Music and Rockets: The Unlikely Encounters of the Third Kind

With the end of the semester nearly 2 weeks away, things are really starting to pick up across campus. From the events and activities on campus to my classes and projects that need to get done, there’s so much to do and so little time.

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Let’s start with the Touch ‘N’ Go Big Show. Every year (or is it bi-annually?) Embry-Riddle’s entertainment board, Touch-N-Go, has a concert on campus and this year they managed to book the Plain White T’s and Smash Mouth. While I never really had the opportunity to listen to their music as a kid growing up, I definitely knew who they were and was really excited when I found out they were coming to Riddle. Because I volunteered to cover the event for The Avion, I got the opportunity to meet both bands and interview them along with two of my friends from the newspaper. With heavy rain storms predicted, Mother Nature did not disappoint. But, despite the hour-long delay and heavy rain, the concert was absolutely amazing, until the generators that ran all of the equipment on stage started cutting out during the Plain White T’s’ performance. After the massive fireworks display and the bassist playing “The Star Spangled Banner,” with vocals provided by the crowd, the night came to an end and the show was over.

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Flash forward two days later and I found myself biking to the Student Center (UC) at 6AM Monday morning to cover SpaceX’s rocket launch at Cape Canaveral. This was my first rocket launch ever so to say that I was excited would be an understatement. Again, thanks to the power of college journalism, I was lucky enough to get media credentials through The Avion. Thanks to the media credentials I received, I got to actually go to the launch pad and saw the Falcon 9! It was truly awe-inspiring to actually be at the Kennedy Space Center because it’s like you’re standing in a time-capsule: everything looks like it did back in the 1960s! Even the buses we rode on were the old iconic flat-faced white buses that were common during the 60s. Unfortunately the launch was scrubbed T-minus 3 minutes until launch which meant I had to come back the next day. After emailing my teachers and getting their approvals, I was good to go. All in all, after seeing the rocket launch and meeting all of the people I met, including a student from Embry-Riddle’s Prescott campus, it made me realize how lucky I was.

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So, year 1 of college complete. I probably look like an idiot sitting in the library looking bewildered but wow. I can’t believe 7 months of college flew by that quickly. I’m really excited for Fall 2015 and what else is in store for me at Riddle. Unless I’m told to put out another update before I leave on the 30th, enjoy the summer, do adventurous things, and remember to be curious.

October 2012

Hello again!

Every week I spend here keeps getting busier but better.

I am so happy to be an engineering major! The classes can be tough, but I love learning everything. In my Introduction to Engineering class, we just completed a launch systems project where we designed a rocket to take a payload into space. That was fun, but now we are starting on an even cooler project where we take on a project that solves a problem proposed either by the Daytona Beach International Airport or Americare Home Health. My team will be creating a prototype for a device that will help people with dexterity problems put on socks. I also recently turned in my first college paper and took my first test. I put in a lot of hard work and I was very pleased with the grades.

One of the activities that I’m involved in is the new Robotics Academy through RAER (Robotics Association Embry-Riddle). This is an intensive program for students interested in robotics, so that they can build leadership skills to participate in other sections of RAER. Recently, we designed a small competition for high school students who attended the Volusia Manufacturers Association Expo. In the tournament, we gave the teams of students a LEGO NXT robot built with a basic chassis and pre-programmed for a simple mission. We also provided them with extra LEGO parts and software to alter the program in order to complete the mission. The teams faced off to gather ping-pong balls placed in a 4×8 foot arena, and whoever had the most points at the end of the match was the winner. It was really cool to see everything the teams came up with.

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Last week I also got the amazing opportunity to go to the Delta IV launch on Oct. 4th to report on it for the Avion. I had never seen a real launch before, and it was incredible. I got to stand on the NASA causeway with all the press, which is about 2.7 miles from the actual rocket. Yesterday I even got to see the recent SpaceX launch from outside the Student Village! Even for being so far away from the Cape, the rocket lit up the whole sky.

This weekend also brought TEDxEmbryRiddle to campus, where distinguished speakers talked about their research and life experiences. The theme was “Powering our Future,” which really intrigued me. I’ve watched TED talks online before, so it was awesome to actually be a part of a conference!

We the Kings performOne of the things that I was really looking forward to as a college student was all the free events. This week is homecoming week, and I am looking forward to all the fun activities. Jim Gaffigan is coming to campus, and Touch-N-Go productions brought in We the Kings for a concert on Sunday evening.

Well, I’m off to more clubs, activities, and of course, studying. Until next time!

December 14, 2008

Holy Cow! The semester is already over. It seems like I just arrived on campus, yet I have already earned 26 credits. My involvement on campus, my new friends, and my interesting courses have helped make these four months the best of my life. When I decided on Embry-Riddle at the end of last year, I was very concerned about the distance from home. However, since I arrived in August, the thought has hardly crossed my mind. I am always busy, but I have truly enjoyed every minute.

On Tuesday, December 2, I was invited to the incentive dinner for Touch-N-Go Productions. Because I gave substantial time to the organization over the semester, I got to eat dinner at P.F. Chang’s in Orlando. I had never been to a P.F. Chang’s, and they didn’t let me down. I got to eat Kung Pao chicken, Buddha’s feast, and a small cheesecake desert. It all tasted SO great, and it was nice eat somewhere other than campus. Best of all, TNG covered the tab! I finished taking my finals Wednesday morning, and I am pleased with my results. I spent a lot of time studying, and it paid off. In SS120 I did so well I became the first student in three or four years to get a perfect score on an American History exam! A 100% was a great way to end the semester in my favorite class. If anyone has the chance, enroll in Dr. Dorn’s courses. I would almost guarantee you would enjoy any class he is in charge of. His exciting and amusing style of teaching has allowed me to view history in a whole new (and more exciting) way.

The weather the last few days in Daytona was just amazing. The day I left, it was in the mid-eighties and sunny. One day I got to go down to the beach and spend some time relaxing. Being from the Midwest, I can’t get over how beautiful the weather can be in December. When it’s that nice I walk out the door and can’t help but smile. The great weather definitely symbolized the end of a great semester. I just hope when I come back in January it will be just as nice, so it can thaw me out from the cold winter back home!

I am flying back to Missouri for the next three and a half weeks, and I will be working and hanging out with old friends and family. It is nice to catch up with people back home, and I am also excited about earning some extra cash. Between Christmas and New Years, I will be going down to New Orleans to spend time with my family there. I know in January I will be ready to return to my new life at ERAU in Daytona Beach!

If you have any questions or want to learn more about classes, people, or life at Riddle, feel free to shoot me an e-mail. Thanks for reading and have a great Holiday! Until Next Time, Mack

November 16, 2008

Hello everyone! I hope November is treating everyone well. November has been fun around ERAU. Last weekend was homecoming on campus, and there was so much going on. On Friday Touch-N-Go held the tailgate party before the basketball game. Luke Bryan held a concert right on our parking lot and food from Bubba Gump’s and WingZone was served. After the tailgate, we went inside and watched our Eagles beat up on the opponent. Saturday, we had a comedy show on campus featuring Greg Giraldo. It was tons of fun and I laughed A LOT. Also that weekend, I attended the parade and the air show put on by the Student Activities office on campus. By the end of the weekend I was worn out, and I thoroughly enjoyed the extra day off on Tuesday (Veterans Days)! Earlier this week Wood Hall had some fire alarm issues. The alarms and sprinkler systems went off on the fifth floor and water went everywhere. About 8 hours later, the same thing happened on the third floor, and water came creeping into my room on the second floor. Currently my carpet is still damp and my room smells a bit moldy, but maintenance is promising to fix all the problems. Although this incident was difficult to deal with, we all were laughing and got a break from our homework and studying. No one on my floor lost anything to the water, so we could all relax and try to embrace the situation. Let’s just hope it doesn’t happen again…

I got to go to Titusville this weekend and experience a space shuttle launch first-hand. I have always wanted to do this, and I had a good time. It only took about an hour to get there, and the weather was perfect for the launch. We found a place on one of the causeways where we had a great view of the launch pad. At exactly 7:55, the shuttle took off and lit up the whole town. I was so relieved to see everything go off without a problem. I got to shoot a video of the launch, and I took a few pictures. None of them turned out perfect, but I’ll try to get the video posted for you. The whole experience was unique and I think everyone should experience this at least once in their lifetime. My friends and I went to the beach yesterday and got to play volleyball on my favorite court. We enjoyed what may be our last day on the beach for a while, as it is only supposed to be in the sixties this week. I know that may not sound bad to some Northerners, but that’s rough for us. As usual when we were playing volleyball, we found some other Riddle kids and they joined our game. There are so many people to meet and I have found some really good friends here. It is so much fun to be able to hang out with a group of friends who come from all walks of life. My close friends are from Georgia, Wisconsin, Iowa, Germany, New Jersey, New York, and everywhere in between. That is one great thing about ERAU: you meet people from everywhere. Having such a variety of friends has opened my mind and I enjoy being around all of them. These next two weeks are going to be a blast for me. I get to go back to MISSOURI thanksgiving week!!! I never thought I would be so excited to say that. It is funny how you react when you move away from home. I really miss my friends and my mom’s cooking, but I may very well miss my dog the most and I can’t wait to cuddle with my 150 lb Bloodhound again! I am going to be so cold, but I am sure I will enjoy my 5 days back home. When I return to campus, I have 4 days of class and then finals. This semester is almost over and it seems like it just began. Wow! I hope everyone has a GREAT Thanksgiving! I know I will!

Until Next Time,