Carly

About Carly

Freshman

Aerospace Engineering

Major: Aerospace Engineering
Minor: Human Factors
Hometown:Berea, Kentucky
Campus Involvement: Honors Program, Introduce a Girl to Engineering Workshop Committee Ambassador for the Society of Women Engineers, EcoCAR Mobility Challenge Controls Development and Testing Team Member, ERFSEDS Pathfinder Project, The Avion Contributor
Why I chose Embry-Riddle: I chose Embry-Riddle because I fell in love with the campus the moment I saw it through a plane window. The campus tour was amazing, and the campus seemed like a place I'd want to call home for the next few years.

So, I’m Joining a Sorority?

*Elle Woods voice* Omigod, omigod you guys!

Embry-Riddle has four sororities that women can join: Alpha Xi Delta (ΑΞΔ), Theta Phi Alpha (ΘΦΑ), Sigma Sigma Sigma (ΣΣΣ), and Sigma Kappa (ΣK). And as of Thursday, February 18, I am going through initiation to be a sister of Theta Phi Alpha!

(Note: This article will be about my experience going through recruitment. For more general answers, click here for an interview with current Panhellenic President Izzy Hoare.)

Each organization supports at least one philanthropy, and some support multiple. Throughout the year, the sororities fundraise for their organizations. One thing that I noticed about the Riddle sororities, however, is that there is no aggressive competition. I was exploring sororities right before Theta Phi Alpha’s Theta Phi Cutie Pie event, and I noticed that all of the other sororities were posting about the event, trying to raise more money for the Theta Phi Alpha philanthropies.

I started looking at sororities last semester, but not seriously. When the sororities started recruiting in the spring, they were each posting about their events.

I went to a Theta Phi Alpha event on Thursday night, and I was welcomed in by some of the sisters. They were making friendship bracelets with their colors (blue, gold, and silver) while music played in the background. There, I got to ask the sisters any questions I had about Theta Phi Alpha or sororities in general, and they were more than happy to answer.

On the next Monday night, I went to another event. One of Theta Phi Alpha’s local philanthropies is the Halifax Humane Society, and they were using cut-up clothing to make animal toys. That event was similar, except the sorority was doing volunteer work as well. We took three strips of cut-up clothing and tied them in one knot, then threw them in a canvas bag for someone to take to the humane society.

That was the last scheduled recruitment event for Theta Phi Alpha specifically, and they announced that bids would be sent out soon. (A ‘bid’ is an invitation to join a sorority or fraternity.) A few days later, on Wednesday, I was offered a bid!

I ended up waiting until Thursday to accept due to my busy Wednesday schedule. Theta Phi Alpha was running their Theta Phi Cutie Pie week table, so there were sisters out and about. To sign a bid, one of the sisters in the sorority will take you to the Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life office, and then you will officially sign a paper to accept the sorority bid. The sister that went with you will then serve as a witness when you sign.

Me, right before signing the bid.

No one in my family has ever been a part of a sorority, so I don’t have “legacy” status. I was also on my own, and I had no idea what to look for in a sorority. I talked to some, and others reached out to me, and I’d schedule times to meet girls in the sorority (usually at an open event or 1-on-1 with the recruitment director).

If you’re looking at Greek life, my advice is to do it. If you’re only considering it, at least look at the sororities. If you do COB (continuous open bidding), like me, you are under no obligation to accept a bid and you can get a bid from multiple sororities. Since I didn’t go through traditional fall recruitment, I don’t really know what it entails, but I liked the way that I did it.

Either way, I chose to join Theta Phi Alpha because of the people and the mission. When I stepped into the room and met some of the some of the sisters, I felt like each of them had a genuine interest in me as a person. In addition to the sorority information, we talked about likes and dislikes. I met a girl named Victoria who also liked the same musicals as I did, and we’ve been friends ever since.

Many sisters also said hello to me when I passed by, and told me that if I had any questions to just ask them. On the day I signed my bid, there were several sisters around the table, and they were all happy and excited for me to join.

I am not an official sister of Theta Phi Alpha yet, but I will be once I go through the recruitment process (which takes a little while). Either way, I’m happy that I decided to go Greek and check out the sororities.

I’ve also learned that each sorority is very supportive of the others. A representative of another sorority messaged me, and I told her that I was planning to accept Theta Phi Alpha’s bid. She was happy for me and said that she was glad I found my home, and I thanked her for reaching out.

If you’re thinking of going Greek… do it! Research the sororities, talk to sisters, and go to their events. I didn’t know if I ever wanted to be in a sorority, and, well, here I am, going through recruitment.

Me and my invitation card!

Ranking Some Of The Study Spots On Campus

“Money can’t buy happiness,” they say. To that, I say “It’s much better to study in a comfortable chair than on the ground.”

So, I’m back, and this semester has brought out a LOT more studying than the last one due to the challenging course load. And I’ve discovered some nice study spots on campus that I’ll be assessing. This is Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, after all.

Comfort (C): How comfortable is the spot? Could I sleep here, even though I shouldn’t?
Volume: (V) Is it quiet here? Again, could I fall asleep with the noise in the background?
Academic Productivity (AP): Do I actually do work here, or watch TikToks and say I work? Do I get distracted easily?
Proximity to Food (PtF): Studying requires snacks. How far away is some sort of snack or food?

As a baseline, I’m also ranking myself on these categories and how much it affects me. I fell asleep on final approach in a Boeing 747. You, on the other hand, may not even be able to sleep through straight-and-level flight.

C: Again, I fell asleep on final approach in a B747. (In fairness, I was also really tired.) I fall asleep in cars pretty easily.
V: I prefer quiet spaces when I study, but I can deal with a little bit of background noise.
AP: I get distracted by my phone notifications if the thing I’m working on isn’t urgent and/or a pain in the butt to do. But if it’s 11:30 and the assignment is due at 11:59, you bet that I’m not tearing my eyes away from the assignment.
PtF: I like food. How close am I to food, and better yet, free food?

Without further ado, let’s begin!

SPOT ONE: My Dorm Desk

Ah, yes, the ever-present college dorm. At ERAU, each room has a desk that you can move around wherever you’d like. I’m going to add a side note that I never study in my bed because I read it was bad for you psychologically. Something about your brain associating your bed (made for sleeping) for studying or something- either way, I don’t do it.

C: Very comfortable, except for the fact that half of the time, my dorm is weirdly cold even though the thermostat is at 74 degrees. So I bought a blanket and wore a sweatshirt. Problem solved. I’ve also never been able to fall asleep at a desk, which is good if I want to be productive. 9/10.

V: Completely varies. The guys next door enjoy playing loud music (on Monday night, they were screaming California Girls among other songs). Of course, suitemates make noise, too, but if asked, they are more than happy to be quiet. At this point, I think that I’ve just tuned out the guys next door. 7/10.

AP: It’s my dorm. And it faces the airport. I have a full suite, and I love my suitemates, so they can kind of get me off-topic. But again, if I ask, they’re more than happy to quiet down and not be super distracting. 7/10

PtF: Again, it’s my dorm. There’s always food somewhere… and I have a snack bin literally right behind me. 10/10.

TOTAL SCORE: 33/40
Best for studying: Overall, in my opinion.

SPOT TWO: The Study Rooms in New Res 2

ERAU has study rooms that just opened on each floor of New Residence Hall 2. These are separate from the common area and face the airport. They can hold 2 people (COVID restrictions) and have a whiteboard, TV, several chairs, and tables.

C: Comfortable, depending on what type of chair you sit in. The soft plush chairs are obviously more comfortable than the hard wood and metal ones. Also, it’s weirdly cold sometimes but it’s also been hot before. Total toss-up. 7/10

V: Pretty quiet, except for the sound of the air conditioner if you’re studying when it’s cold. If there’s another person in there with you, then that’s obviously going to add some noise. 7/10

AP: It’s a study room, so intuitively, I feel more inclined to actually do work and not take frequent TikTok breaks. 8/10.

PtF: Only if you bring it. But it’s allowed in here. 8/10.

TOTAL SCORE: 30/40
Best for studying: With a friend, especially if you need help from them.

SPOT THREE: The Main Areas of the Student Union

I don’t know exactly how many times I’ve used this picture, but I’m using it again. This part of the post is dedicated to the common space in the student union, not the library or study rooms.

C: Comfortable. The chairs in the student union are pretty soft, but the ones on the half-circle overlooking the main entrance are kind of weird (in my opinion). Choose your spot wisely. 7/10.

V: It’s the Student Union. If you’re there during the day, it’s pretty loud. There’s usually music playing in the background, and you can usually hear other people talking. Not quiet at all during the day, but it’s better at night. However, there is always a chance that the radio station, WIKD, will play music… 5/10.

AP: I never really get much work done, mainly because someone will pass me and I’ll say hello. And then I’ll get distracted… whoops. But if you’re really dedicated and alone at night, you can get stuff done. 3/10.

PtF: It’s the Student Union. Depending on what part you study in, you might be steps away from food. You’re also allowed to have it and take your mask off to eat (as long as you’re actively eating). And if you want, you can study in Starbucks. 9/10.

Overall Score: 24/40.
Best for studying: When you want to study, but don’t reeeeeeeally want to study.

SPOT FOUR: Student Union Study Rooms

The student union also has several study rooms available to students. These rooms can be reserved online, but sometimes, they’re empty and people will just sit in them. However, it’s good to make a reservation to ensure that you have the spot. They’re very similar to the study rooms in New Residence Hall 2; they have a whiteboard (right in the photo) and a TV that you can hook your laptop up to.

There are other study rooms on other floors, but I am in one of the first floor ones for the purpose of this post.

C: The chairs are nice; they’re vertically adjustable. I will say that the large table legs are kind of annoying if you want to be close to the table. The chair itself is pretty comfortable, though. 7/10.

V: It’s quieter than the main area of the student union, but the glass does little to provide noise absorption. There is always the possibility of someone tapping on the glass behind you, but the probability of that is very small. Again, WIKD might show up and play music. 6/10.

AP: Being in the study rooms, you’re not as likely to be focusing on the people around you and who passes by. The first floor study rooms are also slightly tucked away, so it’s less likely that people are going to say hi and distract you. 7/10.

PtF: Depending on what floor you’re on, and what side of the student union you choose, you could be really close to the campus Chick-fil-A. If you’re on the third floor, however, there are no dining locations up there, so you’ll have to walk back down. 9/10.

Overall Score: 29/40
Best for studying: With friends on non-urgent assignments.

SPOT FIVE: The Top of the AMS Building

The balcony of the Aviation Maintenance Science building is the only outside study spot that is going to be reviewed. It has an entrance on both the second and third floor and a staircase outside between the levels. The picture is from the top spot, where there are several tables.

C: Completely depends on the weather! If it’s hot out, then it’ll be hot. If it’s cold, then bring a jacket. It could also be raining. It’s outside, after all. The only chairs are the metal benches and tables as shown in the picture… or the ground. So, I’ll give it a 5/10.

V: Usually decently quiet. ERAU conducts flight training and activities on every day of the week, so you’re likely to hear one of our Cessnas or Diamonds taking off, landing, or flying overhead. There are also several other flight schools in the area, so there’ll be some activity. Occasionally, a big ol’ jet will come by and you’ll get to hear the roar of the engines. But overall, pretty quiet. 7/10.

AP: Extremely subjective! If you get easily distracted by planes… you won’t get much work done. But if you’re only interested in big jets, then you’ll be fine. Personally, I find the bigger jets more interesting than the Cessnas and Diamonds, and those don’t take off too much. But then again, sometimes I’ll get distracted and watch the Cessnas take off and land. So… 7/10.

PtF: You’re not near anything that you can buy, but you’re more than welcome to bring it. 7/10.

Overall Score: 26/40.
Best for studying: When you need motivation for your ‘Design a Whole Airplane’ project. Also good for non-plane-lovers to study on nice, sunny days.

SPOT SIX: The A²  Tutoring Lab

The A² tutoring lab is a great place to be (in my opinion). It’s free tutoring in various undergraduate classes that you’ll most likely encounter. ERAU pays students to tutor other students, and when it’s open, there will always be tutors to help you out. And

C: The chairs are nice. What I also love about A² is the dry-erase tables and free markers, so you don’t have to use a bunch of paper trying to do ONE problem. (Some of these integrals get very long.) However, if you’re socially anxious, the lab is located on the first floor of the College of Arts and Sciences, so you can see people who walk by. 8/10.

V: This is a tutoring lab, so it’s pretty quiet. Due to COVID-19, they also offer online tutoring, and sometimes one of the tutors will be talking to someone in the background. However, it’s easy to get help from one of the tutors and tune everything else out. 8/10.

AP: Again. This is a tutoring lab. They are literally there to help you study and keep you on task. 10/10.

PtF: There is no food in the COAS, and while the student union is nearby, you’re not supposed to have food in there, unfortunately. You can, however, keep water. 2/10.

Overall Score: 28/40.
Best for studying: Whenever you need help or to actually get work done.

So, as you may be able to tell, there are plenty of spots to study for your classes here at ERAU. Personally, my favorite is my dorm, but you might have a different one- which is totally fine! Everyone has their own preferences on where to study.

See you in the next post… or hopefully at Riddle someday!

Everything I Did Since Coming Back From The Break

Not like “everything” everything, but these were some major events.

As of January 20, classes are back in session here at Embry-Riddle. I got here a few days before they started, arriving at KDAB at 10 PM. And just to give you a little insight as to what Riddle students do, here are a few major things that I did.

Missed my parents. Yeah, Fall 2020 Carly would also be confused. It’s college, right? You’ve got the freedom to do whatever you want (within reason) whenever you want. Are you going to quietly eat ramen at 3 AM in your dorm while procrastinating your classwork? That’s not a great idea, but nobody is stopping you.

Aaaaaand let my parents ship me an emotional support stuffed cat that looks like my real-life cat. He came vacuum sealed, so I ended up having to throw him in the dryer for a few minutes. Don’t you see the resemblance?

Lost my AirPods Pro on Wednesday, and got one back on Friday. I’d lost them in the Walmart on Wednesday. One of my friends took our friend group to Walmart, and I somehow lost them separately. So, I searched all over campus and called the Walmart, where an associate had found a single AirPod Pro. So now I have one AirPod Pro, the case, and a reluctance to buy a replacement since they’re expensive.

Had a friend take this picture, because I thought it was funny. Ironically, this picture was taken before I had lost my AirPods. I have four classes back-to-back on Wednesday, and this was my mood after the fourth.

Yes, I got some stares, but the picture is funny.

Attended Fire Friday. Fire Friday is a tradition that started last semester, and it continues this semester. It’s run by a different person, but the premise is the same: on Friday nights, people host a bonfire in the fire pit between New Residence Halls 1 and 2. Anyone can attend, and sometimes there will be free sodas or food.

This Fire Friday was the first one since last semester, but it was still pretty crazy. A bunch of people brought their longboards- including two guys who brought electric longboards and let other people try to ride them. I tried, but I think I’ll stick to leg-powered longboards.

Yesssss!

Tried to look super cool standing on a longboard. You can be the judge of the coolness factor.

Yes, this was on Fire Friday!

And yes, I attended class (and got homework). This is college after all…

Either way, it’s been good to be back at Embry-Riddle. It’s a drastic change from Kentucky weather. I can wear a T-shirt here and be outside for longer than five minutes. I like my classes so far, and I’m excited to see what this semester has in store for me.

See you in the next post… and hopefully at Riddle someday!

5 Instagram Photo Spots On Campus That Are Totally Brag-Worthy

Disclaimer: I am not a model. Your photos will probably turn out better if you know more than three poses, but hey! They work for me…

Okay, let’s face it. Everyone likes having good pictures of themselves, even if they aren’t posted. Sometimes a nice picture is necessary for professional services like LinkedIn if you don’t have a photo with a blank background.

If you’re an Embry-Riddle student, you’re not going to run out of photogenic spots anytime soon. Here are several brag-worthy spots around campus that will provide a beautiful background for your Instagram photos.

Location 1: Legacy Walk
Legacy Walk is the ~iconic~ walkway surrounded by palm trees leading from the admissions office, past the student union, and down to the big bird statue. When facing the bird statue, the College of Business and the Advanced Flight Sim center are on the right, and the student union and College of Aviation are on the left.

In my opinion, Legacy Walk is a great photo spot because it’s always well-maintained and well-lit. You can position the giant bird statue behind you, or the student union; both are really attractive.

Location 2: That Giant Bird Statue
The giant bird statue is at the end of Legacy Walk, and it’s very hard to miss. When facing it, the Aviation Maintenance Sciences building is on the left, and the Flight Operations building is on the right. When facing away from it, you’ll see the admissions office.

Photo taken by Malik Turner.

It’s another one of Embry-Riddle’s most iconic locations. I’ve seen several photos here of people who’ve just passed their checkrides, too. Even for non-flight students, the giant bird statue is a good place to take pictures in front of.

Location 3: The Big Riddle Sign/Wright Flyers
The big Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University sign and the Wright Flyers statue are in front of the student union between it and the admissions building. They’re right next to each other, and they’re also very hard to miss.

Photo taken by Karen DiMeo & featured on ERAU’s Instagram!

This spot, in my opinion, is perfect for the “I’m going to Embry-Riddle!” announcement post. Once here, this allows you to take a wide-angle photo so people can see just how gorgeous the campus is. If you’re lucky, you may even snap a photo with a plane taking off in the background- we are located adjacent to the Daytona airport.

Location 4: The Lookout Spot Over the Flight Line (!!!!)
The lookout spot over the flight line is located on the Tomcat Annex, aka the mailroom. It’s a nice place to watch the Riddle planes from, but it’s not super close to the large runway. It does, however, make for an Instagram brag-worthy photo.

Bonus points: if you’re a flight student, snap a photo with one of the planes and flex on your non-pilot friends.

Flex on your friends! Photo taken by the CFI I flew with, but he wasn’t my regular one so I forgot his name :/

Either way, the flight line (or the lookout spots around it) is one spot you can’t miss. They’re also nice places to do your schoolwork. (That is, of course, if you don’t get distracted!)

Location 5: Inside the Student Union
The inside of the Student Union is gorgeous, too. There are a lot of different places that make for good picture-taking spots.

Of course, there are several other pretty spots in the student union that I didn’t think to get pictures of. When there was no pandemic, Starbucks had seating. However, there is a balcony adjacent to the Starbucks that makes a nice photo-taking spot as well. While technically not inside the student union, there are tables and benches outside of it that would also make good photo-taking spots.

Embry-Riddle has a surplus of scenic spots to take photos with. There are several that I didn’t even show here, either: the volleyball courtyard in between New Res 1 and 2, the bridge to the student village, in front of the various colleges, or even inside them. No matter where you go, you’ll be able to find places for your photos. The student newspaper, the Avion, has also hosted free professional photo booths for students. Other students may have a photography hobby and take photos for free.

Your friend may also have a really nice phone or superb editing skills- some of the pictures above were taken with iPhones, while some were taken with actual cameras. It just takes a few snaps to get the perfect photo since the Riddle campus provides the perfect background.

See you around… or on social media!

Carly @ the dorm

What My Week Before Winter Break Looked Like

*insert the Bernie Sanders meme that says “I am once again asking you for your financial support” and send it to my mom, who will promptly leave me on read*

Well, winter break is finally upon us.

The week before break was stressful for everyone, and I decided that I should take a few breaks before the official break. I can’t say that the impending break was the reason I repeated some semi-stupid decisions, but I think that break made me go “hey, life is stressful, have some fun and go do the things you’ve wanted to do all semester long.” And what were these decisions? Dying my hair and getting acrylic nails!

Semi-Random Decision #1: Dying my hair.
Why it’s semi-random: I had a box of dye just sitting around. I got it at Target a few days after I tried to dye my hair pink for the first time (detailed below). But I planned to wait 4-6 weeks before doing it again so I wouldn’t damage it too much.
Cost: Like $8? I forget, honestly.

Here’s the story about me trying to dye my hair pink for the first time:

On Thursday night (November 19), I was pretty bored. I was sick of studying and had done everything that I could for other classes. And then I remembered that I had the other box of hair dye. It had also been over a month since I last tried it, so it wouldn’t harm my hair. So, in about five minutes, I made up my mind that I wanted to try and re-dye my hair. This is the one I got:

Garnier Nutrisse Ultra Color in Ultra Bold Violet.

I borrowed a friend’s hair paintbrush, and she told me how I should dye it. It was almost 11:15, but my first class on Fridays didn’t start until 1:25, so I didn’t care too much. I could afford to stay up a little later. Once I was done, I sent the pictures to my mom of the during and after. She didn’t have too much to say, but then again, she’s a college professor. She knows that students will make stupid decisions at times.

I mean, it kind of worked, so it wasn’t that stupid… right? It still shows up when I stand under a light, and I could give Ariel from The Little Mermaid a run for her money.

Anyway, I went to class on Friday, and then on Saturday, my friend and I were sitting in the student union together. We were talking about acrylic nails, and it just so happened that my friend had a car. And that’s when we decided to go.

Semi-Random Decision #2: Getting acrylic nails.
Why it’s semi-random: I wanted to do it all semester, but I didn’t for several reasons. First, I don’t have a car on campus, and acrylic nails are expensive. Also, they’ve never lasted more than two weeks on my nails. (However, I haven’t had any problems yet- and I got them a lot shorter than I’m used to.)
Cost: $45, including tip. My poor wallet.

They turned out pretty cute, so I can’t complain. This is my third time having acrylic nails, and I don’t know how long they’ll end up lasting. I do like them, so maybe I’ll get fill-ins in a few weeks.

As for COVID-19 precautions, all of the technicians wore two masks. There was also a plexiglass shield between you and the technician and a small opening for you to slide your hand under. Also, they made you wash your hands before and after the service was performed.

Saturday went by pretty fast. The original plan was for a few of us to have a fire in the firepit between New Res 1 and 2, but it rained. My friend and I then decided to go get milkshakes at Steak n Shake, drive around, and have a 12-2 AM karaoke party in her car. On Sunday, I took the third calculus test and got an 81%, which I didn’t think was bad at all.

On Monday, I went to one of my classes and the professor decided to cancel class on Tuesday. I was glad since it would have been the last class of the day. That class was the reason I had a flight home on Wednesday instead of Tuesday. I told my mom, and she was able to get me a flight on Tuesday from Daytona to my home airport.

Yes!

As much as I love Embry-Riddle, I was ready for a break and definitely ready to see my family and cats.

On Monday night, I packed up and hung out with a few of my friends. I, unfortunately, don’t live close to them, so there’s no chance that I’d see them over the break. On Tuesday, I said goodbye to one professor who was holding an optional Zoom class. After that, I went to Starbucks, said goodbye to a few other friends, and came back to make sure the last-minute items (like my phone and Apple Watch chargers) were packed. I also made sure to clean my room according to ERAU’s closing cleanliness standards for dorm rooms since my roommates/suitemates were gone.

I left for the airport at 2 PM even though my flight left at 3:30. I ran into several other Riddle students at the gate; I was on American Airlines flying from Daytona Beach to their hub in Charlotte, and from Charlotte to my home airport of Lexington, Kentucky. I had a window seat on the first flight and lucked out; nobody had taken the seat next to me. As we were sitting on the taxiway waiting to take off, I snapped this pic:

Hey… I know who that plane belongs to.

Yup, there was a Riddle Cessna landing right next to us, a CRJ-700. It was crazy cool. I also got to watch Riddle go by as we took off on runway 7L. It was a gorgeous view, and pretty ironic- my first in-person view of Riddle was landing on runway 25R, or 7L’s reciprocal runway.

As we flew from Daytona to Charlotte, I noticed a lot of things that I’d never noticed before. Since I had completed AS121 (detailed here), I knew a lot more about what the pilot was doing. I understood what the runway markings meant. I watched us fly parallel to the airport and enter the traffic pattern at Charlotte. I understood why we did what we did, and it was awesome.

At the end of the flight, I had to say goodbye to everyone since we were all heading in different directions. I had a one-hour connection but managed to snag a Starbucks before heading back to my gate:

If you’re wondering, this is an iced caramel macchiato with light ice. 10/10 would recommend!

I boarded that plane, which was empty, too. I talked to one of the flight attendants and she gave me a free upgrade to the exit row (yes!!! Free extra legroom!!!). I ended up chatting with her all flight. She also invited me to the flight deck to meet the captain once the flight was over.

Of course, I said yes, and it was pretty awesome. They let me snap a picture, too:

You can’t tell in the pic, but I was internally screaming. Also, yes, that is my Riddle sweatshirt.

After I’d left the flight deck, my family met me at the baggage claim and we went home, which took an hour. We hung out at the house for the night, and I wasn’t too tired. Because of my College Kid Lifestyle, I wasn’t used to going to bed at 9 PM, so I ended up staying up until 3 AM.

Whoops.

Either way, I feel like I had a pretty productive week before I went home for the holidays. I have two large assignments I need to do, but other than that, I don’t have any work, which is a nice feeling.

However, my cat has been critiquing my blog post. He thinks that I should write less and go give him a snack.

Can you spot the picture of me that my mom has?

I guess I’ll have to do that, then.

I Watched the Product of Literal Rocket Science

Spoiler alert: It was freaking awesome, and hopefully, one day, I will be in a mission control room…

So, as space lovers like myself are well aware, the Crew-1 mission launched on Sunday from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Since I live in Daytona now, I was lucky enough to be able to see it from ~10-11 miles away. And let me just say- that was awesome.

Since the Crew-1 was a crewed mission, a lot of people wanted to go. Thankfully, Embry-Riddle is only an hour or so away from Cape Canaveral, and everyone knows it. Because of the proximity, there’s a group chat on Snapchat full of people that like attending rocket launches. A lot of people- and I mean a lot– of people decided to go to this launch, whether they are in the group chat or not. Here’s what my snap map looked like nearly two hours before the launch:

Yeah, a lot of people went down. Some people made it a full day endeavor, hanging out at Cape Canaveral/Titusville/the Kennedy Space Center. If I had the time, money, and a car of my own, I definitely would have. Embry-Riddle has ZipCars, so people with ZipCar accounts can drive the ZipCars. That’s how my friends and I got a ride down there.

My friends and I settled on a bridge nearby to watch the launch. The bridge was pulled up, and the lights were pretty bright, so we decided to go exploring. We found a path that led to a birdwatching spot and realized that the launch pad was right in front of us. (We were facing south, north of the Cape.) Once we realized that, we instantly took a seat on the birdwatching benches.

There was no service for most of us, but luckily, one of our friends had 5G service. He streamed the launch and played it through one of our other friend’s Bluetooth speaker, but since he had limited cellular data, turned it off 30 seconds before launch. (We only had it on to ensure that the launch didn’t scrub.) While the stream was playing, we talked about the launch, including the rocket’s trajectory. Most of us were aerospace engineering majors on the astronautics track. Then, the launch pad lit up right in front of us, and we all started cheering.

We all screamed when we saw this. Photo credit: me.

It was crazy. It was as if the night had turned into day for a split second, and then we saw a tiny burst of light streaking up into the sky:

The little dot is the rocket. Photo credit: me.

We all had our cameras and filmed the little rocket shooting up into the sky. A few moments after the rocket launched, we heard the loud rocket rumble, and we were so close that we could feel it in the ground. I totally understand why some people cry during rocket launches- it was amazing to watch. This is how far people have come- we’re sending each other into space. This is the product of literal rocket science, something that I’m lucky enough to learn at Riddle. I couldn’t stop thinking about it- one day I could do something like that with my degree.

Since the rocket trajectory was going northeast, it curved to the left in the sky. We were able to see everything: we saw the first stage booster separate from the rocket, and then we watched the second stage booster ignite. After that, we watched the rocket get smaller and smaller until it disappeared into the sky.

We waited around in case we could see the first stage booster coming back down to land on the drone ship, but unfortunately, we didn’t see it. After that, we headed right back to Embry-Riddle. The roads back were quite busy, since people had a lot of different spots to watch from. One of my friends took this from a beach:

Crew-1 from the beach. Photographer wished to remain anonymous.

This is the second rocket launch I’ve seen; the first one was the Starlink launch in August. I’ve noticed that Crew-1, however, had a lot more attendees to it. It was absolutely amazing to watch, and I’m really glad I got to go. Even those who didn’t make the drive down to Cape Canaveral were able to see the launch from Riddle’s campus, which is another thing that I love about going to Riddle. On Friday, I had a test, so I couldn’t drive down with the rocket-watching group chat to watch the Atlas V launch close up. However, I could easily see it from Riddle’s campus!

Somehow, I Won Two Halloween Costume Contests

Well, now Halloween is over, and so are the Halloween events. Embry-Riddle hosted several events this year despite the pandemic:

The student government association (SGA) also had free treat bags for students in the Student Leadership Suite all week, which was very nice of them. Each treat bag had a drink (some had Starbucks Frappuccinos and Gatorades!), a full-size candy bar, a bag of chips, and a small bag of fruit snacks.

The Honors Student Association hosted a door decorating contest, room decorating contest, and costume contest that all of their members were invited to participate in. I noticed a few doors being decorated, and some other people left free candy outside of their dorm room for the entire week preceding Halloween. Some of the candy buckets are still there.

This year, I didn’t have too much time to come up with an amazing costume, and I didn’t have too much money to spend. However, I was able to come up with two low-effort costumes: Regina George (from Mean Girls!) and Miss ERAU the CFI.

On Friday, I decided to dress up since I saw several others doing it. I had a crown, so I threw on a white shirt and black pants and decided to cross over the beauty queen idea with the flight instructor idea that I’d had earlier in the year. The Embry-Riddle certified flight instructor (CFI) uniform consists of a white polo, black pants, and black closed-toed shoes, which was pretty easy to replicate. This year, Miss America is a pharmacy student, and she often wears her lab coat on her Instagram, so I decided that “Miss Riddle” could be a CFI.

With a little help from the SGA, I was able to borrow a blue graduation stole to make my sash. I used two paperclips, one at the top and one on the bottom, to help make the cross, and I was good to go! I walked around campus as Miss ERAU on Friday, and then had plans to be Regina George on Saturday. I even stuffed some papers in a pink folder to make the Burn Book:

However, the heat and I did not get along. Since I’m in Florida, I overheated very quickly and changed back into my Miss ERAU costume, which I wore for the rest of Friday.

On Saturday, the Halloween events started at 6 PM. I met a few friends outside of the student union, and we explored the festivities. There was plenty of treats at different tables: candy apples, bags of candy, hot apple cider, and even full-size donuts. Inside the student union, the school had set up a haunted house. I tried to go in with my friend, but we chickened out three times. Our friends eventually got her to go through it, but I decided to be a chicken and not give myself nightmares.

At 7:30 there was a costume contest in front of the student union, and I decided to enter it. There were seven categories: Best Group, Blue & Gold, Scariest, People’s Choice, Most Creative, Best Homemade, and Air & Space. My costume fit best under Blue & Gold, so I chose that category. The judging committee consisted of a few students, one of which was the SGA president.

The contest was really well organized. Once the category was announced, the entrants lined up on the side. Once the judges were ready, they then walked in front of the spectators and the judges’ table. Contestants would then state what they were to the judges and student body before walking off to the side. The process repeated until every costume in the category was judged, and then it started all over again. There was also a photographer from the Student Engagement & Student Union department, and he took photos of all of the contestants.

The costume contest was very entertaining for both spectators and entrants. One of the funniest group costumes (in my opinion) was this group of guys:

Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of the UK, has made an appearance. He is accompanied by two flag carriers and a member of the Embry-Riddle Flat Earth Society.

After all of the judges had judged the costumes, they announced that voting for the People’s Choice costume was open. To vote, students scanned a QR code and voted on a CampusGroups poll of the entrants. While that happened, the judges determined the winners.

I ended up winning the Blue & Gold category and the People’s Choice category. I got a $10 Starbucks gift card for the win in each category, and the People’s Choice win also came with a Cards Against Humanity set. I also got two certificates.

After the costume contest, Touch-n-Go, the entertainment division of the SGA, screened The Nightmare Before Christmas. Riddle-sponsored Halloween events were after that, but one student hosted a bonfire in the fire pit by New Residence Hall Phase II, which several other students attended.

I thought Halloween was great this year despite the pandemic. I’ve never experienced a pandemic-free Halloween at ERAU, but this year there was a surplus of events. I heard that the haunted house was really well done, but I was not willing to test it out. In my opinion, the SGA and Student Engagement teams did really well, especially with the amount of free candy.

And let’s be honest, one is never too old for free candy.

Hi, I’m Carly! The Pilot (AE) Intro Post

Hello, world!

Hello there! I’m Carly McDonald from Berea, Kentucky. As you might notice above, I’m a freshman aerospace engineering major. However, I didn’t start that way- I actually switched my major less than one month into school. Before I was an aerospace engineering major, I was an aeronautical science major.

By now you might be thinking, “She did what?” or “She did not.” Yes, I did. This was me after my first flight here at Riddle:

First Riddle flight with N437ER on August 27, 2020.

So, what made me change, and how’d I get here?

When I was eight years old, I went as a pilot for Halloween. I had just brought my little sister home from China (she and I are both adopted), so I chose to ‘work’ for Cathay Pacific. I decided to be a Boeing 747 pilot since the Boeing 747 was the airplane that brought both of us into the United States. My parents helped me make my uniform, including a little crew member badge, and I went trick-or-treating in ‘uniform’ that year.

Me as a pilot for Halloween.

Fast forward eight years later. I was a sixteen-year-old junior in high school knowing that I wanted to major in something STEM-related. Several college magazines had arrived in the mail and my dad was looking through them while I ate lunch. He stopped at one page and pushed the magazine towards me and said, “Take a look at this one.”

I finished my lunch and looked over the college page, which was Embry-Riddle’s. The more I read about it, the more I liked it and wanted to apply. A few months later, in June, my family planned a college tour trip. We had just flown into DAB when I got my first glimpse of Embry-Riddle through the plane’s window. It was almost midnight when we landed, but I was able to recognize the student union as we landed on runway 25R.

The next day, I took the engineering tour. I was still undecided about what I wanted to do, but by that time, I had narrowed it down to aerospace engineering (AE) or aeronautical science (AS). My mom had registered me for the AE tour, and I loved it. I saw lots of different things that looked interesting: the rocket lab used by ERPL and ERFSEDS, the EcoCAR trophies, and so much more.

From that moment on, I knew that I wanted to attend to Embry-Riddle.

June 2019, post-tour.

Over the summer, I did a lot of thinking. I decided to apply as an AS major and pursue my eight-year-old self’s dream, but I still liked the idea of being an engineer. I eagerly submitted my application to ERAU in August of 2019, and on October 18, the decision came. I was actually away in Northampton, MA touring another college when my parents texted me a photo of the envelope. I told them to open it, and then they sent back a photo of my acceptance packet.

As my senior year progressed, I grew more eager to get to campus in the fall. I was invited to apply to the Honors Program, and in February, received my acceptance email. I planned to attend preview day before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and was extremely disappointed when I couldn’t attend, but I looked forward to my move-in day.

So… yeah, I have a lot of stuff.

My family decided to drive down so I could bring all of my stuff since I had a lot of it. (Pro tip: if the upperclassmen say “it won’t fit,” don’t listen to them, you can still make it fit!) I had a basic idea of what to expect my dorm to look like since there is plenty of information on the Internet. I’d visited the ERAU website so much over the past month in preparation for college that I practically had all of the links memorized.

Move-in day was kind of hectic, but I was able to successfully move in. ERAU gave us large blue bins to help cart our stuff in.

Move-in day!

As I settled into life at ERAU- and came to terms with the fact that I was finally at Riddle- I also thought about my major and what I wanted to do with it. I had continued to think about it all summer, and I had set my schedule up with mostly general education classes that would count to either the AS or AE requirements.

The decision didn’t really hit me until after a few flights. I was one of the lucky students; ERAU has a lot of AS majors, so not everyone is assigned a flight block. However, the one they gave me was from 5:30-10:50 AM, and I am not a morning person. I loved my instructor pilot (IP), but after a few flights, I realized that I didn’t really want to be a pilot as a career, which is the purpose of the AS degree.

After I made my decision, I told my advisor, and she pointed me in the right direction. I switched majors with relative ease and dropped my flight block. However, the add date for courses had already passed, so I was stuck in AS121, the private pilot ground school course, so I could maintain my full-time student status. That’s okay; it just counts as an elective class, so I’m still making progress towards the AE degree.

A little while ago- October 2020.

Currently, I’m taking fifteen credits, and I’m happy with my schedule. I’m part of several different activities on campus: the Honors Program, the ERFSEDS Pathfinder project, the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge Controls Development and Testing team, and I’m the Introduce a Girl to Engineering Workshop Committee Ambassador for the Society of Women Engineers. I think that I’ve made the right major decision for me (haha… a major pun… get it?), but obviously, that could change. We’ll see!

I’m super excited to join the blogging team and I can’t wait to start writing about all of the crazy educational stuff that I do here at Riddle. I’m still learning how college works, but if there’s anything at Riddle you want me to write about around here, let me know.

Bye for now!