About Isabella

Senior

Engineering Physics

Hometown: St. Augustine, FL
Campus Involvement: Society of Women Engineers (SWE), Project Manager/VP of Women's Baja SAE Team, FAA-related Research Job, College of Arts & Sciences Student Council Chair of Engineering Physics
Why I chose Embry-Riddle: There are two big things that really pushed me to apply/attend to ERAU. One was the tremendous amount of hands-on experience that I could get just by asking to be a part of projects, teams, and research. The other was the numerous program-specific, non-gen-ed classes that started as early as freshman and sophomore year which made me excited to learn and apply concepts as soon as possible.

Simply Living Life

Hey there! Took some time away from blogging due to finals week, spending Winter break with family, and taking care of some health stuff. That being said, as a new semester begins, always remember to prioritize your mental and physical health! It may not seem efficient now but will help you operate better, faster, and more efficiently in the long run. This can include scheduling times to do things with friends but also scheduling time to relax, read a book, or, my favorite, take some leisurely textbook notes in a little coffee shop.

Speaking of fun things, I have done a few things recently around the area that I wanted to share! There are so many places around Florida that are GREAT for a day trip or even just an evening activity. Here are some places that I have gone the past week or so:

The Ponte Vedra Concert Hall is only about 1.5 hours by car from campus! They have some really cool concerts there for relatively cheap prices. My boyfriend and I recently attended a Bowling for Soup concert there with Lit as an opener, and the tickets were only $35 each! The venue is super small as well, so any seat or standing space you get provides a really good view of the stage. I have also seen some classical music concerts there and a concert by Jake Shimabukuro (the ukulele legend, highly recommend). That area also has many good restaurants within a 10-minute radius to turn it into a fun evening.
My friend from LA visited for a few days, so of course I had to take her to Kennedy Space Center! It is only about an hour drive from campus, and you can get VERY discounted tickets through the ICI Center on campus. Plus, if you go during a weekday, there are little to no wait times for any rides and interactive experiences. This is a space nerd’s Disneyland; at least, I know it is for me. And of course you have to dress in all your finest NASA merch…..and subsequently get mistaken for an employee a few times hahaha
Before this, I had never tried an escape room, but now I think it is one of my favorite things to do. It is like a big interactive puzzle! I forgot exactly where this one was but went recently for a friend’s birthday. Great plan for a birthday or special occasion. They can get pricy, but when split among a few friends it usually is not too bad.
St. Augustine is my home, so I am a bit biased. However, it is only about an hour away from campus and FULL of fun things to do. I should really write another post on available St. Augustine activities. I have spent my whole life there and am still discovering new things to do. My friends and I walked around the Nights of Lights before they were shut off. During Winter, the entire downtown area is lit up with decorations and light for the holidays; it is breathtaking (and internationally known)! This is a picture of us at a little place downtown. Half of it is a duck-themed soap/spa sort of store. The other half is a bar! They specialized in old-fashioned sodas and drinks with ducks in them that you can take home! The entire place is duck-themed and so adorable. Great for photo ops.

Backpack Essentials

I’ve had many backpacks throughout the years of college and feel like it’s a really overlooked, essential part of your day-to-day life that can dictate your efficiency, productivity, and more. Here are a few things that I find are really nice to have in my backpack at all times.

  • First Aid / Personal Hygiene
    • Having a little pouch with personal items inside my backpack has been super helpful. You will need them WAY more than you think. This can include bandaids, neosporin, pain reducers, female hygiene products (if needed), nail clippers, nail file, tweezers, etc. I have used all of these things more than once per semester.
  • Calculators
    • If you have both, keep both a standard calculator and a nice graphing calculator on you. Professors could announce calculator standards for pop quizzes, tests, etc. last minute in class, and you will be very thankful that you have both options with you.
  • Snacks!
    • Even if you wind up putting them away at home at the end of the day, it’s nice to have them around if hunger strikes and you are really busy and/or don’t have the time/money to spend. There are some cheaper Amazon options for backpacks with built-in lunchboxes that can allow you to put ice packs and everything in there which is especially great for people with any dietary restrictions.
  • Water
    • I’ve become a big advocate for carrying water with you. I have been caught without water and no time to get any enough times that I was dehydrated and now carry a big jug around with me; there are some cheaper designs on Amazon with cute patterns.
  • Stationery Cases
    • I’ve developed a system for this. I have various stationery cases for each thing: colored fine-tip Sharpies, colored fine-tip expo markers, colored chisel-tip expo markers, colored pencils, colored fine-tip markers, colored highlighters, and standard (pens, pencils, erasers). I switch them out at home based on what I think will be the most valuable during that day, but the Expo markers are GREAT to have around. You never know if you will be stuck in a study room with nonfunctional markers or just cramming for a quiz (studies show that studying with multiple colors helps your brain memorize things better).
  • Headphones
  • Chargers

Project/Team Management

Over the years, I have really enjoyed various teams, groups, and projects including robots, rockets, subteams, PR, cars, student councils, clubs, class projects, and more!
I wanted to take some time to list out a handful of things and mindsets that are super useful in the management process.

  • Prioritize one-person accountability
    • Each task should be able to be traced back to one specific person for accountability when it is done late, when someone has questions, when something goes wrong because of it, etc.
  • Learn to delegate
    • It is better to share the work instead of doing it all yourself. Although you may enjoy controlling the outcome, understandably, delegation also gives others the chance to learn your duties in the eventual circumstance that you retire/step down. It also helps the members of your team feel like they more directly contributed to the end goal.
  • Goals & timelines are SO important
    • These are some of the most important things whether it comes in the form of a Gantt chart, Excel sheet, or something else. An end goal must be defined with important milestones in order for a project to progress in a timely manner. Without these, the project risks veering away from the main goal and/or taking far too long. This will also help you give your teammates an answer to why you must complete a certain task on time and all the trickle-down consequences of a delay.
    • Factor in delays/buffers: Sometimes things can go wrong. Sometimes these things can be out of your control (supplier backups, accountable people getting sick, etc.). You need to factor in some buffer time when scheduling things to be completed so that this does not push back any very important end goals and deliverables.
  • Communication, communication, communication
    • ONE communication outlet: This is a very underrated thing, but having only ONE outlet of communication for a team (Discord, text, Slack, etc.) will immensely reduce confusion and help everyone stay on the same page.
    • Meet in person! Call on Discord! Put updates and random thoughts in the group chat! Communication will help your team bond, stay on topic, be focused and productive, and so much more. It is far better to overcommunicate than to undercommunicate.

Food Adventures

Yeah, for one post (and maybe another later), this is going to turn into a food blog haha!
I am a college student, but I really love to explore local restaurants and try different things. I’ve found that a great way to do this on a budget is to pick around 1 place/per week to share an appetizer and entree with a friend or significant other. Many of the places I go also have super affordable prices. Here are a few in the Daytona Beach area that I enjoy!

  • Hi-Pot: hot pot & ramen
  • Pho Saigon: pho/Vietnamese
  • Mama’s Kitchen: Vietnamese
  • Rice Bistro: various Asian cuisines
  • Asian Sauce Box: various Asian & dimsum
  • Leanh’s: various Asian
  • La Perla: really legit tacos & menudo
  • Anthony’s Pizza & Pasta: Italian
  • Larry’s Subs
  • Wayback Burgers
  • Pasha: Turkish/Mediterranean
  • First Watch: brunch
  • Texas Roadhouse
  • Taco Bell
  • BJ’s: American
  • Tijuana Flats: fast texmex
  • Masala: Indian
  • Pollo Tropical: Caribbean fast food
  • Ocean Deck: American
  • Red Robin
  • Miller’s Alehouse
  • Wild Ginger: Japanese-American
  • Ford’s Garage: burgers/American
  • Panera
  • Panda Express
  • Pizza Hut
  • Moe’s
  • Domino’s
  • Ichi Ni San: Japanese
  • Landshark: American
  • Culver’s: burgers & cheese curds
  • Takara: hibachi
  • Giuseppe’s: Pittsburgh Italian
  • Gabbie’s: Italian
  • Lan Lamoon: Thai

On-Campus Concert!

There are a bunch of events on campus ranging from mini carnivals and farmers markets to free snacks and concerts! Recently, I attended an Honors Series event that was a concert by Julie Fowlis who is a Scottish artist. She is commonly known for songs in the soundtrack for Brave, but her Gaelic folk music is also so beautiful. It was a really relaxing break from work during midterms while earning seminar credits towards the honors program. Overall, I highly recommend attending some events on campus if you can, or at least keeping an eye out for some gems like this!

Notes & Studying & Exams! Oh my!

I came into ERAU with a less common background. I was in virtual school from 4th through 12th grade. This trained me to prefer a certain type of learning: throw a textbook at me and tell me to learn it by myself. I did and still do really well with this approach. As I attended more and more lectures at ERAU, I survived but noticed that I did not feel 100% comfortable with their type of learning experience. Thus, for any new virtual schooled students or just new students in general, now as a senior, I wanted to share some of the techniques I have developed over the years.

MOST classes here at ERAU, at least the ones in my experience as an EP student, have a distinct system. You attend lectures, do homework, and take exams. I have a certain note-taking/studying system that has worked very well.
I use OneNote to do all of this because I like being able to see everything at a glance. I keep one large notebook; each semester has its own section group. Then, there is a section for each class. Each page is for a day of lecture, homework, or type of note.

  • Attend class to take lecture notes
    • Focus on writing down what is on the board & any other important things the professor says
    • Don’t be afraid to ask “will this be on the exam”
    • Ask if you are confused!
    • If not already specified by the professor, ask for what part of the textbook things correspond to & what extra practice problems you can do
  • Study at home!!
    • Take notes on the textbook
      • Create another notes page for textbook notes
      • I know it can feel wrong to do sometimes, but mark up your textbook!! Highlight definitions in yellow and important facts in blue. And then write notes in the margins or do extra math next to the examples.
    • Take notes on any PowerPoint slides or supplemental material on Canvas
    • Start homework early to fully understand the problem
      • In my opinion, it is okay to use an answer key (if given/permitted by your professor of course) as long as you understand how to get there. In fact, this process can make learning easier sometimes!
    • Do any extra practice problems that you can
      • If you are confused (or even if you aren’t), take these by the professor’s office hours or email it to them for feedback and extra tips!
  • Exam time
    • Glance through notes, especially for around 15 minutes leading up to the exam. Your short term memory is a powerful tool.
    • Redo all of your homework and practice problems on a big whiteboard for a day or so before the exam and see how fast you can get through them. Timing is key in some of these classes!
    • Study with your classmates. Even if you feel like you understand the material fully, someone else may have a perspective that will make you go WOAH

Study Locations

You need a place to study in between classes and meetings. Sometimes the main floor of the Student Union is a bit noisy or there are just no seats left or you really really need a change of scenery. Here are some of my favorite spots on campus and a bit about them!

  • NR3 Study Room: The New Residence Hall 3 building has a great study room in the lobby. It can get busy in evenings during exam weeks, but other than that it is fairly quiet. The tables are whiteboards, and there are rolling whiteboard in there too. It is a really great place to meet a study group for exam cram sessions. I do recommend bringing your own markers though; they go missing around there.
  • Honors Center: If you are an honors student, the honors center in the first floor of NR3 has a library with tables & beanbags, computer lab, and some other study rooms further back in the hallways.
  • College Lobbies: A super underrated place to go study in place is the lobby of many class buildings. COAS has a little nook with a couch by the back door. COAS also has a very nice study area on the 5th floor which overlooks the runway and Micaplex with a quiet environment, nearby restrooms, and tons of room in general. On COAS 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floors there are some couches by the windows right next to the elevators which are also wonderful study spaces if you can claim a spot! Lehman has many seating choices including booths and comfy chairs by the 1st floor elevators; there are also nooks with booth and chair seating and tables by the vending machines on the 2nd and 3rd floors. If you like outdoor spots, there are some tables outside by the labs on the 3rd floor of Lehman. The M Building in back of Lehman also has a little sitting area with vending machines right when you walk in, but there are outlets only on one wall. The lobbies of IC, COB, and COA are also very nice with various seating choices.
  • Student Union Balcony: When the weather gets nice, the balcony by Starbucks is a PRIME seating choice for studying. You can even watch the planes take off and grab a coffee!
  • Physics Lounge: If you are a Physics student, we now have our own study space/lounge in COAS 315 with computers, whiteboards, whiteboard tables, markers, comfy couches, and more! Great place to do homework and talk to classmates.

Organization is Key

As a student, you need to keep track of a lot of things. These things can include (but are definitely not limited to) classes, work, research, clubs, projects, and just general life things. There are many ways in which you can do this such as planner books, bullet journals, notes apps, and checklists. I am going to share how I personally keep track of well….life!

I have experimented with quite a few methods, definitely everything listed above plus a handful of productivity apps. They all have their pros and cons. Planner books are very fun to use, useful, satisfying to write things in, and pretty, but if you have many last-minute meetings come up or just numerous things back-to-back in one day, your space per day in that book can be fairly limited. There is also an app out there called Notion which many people swear by; I have a few friends who use this, and it looks great! However, its device compatibility is limited and the full list of features I want requires a paid subscription. Over the years, I have solidly settled on using two main methods: Google Calendar & Todoist.

I am a HUGE advocate of Todoist. I find the platform super simple, easy to navigate/use, and free! Honestly, my friends have remarked probably three times per month that they really need to put me on their payroll with how much I talk about the application hahaha. You can use the website on your computer and/or app version on your phone. In the free version, you can make five “projects” like mine is set up:

Within each project, you can create different sections like how my Homework project looks:

From what I can tell, the sections per project is unlimited. I use one for each class and then put tasks under them. Each task allows you to add due dates, priority rankings, labels, descriptions, comments, subtasks, and even assignees! Yes, you can make collaborative boards too!! With the free version, you can put up to five people on one project. This is really useful for clubs or even just class projects. The mobile app has all of the capabilities of the website, so if you need to rely on that during the day while you are running around you definitely can. Even better, you can sync your Google Calendar and Todoist.

To more easily view exactly what I need to do and where I need to be, I have a Google Calendar widget on the home screen of my phone. Then, my synced Todoist shows all of my tasks as differently-colored events for that day. On top of that, I highly recommend color-coding your Google Calendar. I include locations of my meetings/classes, and then I color code for each thing to make quick glances way easier. For example, classes are dark green, gym trips are light green, SI sessions are red, fun things are yellow, club meetings are light blue, and the list continues. I also enjoy having everything on Google Calendar because then I can enter other people’s Gmails as guests to my “event” which syncs the event on all of our calendars.

ANYWAYS, that was a big rant on my organizational system for day-to-day life, and I do really enjoy perfecting this stuff so maybe it will change again as I go through life. But for now, this system has helped me for almost my entire time at college to be organized, less overwhelmed, and have an all-around feeling that I am managing my time efficiently.

Summer Shenanigans

It was an eventful Summer!

Summer is the time for internships, travelling, and living life!
This Summer, I returned to SpaceX for a third time. I was working as a Starship Vehicle Engineering intern based out of Hawthorne, California (near LA) and travelling back and forth a good amount to Starbase, Texas (Southernmost tip of Texas). My job involves a lot of overall-vehicle work for the Ship portion of Starship; more details on what I have been doing can be found on my LinkedIn.

There are some cool pictures at the end of this post.
But first, I feel like something that often gets overlooked is having a work-life balance as an intern at any company. Internships are great opportunities to learn different subjects, gain hands-on experience, network, and maybe even secure a fulltime position if you are really passionate about the company. However, keep in mind that this is also YOUR time to get a feel for if you like the company in different aspects. Are you passionate about the thing you are working on? Could you see yourself working on your team every day? If you work at this pace/hours/frequency, how do you emotionally, mentally, and physically feel? Does this work/position fulfill you? Do you need more or less time to touch grass? Thus, I highly recommend treating your internship like a trial run for how your life would be like in a full time position. Do you want to travel frequently? Do you want to be adamant about going home at 5pm on Fridays? What are some personal boundaries that you need to draw for your happiness? Do you love that 8am-8pm grind? Do you like the area that you would be living in? There are no wrong answers! Only discoveries about what would make you happiest in life and a fulltime career.

Now to cue the photoreal 🙂

SpaceX HQ in Hawthorne, California
View of Downtown LA from Griffith Observatory
Griffith Observatory at Sunrise (Photo 1)
Griffith Observatory at Sunrise (Photo 2)
The Starship Shrine