The semester is over! We made it!

Well, I’ve survived my first semester in college and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome of my grades and the value of my experiences.  For this blog post, I’ve decided to write about my top 10 favorite things about Embry-Riddle.

10. Small class sizes – This is one of the biggest advantages of coming to Embry-Riddle.  You have a much better chance to get to know your classmates and your professors, and you can go to either of the two for help.  You feel much more confident and compelled to ask questions.

9. Einstein’s Bagels – Einstein’s is great because it is open until 1:00 a.m. on weekdays.  The other food options close at 9, so on those days when you’re out studying late or your club meetings run too long, you will never have to go hungry.  Also, it’s perfect for late-night snacking.

8. Academic Advancement Center – I use the AAC for tutoring all the time.  Not only can you go there to get help from the tutors, you can also get help from other people who have your same professor.  In my opinion, it’s much better to study with friends than to struggle with something alone.

7. The weather – December rolled around and I could barely tell!  Other than spontaneous rain showers and humidity, it’s nice for it to be reasonably warm all year ‘round.  You can even visit the beach after your exams are over.

6. Professors – I really liked all the professors that I had this semester.  They care for their students and will help you a lot if you visit them during their office hours.  They’re willing to help you raise your grade if you are struggling, and recognize when you are putting your best effort into the class.

5. Living near Orlando – We know we should be studying, but one or two weekend trips to Orlando won’t hurt.  The temptation of living an hour and a half from Disney World is too strong to resist.  Save up your money and buy a discounted ticket from the school, and you won’t regret your Disney day trip with your friends.

4. ERRSA – The Embry-Riddle Resident Student association is one of the best organizations on campus.  They put on programs for students living in the residence halls, and get input from the students about how housing can change to fit their needs.  Most of all, we are one big family and we get the chance to do fun activities together!

3. The Robotics Association – RAER is one of the most valuable things to get involved in if you are going into a technical career.  The organization offers opportunities for robotics teams, and will also keep you connected in outside robotics activities like FIRST.

2. Studying – As counterintuitive as it may seem, one of my favorite things about college is studying.  Unlike high school, I really feel like what I am learning applies to things that I can and will do.  Also, my study habits have improved since I’ve been in class, and now I don’t even have to study as much because I know how to help myself understand the material.

1. Dorm life – Without a doubt, dorm life is my favorite thing about being in college.  I have made so many friends in the past few months that I know I will have for life.  We can talk about anything, go anywhere, and help each other out on our schoolwork.  It’s such a great feeling to have friends around you whenever you need them.

With that, I sign out and say goodbye for this semester.  Let’s hope the next one will be even better!

December 11th 2012

Finally! Winter break is here! Done with classes and don’t have to worry about school for a month. It will be a much needed break for everyone. Looking back on the semester, however; the last three months have just flown by. It literally seems like it was just yesterday I was moving into my dorm room, and yet today I spent most of my day cleaning and packing for my visit back home. What a great first semester of college it has been. Not anything like what I had expected, yet completely exceeded my hopes and aspirations. I could not be more confident with my decision to attend Embry-Riddle.

Finally finals are over. Throughout the course of the semester I’ve heard people talk about “how stressful finals are” and how you should remember that “there is a life after finals,” so naturally I was really curious as to how I would respond to my first week of finals at Embry-Riddle. Fortunately, I did quite well on all of my exams. I didn’t fail any tests that resulted in a dramatic change in my grades, so it was a win. In fact, I did so well on my math final I brought my grade up to a B, and math is not my strongest subject so I was very pleased with that. It felt good to finish the semester out strong. Now, I can go home and enjoy the break with friends and family and not have to worry about my grades. If you put the work in during the semester, you really shouldn’t have a problem with final exams.

Last week, Air Force ROTC ended for the semester. We had our Pass in Review ceremony to close out the fall term. Cadets were given different awards based on leadership, academics and physical fitness. It was a very nice ceremony other than the fact that we had to stand in the same place for about 45 minutes without being able to move. I am really looking forward to next semester in ROTC. Now that I have a good understanding of how ROTC life works, I am ready to start making some strides and working my way to becoming a commissioned Officer in the Air Force.

Photo: My Flight poses for a picture after the fall 2012 Pass in Review Ceremony.

Flying is going great. I had my first solo a couple of weeks ago and it was awesome! My instructor and I went up to Palatka, Florida where I dropped him off and took the plane for myself. I did three landings while he watched from the ground. After, I picked him up and we stopped for lunch to celebrate. It was definitely a great experience and is a milestone in your aviation career. This past week I have been working on my cross country flights. Over the weekend, I flew down to Melbourne International Airport in Melbourne, Florida, then back to Daytona for a duration of 1.9 hours. Cross country flying is definitely my favorite. You really feel like a pilot when you are filing a flight plan, getting a weather briefing and planning your route of flight while calculating time, fuel, distance, etc. Last evening, I was scheduled for my night cross country to St. Petersburg, but we had to cancel due to weather. I will be finishing up my cross country flights after I return in January. After that, I will have another solo in the local practice area, then two solo cross country flights! After, I will have a few practice flights then I’ll be up for my end of course check ride. It’s crazy to think that before I came down here in the summer I had absolutely no flight experience and now within 2 months I should already have my Private Pilot Certificate. Up next will be my Instrument rating.

Photo: Photo from Embry-Riddle of my first solo.

 It’s been a great first semester and I am really looking forward to going back home and spending the holidays with my family. I hope you have a great holiday and I’ll talk to you next year. Thanks for reading!

December 11th:

Semester one has been completed! I can’t believe just how quickly time has flown by these past four months.  It feels like just yesterday when my parents left me to fend for myself with new people, a new environment and to do my homework on my own.  During that time I have made a countless number of new friends, shared many laughs with them and stressed out over homework and projects.

Here’s a quick recap on this past semester. I have attended two airshows, one at Cocoa Beach and one at Daytona Beach.  I have also camped out at an airport with the Sport Aviation Club. Lastly, I have built a model airplane in my dorm room and have flown it 20 times since it’s been completed.

During these past couple weeks, classes were beginning to wrap up.  All the final projects and tests seemed to occur during the same two days during the last week of classes, which caused a little bit of stress for me and kept me in my dorm room most of the day.  After that, it was time to study for finals.  I only had one final to study for, which was math.  Instead of studying, a couple of my friends and I went to the flying field and flew model airplanes from the late morning until the mid-late afternoon.  This is NOT something I would recommend doing on your study day.  For the next study day before finals, I will take advantage of that study day and actually study.  After my math final was complete, I celebrated by going to the flying field and getting three flights on my airplane before dark.  One of my friends recorded a flight for me, and I will be posting that video on my Youtube channel within the next day or two.

On the flight training side of education at Embry-Riddle, I came up a little short of my goal of obtaining my pilots license by the end of this semester.  All I need is two solo cross countries and then another two or three flights to prepare for my check ride, and then my actual check ride.  The weather took a turn south this past week and I wasn’t able to fly at all this week.  Hopefully I’ll have my license by the middle of January, and then begin working hard on trying to get my instrument rating by the end of next semester.

If you have any further questions, feel free to email me at You can also add me as a friend on Facebook at!/matthew.colan or follow me on Twitter at  If you do wish to add me as a friend on Facebook, send me a message to let me know that you read the student blog so that I know it is not spam.  I have received multiple friend requests on Facebook that I am not sure who that person is.  If I have not accepted your friend request, send me a message so that I know you have read the student blogs.  If you have a Youtube account, you can subscribe to my Youtube channel at

‘Till next time, have a great Christmas and New Year’s, and see you all next year!

Matthew Colan

December 2012

T-minus 20 days until the end of the semester!

Even though the summer is still pretty far off, I am currently I am in the midst of the long and complicated process of applying for internships.  Although I know I want to be a mechanical engineer, I am still VERY unsure of what job I actually want.  So, I am applying to a variety of different companies in order to get a feel for different projects.

In October, many companies were visiting campus to recruit students for co-ops.  I became interested in Rolls-Royce after they visited our EGR101 class and I talked to the recruiter at the SWE meeting.

Freshman are normally encouraged to go to the career fair just to check it out, but I brought my resume anyway and waited in the long line to turn it in to the Rolls-Royce booth.  I followed all the tips that I had been given by professors and recruiters and…

At the end of my short interview, they handed me an invitation to a “Meet and Greet” that night so that the recruiters could get to know me better.

That night, there were about 30 people there, and I was the only Freshman.  However, I really enjoyed talking to the other students there, some of whom had already graduated and were looking for full time jobs.

It got me so excited to start the job search!  Unfortunately, I haven’t heard any final results from any of my applications yet, but I should be hearing back at any time.

Many of you readers are applying to colleges, and maybe even getting ready to decide, so I have a few tips for you:

Explore all your options: It is important not to rule out your options too soon.  Visit all the school that you are accepted to, as long as you have the resources.  Remember that state college that you visited Sophomore year?  No, you don’t.  Go back and take a look!  You never know when a school at the bottom of your list will change your mind.

  1. Don’t be afraid to go far from home: Some people want to get as far away from their hometown as possible, others would rather be just a few minutes away.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted, and I was hesitant about going to school 1,000 miles from my family.  Yet, I have no regrets now.  ERAU is my second home and I am enjoying the freedom and learning how to live on my own.
  2. Start searching for a pre-college internship: One of the things that benefitted me the most while in high school was spending two summers in internships.  It will give you an edge with future employers, and the skills you learn are priceless!  Just Google “high school internships” to start, or ask around to see if there are high school programs at local companies.
  3. Enjoy yourself:  Don’t let your senior year stress you out too much.  Have fun and get excited for the next chapter of your life!  High school graduation is not the end, it’s the beginning.

November 2012

It’s about that time again, time for a new entry. The days are getting shorter and shorter and the semester is getting closer and closer to the end. We really only have about a month of classes left before winter break. Thanksgiving is next week and I am certainly looking forward to seeing my extended family in Chicago. And yes, I am also looking forward to some weather that is colder than 70 degrees, but probably only for about 4 days. This might not be the most exciting journal entry but you can go read Waverly’s if you get bored. She is good!

Anyways, the past couple of weeks have been a blur. It almost seemed like the first month of school went by really slow but it seems like the past month has just flown by. Classes are still chugging along; they are kind of starting to wind down. When I say wind down I really mean pick up because professors are starting to get us ready for finals. Unfortunately, I have two tests this week and a paper due. But the good news is that one of my classes is already ending on Wednesday, which should free up some much needed nap time for me.

This past weekend was awesome. Me and a couple of friends rented a plane and flew up to Gainesville where the University of Florida is located. It was their homecoming weekend so we took advantage of the festivities and had a good time touring the campus and tailgating before watching the Gators play a football game, then flying back on Saturday evening.

Photo: Watching the Gators play at the SwampPhoto: Nice weather on the flight back from GainesvilleIn other news I am working my way towards getting my Private Pilot Certificate. I should be soloing by the end of this week. I have my pre-solo check ride coming up next and, if I pass, my instructor and I will go up to Flagler where I will do my first solo. I am choosing to do my Solo at Flagler because I like that airport a lot. There is a restaurant called Hijackers (very ironic) that my instructor and I have stopped at for lunch a couple of times, so I feel comfortable with the area. How the solo will work is we will leave Daytona and fly up to Flagler, we will do 3 full stop landings together, then I will drop him off and do 3 full stop landings myself while remaining in the traffic pattern. I will then pick up my instructor and we will fly back to Daytona. I am really curious as to what it will feel like to be in the plane by myself. I expect it to feel like driving by yourself for the first time but on maybe a little bit of a bigger scale. Either way, I am looking forward to it and will be a great experience.

Photo: Quick picture at Flagler after stopping for a bite to eatI’ve gotten some good e-mails from readers with good questions lately. I’m glad because I didn’t think anyone was reading! My email address is if you have anything feel free to ask!

November 2012

Time sure has flown! Seems like yesterday I was waking up to Homecoming week and now the countdown to Thanksgiving break has begun. Crazy! I could take the time to elaborate on Homecoming week itself, but that would take ALL day. So I’ll leave y’all with this; Embry-Riddle Homecoming is unlike any other. From the special parade and music performance to the air show to finish it all off.

Thunderbirds over campusSo believe it or not, here it is beginning of November. There’s only one month before exams, time to prioritize. Just like most other Riddle students, it’s crunch time for this girl. This blog entry I believe is best suited for advice. At this point in the semester so much is going on at once. Take the time to pick and choose which is more important on the “to-do” list. This could mean living in the 24-hour lab for the remainder of the semester. Sacrifice social life if anything and begin planning ahead for next semester, this means time to make that schedule. Be sure and make your schedule before new Freshman have the chance, this way you can choose when you would like to start and end your day. For me, this means no classes before 10 (I am NOT a morning person). With that being said, I am thoroughly excited and nervous for the start of exams and a new semester right around the corner. (:

November 2012

Hello again!

It’s the time of the semester to register for spring classes, and one of the great perks of being in the Honors Program here is priority registration. Especially since registration is a somewhat complicated process with seeing your advisor, writing your four year plan, and making sure you will pass all your current courses, it feels good to get it all out of the way early. I am excited that next semester I will be starting courses for my Meteorology minor!

The end of the month is always busy because it is normally where the due dates fall for projects and exams. I have been studying away, but there is always time for fun. Recently I’ve caved into a floor-wide fascination with Pokémon. Somehow all of your childhood obsessions that seemed lame in middle school and high school come back to you in college as super cool.

As far as classwork goes however, I’m doing a lot of group work on final projects for several different classes. In our EGR101 class, we are still working on our project for American Home Health care. We made the initial design for our sock device, and now we’ve started our prototypes. That means working in the lab… with power tools! We found out that our group will actually get to present the project to the organization after Thanksgiving break.

I’ve also been working on one of my final projects for Graphic Communications, which is the airplane design project. I am learning so much about CATIA through this project, because the design has to be complicated, but I’m proud of where the final product is going! Even though I’m a mechanical engineer, I still like airplanes, and this school has certainly done a lot to enhance that fascination.

As you’ve probably heard from the news, Hurricane Sandy hit the US in the past couple weeks. Although the northeast got the worst of the storm, the campus was distraught for several days when temperatures dropped down into the upper 40s and 50s. It was normal Ohio fall temperatures for me, but it’s definitely not quite as easy to handle when you’re used to walking outside to 80 degree weather. There were people bundled in winter coats, hats and scarves! Luckily the sun is back out and the weather is back to normal. We’ve actually had clear skies for several days!

In terms of off campus entertainment this week, our RA, Brenna took our wing to Hard Knocks, which is a laser tag arena based on real combat environments. It was really fun, and I liked the change from the stereotypical laser tag arena. We also spent a Saturday afternoon volunteering at the Walk for Autism Speaks.

Getting ready for a mission at Hard Knocks. Lastly, Halloween was this past week, and although I didn’t get to go trick-or-treating, I did get to dress up to go to my ERRSA meeting. The girls helped me put together a costume we did hair and makeup. I used clothes and things I found around my dorm and ended up as a Queen Bee. Everyone in ERRSA dressed up and we did a costume contest.

ERRSA members dressed for the costume contest. Only a few weeks until the end of the semester… see ya!

November 2012

SOLO!!!!! On November 2nd, my instructor finally turned me loose in Deland Municipal Airport and had me fly traffic patterns on my own. It was a beautiful Florida day, low 70s, very light wind, and not a cloud in the sky. My instructor and I took off in N477ER for Deland. After flying three traffic patterns, we parked the airplane and went to the restaurant at the airport and grabbed some breakfast. He signed off in my logbook endorsing me to solo. After breakfast, I went to the airplane, and started it up, and taxied over to runway 25 waiting to take off.

Another Embry-Riddle Cessna did a rejected landing and went around, so once he was clear of the runway, I made my way onto the centerline of the runway and started putting the throttle in. 800 feet later, I lifted off the ground in the airplane alone! My instructor watched me fly a traffic pattern over Deland on my own, and then watched me do a textbook landing. I’m currently waiting for him to give me the video of me flying so I can upload it to my Youtube channel.

November is also upon us! Florida weather has been beautiful as of late. For a guy who comes from the Northeast, the temperature of the low to mid 70s has been perfect. My friends who are from Florida keep saying its cold outside, but I have nothing to complain about.

Hurricane Sandy blew through Florida a few of weeks ago, and some of my friends and I went to the beach to look at the waves crashing onto the beach. Being from the northeast, I don’t get to go to the ocean too often, so I was amazed at the size of the waves hitting the beach.

Two weekends ago, the Sport Aviation Club held a drop what you brought contest at a grass airport called Pierson. Pierson is about a half hour drive north of campus. Some of the sport aviation club members went out a day early and had a campout at the airport. Where else besides Embry-Riddle would you have college students camping out at an airport for a night? That was a lot of fun, and will definitely be participating in again next year!

The next day, the Radio Control club hosted their indoor electric fly-in in the ICI center. I attended that, and flew one of my friend’s small electric planes. After spending a few hours at the fly-in, I decided it was time to head back to my dorm and begin my homework, which put an end to the awesome weekend.



This past weekend, I had a “buildathon” on my Control-line airplane hoping to get it done by the weekend so I could start flying it. Starting at 5:00pm, I worked on it until 3:15am, and had it completed. Two days later, I went to the Richard Petty soccer fields, and gave the plane its maiden voyage. I’ve only flown it one other time since then as of this date and I’m trimming it out little by little and it’s already had drastic improvements just after two flights.

Thanksgiving is fast approaching, with only a week before I board a JetBlue flight to get back home and enjoy some turkey and football with my family. Also this week, registration for classes next semester will start. I, for one, am planning on getting up early on that day so I can register as early as possible to get the classes I want!


If you have any questions, feel free to email me at You can also add me as a friend on Facebook or follow me on Twitter. If you do wish to add me as a friend on Facebook, send me a message to let me know that you read the student blog so that I know it is not spam. If you have a Youtube account, you can subscribe to my Youtube channel.

‘Till next time, aim high!
Matthew Colan

October 2012

Burrrrr it’s getting chilly here in Florida! Not really but this morning we woke up to a cool, crisp 50 degrees. Finally feels like fall around here. And it really feels like Halloween with all the decorations that people have been putting up on their dorms and around campus. It’s kind of weird to think that it’s already almost November! It’s amazing how time flies when you are in college. School has been pretty busy lately, I feel like I’m always doing homework or studying but that’s alright with me. I love learning about Aviation so I can hardly complain. Last weekend was our fall break, and it was sure nice to have a good chunk of time off of school. While most people went home or left campus for the break, I was able to bring part of my home back with me. My dad and brother were in Nashville, Tennessee touring a college for my brother who is currently a senior in High School. I thought it would be fun to meet them in Nashville and drive with them down to Daytona so they could tour my school and see the area. I flew up on Saturday and we got a not-so-early start on Sunday morning and after a 12-hour drive, we arrived back in Daytona around 11P.M. For the remainder of the weekend, we went to the beach, drove to Jacksonville and met up with my cousin who is working down here for a couple of weeks. It was a great weekend with them, but I’d have to say that the highlight for me, and I know it was for my dad, was when I was able to take my dad along as an observer on one of my flights. It also happened to be a beautiful morning with nearly clear skies and almost no wind. It was awesome to be flying knowing that my dad was in the back.


Photo Credit: Steve Johnston

After our flight on Monday we drove up to St. Augustine and spent the better part of the day at Anastasia State Park. It’s beautiful up there, miles and miles of pristine beaches. The nice thing about going to a state park on the coast is that there is no development, cars, or even people for that matter, for as far as the eye can see. It was so peaceful and relaxing to hear the waves breaking and the birds chirping without any of the distractions that come along with a beach by a city.


Photo: Big Waves at St. Augustine


ROTC is also going well. Last Friday we had our Midterm Evaluations. We were graded on drilling, knowledge and uniforms. It was basically a culmination of everything we have learned so far in ROTC. It’s cool to see how far we have come in such a short amount of time.

In other news, Hurricane Sandy “hit” last week. When I say hit I use the term “hit” lightly because it really only passed by Florida on its way up the East Coast. Nerveless, we did get some pretty neat weather. Some rain, some wind, and one heck of a beautiful sunset as it passed through.

Photo: Beautiful Sunset as Hurricane Sandy passes by

Thanks for reading!

November 2012

Lately, I have found myself doing a lot of self-examining, and you would think with all the exams I take during school I would be sick of them!  It’s now more than half way through the semester and I find I have what I like to call “the mid-semester blues.”  I’m stuck and often find myself overwhelmed with everything I tend to take on. It’s not to say that I’m not fulfilling everything; I see all these doors opening up right in front of me and I just want to rush right through every one. I need to learn to take a step back and examine every situation, because you know, every decision I make will affect the rest of my life. It could be as simple as making sure I have a little more time to study or throwing myself out there for an internship. Every action I take, every word I say will affect me and those around me some way or another. Through this all I am finding I am achieving more, if I take a step back and examine myself and really ask myself, do I have time to take this own, or how others will perceive me as.

The first sign of maturity is the discovery that the volume knob also turns to the left.
— Jerry M. Wright

This year especially, I have noticed that I, personally, hold myself to higher standards than I have ever before, which has ultimately led to a greater sense of fulfillment for me. Maybe it’s because I’m actually taking time to find a balance between leisure and business or maybe it’s because I’m actually doing what I want for a change and not what everyone expects of me.

Overall, this year I’m finding that I am coming into myself even more and finding out who I am and who I want to be, and it feels great. I believe that this is what college is supposed to be, a bridge between who we were and the gateway to who we want to be. Of course we are going to stumble on the way, we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t do that, but it’s the lessons we learn from the stumbles that ultimately make us who we are. Each day we’re changing little by little, every morning when you and I wake up we are different from yesterday, but when you add up all the small little pieces it makes on magnificent piece of art: You. Me. Everyone. Who are you going to be when you wake up tomorrow?