’s all family-owned restaurants (lots of different ethnic cuisines), used book shops, bike stores, and small cafes with people sitting outside on their laptops. It’s gorgeous and feels totally safe and welcoming. Plus being in Silicon Valley, I get to drive past places like Microsoft, Google, etc., which is way cool. Not only that, but there are like four or five performing arts centers in the area – hate to bash Daytona, but it is certainly lacking in that regard! Another great thing is that you can get anywhere via public transit – which is certainly comforting, considering my car is currently parked 3,000 miles away. I’d never ridden a train before, so it was a new adventure for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s also very bike friendly here; I bike to and from work every day: 2.5 miles each way. And the weather’s perfect for it – especially first thing in the morning. In California, bikes are considered cars, so I bike on the roads, stop at stop lights, and use turn signals (and here everybody thought learning those hand motions in drivers’ ed was a waste of time!) It’s kinda scary to be in the road with the cars, but it’s also really neat.

Oh, and I forgot to mention… I may not be working at NASA this year, but I do live at NASA. We are all provided housing in dorms on site at NASA Ames. So hey, that’s pretty cool. SETI and Ames work very closely, in fact most of the SETI scientists also work at NASA.

Some of the cubicles at SETI. Every wall and surface in the office has a poster about space on it.

Some of the cubicles at SETI. Every wall and surface in the office has a poster about space on it.

My first week as a SETI intern was filled with presentations and lectures on all topics of SETI science. It was very cool to hear about all the different things going on here, and to meet science celebrities like Dr. Jill Tarter and Dr. Frank Drake. If you don’t know who they are, you should. The office itself is a lot like a university, minus the classrooms and students. Lots of offices with research posters covering all the walls, scientists walking around in attire ranging from those dressed more professionally to the ones in shorts and sandals, and free coffee all day in the break room. The thing I like most about this program versus an internship at a big, corporate company is just how chill it is. We dictate our own work hours (to an extent; you still have to work them out with your research mentor), wear whatever we feel like (though I’ve been trying to be a bit above my usual t-shirt and jeans fashion), and everybody is just really cool and friendly. It’s a great environment.

This is a plot of 2D temperature distribution in a protoplanetary disk.

This is a plot of 2D temperature distribution in a protoplanetary disk.

The scientist I’m working with this summer is Dr. Uma Gorti, and my project involves modeling the dissipation of protoplanetary disks, which is the astronomical phenomenon that forms planets. Basically what we’re investigating is how fast these disks are going away, and whether or not planets will form before they do that. So not directly hunting aliens but definitely still applicable – the aliens need planets to live on, y’know. I’m very glad I was selected for this project because it’s actually really similar to my work back at ERAU. These disks act a lot like our atmosphere as far as the fluids physics is concerned, and it will be great to have had the modeling practice when I begin working on the model for my thesis in the fall!

I’m also really excited because there’s a good chance I’ll get to present my research at a conference this year, and maybe even get a paper published depending on what kind of results we get. So crossing my fingers for that…!

The beautiful Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

The beautiful Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

The first couple weeks here have been jam-packed with fun. In addition to the lectures and beginning our projects, we’ve had a lot of opportunities to explore the area. On our first Saturday, we all went up to San Francisco to see some of the big tourist attractions: Lombard Street, China Town, and the Golden Gate Bridge. San Francisco is a wonderful city, and I’m sure we’ll be up there again because there’s so much to see and do. And it doesn’t feel icky or scary like some big cities do. Plus it’s just a $7 train-ride away from Mountain View!

One of the views from the Stanford Dish Trail

One of the views from the Stanford Dish Trail.

On Sunday a large group of us went to the Stanford Dish Trail for a hike. Well, sort of a hike – it was a paved road, but very hilly nonetheless. That’s another neat thing about California: there’s so much elevation, not to mention the mountains! Mountain View is very aptly named, because you literally see them in every direction. Florida is flat as a pancake. Which is good in its own way, but the scenery here just can’t be beat. But I digress. Anyways, this trail was really cool because it went past some of Stanford’s radio dishes, and from the top you get a fantastic view of the whole Valley and could even see San Francisco in the distance. It was also really cool to hike because in the biography of Sally Ride that I’m reading there’s a picture of her running that same trail. There’s just something neat about having been to the same places as such awesome, famous people.

A few of us interns outside the SF Giants stadium before the game.

A few of us interns outside the SF Giants stadium before the game.

Our second week of work was split by a company outing on Wednesday to see the San Francisco Giants play the San Diego Padres. For those of you who aren’t very sports savvy (like me), that’s baseball. And we totally kicked their butts – it was a no-hitter! Which means that the other team never even made it to first base. Ha. It was a lot of fun to hang out together, get the day off of work, and spend it in downtown San Francisco. The stadium was right on the bay, so we could see huge ships out in the water, which was way cool.

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“Make your meanest Kahl Drogo face.”

For the second Saturday, a handful of us went up to Oakland to volunteer for the Evolution Expo: a SciFi/science convention in its first year. And boy was that cool. I spent the day working at the photo booth, where fans would pay to stand next to celebrities and have their picture taken. Well, let’s just say the expo wasn’t very well attended, so we ended up spending a lot of time just chatting with the actors and astronauts, and taking some silly photos of our own. Some of the big names I got to meet are Jason Momoa (Kahl Drogo from Game of Thrones), John Rhys-Davies (well-known for Gimli in Lord of the Rings, but I knew him as the professor from Sliders), Tim Russ and Garret Wang (both from Star Trek Voyager), and Amanda Tapping (from Stargate, which I’ve never watched, but I just want to note that she was such a cool person!) They were all really cool. It’s funny to see actors as people and not as their characters. Amidst the actors we also got to chat with astronauts Joe Edwards and Wendy Lawrence. All in all it was a really cool experience, and I’m very glad I woke up at 5 am to do it.

The Sunday after the expo we all packed up into two big vans and headed up to Hat Creek Observatory and Lassen National Park, but I’m going to save that adventure for my next entry… :)

Until next time!

-Lynsey

It’s a Slow Season…

The last few weeks have been not quite as busy as before. Now that the Summer Games and USA Games have ended, things are really starting to breathe around the office until fall sports begin.

Last week, I celebrated my 21st birthday in Seattle, WA. I had a TON of fun and got to do a lot of exploring around. Seattle is definitely looking like a hopeful place to start a career post graduation. I even got to visit the Amazon Headquarters and see a snippet of how things work.

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At the Seattle Sea Wall near the Seattle Aquarium. It was such a beautiful day to be outside and enjoy all to offer!

A view of the Seattle Space Needle from the top of the Amazon Headquarters building.

A view of the Seattle Space Needle from the top of the Amazon Headquarters building.

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My cake from some heavenly bakery in Seattle. Chocolate with cherry filling. I’m pretty sure I had a slice every night until it was gone.

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The conclusion of Seattle’s Pride Week – Pridefest at the Seattle Center. We saw a couple get married, a bunch of crazy costumes, and other things that are better left unsaid. I also got my first “Seattle-Dog”, the best darn hotdog I’ve ever had!

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Got to be the guest volunteer for ComedySportz Seattle. I never knew I was so good at improve comedy.

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I couldn’t let the time go without showing my letters on the Puget Sound. Tri Sigma, Faithful Unto Death!

Since it has been a pretty slow week at SOKS (Special Olympics Kansas) and not much really going on, you can always check SOKS on Facebook (facebook.com/specialolympicskansas) for any upcoming events or just some good reads.

Road trip, Racing, and Rubbernecking

Road trip funTraveling with a race team across the country is nothing short of exciting, exhausting, and eye-opening all at the same time. The summer has been an adventure for me as I’ve been road trippin’ with the Larsen Motorsports teams in the U.S. and Canada. Right now we are on day three of our 1900 mile journey from Michigan to Edmonton, Alberta as we are getting ready to race at the IHRA Mopar Rocky Mountain Nationals. This is going to be our biggest race of the year so we are expecting an action packed weekend!

Backing up the Bays & Rupert Nitro Funny Car

Backing up the Bays & Rupert Nitro Funny Car

 

The last update I gave you was from Rockingham, North Carolina. I had an incredible 21st birthday at the racetrack and was lucky enough to be selected as an honorary crew member for the winning and record setting Bays & Rupert Nitro Funny car. Getting experience at the track, learning about the cars, and being a part of the setup/road crew has given me a whole new perspective on racing. I have learned that the attention to detail of the setup crew is what sets the stage for the entire weekend. We put in some long hours and hard work to ensure that everything is smooth sailing for the race and for the team.

Celebrating our birthday at the racetrack!

Celebrating our birthday at the racetrack!

Marisha Falk, in the Embry-Riddle jet dragster, also took her second win of the season and tied Elaine Larsen for the points lead in North Carolina. It still amazes me how I am living the dream as a college student at Embry-Riddle, as I am a part of a winning, professional race team at Larsen Motorsports. It sure does feel good to see that ERAU jet dragster in the Winner’s Circle. As Chris Larsen says, “not too bad for a couple rednecks and a bunch of college kids.”  Check out the video below that I made highlighting the ERAU jet dragster win!

Embry-Riddle’s Jet Dragster Road to Victory!
http://vimeo.com/96703597
Embry-Riddle Jet Dragster

Next stop – Budds Creek, Maryland.  After returning to Daytona for a few weeks, we began our month long roadtrip with our first stop being in Maryland. The plan for the month was to race in Maryland, drive to Grand Bend, Ontario for the IHRA Mopar Nitro Jam Nationals, stay in Michigan for the week in between our races, and make the trek to Edmonton, Alberta for the last race in Canada. As a Texas girl, I’ve never had the opportunity to explore anywhere in the north, so this trip would give me the opportunity to see the country.

The first night of racing in Maryland was rained out so the team was energized and ready to go for a great night of racing on Saturday. Elaine Larsen took the win in her Miller Welding jet dragster by 0.06 seconds against Dawn Perdue. Let me tell you, these ladies are about as competitive as you can get and battle to the very end week-in and week-out. That’s some good racing right there!

Celebrating Elaine's win in the Winner's Circle!

Celebrating Elaine’s win in the Winner’s Circle!

A Look In the Jet Technology Center Presented by ERAU
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=323680954451978&set=vb.145881218898620&type=2&theater

A look in the JTC

Sightseeing and enjoying the road trip has been some of the best times of my life! We’ve come away from this trip with a few good stories, to say the least. Not to mention Elaine driving seven miles through a construction zone with her rear trailer door open and dragging on the ground…Anyways, here are a few of the highlights from being on the road so far.

Visiting the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Air and Space museum in Virginia. I also like to call it airplane heaven.

Air and Space Museum

Team at the museum

Sightseeing in D.C. and checking out all of the National Monuments. It was quite an adventure driving all four trucks and trailers through the narrow D.C. streets…

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Going to Akron, Ohio – the birthplace of jet racing. This is where the shop of Art Arfons is located, also known as the Home of the Green Monster. Tim Arfons, Art’s son, gave us a tour of his shop and showed us the office that Art Arfons used to use. Traveling with the team has allowed me the chance to learn about the history of jet racing and drag racing in general. I’ve developed a whole new appreciation for drag racing after learning about its grassroots and about the pioneers in the sport.

Home of the Green Monster

 

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Next week I’ll update you on our Canadian adventures and the rest of our road trip fun! I sure do have some good stories to tell. :)

 

California’s Got Board Meetings.. Lots of Board Meetings

Hello Again! Thank you for coming back to listen to me ramble. This week I continued to work on the splash page for the military training website. At the beginning of this project, I was designing the website using very low fidelity mock-ups. And by low fidelity mock-ups, I mean drawing some pictures of a website on a sheet of paper or toilet paper or Kleenex. I did pretty well; my advisor said my drawings could pass for an advanced 8 year old, so I moved on to creating a more high fidelity mock-up. For people who claim to design websites, but don’t have the knowledge or talent to carry it out, there is a program called Axure RP (rapid prototyping). This is a very simple, intuitive program that allows people to show a website design without writing the code for it. You can also create links for other pages within the site and can “preview” how the entire website would work for the user. So, I’m very happy to have this skill because now I won’t get picked last for teams in my classes anymore!

My next project looked into designing a system for planning missions on aquatic vehicles. The systems used to do this are mostly paper-based. So, the branch I work for is giving the government an upgrade. It’s very deep work. HA! Get it? Deep, you know like deep water? Alright I’ll stop.

This Tuesday was my advisor’s last day at work for three weeks. She is taking time off to go on vacation in her hometown back in Colorado. So, she gave me a list of tasks to get done before she comes back. Oh! And she calls me a smurf, too. It’s probably because I’m shorter than the average 7th grader. I was also approached recently by a friend of a friend who said, “You are so cute! I just want to put you in my pocket!” Do you have any idea how scary it is for a stranger to tell you they want to take you and put you in a pocket? I’m getting off task, here.

On Tuesday, my boss invited me to participate in this event called CX SIG (Customer Experience Special Interest Group). There is an intern at my branch who is actually a graduate student in the Human Factors program at Embry-Riddle, so I invited her to come along. At this Customer Experience event, Human Factors specialists from all over San Diego come together for 1 night each month and evaluate an interface or product from a company. At this particular event, we evaluated the website for a company called “Personal Creations.” This is similar to the “Things Remembered” company, in that it allows customers to order products that can be personally customized before delivery. At this meeting I was instructed to act like someone who was trying to make an order and criticize any part of the website that needed fixing. At first, it is kind of weird to tell the programmers and representatives of the company how horrible their website looked, but as I continued, the arrogance in me began to bloom. Ha! Just kidding my arrogance was there all along.

After this event my boss and a few of my co-workers went to dinner at an Italian restaurant close-by. When we sat down, a friend of my boss and one of the participants of the CX SIG event decided to join us. I found out that he is actually an author of a very successful book used in the Human Factors world that I have been looking through over the past few weeks. He was also featured on NPR (National Public Radio)…a dream for most people! As we were heading out, he gave me and my co-workers his card and offered his help and advisement if we ever needed it. On the way back, I had to drive with my friend, Christian, because his apartment is across the street from mine. Since he brought his motorcycle, I had to hop on the back. Oh! And it was my FIRST TIME riding one!! We were about half an hour away from our apartments and took a highway almost the entire way home. I actually wasn’t scared for having the ground go below my feet at 70 mph. Now I have the itch to get a motorcycle, though. Which is a very expensive itch.

There were some other firsts this week in California. I also got my first Jack in the Box food. Oh boy Florida needs to get one of those. Although, I don’t know if my 5’2” frame can handle another 100 pounds. My other first happened on Saturday, when I attempted to paddleboard and surf. I met with some of the interns at SPAWAR who were trying to make friends while here for the next few months. We rented paddleboards and took them to this large bay where a lot of sailboats were kept. I didn’t fall! I can’t say the same for the people I went with. We also rented surfboards and took turns holding them in the water on the Pacific side of the peninsula. I say holding because that’s all we could do successfully (and unsuccessfully a few times). On the ocean, the water was choppy, and the waves were huge. I could not even stand without one side of the board sinking into the water. So the next time I go, I’ll start off in a puddle.

*Drools

*Drools

Boarding, Surfing, and Falling

Boarding, Surfing, and Falling

Paddleboarding on Mission Bay

Paddleboarding on Mission Bay

It was a really long day, and I had to get some food to wash down all of the seawater. I ate half a chicken at a restaurant called Phil’s BBQ. HALF A CHICKEN!! I’m well on my way to winning a food eating contest. On Saturday, I went with my co-workers and a few other friends to a fair by the closest shoreline called Ocean Beach. I got to ride a motorcycle again to get there! The main street had vendors of all kinds lined up and bands playing blues and rock. There were rides and carnival games at the end of the street set-up for children, but my friend decided they were there for everyone. It was fun watching him fall, but overall I enjoyed seeing the different things for sale. I brought a funnel cake.. and ate all of it! Stay tuned next week when I gain 14 pounds.

Eating Half a Chicken. Good thing I had a bib.

Eating Half a Chicken. Good thing I had a bib.

Cheap masquerade masks, shark fins you can buy for your dog, a shark (you know, like riding a bull), and some dancing fools

Cheap masquerade masks, shark fins you can buy for your dog, a shark (you know, like riding a bull), and some dancing fools

My co-worker trying to show up some kids

My co-worker trying to show up some kids

007 Study Abroad Continued.

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After Swindon, we took a two hour bus ride to London where we stayed for five days. I was excited to revisit the city and see how things had changed. Actually, nothing had really changed at all! Last time I was in London was during the summer as well, so the weather wasn’t too different. This Southern California girl definitely couldn’t handle the cold weather at night.

We did the touristy things like see Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London. We also went on a few “Spy Walks” around the city where we learned about the history of espionage through British lens’.

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The next day we visited the Churchill War Museum, where we got to visit Churchill’s underground war rooms, which were kept exactly in tact since the war. It was definitely neat to be a part of history.

Afterward, we got a VIP tour of the US Embassy in London (thanks Jose!) where we got to hear great advice from a speaker in the Embassy and receive a tour of the facility. It is the largest American embassy in Western Europe and it used to be the headquarters of the General Dwight D. Eisenhower.

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The last day, the group got a tour of Buckingham Palace. The trip was complete with a plane ride from Heathrow to Dublin, a 10 hour layover in Dublin and a plane ride back to New York and onto Florida. I really enjoyed my time abroad.

A little advice: if you are considering going abroad, please do it! However, make sure you plan well. It’s not like going on a trip with your family where you’re more comfortable. You and only you are responsible for yourself, and no place is like the United States, so be prepared before you go. Also, stay hydrated and sleep! To be honest, the most sleep I got was 4 hours a night. I never adjusted to the time change because I wasn’t motivated enough. Sometimes when you’re so excited about the travel, you forget to rest. From that, you become dehydrated and sick. I learned from my lessons, but it was still so worth it. I’m not a very good influence on that part, haha.

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In addition, pack light and bring proper clothing. All I brought was 1 check-in bag and a backpack, and that may have been too much. Of course, you have some room for luxury, but a 50 pound bag isn’t fun to lug up four heights of hostel stairs.

Overall, keep an open mind and be willing to learn- even about yourself. Travel makes you learn a lot more than you thought you could and gives you a great perspective on things so if you have the opportunity, seize it. You’ll regret it if you don’t. 

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If you have any questions about studying abroad through Embry-Riddle, please email me at giannotw@my.erau.edu.

A Midsummer Morning Update

Sunset at the Spruce Creek Fly-In

Sunset at the Spruce Creek Fly-In

Hello there readers, so nice of you to wander over here.

Summer A classes have ended, and I got two A’s! Isn’t that sort of cool?

I really enjoyed the two classes I took, and I’ve decided not to take classes summer B in order to give myself some more time to devote to finishing my CFI rating, working as the Editor-In-Chief of The Avion Newspaper, Serving as the Director of External Affairs for the Student Government Association, and…

SUMMER ACADEMY!

I’m working as a ground lab instructor, so I get to introduce kids to the fundamentals of aviation! It was really neat how I got his opportunity. One of my training managers in the Flight Department, Dan Thompson, gave me a call and personally asked if I could help out. Naturally, I said yeah! who wouldn’t like to spend time with kids talking about all of the awesome subject areas of Aviation?

So far I’ve taught three ground labs:

1) A Lesson on Fundamentals of flight, how airplanes fly, the four forces, and Airplane flight controls

2) A lesson on weather, weather services, Radar and satellite imagery, and making good Go/No-go decisions

3) A lesson on piloting skills, ground reference maneuvers, and how Wind drift effects an aircraft

Later today I’m teaching Aeromedical factors, IMSAFE procedures, and a little bit about cross-country operations.

I’m very excited about this because I’m getting real teaching experience. In CFI training, we learn about the Fundamentals of Instruction. FOI is based on psychology, and analyzes how people learn best, but also what hinders learning. Flight Instructors and Aviation Instructors use this knowledge of FOI to better teach students lasting concepts.

I’m getting started on my CFI experience now! that’s how I’m treating this summer job

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I’ve also been keeping up with photography now and then this summer. Summertime brings lots of storms to Florida, and one of my favorite things to photograph are thunderstorms. But let’s be honest, the best part about living in the creek is the airplanes! here’s a few of my shots, I take hundreds at a time. RVnamed bonanaza C130USCGcrop2 crk2

A 1955 Cessna 180

A 1955 Cessna 180

Embry-Riddle has everything you need to succeed while in college. If you have a passion for aviation or any of the degree programs offered here, come visit campus, or email me ans ask me about the school. I’ve been here for a while now, and I’ve met a lot of people that I could refer you to if I cannot answer your question. Why wait?

wilkinsz@my.erau.edu

The Summer of Delta: Part 2

Delta 767-400 in Atlanta.My internship at Delta Air Lines this summer has been quite the adventurous one.  Besides a very busy work schedule, I have already touched the east and west coasts, mainland Europe including Belgium and The Netherlands, as well as many interior states.  My trip to Brussels was quite the ever-changing one as I had to take the train to Amsterdam and catch a Boeing 777 ride home to the United States.  Keeping up with the rest of the aviation geeks here, being able to spot some gorgeous airline heavy metal is a regular occurrence at the world’s busiest airport.  The cell phone lot at ATL gives you the opportunity to take some great pictures, like the one above of a company Boeing 767-400, when we are using a west departure operation. Working at an airline is NEVER a boring job!

A panorama of NYC on the approach into LaGuardia.

A panorama of NYC on the approach into LaGuardia.

 

Infamous Delta Biscoff cookies help power a lot of our 90,000 employees each day.

Infamous Delta Biscoff cookies help power a lot of our 90,000 employees each day.

Delta is a very dynamic place to be right now, especially since we seem to be the airline with the target on our backs.  Massive profits in recent times have set Delta apart from the rest of the industry, showing that massive growth and acquisition strategies have seemed to play out in the company’s favor. One of the biggest happenings at the company since I have been here was the recent opening of the Delta Flight Museum at the airline’s Atlanta General Offices location.  The event was well-covered on social media and news sites as well, so check it out for more information on how to see this great attraction.

There was quite a crowd of employees and distinguished guests at the grand opening of the renovated Delta Flight Museum on June 17th, the 85th anniversary of Delta.

There was quite a crowd of employees and distinguished guests at the grand opening of the renovated Delta Flight Museum on June 17th, the 85th anniversary of Delta.

The internship has really opened my eyes to how complex an airline is.  Thousands of people are needed to get a flight off the ground, not just the six to twelve crewmembers that are in each airplane getting the passenger from point A to point B.  The typical view of an airline is one that comes from what folks see at an airport but it is really much, much more in depth.

One of our flagship machines, a Boeing 777, took me back across the Atlantic from Amsterdam to Detroit.

One of our flagship machines, a Boeing 777, took me back across the Atlantic from Amsterdam to Detroit.

Departments like mine (Network Planning) touch each flight at some point and build a schedule that has integrity and will be profitable, Revenue Mangement, aka ticket pricing, prices many levels of tickets with limitations depending on what days you might be traveling or how far in advance you might be purchasing your fare, Operations Control handles each flight enroute and solves any problems that might arise, and Finance provides the money needed to get each flight off the ground by financing airplanes and projects as well as daily operations.  The picture to the right shows my ride back to the US from Amsterdam, one of our Boeing 777s.  Partnerships like our one with KLM in AMS make our international operations much easier by sharing gates and ground equipment plus personnel. Hundreds of other specific departments and sectors are needed as well, really showing the complexity of the world’s greatest mode of transportation: Flight.

 

One of the experiences that I have been able to take in at Delta has been the opportunity to fly a handful of their full-motion simulators.

One of the experiences that I have been able to take in at Delta has been the opportunity to fly a handful of their full-motion simulators, including this Boeing 767.

Not only am I a business major, I also have my FAA Commercial Pilot’s Certificate and keep current in both multi-engine and single-engine airplanes.  One perk of being at Delta has been access to the full-motion flight simulators that our pilots use to train on their specific aircraft type.  We have at least one simulator or more in-house for every type that we fly except the Boeing 717 (Boeing owns those simulators).  I have been fortunate enough to fly the Boeing 767-300ER and Boeing 777-200LR sims as well as the Airbus A330.  I hope to fly the other types, stay tuned for more pictures!

I am excited to see where else my non-revenue travels will take me this summer and I will be sure to share more pictures and stories as they happen!

Happy flying,

Kyle

 

 

Procrastinati… oh, I’ll finish that later

On Sunday night, my roommate and I had dinner and watched “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” It was a pretty good way to start off the week, because inspiring movies tend to leave you more productive. However, I woke up that Monday just as lazy and cranky as every other day. That attitude changed when I heard news that my favorite formula 1 driver, Michael Schumacher, had come out of a coma. This past December, Schumacher was put into a medically induced coma after a skiing accident. He remained in that state for 6 months. About a week ago I was checking up on him only to find news stories that people “should not expect a recovery” or that “there is no way he would come back if he hadn’t already.” I was so happy to find that he was awake and being transferred to a therapy hospital.

What a great way to start off the week! I was very productive at work, only in the mornings, though. This week I organized and designed a website. I had never done something like this in my classes at Embry-Riddle. I was told exactly how to design it by the engineer. Naturally, as a Human Factors engineer, I ignored everything he said and designed it the way I thought would make sense to the users. This was a hard task as I was never clearly told who the users would be. This past semester, I had a professor who would assign projects and would never really tell us what the end deliverable should be or look like. I could not stand that! That was my least favorite instructor because I was never quite sure what I was supposed to be doing. I have a newfound appreciation for that professor, though. I finally understand that technique because it seems to be the same way the government assigns work. So, an annoying class ended up preparing me the most for the real-world.

I showed one of my advisors the designs for the website and he said it looked good. The next step is to send it to the computer engineers and have them do the programming. Luckily, I am friends with the person that will be writing the code, and he can deal with my obsessive-compulsive nature. That’s why it’s important to be nice to absolutely everyone you meet! Because you may, and will probably, end up asking them for favors somewhere down the road. So the projects for this week at my internship went well… once I worked up the motivation to start moving! I just need someone to throw a bucket of cold water on me in the afternoons and remind me to stop procrastinating.

During my free time at work, I was helping a fellow student and professor in selecting people for a research project. For the past two years I have been involved with a club on campus called Human Performance in Extreme Environments. I was recently elected as the president of the club and have been coming up with activities for the members to do. The purpose of this club is to study how people live and work in extreme environments, like: space, underwater, or in extreme heat/cold. This allows the club members to do really cool things and create studies about it. For example, some of the upcoming events for the fall include: learning to surf, going to the Kennedy Space Center, and swimming at Blue Springs. We are looking to raise money to give some of our team members a chance to go skydiving. However, some of our members were just selected to do something much more extreme.

Sometime in the next year, our members will live and do research at a place called the Mars Desert Research Station in the Utah desert. Here, a crew of 7 undergraduate students will live in a confined habitat about the size of a living space that would be on the first rocket to Mars. For these two weeks they do behavioral research seeing how different people are affected by the confinement and isolation from society. This living space is about 30 minutes from any sign of civilization. This gives them plenty of room to do something called EVAs where they dress in a full spacesuit mock-up and walk around outside to collect rocks and other samples from the land. Everything here is very limited, just like it would be on Mars. So, the water tank inside needs to be constantly filled up, leaving each person to take a 1-2 minute shower every 3-4 days. There is limited cell phone service, and the only contact you have is with a team of individuals called “mission support” through e-mail.

Walking out on the Extravehicular Activities (EVAs)

Walking out on the Extravehicular Activities (EVAs)

Walking on "EVAs" in the full suit

Walking on “EVAs” in the full suit

The first ERAU crew to go to the Mars Desert Research Station.. oh! and their advisor Dr. Jason Kring

The first ERAU crew to go to the Mars Desert Research Station.. oh! and their advisor Dr. Jason Kring

So, I spent a few days this week helping select the members that will go on this trip. I went on the very first Embry-Riddle team to go, and was supposed to go on again this past December, but I got very sick a few days before we were scheduled to leave. This new team has never been to this research station before, so there is a lot of planning and training to be done. I am very excited to see what kind of research they will be doing there.

The MDRS living habitat in the middle of nowhere

The MDRS living habitat in the middle of nowhere

On the way to the isolated habitat

On the way to the isolated habitat

After planning a few things for that team, I was basically done with all the work for projects at my internship and at ERAU. It was a very long, but rewarding week. I spent Friday night at a baseball game with my roommate and some friends from work. We drove downtown to Petco Stadium to see the Los Angeles Dodgers play the San Diego Padres. I loved watching the game, but I’m not entirely sure who won. Yes, I am awful with sports. I couldn’t even read the score board properly. The only thing that matters to me is if the guys playing are handsome. Which they were, hence why I don’t know the final score. The rest of the weekend I stayed home and wrote up a few papers for home. It was generally uneventful, but that was needed since next week is going to be horrific!!!

Padres vs. Dodgers game

Padres vs. Dodgers game