Merrick

About Merrick

Junior

Aerospace Engineering

Minor: Arabic Year: Junior Hometown: Norfolk, Virginia Campus Involvement: AFROTC, Honors Program, Women in Aviation, O-Team, Resident Advisor Why I chose Embry-Riddle: I chose Embry-Riddle for the passionate and studious campus atmosphere. Everyone seemed so motivated and friendly! I immediately wanted to contribute to that positive environment.

Spring Semester & Scheduling

Happy January everyone! I am currently blogging from Fairbanks, Alaska where I spent my winter break resting and relaxing in the snow! I am about to start traveling back to Daytona Beach and I had such a good break I miss my family already! My only complaint is that it was too short. 

One of my favorite memories from winter break – snow shoeing with my favorite person!

I have exciting news! I am about to begin my last semester of my undergraduate education, I graduate in May! I am so excited after 5 years of working towards my B.S. in Aerospace Engineering to be so close to having my degree and starting a new chapter of my life. As always, this semester will be a busy one but I am excited for all the growth to come. I have big plans for staying busy and going full speed ahead, with rest of course, until graduation. 

Current academic progress one semester away from graduation!

At the start of every semester to help plan and best organize my busy times I create a schedule! I suggest utilizing your class schedule as a base to start building off of. From there I add in my commitments in order of priority, including ROTC obligations, RA duty and meetings, Peer Mentor work for UNIV 101, scheduling in my work hours for my job at the Eagle Flight Research Center, and of course all other obligations besides work. For me, this includes time to do homework, study, do yoga, eat breakfast/lunch/dinner, and a workout schedule for when I will be at the gym in fitness classes, doing cardio outside, working out in my room, or resting. This semester one of my goals is to be more mindful and take more time for myself by scheduling in walks at least once (but hopefully more) every week. Taking walks is nice because it also allows for time to catch up listening to some of my favorite podcasts!

This semester I also have a goal to get more sleep. I typically go to bed very early on days when I don’t have RA obligations such as staff meetings, which are scheduled late in the evenings to ensure all RAs are out of class, which keeps me awake past my usual bedtime. Another RA responsibility that concludes late in the night is RA duty, which requires staff members to perform building rounds, answer phone calls for lock outs, and sit at their residence hall lobby desk. Typically RAs have duty one weekday every two weeks, in addition to about 11 weekend duty days spread across a semester. RA duty days are assigned at the beginning of each semester based off of responsibilities like class schedules, ROTC, and labs or flight blocks.

I have come to realize I function best on a lot of sleep, especially when I’m busy with classes and working out regularly. Thus, when I wake up early for ROTC obligations like PT or LLAB, I try to go to bed as early as possible.

I am exciting to make my life schedule for this upcoming semester and look forward to having everything planned to set myself up for success. Good luck this semester, will report back soon folks!

Final Week & Finals Tips

Happy December everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, FL and we are one week away from finals! With only one week left in the semester the current atmosphere on campus is busy and stressed. My schedule for this week includes deadlines for reports, presentations, final projects, and tests from Monday-Thursday. Friday is Study Day meaning no classes before exams begin Saturday December 11. Finals end this semester on Wednesday December 15. For more information the Academic Calendar can be found here, and the Fall 2021 Final Exam schedule can be found here on page 5 of the Registration Guidelines and Important Information document.

The end of the semester can be stressful, especially with all classes seemly scheduling deadlines during the same time before finals, but truly we’re so close to break! In less than two weeks the semester and final exams will have concluded and I am so excited to relax over the holiday before the Spring 2022 semester begins. Yesterday I spent about 7 hours in the library working on a final project for my preliminary aircraft design class and this past week has had the same (and more) amount of rigorous work on projects for different classes as well.

The best advice I have for college students experiencing “the grind” portion of the end of the semester is to remember that this short couple weeks is only temporary and you will get a break soon. Theres no way getting around having classes schedule exams and other due dates so close together, and it seems that every semester the last week brings a similar atmosphere and work load. To get through it we must go through it. Personally, I don’t necessarily agree with the concept of all nighters to finish work, but I do have a lot of late nights and early mornings. As someone who extensively plans ahead, during the last week of a semester there never seems to be enough time in a day.

Beautiful Florida sunrise on campus!

My best advice for getting through finals is to take care of yourself as much as possible. Drinking water and getting enough sleep are both extremely important! These tips for success sound simple, but when classes are extremely rigorous and demanding, sometimes the simplest acts of self care really make all the difference!

One of my favorite Florida sunsets on campus the other evening!

Other keys to success are snacks, coffee or your caffeine of choice, and decompressing after long days! During especially stressful times I make sure to prioritize a balance of working out and resting. Most of my recent days have been filled with hours of continuous work and studying for my classes, which unfortunately means a lot of sitting (something that I personally find very difficult and boring to do for hours). Thus, its important to take breaks to walk around, stretch, and schedule time to workout. I find that after a productive school work day, usually my mind is exhausted but my body hasn’t really moved all day. To alleviate this I will either go for a run, go to the gym, or do a yoga or workout video on YouTube. I feel better when I get to move my body, which in turn helps me focus more and think more clearly when working on assignments or studying. I also use working out as motivation to stay more focused while I work! Self care is extremely important, especially when the semester is busy. Keep on keeping on folks, will report back soon!

Two Weeks Left & Current To-Dos

Happy almost December everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, back from Myrtle Beach where I spent my Thanksgiving break with my family and I wish break was longer. Traffic was pretty bad coming back south and my drive ended up taking about an extra three hours! Regardless, my break was so much fun and I was sad to head back to FL alone as it was such a great experience spending time with family.

Post Thanksgiving 5K with my dad!
Post Thanksgiving 5K with my uncle! We ran together and ended up winning “medals” for fast times!

The 5K was probably one of my favorite moments over the break, other than watching Jimmy Fallon’s Christmas special on NBC – 5 More Sleeps Til Christmas.

My To-Do list before the week begins includes various errands like filling up my water bottle, taking in my bags from my Thanksgiving Break trip from the car and unpacking, laundry, working out, doing yoga, putting up my residence hall closing/end of the semester Resident Advisor (RA) bulletin board in my hall, filling out the end of course evaluations for all my classes on Canvas, and working on my Aircraft Preliminary Design group project and report.

There are about two weeks left to the semester before final exams. The last day of classes for the Fall 2021 semester is Thursday Dec 9, followed by Study Day on Friday Dec 10! Final exams this year are December 11-15 and Graduation is Dec 16! For additional semester closing information about important dates, please check out your RA’s bulletin board in your Residence Hall, as well as ERAU-DB’s academic calendar which can be found here.

In preparation for the end of the semester and finals it’s extremely important to emphasize your health. Getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, eating right, and taking care of yourself are extremely important! I too am guilty of falling into the end of semester syndrome where I drink more coffee than usual and sometimes don’t make time to workout or eat particularly nourishing food because I am too busy with homework or studying. Truly though, when you are busy it is even more important to make sure you are being kind to your body and your mind and putting energy into a healthy work/life balance.

Some tips to prep for the busy days to come – make sure you have quick and healthy snacks on hand (cut up fruit or pre-portion bags of pretzels or crackers for grab-and-go style), set timers for studying to keep yourself on as much of a set schedule as possible, set an alarm for a cut-off time each night where you do an activity to decompress such as making a cup of tea, going for a walk, listening to music or a podcast, working out, or reading a book. Additionally, you can try setting intentions for each day either before you go to bed at night or by incorporating them into your morning routine (perhaps while you drink a cup of coffee or tea). Setting intentions helps keep me focused throughout the day and can be referred back to by writing them in the Notes app of your phone or by putting them on sticky notes around your desk/study space. Remembering your daily intentions can help focus your thoughts on your end goals and re-center your mindset by helping to motivate you if you become busy or stressed! Keep on keeping on folks, will report back soon.

Thanksgiving & Break Activities

Happy November everyone! I’m currently blogging from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and it’s Thanksgiving! I am so happy to be on a short break before the last couple weeks of class and finals. The semester truly is coming to a close! I met my family in Myrtle Beach for the break to run a Turkey Trot 5K and hang out together for a few days. Activities included lots of card games like Spades and Uno, as well as Blokus tournaments – both Blokus duo and the 4 player options. The break also included watching three different versions of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, including the 1966 cartoon, the 2000 Jim Carrey film, and The Grinch – 2018 version.

Pre-Thanksgiving 5K with my family!

At the 5K we saw people dressed up as turkeys, mac ‘n cheese, and my personal favorite for creativity’s sake – green bean casserole!

I also got to spend time with my favorite puppy-niece Daisy!

The Thanksgiving break was much needed. The “short” week beforehand included an Air Force ROTC PT test, a Flight Dynamics and Control exam, and an approximately 7 hour hour drive up north to see some of the people I love.

While I do wish the break was longer, some of my favorite “break-prep” activities to help me feel refreshed and relaxed before I left FL for the weekend included catching up on laundry and organizing my room, cleaning/wiping down surfaces and sweeping the floor, watering my plants and overall tidying my living space so that when the break is over I am able to jump into the last few weeks of classes and finals giving 100%.

Over the break my favorite relaxing activities other than spending time with family include watching Christmas movies, listening to new music (including Adele’s new album!), catching up on podcasts I haven’t had time to listen to lately including IN HINDZSIGHT, Short Wave (NPR’s short science podcast), and a recently discovered listen – Financial Feminist! Additionally I’ve been catching up on my favorite Youtube channels by doing yoga videos from Yoga With Adriene, targeted workout videos with Chloe Ting, and leveled and targeted workout videos with a variety of guest hosts from different workout programs with POPSUGAR Fitness, a channel I discovered about a year ago.

I hope everyone is getting the opportunity to relax and recharge a bit before the final stretch of school, only about a month left before Winter Break! Keep on keeping on folks, will report back soon!

Campus Views & Current Schedule

Happy November everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach and my life recently has been busy, but when is it not? I’ve been utilizing the 24 hour computer labs and study spaces on campus a lot more lately, as most students tend to do towards the end of the semester when workloads increase and full-swing preparation-mode for end of semester tests and projects has commenced.

My favorite study spaces recently have been the library which can get packed with students – so my favorite calm study spaces are the Quiet Study Room on the third floor, reserving study rooms throughout the Union and in the library via SchedulER in ERNIE, the ROTC building computer lab, the top of the Aircraft Military Science (AMS) building that overlooks the flight line (which is particularly gorgeous at sunset), and the College of Business (COB) first floor computer lab.

Some additional helpful information as we’re nearing the end of the semester are the Hunt Library hours and the color-printer access hours in various computer labs around campus.

Early evening view around sunset walking to go study in the Union!

Aside from the early mornings and late nights the Florida views really do make the university experience so much better, as seen above the sky is beautiful!

View during the walk from my Residence Hall to class one morning!

In other news, I passed my Physical Training (PT) test for Air Force ROTC! Cadets in AFROTC take a recorded PT test once a semester, but typically have a few “practice” PT tests called Fitness Diagnostics (FDs) before the recorded score Fitness Assessment (FA), also referred to as a Physical Fitness Test (PFT). AFROTC physical requirements include meeting specific Body Mass Index (BMI) qualifacation, as well as passing all three components of the PT test including a 1.5 mile run, a minute of sit-ups, and a minute of push-ups. Additional Fitness Requirements for AFROTC can be found here. Current testing performance requirements for minimum and maximum scores on each component of the Air Force’s PT test can be found here, which vary for males and females, as well as between age brackets.

However, starting Jan 1, 2022 the Air Force will implement a new version of the PT Test including different options for measuring cardiovascular strength and muscular fitness. These options include either a 1.5 mile run OR a 20 meter High Aerobic Multi-shuttle Run (HAMR) Shuttle run component, a minute of push-ups OR two minutes of hand-release push-ups, and a minute of sit-ups OR two minutes of Cross Leg Reverse Crunches OR a forearm plank for maximum time. The scoring requirements for the new PT test can be found here, which similarly to the current PT test vary for males and females as well as between age brackets. While I haven’t had the oppurtunity to personally take a practice or official version of the new PT test I am excited for the changes and am looking forward to the different options! Keep on keeping on folks, will report back soon!

Life Updates & Lab

Happy November everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida, the weather is getting colder, Thanksgiving is approaching, and finals are about a month away! To say the least, I’ve been BUSY! School, work, working out, and life in general has been jam packed lately. With Thanksgiving around the corner I’ve been having a lot of tests lately, and a lot of upcoming project deadlines before the late November break is here. Right before Thanksgiving I also have my Fitness Assessment for Air Force ROTC! I’m excited and very much ready to fast forward to spending time with my family and eating all the nostalgic cozy comfort foods that Thanksgiving has to offer. Bring me all the pie!

One of my favorite aspects of the weather getting colder is that running outside is so pleasant, especially during the transition period from hot to cold with temperatures of about 60 degrees. The humidity is low, and on good days when there’s not a lot of wind running is perfect. It’s also officially hoodie season! I recently had my birthday and got to spend a few hours at the beach which was so much fun and very relaxing.

October beach picture!

My current To-Do list for this weekend includes a lab report for my Aerospace Structures and Instrumentation Lab on vibration testing of beams and aircraft structural components of choice (my group chose a front spar of the leading edge portion of a wing from a Boeing 777 airliner to test and observe). This particular lab was one of my favorites thus far, as it investigated the phenomenon of flutter and looked at how forcing vibrations to excite frequencies near resonance can be dangerous in real world scenarios, and thus needs to be understood and prepared for. Our lab group also recently investigated some Nondestructive Evaluation techniques in lab, including thermography which uses thermal heat differentials to display an image with warmer areas displaying brighter and cooler areas displaying darker colors.

Thermal imagery is a useful technique commonly implemented in the aerospace industry to inspect planes and ensure that there is no structural damage. Inspections usually happen about once a year where planes are observed shortly after landing with a thermal detecting camera. The heat detecting technology shows areas that water may have infiltrated cracks in the structure as the water will be a cooler temperature than that of the aircraft’s body.

Thermal image of myself and my lab group!

We only have about three more lab sessions left until the end of the semester and I am looking forward to being done with writing lab reports during finals and over Winter break! Keep on keeping on folks, will report back soon!

Work/Life Balance and Little Joys

Happy almost Halloween everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, at the end of Fall Break, and half way through the semester! 

I spent my fall break doing entirely too much homework everyday, and sleeping. My break didn’t really seem like a break, but generally, doing your homework is always a better option than not! Until the semester ends there is never a time where I don’t have assignments to do. Thus, it is all the more important to find time for what makes you happy in order to create a sustainable routine and work/life balance. My life tends to be 99% work, but I am looking forward to having more time for rest and fun during Winter Break!

My go-to for finding small happy breaks in my busy days has been centered a lot on finding joy in my routine. Sometimes my workouts are too similar and I get bored with the same monotonous schedule that is school, studying, working, etc. Don’t get me wrong, college is extremely challenging and I am never at a loss for things to do. I am practically swimming in homework, papers, projects, and presentation assignments, on top of meetings, and ROTC obligations, but I’ve reached a point where the busy-ness isn’t exactly new or exciting. There’s always new assignments, but even they fall into a rhythm of similar challenges and stresses. Lately I’ve been thinking how interesting it is that despite everything new, such as different classes, new people in group projects, new friends, the flow of school is the same.

Something I’ve focused more on this semester is making time for things that make me happy on the day to day, even when I’m busy. For me, this looks like painting my nails every few weeks because it makes me feel more put together during the busy days. 

This week’s nail color of choice!

Small joys of everyday life also looks like trying new tea flavors when I’m studying, lately in the evenings I’m liking Peppermint and Chamomile! I’ve also been enjoying FaceTiming my mom once a week, texting my sister, my family, and my friends who I don’t see everyday more, and Peppermint Hot Chocolate mix. This also includes new plants! Recently I was in charge of organizing a team builder during our RA staff meetings, so we planted little cups of basil and cilantro, mine just began sprouting!

My new basil plant babies!

When I’m stressed I also tend to focus on everything that I need to do, rather than everything I’ve done, it’s SO important to recognize yourself for all the hard work you do! I’ve been trying to do face masks a few evenings every week to decompress before I go to sleep, and help my skin stay hydrated, which always helps me wake up feeling more refreshed and happy – even on the early PT mornings.

A BIG event that I am very excited for is graduation and commissioning in spring, but it’s easy sometimes to lose sight of the shining end goals when you’re in the middle of a sea of work. Keep your goals in mind constantly, and let them help motivate you when the routine gets boring. Trying new snacks or drinks helps spice up everyday life, and new music, workout routines, and self care that you wouldn’t regularly do is so much fun too! Keep on keeping on folks, will report back soon.

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!

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!

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!