School, Space, and Stuff

Oh man, I’ve really been neglecting my dear readers – it’s been a while since my last post! Luckily I have plenty on which to fill you in!

Beautiful shot of the new COAS and new Quad, courtesy of my friend Johanna Petrocelli.

Beautiful shot of the new COAS and new Quad, courtesy of my friend Johanna Petrocelli.

Spring semester is well under way, and I certainly understand why they call it the “semester of death” – five 300-level EP classes together aren’t easy! I’m learning things from designing camera lenses to programming microprocessors to how to design a satellite form the ground up, and boy is it a lot of material. College always has a point where it really hits you what your major is, which is usually around the third year. The first couple still feel pretty high-schooly course-wise, with general calculus and physics, maybe delving into some advanced mechanics like solids or fluids, but overall it’s very general. Once you start taking 300-level classes like Spacecraft Systems Engineering, you really start to get a look at what you’ll be doing for the rest of your life… and you better hope you love it! Which I really do.

It’s crazy to think that I’m almost done with my third year of college. My advisor has been dropping words like “thesis” and “GRE” and I’m just like, yeah but that’s way later – except it’s not anymore! I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about grad school lately, and I think I’m going to do a PhD in Planetary Science, and have even started looking at some schools – really leaning towards UC Boulder; they have a great program, and Colorado is gorgeous. Nonetheless I still have two years left here at ERAU, so I’m trying not to get too ahead of myself.

Time does fly though, we’ve already started registering for fall classes. I’ll be taking three undergrad courses: Space Physics, Electricity and Magnetism, and Senior Design, as well as two grad courses: Advanced Planetary Science (excited for this one!) and a PhD course titled Computational Atmospheric Dynamics that my advisor teaches and talked me into taking (nervous for this one!) He says that PhD classes aren’t much harder, but he already has his PhD, so how can I really trust that? 😛 Nonetheless, it’ll be good knowledge to have for when I write my thesis, which will be on computational atmospheric dynamics, so I can see why he wants me in the class.

My work in the lab is going well. I’ve been working on learning FORTRAN to make some changes to our 1D wave model (yes, people do still use FORTRAN!) The other day I was able to successfully implement a feature that allows multiple simulations to be run in a row, without having to come back and reset the parameters. For example, we can run a 1 meter wave, a 2 meter wave, and a 3 meter wave all in a row, and then just get all the results at once to compare, rather than having to go back to the lab in between just to change one number and hit start. I’m very proud that I was able to get that working – FORTRAN is a very different beast from the modern-day programming languages I’m used to working with!

My parents and I at KSC!

My parents and I at KSC on my birthday

So what else has been going on with my life in the last couple months… Well, I turned 21 in February, and celebrated by (can you guess?) a trip to KSC! My parents came down to both visit me and escape the frozen wasteland, and it was a lot of fun. We did the Cape Canaveral: Then and Now tour, which was about 3 and a half hours of bussing around to different historical buildings and launch sites. We even got to go into a couple of the intact control rooms from which they controlled some of the first manned launches! It was a very cool tour, and a very fun birthday. And totally more fun than waking up the morning after your 21st birthday and not even remembering it (though I did go at midnight on my birthday for a long island iced tea at Applebees, so I didn’t completely ignore that right of passage.)

Me with Sally the Space Hamster

Me with Sally the Space Hamster

For my birthday I got a 1/200 scale model of the Saturn V rocket from my parents, which looks gorgeous next to my 1/200 scale model of Space Shuttle Discovery. I also got a lot of birthday money in the mail, which I used to purchase a new furry hamster friend (living alone gets lonely.) Her name is Sally, named, of course, after Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, and she is hilarious and adorable. I built her cage out of a plastic bin (trust me, I’m an engineer), and decorated it with lots of fun space stickers… which she keeps eating, but we’re working on that.

Some of the stickers that I have up in her cage

Some of the stickers that I have up in her cage

She likes her spaceship :)

She likes her spaceship 🙂

Teaching her to eat my homework

Teaching her to eat my homework



 

Obligatory picture of my boyfriend and I with Disney ears in front of the castle - that crane thing kinda ruined it though >:(

Obligatory picture of my boyfriend and I with Disney ears in front of the castle – that crane thing kinda ruined it though >:(

I also got to visit Magic Kingdom for the first time in February, and it’s name is well-deserved. It really is pretty magical, and very well-done. It was a super fun trip. I’ve also gotten to see a couple more launches in the last month – one from KSC, one from campus – and attended a really cool colloquium about weather on other planets. Planetary atmospheres are incredibly interesting, I could definitely see myself doing that for my PhD.

Me with Eric Whitacre! Composer extraordinaire

Me with Eric Whitacre! Composer extraordinaire

For those of you who don’t know me, beyond being a total space geek I’m also an avid musician. Well, used to be… my one dislike about ERAU is its lack of any music program. So, unfortunately, my saxophone sits neglected in my closet. Nonetheless, in high school I was in every possible band – music was my life (I even have a saxophone tattoo.) But I digress. Last week, my favorite band composer was in Orlando giving an informal Q&A at UCF, and I was lucky enough to get my hands on a ticket. Eric Whitacre! He’s unbelievably cool – and I told him that at the end when I got to meet him. His talk was both funny and inspiring; he told us stories of how he got inspiration for some of his pieces, and had a lot of advice for aspiring musicians. It was a fantastic evening, and really made me miss band. And I got him to sign one of my favorite band pieces. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: living so close to Orlando really presents a lot of opportunities! Because EVERYONE visits Orlando at one time or another. And it’s only about an hour drive.

Well, I guess that’s all I have for you guys for now – I’ll try to write more often, sorry about that! I’ve got some cool projects on my radar that you’ll definitely get to hear about once they get going. I’m still waiting to hear back about my internship applications to NASA and SETI, so maybe in my next entry I’ll have some good news to share. *fingers crossed*

Until next time!

And feel free to email me, I don’t bite. 🙂
schroel2@my.erau.edu

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