Halloween in France, Engineer in the fog and cooking fail

Hey Everyone,
Happy Halloween! This is one of my favorite times of the year because A) college students have the best crazy costumes and B) chocolate and other candy can be purchased in individually wrapped packages in quantities of 5 lbs. or more. Eating 8 fun-sized Kit Kats is totally healthier than eating one normal sized bar, right? In the picture below, we have one Gumby, two pimps, one communist, two hillbillies, one Viking, and that one robot guy from all of the LMFAO music videos.

Some of my friends freshman year, taken by Carolyn Kiss.

I also love seeing people in costume in class. My sophomore year, I sat next to a guy in a zombie outfit during Calc 3. Since it was dark in the mask, he kept on falling asleep. His head bobbed up and down as it sunk lower and lower to the desktop. Our professor, Dr. Mancas, startled him to wake him up. Funniest thing ever.

Nuit Blanche 2013 logo, from http://www.paris.fr/pratique/culture-patrimoine/nuits-blanches/p6806

At the beginning of October, all of Paris comes together to celebrate a night of art and culture. Nuit Blanche, white night, means essentially a night without darkness, which is what the French call an all-nighter. From about 7pm until dawn, the entire city is alive with the sounds of the cinema, concerts, and dance clubs. The sky is colored with lights from art exhibits, from the windows of galleries as light spills onto the sidewalks, and fireworks along the Seine. Groups of people walk the streets playing music from their home countries on drums, others rollerblade throughout the city, zipping back and forth from neighborhood to neighborhood.

Since my friend Scott and I had nothing else to do that Saturday, we decided to check out Nuit Blanche. I did a bit of research beforehand and so I had an idea of where everything was located and what I most wanted to see. There was this Frog sculpture created by a Japanese artist named Fujiko Nakaya that seemed very interesting. My thought was that it would be really cool to see a giant lit up frog sculpture in the middle of the Place de la République. I also thought that it would be nice to grab dinner at this crêpe restaurant in the Latin Quartier on the other side of the Seine. Since Scott didn’t want to spend too much money on metro tickets, we ended up walking roughly 2 miles to go from the restaurant to Place de la République. When we finally arrived after about 45 minutes of walking, we immediately started searching the place for the frog sculpture. We looked and we looked and we looked. We found this huge misting machine, which was pretty neat because it placed so many water droplets in the air, it almost completely blocked out light form the street lamps and there was only about 10 feet of visibility, but it was no giant, flowing frog. After 20 minutes of playing about in the mist and searching, I realized that I had misread the program for Nuit Blanche. I read frog instead of fog. It turned out that the interesting mist machine that was smack dab in the middle of the Place de la République was the Fog Square sculpture created by Fujiko Nakaya. Wow, I could not believe that I had misread the program sooner. I felt so silly. Scott thought it was hilarious.

Fog Square, created by Fujiko Nakaya, photo taken by Scott Schimmel.

Me standing in the fountain, taken by Scott Schimmel.

This next bit is about the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie. Scott, Alessandro, and I actually visited the science center way back in August, but I finally just got the photos from Alessandro last week and journal entries can be boring without photos. I thought it would be like the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, Washington, which is really cool because it is interactive and a lot of fun. Overall, this interactive science museum was kind of mediocre, maybe because it was aimed at a younger age group or maybe because some of the exhibits were not very interesting. However, one exhibit was actually neat because it had to do with outer space and satellites. The largest attraction was a Vulcain rocket engine.

Vulcain is a group of first stage rocket engines designed by the European Space Agency for the Ariane 5 rocket, which is designed to deliver payloads in low Earth orbits and geostationary transfer orbits. The Vulcain engine uses liquid oxygen/ liquid hydrogen cryogenic fuel. It brings back fond memories of EGR 101 that I took during my freshman year at ERAU. The task was for us to design a rocket in order to deposit and satellite into space. It was pretty fun, I designed the launch sequencer and my roommate, Jackie, designed the umbilical system and fuel tanks on the rocket. Anyways, I digress. I was surprised by how large the engine was and the fact that I could have touched it with my bare hands if I wanted to. The French are pretty relaxed about these types of things; the zoo I visited during the summer had very small fences that were close enough so that people could touch the animals if they tried.

Me and Vulcain rocket engine, taken by Alessandro.

“Duct tape and Velcro are the two most important tools for space crews” – Jean-François Clervoy, an astronaut for the ESA. Please ignore my dorky pose, taken by Alessandro.

Last Monday, we had a bit of unexpected free time and ended up adding a story to my book of cooking horror stories. Our four hour long 8AM class was canceled because the lab we were assigned did not have the software necessary to complete our work. Naturally we didn’t know this until we walked into class. Since we were all up and awake (mostly) with nothing to do, we ended up going to Aymeric’s, Laura’s boyfriend’s, house to make lunch. Since I didn’t fully understand the rapid-fire French going around me, I just kind of went with the flow. We ended up making a vegetable lasagna, pretty simple and pretty easy to get right, right? Wrong.

This lasagna recipe used 200g (two blocks) of chevre cheese, 3 jars of pesto, parmesan cheese, dried green onions, and pasta. Please note, that I do not know much about cooking for French cuisine. I thought the list of ingredients was strange, but I did not say anything because I did not want to be impolite. The first mistake was the quantity of ingredients that we used. The second mistake was not cooking the lasagna noodles before placing them in the pan. The lasagna was horrible! The parmesan cheese on top burned, the noodles were crunchy and raw, and the entire thing was swimming in oil. This guy named Martin bent of spoon trying to separate squares for everyone. The only person who finished their portion was the mastermind of the whole operation, Aymeric. I took a bite or two in an attempt to be polite and was relieved when I saw that everyone else had stopped eating too. We have since decided that Aymeric is no longer allowed to cook, ever.
Well, that’s all folks, I’ll write again in about two weeks. As always, thank you for reading.

An Aeronautical Science Lifestlye


Morning pre-flight

Hello reader,

My name is Zachary Wilkinson and I am the new guy on this page. I am a Junior living Aeronautical Science here at the DB campus. I said living because ‘studying’ simply doesn’t cover it. For me this degree is indeed a lifestyle, and I work to learn more every day.If you are considering this degree or are currently practicing it, then let me share a little bit about what I feel makes an AS student successful.

Number one You must be willing to go the extra mile to learn

Your activity doesn’t cease once you exit the classroom or leave the Flight operations building. From day one the standard expected of you is that of a professional pilot. So make it an objective to spend some time at the end of the day to think about what you have learned in your classes and how it can be applied, application is a higher level of learning. My favorite way to actively increase my Aeronautical knowledge is to read aviation related books. I believe that the more perspectives I can gain for myself the better prepared I will be for when I encounter something new. If you don’t like reading, then you will have trouble, because the amount of information you must know just for the Private Certificate is very extensive. The FAA and our library has all kinds of great publications.

Furthermore, The Flight program here at Embry-Riddle is more than just about hours and airplanes. You also accept the safety culture of ERAU and the standards of the best Flight University in the world. The reality is that only about  60% of first-year AS students remain in this degree program. Don’t let that statistic scare you, let it prepare you. Many students find out that the degree just doesn’t suit them, they switch degrees, and continue happily with their change. There is nothing shameful in choosing what is better for your future.

Number two: Be humble

The fastest way to end up sidelined is thinking that you are ‘God’s gift’ to the aviation industry. At this university you are blessed to be surrounded by professors and instructors who have decades of experience. Respect them, get to know them,  and learn from them. Also, Think on this quote for a while:

“Every pilot is a student pilot, whether ten hours or ten thousand”

—Robert Parke

The FAA has compiled a list of Hazardous attitudes which can make a pilot dangerous. They are: Resignation, Anti-Authority, Impulsivity, Invulnerability, and Macho. You can tackle Invulnerability, Macho, and Anti-Authority by being a humble learner as long as you operate and aircraft. You will find it interesting to know that the most dangerous pilot is not a young student pilot with less than a hundred hours. That student pilot is most likely a bit nervous still, he or she is cautious, they may be afraid the airplane could rip apart at any moment due to the blistering 100 kt. cruise speeds. Simply put, They are humbled by the aircraft. The most dangerous Pilot  is the one who is comfortable, they likely have over 1,000 hours and operating an aircraft is second nature to them. This is when danger can set in.

Number three: Be of Good character

“Experience is plentiful and easy to buy, but Character is Priceless” —Calvin Coolidge

The leaders of best companies the industry are not just looking for a pilot to fill a seat with minimum qualifications, they are looking for a well rounded individual who can be trusted with $100 million dollars of liability. A pilot with Integrity of character will be highly sought after and your decision making skills will be evaluated. For example, It is very common for Air carriers  to look into you before you even set foot in an interview. Things like Background checks, reference checks, and even credit checks are done. They may even browse your facebook page. When they look into how you manage your life as a whole and it will tell them a lot about how you will perform as an operator of their aircraft. Make yourself employable and as always, be careful with how you portray yourself on Social Media. Nothing is secret.

Number four: Love what you do

“Science, beauty, freedom, adventure; what more could you ask of life?”

—Charles Augustus Lindbergh

I think this would qualify as the most important of the list. The road ahead will not be easy, that is why you must be absolutely certain that this is something you want to do. Flying has to be important enough for you to be willing to retrain an activity 10 times and still put on your ramp badge and walk out onto the flightline and be ready give it another shot. The inner drive that wakes you up at 5 AM for a flight and keeps you awake till 3 AM on weekends making lesson plans is a Love for what you do.

One of my favorite things is morning activities. The air is smooth and brisk.  I get to watch the sun rise as my instructor and I fly out to the practice area. It is during these times that I know I am right where I want to be. The Florida sun is often glowing in long orange rays which peak between slowly lumbering Cumulus clouds off the coast. You haven’t seen a sunrise until you have watched it aloft.


What I am most excited for is when I complete my Flight Instructor certificate and can teach students how to fly. A flight instructor is a teacher,and I cannot wait to teach! But until then, I am satisfied with trying to impart some of the wisdom I have gained through this Blog.  I hope you will take some of these words seriously but more importantly I hope you enjoyed it. Thankyou for reading, you rock!

Feel free to contact me with any questions about pretty much anything: wilkinsz@my.erau.edu

What am I reading right now?        ‘The Proficient Pilot’ by Barry Schiff


The Exciting Life of a Physics Student

Hello hello!

Time is sure flying, I can’t believe it’s been another two weeks. But I suppose I’ll pick up right where I left off in writing my life’s story. So here it goes…

A plot, similar to the one in my last entry, showing altitude above sea level and the corresponding vertical wind speed. This one is for Olympus Mons on Mars! Notice that the wind speed is about 10X higher, which makes sense because the mountain is a lot bigger.

Let me start off by pointing out the terrible error in my last post – my Mars map was upside down! I noticed it while working on my model in MATLAB. Major oops on that one. But I will say that it is now fixed, and the model is working beautifully. I was able to plot the vertical wind speed across Olympus Mons (which, as you recall from my earlier entries, is the largest volcano in the solar system at a height of about 26 km), and our next step is to implement these calculations in the atmospheric dynamics model to simulate some waves! If that sentence didn’t make sense to you, go back and read some of my past entries where I explain the basics of my research.

My CORRECT Martian topographic map generated in MATLAB. This time I used the copper color bar option, because the blue was a bit misleading. Lighter is higher elevation, and darker is lower elevation.

Speaking of physics and research and all that jazz, I’m getting pretty excited for the new College of Arts and Sciences building! They’ve named our new lab – it will be called ECLAIR:  Experimental and Computational Laboratory for Atmospheric and Ionospheric Research. Which is apparently French for “flash of lightning”, in addition to being a delicious French pastry. So for atmospheric scientists who are also partial to pastries, it seemed like a good fit. I will be presenting a poster about the new lab to the board of trustees on November 1st, which means I get to be one of the first people to stand inside the new building! Plus I get to wear a suit, and I always feel snazzy in a suit.

The new building seems like a good segway to my next topic – registering for next semester classes. Ah! It seems like this semester just started, and we’re already getting ready to register. My schedule for the spring seems pretty chill time-wise (only a couple classes on MWF, and a decent break on TTh) – I should note that, once you get to upper-level EP classes you start to lose control of making your own schedule. Every class I’m taking only has one section, and I lucked out in not having to take any 8:15s! Nonetheless, I’ll be taking five 300-level EP classes (Classical Mechanics, Optics, Microcomputers, Space Systems Engineering, and Junior Design); I saw my advisor today, and I quote… Me: “I just want to make sure next semester won’t kill me.” Him: “Oh it will.” Well then. I suppose it evens out for the fact that the classes will be really cool.

I also have to start thinking about a thesis topic, and man that feels so far off. I will probably continue to pursue my Martian atmospheric research, unless something else nifty catches my attention.

You never really get too old for Pokemon.

Now for those of you readers who are geeks like me, you’re probably wondering if I’m going to mention last weekend’s big release – Pokemon X and Y! Yes, I am, because that’s all I did this weekend. I bought a shiny new (used, but it’s new to me) 3DS – which is amazing technology might I add; I was skeptical – and picked up my copy of Y. I definitely have to give this game five stars, it’s completely revolutionized the franchise. And if you’re wondering, my entire team is named after moons, constellations, and space missions (Apollo, Aries, Triton, Phobos, Deimos, and Orion) because that’s just how I roll. I also found a shiny in the wild. If you don’t know what that means, just keep scrolling.

This weekend is fall break! Which is much needed. I’m planning to sleep, play Pokemon, sleep some more, watch Breaking Bad, and maybe plan a trip down to Kennedy Space Center if the government decides to run again. I should note that, while KSC is privately owned and operated and therefore still open during the shutdown, none of its tours run since it’s a government facility that’s being toured, and what’s the fun if you can’t see the cool space buildings?

This was posted on the Embry-Riddle Memes page the day of the career fair, with 298 “likes” and 33 “shares”. It made me lol.

Speaking of the government shut down, the career fair was last Wednesday (yes, that transition was completely relevant, just wait.) NASA wasn’t there obviously, which made me very very sad. I even stood next to their empty booth for a while hoping they’d magically appear and give me a job. They didn’t. BUT I did have a really good chat with a woman from Northrop-Grumman who seemed to really want to hire me. She had the same first name, so total ice-breaker, and asked me for two copies of my resume – one for the pile and one to take with her. So I’m expecting a phone call any day now, she practically promised -fingers crossed-. I also talked to some other small space companies that seemed really cool, and they seemed promising as well. Boeing seemed unimpressed, but they can keep their airplanes, I’m not interested.

And I almost forgot to mention Gravity! The movie, not the force. Go see it. Right now. It was so awesome. We went to the very first showing at 10 pm on Thursday night and saw it in 3D. Wow. That’s all I have to say about that. Granted the physics is a bit off in some places, but the amount of things they did right and the fact that the movie is simply incredible makes breaking physics worth it – and that’s coming from a physicist. (Plus, Sandra Bullock as an astronaut? You don’t want to miss that.)

Let’s see what else is going on… I suffered through an assignment for EP 501 that I think took 20-25 hours of work. It was four problems, and it took that long. What. I decided I don’t like grad school. Also, I had to go get a shot the other day, which, if you know me, you know is a big deal. I’m planning a trip to India this summer, so it’s probably worth it, but still – wah! Also also, the Indian restaurant here in Daytona that I go to about once a week got a new chef, and he makes my usual different and I’m sad. It’s not bad, it’s just not my usual anymore, y’know? (Have you ever noticed that the last paragraph of my blog entries are just the most random things I can think to mention?)

Will Northrop-Grumman ever call? What will happen with my Martian vertical forcing model? How much will I sleep during fall break? Get these exciting answers and more next time!


Kepler’s Law, American candy and hip hop

Greetings Everyone,
I hope you all have gotten it the swing of school this semester. I feel that after a month as an ERAU student at EPF, I finally have. In the past two weeks, I have had all of my classes at least once, joined school sports, taken dance lessons, and gone to the movies. With little to no homework, I have been keeping busy doing fun social activities and mingling with my French peers. It’s a pretty sweet life if I do say so myself.

Probably the most interesting difference between classes at EPF and ERAU is that EPF seems to prefer a theoretical, rather than an applied, approach to teaching. For example, at EPF I have two hour long lectures, known as CM, which deal purely with proofs and mathematics. Each day I see all those strange symbols, like ∝ for proportionality, plus many more. At ERAU, while we do see these symbols, it doesn’t matter as much if we can read the symbols one by one, it is more important to understand what the proof means and how to apply it. Now granted, it could be the way that my brain works, but the application of theory to examples is where I truly understand a concept. While EPF has classes, TD and TP, which are exercises and labs, respectively, they occur sporadically and are not nearly as common as at Riddle where examples are done in class, given in class, and shown in text books.

My two favorite classes are probably Fluids and Space Mechanics. Professor Lisa Davids, queen of fluids at the Daytona Campus, would be so proud. (If you ever have the opportunity to take any of her classes, I highly recommend it. She is a really good professor with a lot of passion. Her classes are interesting, challenging, and fun.)

Professor Lisa Davids

I think that I enjoy Fluids because it is semi-redundant for me. Following a typical four year plan at ERAU means that students generally take Fluid Dynamics during their sophomore year. At EPF, Mécanique des Fluides is a third year course. This means that while I have not taken all of the course material before, I am at least familiar with most of it. For me, Fluids is both interesting and fun.

The other class that I enjoy is Space Mech, or as it is called in French, Introduction à la Mécanique Spatiale. This is the class I mentioned previously where I am the only student. On one hand, having a one-on-one lesson with the professor is nice because it means that it progresses at my personal pace. If I have trouble understanding a concept, the professor will explain the subject in a different way. It also means that I get to mix theory with exercises, making it more like a class at Riddle. On the other hand, having a small class means that it can be difficult to find an empty room for lessons, since larger classes have priority. Just this past week, there was a scheduling conflict for a classroom and I ended up learning in the top floor, a converted attic, of one of the administration buildings. My favorite part about this class, though, is that it is about space! The very first session, had to do with Kepler’s Laws, which are about the motion of planets. While I have learned Kepler’s Laws before in high school, they are much more interesting now because I am able to study them at a college level.

Kepler’s First Law, the orbits of planets are ellipses with the Sun at one focus, from http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/imgmec/kep.gif.


Kepler’s Second Law, An imaginary line joining a planet and the sun sweeps out an equal area of space in equal amounts of time, from http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/75/Kepler2.gif.


Kepler’s Third Law, the square of the orbital period of a planet is proportional to the cube of the semi-major axis of its orbit, from http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/kepler.html.

EPF, like ERAU, has many school associations. L’Union de la Vie Associative, or UVA, is a student board that oversees each organization and connects the student clubs to the administration of EPF. Some of the more popular societies are Beach Please, which is in charge of student life including celebrations, activities, or parties, or the BDS (Bureau des Sports) which organizes intramural athletics such as volleyball, soccer, swimming, cheerleading, personal fitness, rock climbing, rugby, tennis, horseback riding, judo, boxing, badminton, etc. The first time I heard someone say the name of Beach Please, I was pretty confused. When the French say beach with their accents, it sounds like a different word with a completely different meaning. It took a bit, but eventually I realized that Beach Please was the name of an organization, not a French person using an American colloquialism.

Beach Please logo

Out of all of the sports offered by BDS, volleyball is one of the more popular ones. Volleyball occurs on Tuesday evenings and on Thursday afternoons, if you are a part of the school team. The first time I tried to go to volleyball, I got lost because the gym is on a different campus. I ended up stumbling around in the dark on the school grounds and lost in a labyrinth of halls until I heard the sound of balls bouncing on gym floors. Eventually though, I found everyone. Volleyball is pretty fun because it is not too competitive. If someone has a terrible serve, people don’t mind letting them serve again. It is less about winning and more about enjoyment.

Another school club that is under UVA is BDA, Bureau des Arts. The BDA offers lessons and outings from various cultures. Each year there are usually visual art and dance lessons, such as salsa, hip hop, and old school rock. The past two classes I attended were about hip hop dancing. We learned about popping and locking, body waves turns, and stalls. Popping and locking is when joints of the body are moved sharply to the beat of music. Body waves are when different parts of the body are undulated. Stalls occur when a person holds their body off the floor using just a certain part of the body, like an arm or head. Obviously, since I am a total noob (can you use that term for newbie dancers?), I had to look up all of these terms to make sure that I was using them properly.

This is me practicing some new found dance moves.

This past weekend, I went to the MK2 Bibliothèque cinema with friends to see the film Prisoners with Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal. I don’t want to give any spoilers about the movie for those of you who have not seen it yet, but I will say that the movie is pretty intense and messed with my mind. It is not for the faint-hearted and definitely deserves the R rating. For me, since I scare easily, it is the type of movie I would watch again with friends, decidedly not by myself. I liked the movie theater though. The MK2 that we went to had an American store, which had a whole bunch of foods from the US, such as candy, cereals, and beef jerky. I bought three packs of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups to share with my friends since they had never tasted them before. Peanut butter is more of an American taste than a European one.

Reese’s, an American candy

That’s all for this entry. As always, thank you for reading.

More Mapping – Mars! And Other Stuff

Hello hello!

I’m starting to run out of creative ways to start these entries. So let’s just dive right in, shall we?

Because I can.

Midterm season is upon us, and I’m pretty sure I escaped the first round unscathed. I had three exams in two days last week: Astronomy, Spaceflight Dynamics, and of course my open-everything Thermodynamics midterm. Which was pretty cool. Any exam that lets me google the answers on my cell phone is a winner in my book (in my defense, I knew the material and didn’t actually google anything.) For my astronomy exam I made 158 flashcards and studied like mad – it was weird for me to have an exam where you just had to know things and not do math. Haven’t had one of those for a while. Though my Software Engineering process exam on Monday will be like that – 12 essay questions, 3 hour midterm. Gotta love grad school….

A plot showing altitude above sea level and the corresponding vertical wind speed. This is for a location in the Andes Mountains, at 31.8º S latitude.

Enough about all that stuff, I have way more exciting things to talk about, such as my mastery of MATLAB’s mapping toolbox. Guys… I made Mars. I didn’t think it was even possible, but I actually got it to work! (Which is especially impressive considering I did so without access to any NASA databases – #penny4nasa) I managed to generate a full-world topographic plot of the Martian surface. I also finished a model which takes surface topography (mountains, etc.) and calculates the vertical wind forcing based on horizontal wind. It works on Earth, so now it’s time to see if we can get a plot for the area over Olympus Mons! This data is useful because vertical wind forcing generates gravity waves, if you remember that information from my first couple entries.

So as you can see I’ve been pretty busy (and successful, I might add) in classes and SPRL lately. Which is great – I will likely get to be a second author on a published paper! For my vertical wind forcing model; I’m super excited, and glad that I’m starting to make headway into real research.

MATLAB plot of Mars Topography! And no, the blue isn’t water – it’s just colorized based on altitude. Green is approx. sea level, blue is lower, and yellow is higher.

My boyfriend and I with The Pretty Reckless at the VIP meet and greet. Doing our best rock concert faces. (We are the two on the ends)

Besides doing awesome physics stuff and making bajillions of flashcards, I’ve been doing some fun stuff too. I got to go to another rock concert (it’s been a really good year, all my favorite bands are touring!) The band is called The Pretty Reckless, and if you haven’t heard of them I suggest you go check them out. They played at a little club in downtown Orlando called The Social, which was really great because it was such a small venue, I could literally reach out and grab the guy’s guitar if I had wanted to. And we had VIP passes so we got to do a meet and greet afterwards with the band!

The openers were great too, the first was Louna, and they are a band from Russia. In fact this is the first time in 20 years that a full Russian rock band is touring in the US. The second band was Heaven’s Basement from the UK; they were crazy. At one point the singer tried to do the thing where they walk out on the fans’ hands, and the security guy yelled and ran over and tried to pull him back by the ankles. Then he ran into the pit, grabbed him, threw him over his shoulder, and brought him back on stage. There was like a tug of war of this guy between the guard and the fans. I guess that club doesn’t allow crowd-walking. The singer was just in awe, it was hilarious.

Doing my #RLShrimpStache for Endless Shrimp. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m kinda crazy.

Other than that everything is about the same as it was last time I wrote. Still working my way though Breaking Bad (and trying to avoid spoilers!), enjoying my Pumpkin Pecan Waffles candle, and eating lots of shrimp at Red Lobster – we made sure to hit up Endless Shrimp one last time on Sunday (its last day). I’ve also been doing some scrapbooking… I’ll post some photos next week after I buy more photo corners.

Another cool thing to mention is that I was invited to join Tau Beta Pi, which is the National Engineering Honor Society. As a physics student and a member of the College of Arts and Sciences rather than College of Engineering, I didn’t think they would want me, but I suppose having “engineering” in the name of my major was good enough!

For my closing statement, I’m going to mention that I’m super bummed about NASA being all closed and stuff. So let’s hope the government gets rolling again so that they can get back to work! I’m really hoping their MAVEN mission to Mars doesn’t get affected too much. That launch is scheduled for November 18th and the window extends until December 7th – if they miss it, they can’t launch again for over two years! It’s really a bummer when the sciences get caught up in politics.

That’s all folks – until next time!


Gulfstream Grandeur.

POSTION: Embry-Riddle

For those of you who don’t know, a Gulfstream III was recently donated to Embry-Riddle’s Aviation Maintenance Science Program! And if you didn’t know, a Gulfstream is my favorite type of (modern day) aircraft. We got the amazing opportunity to check it out today. Needless to say, I was a kid in a candy store!

Near the Embry-Riddle Maintenance Hangar, GIII

Getting my Gulfstream loving!


I was in a state of pure happiness. It’s moments like this that make all the hard work pay off – especially after having three tests! Sometimes it’s important to cherish the little things in life; details can be the most important things. The details that make you see how intricate life truly is. It’s important to realize how blessed we are in the midst of living a busy life. I ran out of the College of Aviation this afternoon completely stressing out over an upcoming test and saw this beautiful Gulfstream staring me in the face. Then it hit me.

GIII cockpit

 We all get caught up in the ‘doing’ of life that we forget the importance of ‘being.’ This causes us to get caught up in the ugly part of life and forget the beauty. We worry, we stress, we overanalyze, we overwork ourselves because we feel we have to live up to this “status quo,” yet we don’t realize that we are forgetting to actually live. It’s not that a Gulfstream taught me this, the concept has been there all along. But the Gulfstream was definitely a reminder for me to stop and smell the flowers. Sometimes if we stop for a moment in the midst of all our rushing, we see the things that bring us those rays of sunshine we often miss. Yes, I was worried about a test, but I was discreetly reminded of why I am doing what I do in the first place. Fear defeated by pure faith. Those are the moments you don’t want to miss.

Me and Sojung under the GIII wing!

On a side note: October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month!

The following weeks are broken down as listed below:

  • Oct. 1-6, General online safety. Raises safety awareness among Americans.
  • Oct. 7-13, Mobile online safety & security. Focuses on the need to protect our safety regardless of when and where we access the internet.
  • Oct. 14-20, Cyber education. Gears toward the advances and opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education.
  • Oct. 21-27, Cybercrime. Works to display how people can protect themselves from internet crimes.
  • Oct. 28-31, Cybersecurity and critical infrastructure. Fixates on the necessity to protect our critical infrastructure.

In the Homeland Security Student Association (HSSA), we have been discussing the upcoming weeks and how to spread the news about the importance of Cyber Security. If you didn’t know, hundreds of thousands of cyber attacks happen in just one hour every day in many different countries! It’s extremely important to know how you are protecting what you do on the internet.

  Life is such a gorgeous thing and in this case, it was complemented by a gorgeous airplane. Next time you find yourself anxious, worried, or unsure- just know that from those situations stem the greatest circumstances. Stop and smell the flowers every once in awhile.
It’s a beautiful life. Do it justice.
Blue Skies 

Paperwork, procedures and Paris

Hey Everybody,
My goodness, every time that I write, it feels as if there is never enough time to tell you guys about all of the crazy and fun events in my life. Most of the events that take up a lot of time in my life have to do with logistics and paperwork. Not all that exciting, I know, but these are absolutely essential if you plan to be, or are a part of the Dual Degree program between ERAU and EPF. Most of these tips I have learned through experience with trial and a lot of error. Please Note that I am not an expert and that my word should not be taken for granted. This is just an account of my experience.
1. Take a look at Embry-Riddle’s Study Abroad website. Please note this this list is specifically for people who wish to participate in the Dual Degree Program and therefore some items are different and require different documents.
2. Meet with the Staff at Study Abroad when you get to campus. They are very helpful and know a ton of information.
3. If you decide that you would like to be a part of the Dual Degree Program, you are now officially a photo copy making fool. Make copies of everything. When in doubt, make copies.
4. Fill out the Exchange Program Application; make sure that you fulfill all of the requirements. Check to make sure that your Four Year Plan is compatible with the chosen course of study. Besides filling out the form, you will need to include:

  1. Sealed copy of your official transcripts, these can be ordered from Records and Registration.
  2. Two letters of recommendation-one from a past professor and one from a current professor. Make sure the recommendations are good ones from professors who like you. (Time to make a good impression with pocket protectors and good white board markers, we do go to a nerd school after all.)
  3. One page, double spaced, essay stating why you would like to study abroad and what you would like to get out of your experience in the program. I know this seems pretty basic, but the Study Abroad Office just wants to make sure that you really want to study abroad for an entire year. This is a big commitment, like a relationship big, only instead of another person, there is an entire country with a lot of paperwork and rules (think: emotional baggage).
  4. Two passport sized photos-these can be taken at pretty much any drug store near ERAU. While you are there, try to get around 6-8 extras. This may seem like overkill, I promise it is not. It seems like every time I turn around, some office somewhere wants a passport photo of me and most of the time, they don’t want to take it themselves. In addition, I have yet to see a single place where I can have passport photos taken. I am sure that they exist, but I have yet to find any. Make copies.
  5. Copy of your current passport-make sure it is valid 6 months after your return to the US. Color is better than black and white. If you don’t have one, apply for one as soon an possible, more on how to later. Make another copy.
  6. CV, also known as a Curriculum Vitae. Please note a CV is not exactly the same as a resume, but essentially contains the same type of information. If you need more information about a CV, look here. The second half of the PDF is in English, no worries. I wouldn’t leave you guys out high and dry. Also this CV needs to be in French, time to make new friends. Luckily, the Study Abroad Office is popping with foreign exchange students. I’m not saying you should use them, per se, but why not create a friendship that can be mutually beneficial to the both of you? They could help with your CV and you could teach them the rigs of ERAU and Daytona Beach.
  7. One page, double spaced, essay in French, describing the reasons you want to participate in the Dual Degree Program. Once again, this is kind of a “are you really sure you want to do this” kind of step. Remember: It’s like a relationship with emotional baggage.
  8. Travel Itinerary. This can be turned in separately from you application and after you have been accepted by the Study Abroad program.
  9. EPF Program of Studies, which can be found at the Study Abroad Office. Essentially, this is a print out of an Excel spreadsheet showing which courses at EPF correspond with which courses at ERAU. Make copies. This document is as important to studying abroad at the Four Year Plan is to the academic advisors at ERAU. It’s like the Holy Grail of academia.

Think all powerful, not Monty Python (unfortunately).

5. Okay, this step is all about passports. If you already have one that will be valid 6 months after your return from France, skip this step. If you are hesitant to apply for a passport before being accepted by the Dual Degree Program, relax. If you, for some strange odd reason are not accepted, you can always use your passport for Spring Break Vacation to some place exotic like the Bahamas or something. It is better to have a passport than to not have one. The application process can take weeks. Make sure that you have enough time. Always have at least one colored copy of your current valid passport with you. For everything you need to know about passports, visit the .gov site here.
Facility. For a list of such placed near ERAU, or near where you are, go here.

6. Alright, so you have been accepted by the Study Abroad Office into the Dual Degree Program. Congratulations. I am happy for you. Now the real paperwork begins. Take a look at the Outgoing Exchange Student Guidebook created by your very own Study Abroad Office. I didn’t have this when I applied, I wish I did. You guys are sure some lucky dogs.
7. Make sure to get an official Acceptance Letter from ERAU or EPF stating that you have officially been accepted into the Dual Degree Program. This document needs to have addresses, signatures, school term start and end dates, signatures, and an official stamp. No document is officially official until it has a fancy stamp, right? Make a copy of the acceptance letter.
8. Start to save money.
9. Cool, theoretically by this step you should either already have a valid passport or have one coming soon in the mail. Now for getting a long-term student Visa. Ha, you thought it would really be that easy, didn’t you? Nope it is a bit complicated and therefore requires sub-steps. I know exactly what you are thinking, “Yes! More sub-steps. I LOVE sub-steps.” No you don’t. I don’t either. It’s okay. Eat some chocolate and you’ll get through them.
a. The nearest French Consulate is located in Miami and you will need a Long Term Student Visa. ERAU students can use this consulate since they go to school in Florida and have an acceptance letter from ERAU or EPF stating that they have been accepted into the Dual Degree Program.
b. Before making an appointment to visit the French Consulate, you need to register with Campus France.
i. In order to register with Campus France, you need to register with Pastel. See how this works? It’s fun, right? Okay, well maybe the process itself isn’t fun, but seeing how many steps they can break down the process into is at least entertaining.
ii. Required Items: Copy of your Acceptance Letter, and more money. Also make sure that you have your official Campus France ID number.
iii. After you receive an Attestation from Campus France, you can then go to the Miami Consulate. Make a copy.
c. Now you can apply for a long stay Student Visa, by making an appointment with the Miami French Consulate. Make sure that you have all required documents for the appointment. Make at least one copy of each document.
d. When you go to Miami, why not make a road trip and take some friends with you. You can see the famous Miami skyline, Star Island, and visit some of Miami’s famous beaches.

Miami Beach, taken by Courtney Hough, June 2013.

10. If you are concerned about any possible language barrier. No worries. Study Abroad and EPF have made an agreement where you can take part in a Summer Language for Engineers Program. I liked this program. It was pretty fun, see my previous entries. In addition, the tuition for this program for me was FREE. I only paid for my room on the ESTP campus, food, and activities.
a. The application form for the program is located here. You’ll need things such as:
i. 2 ID Photographs
ii. A Needs Form
iii. A Copy of your Student ID
iv. A Copy of your Passport
v. A Copy of your Proof of Payment

11. That’s it for most of the larger paperwork. If I have forgotten anything, I apologize. As you can imagine, having so much to do causes everything in mix in my head. All that is really left to do before going to France is complete any paperwork from EPF which is sent a bit later in the summer. Such documents have to do with:
a. Housing
b. Courses
c. Registration into EPF
d. Insurance

Alright, that is enough boring talk for now. No more paperwork. Now it is all about fun things I have done. In the past two weeks, the best event was probably the Soirée d’Intégration held by EPF. The ticket for the event cost about 17 Euros, which also gave me a t-shirt for the event that I could decorate and personalize as I saw fit and two free drinks. Which when you think about it, the price was actually pretty reasonable. Granted, I don’t drink, but from what I could tell, the other students seemed to like their drinks. The party was held on a boat which was on the Seine. There were two decks. The bottom deck had the dance floor, tables, DJ booth, and bar while the top deck had another bar, chairs and couches for lounging, and a smoking area. It was pretty cool. My favorite part of the evening was being able to matriculate with all of the other students form my class. I met a bunch of new people who were a lot of fun and really nice.

Obviously, it was midway through the night and we were having a lot of fun dancing.

To top off the end to a really awesome night, one of the other students in my class offered me a ride back to my residence. He was driving a whole group of other people to their own apartments in the same area and my residence was along his way home. The car ride was so much nicer than waiting for the Noctilien night bus that services Paris when the trains and metro stop. The night bus would have taken the better part of two hours to get me back to where I live. By car, it only took about half an hour, even with making various stops to drop people off. It was very generous of him.
That’s all for this week. Thank you for reading.