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 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
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
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