Summer @ SNC, Part 1: Securing the Internship

I can confirm that airplanes are magical.

It’s been a pretty interesting month (and a little bit!) after the school year ended. Although I did go home for about a week, most of my summer has been spent in Denver, Colorado, working for Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) as a Systems Engineering Intern!

I’ve already had a lot of fun and am grateful for the opportunity. I interviewed for the internship in late October 2021 and got a call from the recruiter a couple of days later. I was ecstatic- I’d missed the initial call, but the recruiter had left a voicemail, and I immediately called her back. I signed the offer letter a few days later, committing to a summer at SNC in the Denver area.

Now, the part a lot of people have asked me is- how did you get there? To be honest, it was a long road getting from there to here. I applied for 118 internships before I received an offer.

The search for a summer internship started in the summer of 2021 before I even came back to ERAU. I applied for every aerospace-related internship that I could find, regardless of its focus on aircraft or rockets. Over the summer, I also planned on attending the Society of Women Engineers’ annual conference. In my spare time, I networked as much as I could.

The real work started during the school year. I continuously asked for résumé reviews and attended free SWE mentoring sessions. The sessions were free since I am a member of SWE, and several times throughout the year, I had sessions with various industry professionals. The mentor network allows you to filter through mentors so you can find someone to talk to who has a job you’re interested in. In my sessions, I asked for a résumé review, about their careers, and about the companies they worked for.

I continued to network and attended the annual ERAU career fair, where I gave my résumé to various recruiters at various companies. It was actually really fun- I got to know about people and the companies that they worked for. This way, I could also see if a company sounded like the right fit for me. The same process was repeated at the SWE conference, talking to recruiters and other students alike. It was fun- I made friends at other schools in other engineering disciplines, too!

Of the 118 internships I applied for, I interviewed for eight positions. That’s about a 6.78% interview rate, which I think is pretty good, considering I was a sophomore with no previous internships at the time. I was competing against juniors and seniors who were farther along in their academic journeys, and likely had more time to have project experience or previous internships.

Of those eight positions, there were five different companies, and I had networked with people from three of them. Networking is definitely what helped the best and eventually helped me in my internship search. I’m not saying that networking will always grant you an internship or that it’s the only way, but it doesn’t hurt.

Networking doesn’t have to be by going to career fairs and directly talking to a recruiter, either. Sometimes you’ll meet people out and about- I got an impromptu résumé review in a Starbucks line at the SWE conference. I met friends’ parents during Family Weekend and some of them were industry professionals. I met people in organizations freshman year who now work in the industry. Sometimes if you take a general education class, you’ll make friends with seniors who begin their careers in the next year.

Overall, I’d say it’s hard to get your first internship, especially as a sophomore. I’ve been told numerous times that companies are more likely to hire people with previous internship experience and upperclassmen, but that’s not always the case. It might just take a little extra work- which is okay with me. I’m really enjoying my internship, and it shows that hard work pays off! I’ll see you in the next post… and hopefully at Riddle!

Riddle Rewind, Take 2: Highlights of Sophomore Year

Embry-Riddle Year 2 (Carly’s Version)

Last year I decided to start my yearly Riddle Rewind tradition of the year’s highlights, starting in August and moving forward. So here it is for this year- and it’s been another amazing year.

Seeing my friends again!

Me, Krysti, and Karen!

It had been a long summer without seeing any of my friends, and on my first night back, I saw two of my friends from freshman year. Karen was a Resident Advisor and had therefore arrived early, while Krysti stayed for flight training.

Being part of the Orientation Team!

The Fall 2021 Orientation Team!

I had so much fun during Orientation Week! It was super cool to see orientation from the perspective of someone on the team. There was actually a picture of me from O-Week posted on the Embry-Riddle Instagram (here) during one of our events, too.

Hosting Trivia!

Hosting trivia!

I got to host (and write!) Star Trek trivia with one of my favorite professors! Last year (and every year), Dr. Lear hosts Star Wars trivia during Blue and Gold Week, which is like our spirit week, so we hosted Star Trek trivia in September instead. Hopefully, it will become a tradition!

Carpool Karaoke Nights!

Carpool karaoke continues!

Carpool karaoke continued this year, and it was super fun. We expanded our tastes from purely Broadway into various music styles- including Taylor Swift music.

Being on the Homecoming Court!

2021 Homecoming Court! Photo by Christian Muller, @christian.m.polariod

I was lucky to be voted onto the Homecoming Court by my peers for Fall 2021 Homecoming. It was super exciting, and even though I didn’t win, it was super awesome to be nominated!

Halloween Party on Halloween Night!

Halloween night!

I didn’t see any big Halloween costume contests like last year, but Halloween also fell on a Sunday instead of a Saturday, which probably had an impact. Either way, I still got to hang out with my friends- we dressed up and hung out outside of New Res 3, where another student had set up his telescope.

Soaring Into Finals Week!

Flying with my best friends!

I actually ended up going twice- once with both of my best friends, and once shadowing a friend on his own mock commercial checkride. But both times I went, the flights were super fun, and it’s one activity that I suggest you participate in at Riddle! (There are pilots all over campus. You might have to pay your share of the flight cost, but it’s an unforgettable experience.)

The Thunderbirds’ Annual Daytona 500 Flyover

A C-17 in Daytona!

In February, the annual Daytona 500 happens and everyone at ERAU steers clear of the crowded International Speedway Boulevard. Everyone at ERAU also heads up to the roof of the AMS balcony to watch aircraft come in, including that C-17 in the picture and the Thunderbirds!

Day Trip to KSC!

Ah, yes, the iconic meatball logo.

In March, the Honors Program sponsored a day trip to Kennedy Space Center! It was super fun, and tickets were offered at a discounted rate for 100 students. I’d never been, but since it’s only an hour away, I can say that it is a must-see for any space enthusiast!

Preview Day as an ERAU Rep!

Some of the Women’s Ambassadors on Preview Day! We’re holding one of our coordinators.

Preview Day was amazing, even though it rained in the afternoon. I had a lot of fun meeting some of the incoming class and working with the other Women’s Ambassadors and students from the aerospace engineering department. It was sooooo fun!

Sun n’ Fun (n’ Friends)!

Sun n’ Fun!

I ended up going to the Lakeland Sun n’ Fun Aerospace Expo, which was awesome to look at. I got to tour (and walk around) large aircraft, which I’d never done before. It’s definitely a “go with friends” activity- although I’ll never make it into the cockpit of an aircraft like the ones in the back, they were still fun to look at!

And finally… the Women’s Ambassadors Travel!

Me… and an ERAU Women’s Ambassador Alumna!

I had a lot of fun during the two Women’s Ambassadors-sponsored travel activities. It was awesome to meet accepted students across the country and talk about Embry-Riddle from a student’s perspective. I also got to meet an alumna of the program named Claudia, who now works for United Airlines!

Overall, sophomore year has been another amazing year in the books. I’m super excited to begin junior year next year- my classes have been great so far, and I’m expecting another great semester. In the meantime, I’m headed to Colorado for the summer for my internship with Sierra Nevada Corporation!

Graduation & Commissioning

Happy May everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida – for the last time! I have spent the past five years at ERAU-Daytona Beach working towards a Bachelors of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering on an Aeronautics track and I’ve finally reached the finish line! The feeling of submitting your final undergraduate course level assignments and finishing your last final exam is exhilarating and SO motivating! Thinking back to my freshman year, I never could have imagined the experiences, opportunities, lessons, and all the incredible people I’ve met during my college experience.

My final Academic Advising Report though the Campus Solutions Student Homepage on Ernie!

I finished out my final semester with all As, and an overall Cumulative Grade Point Average of 3.552 which I am so proud of! Additionally, I am graduating with Minors in Arabic Studies and Military Science, and will be commissioning into the U.S. Air Force post-grad! I spent the past 5 years not only as a student, but as an Air Force ROTC cadet. Truthfully my time in AFROTC was one of my favorite aspects of my collegiate experience overall! AFROTC introduced me to some of my lifelong best friends, my (hopefully lifelong) love of working out, and helped me find out that I am passionate about languages through my participation in Project Global Officer (Arabic in particular)! My Air Force family is one that I will truly never forget and the leadership, time management, and organization skills I’ve learned as a result of completing 5 years in the program are invaluable.

Post-Beach PT with one of my best friends I met through AFROTC!

Upon graduation I will be pursuing a Master’s of Science degree in Operations Research from the Air Force Institute of Technology in Dayton, Ohio. I hope to be able to further integrate my love of aviation and Arabic into my career in the future. As they say – if there’s a will, there’s a way! While I do not know where my life or my military career will take me, I do know that while everyone may feel a bit exhilarated at graduation, I feel extremely prepared (and VERY excited) to take on the ‘real world’!

Throughout my time at ERAU one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned as a tip for success was utilizing my resources! There are so many different offices on campus with the sole purpose to help students. For example, the Office of Prestigious Awards and Fellowships, Office of Undergraduate Advising, Career Services, the Fitness Center, Health and Wellness Services, ERNIE Central, the Academic Advancement Center (A^2) and so many others! If you are dedicated enough to success, reach out to your professors for help, and study, Study, STUDY… anything is possible! Thank you to all the amazing professors, faculty, staff, friends, and family that have helped and supported me along the way. I am so grateful and so excited for my future. Keep on keeping on folks – signing off!

The Final WA Trip: San Francisco and Seattle

Oh yeah, and I just finished finals, too.

So in one of my previous posts, I attended three accepted student receptions in the northeast. On the final full weekend (and Monday and Tuesday!) of April, I had the opportunity to attend two more in San Francisco, California, and Seattle, Washington.

I was super excited since I’ve never been to either city. I flew out of Daytona on Saturday night, connecting in Charlotte on American Airlines to get to San Francisco. It was around 9:30 PM Pacific time when I got in, which is 12:30 AM Eastern, so I was pretty tired! I went to the hotel, slept, and then the fun began the next day.

On weekends, the accepted student receptions usually happen around 11:30 AM local time. The first one was at a restaurant called Flights, and it had an actual aircraft, which was pretty cool.

Pre-reception!

The reception was fun, as all of them are. The format is the same- it’s usually a Women’s Ambassador and two admissions representatives, usually joined by a parent or two. We all introduce ourselves, admissions will give their presentation, and then the floor is opened for a question-and-answer panel for everyone. After all public questions are answered, some families stick around and ask one-on-one questions. For example, some of my most commonly asked questions are about clubs and organizations, things to do in Daytona Beach, and the general student life.

After the reception, we get to eat. Since the presentation was on a Sunday morning, we had the rest of the day to explore San Francisco. It was super awesome- we went to a lot of places, including the Golden Gate Bridge and an art park called the Umbrella Alley, perfect for taking photos with! We also saw the coastline and went to Pier 39, where there were a bunch of sea lions.

Sea lion central!

The sea lions were pretty interesting. Apparently, the number of them in the picture is small, and sometimes every single platform will be densely packed with sea lions. I’ve heard that when there are more of them, the smell gets worse. They are wild animals that eat raw fish, so it is to be expected that they’ll be a little smelly.

The next morning, we ended up going to Seattle on a United flight. The flight was about two hours long, which is a little longer than I expected. Before we left, I met a Women’s Ambassador and ERAU alumna named Claudia who now works for United Airlines, which was pretty awesome! She also created the WA Instagram account, which I am now the manager of.

Seattle was fun. We had less than 24 hours there, so we had to make the trip kind of quick. After landing at the SeaTac airport, we rushed downtown to see the Pike Place Market, which is pretty infamous- it’s the site of the first Starbucks coffee shop! It also has a shop that sells fish where the workers will literally throw (and catch!) the fish at each other.

After hitting the market, we ended up going to see the Space Needle (from the outside) and then up to a lookout spot in Kerry Park. It’s pretty interesting how things come around full circle- my parents went to college together in Seattle, and they’d been to Kerry Park several times.

Kerry Park!

In regards to Seattle, we were pretty lucky that it only sprinkled on us, as seen on the concrete in the above picture. After that, we ended up heading back to the hotel for a few hours before heading to the reception venue, which was the Museum of Flight right next to one of the Boeing facilities.

It was pretty cool to be there. There was a balcony attached to the second-floor room we were on, and I ended up going outside to look at some of the aircraft. There were several parked out there, including some that looked brand new, which was super cool to see.

The presentation went the same way it did in San Francisco, and as always, I stayed around to answer questions. Since this location wasn’t at a restaurant, it was catered, which meant we could take all of the remaining food home. I got a bag of cookies, and I still have a few of the cookies in my fridge since they were massive!

After that, our flight the next morning left Seattle at 5 AM, so we had to be up and at the airport pretty early. I wasn’t complaining too much, since I planned to sleep on the flight, and I did for a bit. I also ended up doing some homework on the way back to Daytona, since it was the days before finals week.

Finals week, for me, is now over. I had two finals on Saturday and two on Monday, and two of my classes don’t require me to take the final. So now that that’s done, I’m slowly moving my way out of ERAU and looking toward the summer, where I have an internship with Sierra Nevada Corporation in Englewood, Colorado.

I am very excited about the internship, but I’ll definitely miss the warm Daytona weather. After the internship, I’ll be coming back to Daytona as part of the Orientation Team. Maybe I’ll see you in the fall… and if not, I’ll see you in the next post!

Finals & Graduation Season

Happy almost Finals week everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida, the Spring 2022 semester is coming to a close, and we’re so close to finishing up! My life lately has mostly consisted of homework, projects, class, studying, working out, and ROTC. With only one week of school left, two weeks until my commissioning PT test, and three weeks until graduation and commissioning… life is moving so fast! Towards the end of the semester I’ve found I am usually the busiest, most stressed, and running on the most caffeine (with less and less sleep). However, I am looking forward to graduation and catching up on rest and relaxation so soon!

Final push until the end of the semester! Post-workout at the ERAU Fitness Center!

I’ve been reminiscing on the past years a lot lately. Will I miss college life? What does the real world look like? Am I prepared for what comes next? My time at ERAU has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences I’ve taken part in thus far. Looking back at myself from freshman year to now, I’m a completely different person! I’ve grown so much, become so much more confident, and have learned so much not only academically, but about myself as a person too.

College gives you the freedom to make your own schedule, study, eat, and sleep whenever you want! College also gives you the opportunity to learn the importance of balance, time management, and self care – especially during particularly stressful or busy portions of the semester (shoutout Finals Week). Nonetheless, I am so grateful for everything I’ve had the chance to experience in my time as a Resident Advisor, Orientation Team Ambassador, on SGA Student Court, as a University 101 Peer Mentor, working on campus as a Undergraduate Student Researcher at the Eagle Flight Research Center, and in Air Force ROTC.

One of the (many) early mornings before sunrise on the way to ROTC training!

Advice I was given as a freshman was – try everything! Then cut back as you figure out what you like the most and prioritize what you can make time for. Going into my final semester, I’ve cut back the most on almost all extracurricular involvement to focus primarily on academics and ROTC – aka graduation and commissioning. I’ve learned there will never be enough time in the day to accomplish everything, but it’s extremely important to learn yourself well enough to know when you need sleep over staying up to finish a homework assignment. My ERAU experience has been academically rigorous, stressful, busy, and at the same time fun, I’ve made some life long friends and memories I will never forget, and I am a stronger and better person than I was when I started. I look forward to concluding finals in the beginning of May and will be signing out with one more blog post to follow! Keep on keeping on folks, will report back soon!

Sun n’ Fun Aerospace Expo

There was sun and there was a lot of fun!

The annual Sun n’ Fun Aerospace Expo happened last week, and I ended up going on Saturday the 9th. Since I had been planning to go, I was able to work around my classes so that I’d be able to attend. I went with Chris, and we made sure to check the weather beforehand. It looked a little windy, but we decided to go anyway.

Welcome to Sun n’ Fun!

Every year, the annual Sun n’ Fun event is held at the Lakeland (KLAL) airport. Lakeland is about a two-hour drive from Daytona, which means that we left early and got back pretty late. Chris and I ended up getting the two-day Florida discount in case we wanted to stay the extra day; we’d also brought camping supplies in the back of his car.

Once we got our daily wristbands, we pulled out the map and looked around for a bit. A lot of the larger planes were military aircraft (such as the Boeing C-17), which is where we headed first. On the way over, we ended up buying a lemonade and souvenir cup.

I’d never seen this many aircraft in one place before. It’s pretty amazing to think that someone had to fly the hundreds (or potentially even thousands) of aircraft on display over to the Lakeland airport. The aircraft ranged in size from small one or two-seater aircraft to big jets (aka the C-17 and other larger military aircraft).

Once we’d gotten our lemonade, we ended up behind the tail of the C-17. The back door was open, which meant that we were free to look inside.

Behind a C-17!

So we did!

The C-17 was taller than I expected, but not as long. Every year when the Thunderbirds arrive for the Daytona 500, so does a C-17. So I’ve seen them before, but they’ve always seemed shorter in height but longer in length.

It’s a wide-body aircraft, so it reminded me of some other wide-body aircraft I’d been in (like a 747), but it was weird to see no rows of seats. Instead, the seats were against the wall and more of a pull-down jumpseat style. It was interesting to explore for a bit, and then we ended up moving on.

Chris and I explored the larger aircraft and then headed over to get food. Once we’d gotten our food, the daytime airshow was about to start, so we watched the first part in the stands. It was pretty interesting to watch people turn their aircraft upside down and do pretty cool maneuvers.

After that, the two of us ended up going to apply sunscreen, which we’d forgotten earlier in the day. From there, we ended up visiting my friend (and a Riddle alumna!) at the Republic Airways tent, where she works as a recruiter. From there, we ended up going back to watch the airshow.

The airshow was pretty cool- there were plenty of aerobatic aircraft and a few military aircraft flying. The final act was the Thunderbirds, who also pay an annual visit to Daytona each year.

Thunderbird diamond!

However, at Sun n’ Fun, the Thunderbird show lasted a lot longer. I’d say it was almost a half-hour long, and they did a lot more than a flyover. They inverted their aircraft, flew in formations, and nearly blew out my eardrums. (Okay, I’m kidding- but they were very loud, especially when multiple flew overhead at once).

The airshow was really cool to watch. As a pilot, it shows the insane skill that some people have when it comes to controlling aircraft. As an engineer, it shows the edge of engineering- what angle of attack can an aircraft produce lift for, and how long will it produce lift? How many aileron rolls can an aircraft do in a row?

After the airshow, Chris and I ended up walking back to the car and going out to eat. Food onsite was super expensive, so the two of us ended up getting Burger King. After that, we went back to the main parking lot and parked while we waited for the night airshow to start. I ended up taking a nap in the car, and when the night airshow started, the two of us walked back.

It was golden hour when it started, so I had that to enjoy. A few of the aircraft that were in the daytime show were parked at the end of the runway, so we got a good look at them up close.

Aircraft at golden hour!

The night airshow was pretty cool. Everyone in it made use of their lights, but it was freezing outside, even with a sweatshirt and thick jeans. Chris and I ended up walking back to the parking lot and watching the finale of the airshow (a drone show and fireworks) from the car.

The drone show was pretty cool- they made various formations, from a Thunderbird F-16 to the American flag to a simulated rocket launch. The fireworks show was also pretty cool, and it lasted a good while.

After that, since we were already in the car, we had a head start on everyone else when trying to leave. The two of us ended up in a McDonald’s drive-thru, getting a small fry and hot chocolate for the two-hour trip back to Daytona. We ended up leaving around 10:30, getting back into Daytona around 12:30 AM.

Overall, I had a lot of fun at Sun n’ Fun and hopefully get to go back next year. Even though I’m currently planning to do the astronautics track, I still find aircraft super cool, and it’s especially cool to see airshows. This was my first airshow, and Sun n’ Fun is one of the biggest in the United States. It’s also great that it happens only a couple hours from Riddle- I know that a lot of Riddle students went on the weekend. If you become a Riddle student, I might see you there- and I’ll see you in the next post!

April & Audiobooks

Happy April everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida prepping to graduate and relocate to Dayton, Ohio post graduation pursuing my Master’s degree in Operations Research at the Air Force Institute of Technology. I am VERY much looking forward to commissioning as a 2nd Lieutenant in the US Air Force! With only a few weeks left until my undergraduate journey comes to an end, the only thing that’s been on my mind is the finish line… i.e. the starting line to my career and the rest of my life! With my family and friends finalizing travel plans to come to FL for the graduation ceremony and festivities I can’t help but be more excited every day.

A common theme for my life currently is focusing on ‘the grind’. Thus, I am putting all my energy into school, working out, prioritizing sleep, rest, and mentally recharging to stay in a consistent routine. Something new I’ve been interested in that’s helping me unwind, other than different workouts, is leisure reading!

Post workout at the ERAU Fitness Center!

While I don’t always have time to read physical books, I’m trying out my newest literature pick via a few different platforms. What I mean by that is, I’m trying out a new method of the “picking up where you left off” concept. Hence, I now have The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien in digital pdf format to read on my phone during short breaks throughout the day or while walking on the treadmill. Additionally, I’ve checked out my *first* leisure read from the ERAU Hunt Library for a physical copy of the book to read in my room, lounging on the hammocks around campus, or as a fun beach day copy! My third and final version of The Hobbit is… drum roll please… an audiobook! Spotify Premium for students is only $5 a month, and comes with a free Hulu and SHOWTIME subscription! In addition to music, which I use Spotify for everyday, Spotify also has podcasts, and a plethora of audiobooks. This digital library includes most classics like Harry Potter (my latest audiobook listen) AND The Hobbit (my newest listen)! I typically enjoy audiobooks while walking to class on campus, cleaning my room, doing laundry, or as a way to relax before bed!

Newest book I recently borrowed from the ERAU Hunt Library!

Highlights I’ve been enjoying lately in addition to homework, term papers, technical reports, presentations, and my new book endeavor include: consistency in my gym routine, the sunshine and weather warming up as summer in FL approaches, watching Season 2 of Bridgerton on Netflix, and the new season on The Kardashians coming out April 14 on Hulu! Keep on keeping on folks, good things to come, will report back soon!

Preview Day as an ERAU Representative

Preview for next year’s Preview Day, maybe?

So, a couple of months ago I ended up writing a preview for Preview Day post. I was super excited for the real thing, which happened on Saturday, April 2- one day after April Fool’s Day! I never got to attend a Preview Day since mine was scheduled for mid-March of 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

This year, I got the opportunity to represent both the Women’s Ambassadors (WA) and Aerospace Engineering Student Advisory Board (AESAB). In the morning, I worked at the aerospace engineering booth as a student representative, answering questions from families about the department, course load, and the various tracks. Around 10:30, I switched over to represent the Women’s Ambassadors at the activities showcase, and I was done around 1:30.

I arrived at 7:30 at the Lehman building (one of our College of Engineering buildings) and helped move the handouts over to the second floor of the Student Union. Aerospace engineering is one of the largest departments on campus, so we had two tables to spread everything out on. The department was giving a lot of cool stuff away- wristlet lanyards, bags, sunglasses, candy airplanes, and a bunch of informational papers.

Free goodies, courtesy of the aerospace engineering department!

The first two and a half hours from 8 AM to 10:30 AM were really fast-paced. At 9 and 10 AM, the department held briefings and a question-and-answer panel for future Eagles and their families, so the crowd died down a bit but people still came up to talk to us. The bulk majority of questions that I got were about the flowcharts, tracks, and what they meant. Put simply, the tracks don’t separate until the end of sophomore year, and then you have to choose between the Aeronautics/Jet Propulsion or Astronautics/Rocket Propulsion paths. Then, you have until senior year to pick your final track- Aeronautics, Jet Propulsion, Astronautics, or Rocket Propulsion.

After working for the aerospace engineering department, I went over to work the activities fair for the Women’s Ambassadors. I ended up printing a QR code of our Instagram to display at the table and helped one of the admissions counselors set our free stuff up. We had lanyards, pens, sunglasses, and T-shirts to give away. I wasn’t by myself- another girl named Alexa joined me.

The WA booth- we got a visit from Ernie!

Working at the Women’s Ambassadors booth was similar to working at the aerospace engineering one. Most of the questions I answered were about the WA organization, other female-only organizations, and other general university life questions.

A few of my friends worked at various times on Preview Day, and I ended up getting one of them to get me the Starbucks on the table. The two hours for WA came and went, and then I was done for the day. However, other Women’s Ambassadors were still working in various volunteer positions- some were directing traffic, some were handing out T-shirts, but a lot of us were free. So we ended up meeting for a group picture!

After the group picture, I ended up heading back to my dorm for lunch. Preview Day is super fun, but it’s also pretty busy! Over 700 admitted students and their families showed up, and I was happy to meet everyone. One student even walked up to the Women’s Ambassador booth, having met one of the Women’s Ambassadors at an accepted student reception. I’m super excited for my last two accepted student receptions at the end of the month in San Francisco and Seattle. I hope to see you there, and if not, maybe at ERAU in the fall!

Gators & Great Location

Happy April everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, FL and it is officially my LAST month of undergraduate classes before Final Exams in May, Graduation, and Commissioning! I am so excited for the semester to be over and my 5-year college journey coming to a close. When I graduate I will have a B.S. Aerospace Engineering with an Aeronautics Area of Concentration, in addition to Minors in Arabic Studies and Military Science. It’s been a challenging, yet rewarding journey and I’m in the final push to the finish line!

I’ve been preparing for the semester to end by focusing on my studies, while trying to combat burnout. Thus, I’ve been exploring! I recently took a short weekend trip to Gainesville, Florida, about two hours from Daytona Beach to go to Trader Joe’s, see some old friends, and look at alligators! While I was visiting Gainesville, only a day trip away from ERAU, I stopped at Sweetwater Wetlands Park – a nature preserve with walking trails and thriving wildlife. While getting some sunshine and walking around the park I saw a total of 17 alligators! Yes, SEVENTEEN! Other than when I visited the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park, it was the most alligators I had seen in one place, and wild alligators at that! Although I have heard that all waterways in Florida have the potential to contain alligators, I have never actually seen any alligators in the wild or in captivity in Daytona Beach. Florida’s State Reptile is the American Alligator so I sought out the wildlife park in Gainesville to fulfill my ‘before graduation’ bucket list of seeing wild alligators, and it did not disappoint!

Gator in Gainesville – only a short distance away from ERAU!

The alligators I saw ranged from baby gators around 1-2 feet long, to medium sized teenage gators, to adult alligators. I also saw a plethora of various birds, fish, and even rabbits!

Another alligator spotted from the hiking path at Sweetwater!

One of the best aspects of Daytona Beach is that it is close to many major cities. I highly recommend day-trips to St. Augustine, Orlando, Gainesville, and the Space Coast. Kennedy Space Center is only about an hour south of the university! While most launches from Kennedy Space Center can be viewed even from campus, taking the journey to watch them up close is a truly special and remarkable experience I recommend partaking in – at least once while studying at Riddle! Additional fun activities to check out throughout your time in FL include Universal Studios, Walt Disney Disney, or SeaWorld! My personal favorite is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but I’ve also heard great things about Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios and the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival at the EPCOT theme park at Walt Disney World! There is so much to do so close to ERAU, the possibilities are endless. Keep on keeping on folks, will report back soon!

Blue and Gold Week: The Carnival!

Side note: Carnival first, eat dinner second.

So, Blue and Gold Week is off to a pretty good start here at ERAU! For those who don’t know, Blue and Gold Week is basically our spirit week. It has fun events every day for a week straight, and they’re all free for students to attend!

The first main event was Saturday night, which was the comedy show, but I was more excited for Sunday’s event: the carnival. Touch-N-Go Productions, the entertainment division of the Student Government Association, hosted both the carnival and the comedy show. It had some pretty good rides, similar to those you’d find at a county fair.

I didn’t go alone- I brought my best friend Chris (who also passed his commercial checkride this weekend!). The carnival ran for six hours, from 3 PM to 9 PM, but in my experience, events like these are the prettiest at night when everything is lit up. We arrived right as the 6:45 PM Delta (an A321) was about to take off. I guess the comedians were right when they made a joke saying that Riddle students use the flight schedule to tell what time it is.

The carnival was like your standard fair carnival, and I definitely enjoyed it. We arrived at what I’d like to think is a perfect time- the sun was setting, so it wasn’t dark, but you could still see the lights on the ride. The first one we rode was the spinning ride where everyone ended up pinned against their seat.

Spinning ride!

I thought it was super fun, and a few people ended up singing on it. We sang All Star and YMCA, which are two timeless classics. I ended up riding it twice before moving on, and I heard a few people singing I Want It That Way as I left. From there, I ended up in a few more lines.

As with any carnival, they had games that you could play to win prizes. However, all of the tries were free, and you could win free ERAU merch! I unfortunately didn’t end up winning anything, but I know a few of my friends took things home at the end of the night.

After playing the games, I ended up going to ride the vertical spinning ride. While the first ride I rode depended on a horizontal rotation, the second ride was more of a vertical rotation, and your height relative to the ground changed. It was pretty cool- at the top, you could see the runway.

The more vertical motion” ride and the runways!

It was, in my opinion, pretty cool. Rotational motion is a concept that you’ll see in class, but the carnival showed me a few applications for it. It’s a good reminder that when something seems pointless, you might end up using it in the future.

I rode the vertical spinning ride a few times before making my way over to the swings. As with any good carnival, there was a little swing ride, and I had fun going in circles and watching the carnival fly by. By that time, it was growing closer to 9- the carnival’s end- and I was ready to head back.

However, they also had a bungee cord trampoline thing, which is something I’ve always wanted to try. It was actually really fun, but harder than I expected. You constantly needed to jump to keep going up and down, and that could get a little hard when you just did a backflip. (Yes, I did several backflips- they were awesome!) However, you could always build up momentum and then get to the big jumps.

The carnival was super fun, and I hope that there’s another one during next year’s Blue and Gold Week. I’ve enjoyed the Blue and Gold events so far, and I look forward to the rest of the semester. It’ll be exciting! Preview Day is approaching, and maybe I’ll see you in the next post, or I’ll see you at Preview Day!