Homecoming 2021

In which I looked like a Sims character when standing on the field.

Me at Homecoming as part of the Court! Photo courtesy Christian Muller.

In case you missed it, last week (October 4-10) was homecoming week! In the week preceding, homecoming court nominations opened, and to my surprise, I was nominated for homecoming court. I was shocked but honored to be nominated.

Homecoming week was super fun. On Thursday, the Student Engagement and Student Union (or SESU) department hosted the First Thursday festival, where candidates introduced themselves to the student body. Campaigning had been going on all week, and the voting ended on Friday at 5 PM. There was also a dance on Friday.

The Homecoming game was on Saturday. Because Embry-Riddle doesn’t have a football team, the Homecoming Royals are crowned at halftime of the soccer game. I arrived at the game early with a few friends and headed over to the student tailgate area. There were several student government officials and students, so my friends and I ended up hanging out over there with them.

My friends and I pre-crowning!

A few minutes later, one of the Avion photographers showed up and took professional pictures of the Homecoming court. He took individual photos and group photos before finishing with several pictures of the court as a whole.

Anticipation for the crowning was high. The two royals were Jim Myers and Kyla O’Connor, both seniors in the College of Business. I was happy for both of them- even though I didn’t win, I was extremely thankful for the opportunity. I didn’t expect to win as a sophomore, it was great just to be nominated.

After the game, I changed and attended the Touch-N-Go Homecoming Concert. The headlining artist this year was Lauv with MAX as the special guest. I went with a few friends, but we ended up leaving a little early to go and find a good spot for the firework show, which was immediately after. The three of us ended up getting pretty close to the fireworks and then ended up parting ways for the night.

I really enjoyed Embry-Riddle’s 2021 Homecoming. The student union was beautifully decorated for the entire week and the events were super fun. I’d never been to a concert before the Touch-N-Go concert, and I thought it was a great experience. I will definitely be attending next year’s concert, whoever the artist may be. The best thing is that as a Riddle student, I get to help choose the artist- Touch-N-Go picks several artists and then surveys the students to select the winner.

See you in the next post, and hopefully at Riddle!

The 2021 Homecoming Court! Photo courtesy of Christian Muller.

Autumn & AeroLab

Happy October everyone! I am currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida and Fall is officially here. Today was a brisk 85 degrees, yes that’s FL experiencing a cold front. With October, and being about half way through to the Fall semester, that calls for – you guessed it… midterms! The time has come when we are 50% to finals and testing, presentations, lab reports, and quizzes have officially begun. Recently I’ve been embracing the autumnal vibes as much as possible whilst waiting for the weather to develop a chill, by listening to some fun new study playlists on Spotify as background music while I do homework or study.

Additionally, I’ve changed the background on my computer to fully embrace October. Changing my phone and laptop backgrounds to incorporate more autumn colors help me feel cozy and happy. My favorite website to get fun backgrounds for my computer every month is The Every Girl.

Also, I’ve begun my fall cleaning! Since my residence hall room is fairly tiny this year, it is easy for my living space to become quickly cluttered, which makes it all the more important to keep things tidy and fresh. This includes the time of the year when I’m switching to more cozy scents for my oil diffuser and in my body washes. My current favorites for fresh and cozy vibes are oudh, rose, and vanilla! I’ve also recently bought some new coffee for the particularly early and chilly mornings with more nutty and warm flavors (hello Made Pecan and Hazelnut!), and have been trying to embrace seasonal eating – incorporating all the fresh fall vegetables and (the more unhealthy version of seasonal eating that feeds the soul) pumpkin spice coffee flavors, cinnamon apple teas, and salted caramel protein powders.

While I try to (pumpkin) spice up my life for fall, I still have a fairly solid school and work routine which sometimes makes it a bit difficult to add variation to, thus most of my celebrating for my favorite season has been small, yet meaningful changes. As previously noted, adding more fun, fall, festive flavors into my diet gives me small bits of joy even when I’m busy.

On the more academic side, my Aerospace Structures and Instrumentation Lab is going well thus far! We’ve completed experiments for a Honeycomb Compression Test, Straingage Installation, Instrumented Torsion, and Aluminum and Glass and Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymer (GFRP and CFRP) Tensile Testing and only have 4 more lab sessions until the end of the semester, meaning we’re officially half way!!

Picture from my Aerospace Structures and Instrumentation Lab of a strain gage installation on an aluminum alloy bar in a compression test.
Picture from my Aerospace Structures and Instrumentation Lab of a Hydraulic Wedge Grip used in tensile testing for aluminum alloy, GFRP, and CFRP samples.

I hope everyone is enjoying the weather getting colder and the joys of being half way through the semester. Running in the 70 degree weather is my favorite, so I am very excited to be able to not only prepare for my end of November PT test in the perfect climate conditions, but also get ready for my Thanksgiving morning 5K race with my family. Wishing you a focused, productive, and restful midterm season! Will report back soon folks, keep on keeping on!

Midterm Exams and Carpool Karaoke, Riddle Style!

In which the blog takes a musical turn, and we’re the main characters!

So, in the past two weeks, I’ve been studying a lot. I had a statics exam on Friday, October 1, an over-the-weekend calc 3 test from Friday to Sunday (October 1-3), an essay due on Monday, October 4, and a physics exam on Thursday, October 7.

I ended up doing really well on the statics and calc exams, and I’ll be getting the essay grade back soon. I spent a lot of time studying for both, but at the same time, you have to have a study-social balance in college or else you’ll get burnt out. So what did I do when I wasn’t studying?

Carpool karaoke!

Carpool karaoke started as a thing between me and one of my best friends last year. She and I would go drive around anywhere between 10 PM and 2 AM on days that we had only afternoon classes and had made sure that all of our work was done. On weekends, sometimes we’d even be out until 3. Carpool karaoke was also accompanied by a run to the nearest gas station for slushies:

The OG Carpool Karaoke.

Carpool karaoke eventually ended up adapting to be a group activity after gradual introductions of various people. It really depends on who’s free at what times, and we only go if a decent amount of us are available.

The group has adapted a lot. We’ve ventured out from straight musical songs (with World Burn from Mean Girls being a favorite) to pop and everything in between. It also fluctuates with whoever comes along- we might play more pop music as opposed to musicals if certain people are there, and vice versa.

Depending on who’s driving, we’ll also go to different places. Some people drive north and we hang out on the beach for a bit, other people will drive to DeLand and back, and some will just drive in circles around Daytona. And sometimes we’ll do multiple routes, depending on how long we stay out.

Our group’s been kind of slow with the whole karaoke thing since it’s midterm exam season. However, we got the opportunity to go on Tuesday night! I ended up in the back middle seat while one of my other friends took a turn driving.

Instead of going to the beach, we quickly stopped to get gas at Buc-ee’s. After walking around Buc-ees and getting a few things there, we deicded to go over to Steak ‘n Shake. It was kind of busy, but we didn’t mind waiting for a bit. And of course, we ended up taking a group picture.

Steak n’ Shake! Featuring the O-Team baseball tee.

After that, we ended up going over to DeLand and back while hanging out and talking. We ended up staying out from 9 to 11ish, so we could all be responsible and get sleep before classes tomorrow. I know that a few of us have also had (or have!) tests this week, so it was a good mid-week activity to do.

I’ll see you in the next post… and hopefully (doing your own version of carpool karaoke?) at Riddle!

Flight Research Center & Flight Simulator Lab

Happy September everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, FL, where I’m here to walk you through a day-in-the life of an ERAU student. Set the scene: I am a senior in Aerospace Engineering on an Aeronautics track, with a minor in Arabic Studies and Military Science. My typical day includes waking up at about 0500 in the morning to go to PT for Air Force ROTC and usually doesn’t conclude until the late evening with a variety of meetings or Duty Shifts for my Resident Advisor position, followed by homework and studying.

The “in-between” is usually packed with classes, errands, working out, homework, and studying. I had my first Quiz of the Fall 2021 semester yesterday in Aircraft Preliminary Design and I have my first test of the semester tomorrow in Terrorism Origins and Ideologies. I have just completed my second experiment in the Aerospace Structures and Instrumentation Lab and a slew of homework for all my classes.

I recently was brought onto the team at the Eagle Flight Research Center as an Undergraduate Research Assistant and am very excited to join the amazing team of qualified faculty and student staff. I hope to give more updates soon about this exciting position!

In other exciting news, one of my recent homework assignments for my Aircraft Stability and Control class included going to the pilot tutoring lab on campus and flying a simulator to take a look at how different lifting and control surfaces impact flight when isolated. As an engineer, this was my first experience using a flight simulator!

As an ERAU student, you have access to utilize the Airline Operations Center Lab, located on the first floor of the College of Aviation. While it is a great place for Aeronautics students and pilots to go to study, prepare for check rides, or practice their skills in the flight simulators, all students are welcome! I recently found out about the AOC and was so excited to learn that students of all majors are allowed to access the flight simulators and can do so just by having an Eagle Card!

Flight simulator in the AOC lab!

Another fun highlight of my week, besides getting to virtually fly a Cessna-172 in the AOC lab flight simulator, was getting a surprise package from a friend with a new book! Although I am not sure how much free time I’ll have this semester, I am very excited to dive into The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

New book my friend sent me!

I hope everyone is enjoying getting back into the swing of things as classes pick up and tests and quizzes begin again. Will report back soon folks, stay safe!

Inspiration 4 and Star Trek Trivia!

Oh, nothing much, just watching the product of my future career, right? Heck yeah!

It’s been an exciting week here in Daytona!

If you’re following space news, you’d see that the Inspiration 4 launch was a success. If you’re following Embry-Riddle news, you’d see that there are two Embry-Riddle alumni involved with the Inspiration 4 launch.

Being a space enthusiast myself, I decided that I’d like to see the launch up close. While you can see launches from the Embry-Riddle campus (and even hear the slight roar of the rocket!), there’s no reason why I shouldn’t go down since it’s only an hour’s drive or so. My roommate from last year and I ended up hitching a ride with one of our other friends who was going anyway with a few other people.

Five of us piled into one car, and we ended up doing a bit of carpool karaoke on the way down to the launch. We found a spot pretty close to the launch site in a boat launching area. The launch window opened at 8:02 PM, and we made sure to get there early.

There were a lot of bugs outside, but thankfully, we’d brought some bug spray. A few other people had found the same spot we had and many had professional-looking cameras. I’m not super good at photography, but I love looking at other people’s pictures.

When the rocket ignited, the whole sky lit up. (Side note: if you ever get a chance to watch a rocket launch live, do it. If you’re not busy, watch a live stream- a few of my friends and I watched the Firefly Alpha launch a little while back.) Here’s what my phone got:

Pretty rocket!

It took a few moments for the rumble to reach us, and by that time, the rocket was shooting across the sky and through the clouds. A few minutes later, we saw this:

Pretty rocket 2!

We were lucky enough to be in a spot so that the rocket appeared to curve across the sky. After the rocket disappeared, the five of us got back into the car and went back to Daytona and to our dorms. And that was my Wednesday night: no homework, just rocket science.

Thursday through Sunday was Panhellenic (sorority) recruitment, which was super fun, and I’m excited to see the Panhellenic community grow! Another one of my other favorite events this week was Star Trek trivia, which I’d hosted with one of my favorite professors, Dr. Lear.

I’d made a deal with her that if I showed up in a Star Trek uniform, that she’d get me a pink drink from Starbucks. As I have a slight addiction to Starbucks, I showed up in this:

Star Trek: Enterprise era uniform!

True to her word, Dr. Lear did end up buying me a Starbucks before trivia started. There were plenty of people there, including several of my friends. The trivia event was during another event called the Skyline Social, which had food and drink for purchase along with activities to do.

Trivia had three rounds, and Dr. Lear and I took turns reading the questions. We did an intermission poster giveaway in between the first and second rounds, and in between the second and third, we had a drawing contest. One of my friends wasn’t playing, so we ended up roping him into judging the drawing contest.

He had up to 20 points that he could distribute as he pleased. He decided to be nice and ended up giving everyone points. The final question was probably a little too hard since nobody got the correct answer, but trivia was really fun.

Riddle hosts Star Wars trivia in the spring, and Dr. Lear thinks that the next trivia event is going to be Harry Potter. I enjoyed co-hosting, so maybe I’ll be able to do it again! Last year, Dr. Lear hosted Star Wars trivia and over 200 people came out to play. (Even though I’m not a Star Wars fan, I was there too since I got extra credit for coming.)

If you’re at Embry-Riddle, I highly suggest going to Skyline Social trivia nights. I’ll see you in the next post, and hopefully at Riddle (and trivia night)!

From both me and Dr. Lear… Live long and prosper!

Semester Tips & Student Resources

Happy September everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida. As everyone becomes busier, I wanted to cover some top tips for managing a stressful semester!

I’ve emphasized in the past the importance of keeping a schedule, not only of your classes, but also including extracurricular activities, work, and even group project meetings! Something I haven’t touched on yet that I’ve found extremely helpful is reaching out to leaders on campus for mentorship! This can be as simple as getting to know your class TAs, reaching out to students you admire in upper-level leadership positions in organizations you are involved in/looking to get involved in, finding more experienced cadets in ROTC who can share their experiences, or talking to the Resident Advisor in your community!

Learning from other’s academic, professional, and overall life journeys can be extremely beneficial in helping you figure out which path is best for you. Whether it’s finalizing your major or concentration within your major, considering declaring a minor, looking to join a new club or organization, or applying for an on-campus job – there are students and faculty who have gone before you and can share helpful advice for how to navigate all aspects of university life.

For example, during Orientation – new students have the opportunity to network and connect with Orientation Team Ambassadors who provide firsthand insight on life in a variety of majors on campus. Orientation Team is made up of a diverse group of people who truly represent that no matter how different our backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences are, at the end of the day we’re all Eagles working to better ourselves and learn.

Student Blogger Carly and I working the Orientation Team Ask Me desk during O-Week!

In addition to finding people who you look up to on campus, it’s important to have a solid support system and focus holistically on your health. College offers so many opportunities to grow as a person, and provides outlets to strengthen your mental, physical, and spiritual health!

Student Blogger Carly and I de-stressing during O-Week by enjoying the sunshine at the Beach Bash!

For example, the Academic Advancement center offers free tutoring to ERAU students in a variety of subjects. Tutoring is essential in your first few years on campus, because it provides a more relaxed learning environment than a classroom setting and allows you to get personalized help with areas or concepts you might find particularly challenging.

The Fitness Center is one of my personal favorites for physical health on campus, but ERAU also features Health Services, a Dietician, and free Counseling sessions! Mental and physical health are very closely related, so it’s important to also talk about resiliency – the Center for Faith and Spirituality is a great place that welcomes all students! Sometimes you may want a quiet place to breathe, focus, and recenter yourself – and the Center for Faith and Spirituality welcomes and encourages you to take all the time you need.

Keep in mind these are only a few of the many support systems and student resources designed to help you thrive while navigating everyday stressors of being a student. There are many more and all faculty and staff, and student leaders, can point you in the right direction if you’re ever finding yourself needing a little extra boost. Keep on keeping on folks, will report back soon!

September & Fall 2021 Schedule

Happy September everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, FL. As Week 2 of the Fall 2021 semester at ERAU-DB is coming to a close, I can say that classes, activities, clubs, and events are back into full swing operations. Currently, masks are the expectation on campus and all my classes are in person and most of my obligations, sans for a few Zoom meetings and Group Projects. This semester I am taking AE 432 – Flight Dynamics and Control, AE 420- Aircraft Preliminary Design, AE 416 – Aerospace Structures and Instrumentation, along with AE 417 – Aerospace Structures and Instrumentation Lab, HS 325 – Terrorism Origins and Ideologies, as well as my normal Air Force ROTC mornings Physical Training and Leadership Laboratory sessions.

In addition to my course load I am also participating in a tutoring extension of the summer program I took part in with Project Global Officer (Project GO). I attend one hour Zoom tutoring sessions weekly, with a Masters Student studying at the University of Arizona (the host university I studied with over the summer, in collaboration with the AALIM Center in Meknes, Morocco). Project GO is a critical language learning initiative offered through the Department of Defense to ROTC students in all branches of service. Four years ago I couldn’t imagine that I would be able to read, write, and speak in Arabic, but here we are folks, my progress even amazes me!

Since the semester is back to its typical business, I’ve been trying to take time to prioritize my health this year, particularly by focusing on staying safe and healthy in light of the pandemic. I tried a Cycle class at the Fitness Center last week, and am looking forward to checking out more Group Fitness classes in addition to Cycle (I would highly recommend!), such as Yoga, BodyPump, and Boxing Conditioning!

Outside of class and working out, I spent last weekend getting some sunshine at the beach. I watched the sunrise then went surfing and got to catch up on some leisurely reading. This weekend, I have mandatory class sessions on Saturday and Sunday, totaling 4 extra hours for a class that typically is supposed to meet during the week for a total of 6 hours. (An additional 2/3 of our usual amount of class time… split into two Mandatory sessions on both Saturday AND Sunday!) Since my free time is and few in between lately, I am cherishing the time I got to enjoy last weekend.

Sunrise at the beach last weekend!

I spent the long Labor Day weekend also taking a self-care trip to Orlando about an hour away from campus with my friend to visit the local Trader Joes. At Trader Joes I got two very fun new drinks to try: one Maple Oat Milk to put in my coffee (pictured below left) and two – Chai Tea Concentrate to make chai tea lattes (pictured below right)! Chai tea lattes are the perfect afternoon pick-me-up, and I am very excited about both of my new finds!

New Trader Joes Maple Oat Milk and Spiced Chai Black Tea Concentrate!

As I currently blog in the midst of doing laundry and making coffee between my classes, I am especially grateful that we had the opportunity to make the trip over the weekend. The maple oat milk in coffee is so delicious! Keep on keeping on folks, stay safe!

How My First Week of Classes Went

At least when I fell off my longboard I was 30 feet away from Health Services…

Well, the first week of classes has officially ended, and we’re getting through the second. I’ve already gotten plenty of assignments to keep me busy.

Yes, the sign is really that big! Mask removed for photo only. Both photographer and I are fully vaccinated.

On the first (and second!) day, I was lucky enough to find all of my classes and not walk in the wrong direction. Since I was part of the 2021 O-Team, I wore one of our shirts to class on the first day in case anyone had questions. I ran into a few people who did, and I was happy to help.

Activities seemed to resume, for the most part, as normal. Currently, Embry-Riddle expects you to wear a mask indoors, and most activities picked up within the first two weeks. For example, the Society of Women Engineers’ first general meeting is Wednesday, September 8, while the first chapter event of the semester for my sorority was on Monday, August 30- the day school started.

Unfortunately, I had a minor longboard incident on the second day of school. While I’m okay, I accidentally ran over a crack and skinned my knee. Normally, I would’ve called the school’s Emergency Response Team, which provides free medical care on campus from trained students, but I was really close to Health Services and just went there. They took a look and gave me a bunch of bandages and instructed me on how to take care of it.

Thursday was the most eventful day of the week for me. While I only have one class (YES!), the school hosted a free petting zoo.

Birdie!

In the zoo, there were a few other animals including a fennec fox, giant yellow snake, and an elderly spotted cat. I also saw a chinchilla, fancy chickens, a calf, and several goats. It was pretty fun.

That night- September 3- a few of my friends and I decided to watch Firefly Aerospace’s launch of the Firefly Alpha. We reserved one of the student union study room, and one of my friends brought his laptop. We arrived early and hung out for about two hours- an hour before the launch and an hour waiting for the next attempt.

Although the Firefly Alpha didn’t make it to its planned trajectory, it was really fun to hang out with my friends. It was a fun first week, and I did some more hanging-out on Labor Day weekend.

Of course, I’ve also been doing a lot more work than I did last year. As classes get harder, you might have less homework, but it’ll be more time-consuming. I’m glad tutoring is starting up again- the tutors are super helpful, and they’re the reason I got an A in Calculus II last year.

See you in the next post, and hopefully someday at Riddle!

I Participated in O-Week, This Time as an Orientation Ambassador

I am once again suggesting that you come to orientation events.

Well, it’s that time of the year again- orientation week for new students! I remember that I was soooooooo excited last year when I moved in. Funnily enough, I moved in last year on August 16, and this year moved in August 17 for Orientation Team, AKA O-Team.

We spent a few days on retreat preparing for orientation week, where we learned the welcome dance, practiced our chants, bonded together, and fine-tuned skills needed for orientation. I had the weekend off, and orientation week began on Monday. In the morning, Merrick (one of the other bloggers!) and I worked at the student union help station answering questions.

Merrick and I!

Throughout the day, the O-Team attended various events around campus. On Monday, I gave several unofficial tours of the campus and helped bring pep to the ice cream social. There, I high-fived students in the ice cream line while holding the orientation flag- a very high honor! That night was super fun- many people won prizes from the Bingo game that was going on.

On Tuesday, I helped pack s’mores bags for the fireside s’mores activity. Inside were graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows that students could use to make s’mores. Although the event got rained out, we were able to hold part of it outside! We danced to the Wobble, the Cupid Shuffle, and the Cha Cha Slide before we got rained out. In addition, other music was played, and students and O-Teamers formed a large dance circle. I found myself into it and ended up pulling out this move.

Splits!

On Wednesday we finished the last scheduled big block of move-in time. After helping get people checked in, we went to the student union and socialized with new students. I worked the welcome table again with a different person and then went to check the Eagle to Eagle rooms. The Eagle to Eagle sessions are in a small classroom setting and led by an orientation ambassador (so you can call me Professor Carly McDonald, I guess?) who presents information about the campus.

I made sure that my room was set up, and thankfully, everything was working. My Eagle to Eagle session is for people who live on the fourth floor of New Residence Hall 2, and I’m excited to meet them tomorrow.

COAS 318!

One question I get a lot is “How do you have so much energy?” Well, truth be told: it comes from other members of the team. Everyone is here because they want to make new students feel welcome and give them a successful start to their time at Embry-Riddle. When one person is excited, the energy radiates through the team and bounces off of the rest of us, and that’s why you’ll see us chanting in the student union at 8 AM and 8 PM.

I’ve really enjoyed every aspect of O-Week since the O-Team is one big family. It’s great to help out and meet new students, which is what being on the O-Team is all about. You make a lot of friends on the team, too- and they’re just a text away in the future, weather it be during O-Week or finals week.

Hopefully I’ll see you around if you’re currently at Embry-Riddle, and if not… see you in the next blog post!

Orientation & Re-Introduction

Happy August everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida, back on campus as a Resident Advisor (RA) and I’m ready to get the Fall 2021 semester started! The past week or so I’ve spent every day in training for my RA position, my Student Government Association (SGA) position, and for Orientation Team. Since it is a new semester and I anticipate I will meet a lot of new people working around campus during Orientation and Move In, I decided it’s time for a re-introduction!

Hello! My name is Merrick and this is my 5th year working towards a Bachelors of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering. I plan to graduate in Spring 2022. My concentration is in Aeronautics, with a minor in Arabic Studies. On campus, I’m an RA, an SGA Associate Justice on the Student Court, an Orientation Team Ambassador, a University 101 Peer Mentor, an Air Force ROTC Cadet, and I blog for the school!

In my free time (which is very limited), when I’m not in class, meetings, doing homework, or studying, you will most likely find me working out. I love to run and workout outside, as well as attend Fitness Classes at the Fitness Center on campus! My app of choice is Spotify, and I love listening to music on my noise canceling headphones. I also love music when I’m running, and I like to listen to podcasts in Arabic for fun. My current favorite is BBC Extra. I try to do yoga every day, particularly in the mornings (even if it’s just for 10-15 minutes when I wake up). I’ve been fairly consistent in that routine for about a year now. If I’m not doing yoga I’m probably sleeping, reading books (my latest find is Grow Rich! With Peace of Mind by Napoleon Hill), or doing an outside activity.

On the weekends if I’m free I will most likely be at the beach, surfing, hiking, on nature walks, or listening to podcasts in English like Ted Talks Daily or Short Wave (a science podcast hosted by NPR).

This is me on a hike from my summer in Alaska!

I love plants. I also love dark chocolate! I drink a lot of water, and also a lot of coffee and tea. In particular, I prefer hot coffee in the mornings, iced tea or coffee in the afternoons, and hot tea in the evenings. I enjoy smoothies, especially on the hot Florida days after a workout.

Some of my plants I keep by the window in my Residence Hall room!

I am so excited to meet my residents this semester and I’m looking forward to greeting all the incoming students during Orientation. If you see me around campus, feel free to say hi!

Keep on keeping on folks, will report back soon!