Online Classes & COVID-19

Happy March everyone! I am currently blogging from Northern Virginia, and here’s how my schedule has changed since COVID-19 come in effect and I began taking online classes:

I still wakeup early and drink coffee and I still begin working from the very beginning of the day until the end of the day.

I spend more time working on class things now than before. This is partly because I had to spend two days packing and vacating from living on campus to moving back up north by myself. Usually move out occurs at the end of the semester, after finals, and I am able to have my friends/family help me pack. This time was extremely expedited, solo, and very stressful . . . on top of up in the air RA responsibilities and professors starting online classes and uploading lectures and assignments that I began to fall behind on. Moving out and going to a safe place where I was not at risk of becoming sick (from exposure to thousands of students returning from traveling over spring break) began taking precedence over me trying to stay on top of 60+ priority daily email notifications. 

So to say the least, my personal transition to online classes was very abrupt and sort of felt like I was running to keep up with a moving train. Quarantine preparation and move-out time were not originally factored into my Spring Break plan.

A selfie from the airport quickly traveling back from Daytona Beach to IAD, not pictured: a lot of hand sanitizer and a row to myself on the plane.
Flashback to waking up stress free and looking outside in Key West over Spring Break.

Once I traveled back home and transitioned to actually having time to spend on my online classes though here are a few things I’ve noticed:

Typical in-person classes in Aerospace Engineering are difficult, especially ones that are traditionally not offered as online courses (in the fall/spring as well as summer semesters) because they are too challenging. Now, take these courses with professors who are not the most technologically savvy, and force them to transition to teaching upper level engineering courses via a digital platform. In your head you might be thinking, that doesn’t sound like an idea that would flow very smoothly, and yes, I will tell you, indeed it does not.

Thankfully, however, flexibility is the key to Air Power and AFROTC has smoothly transitioned to hosting online classes and digital assignments to compensate for not having in person Leadership Laboratories, Physical Training sessions, and Air Force classes. That being said, it is significantly easier for classes that frequently rely on digital assignments and communication over online platforms to quickly and easily make a transition to solely remote learning.

I’ve had my first Solid Mechanics test online since digital courses began and even though most of the material was taught before spring break, it was still significantly more stressful as the constant worry of technical issues, distractions, or everyday life problems that occur in a home setting were looming around me (think power outages, that yes, of course happened to me 20 minutes prior to starting my exam).

I have come to the realization that I spend more time on my coursework now with online classes than I did with in-person classes because even with power-points, notes, and recorded lectures being uploaded, I am pretty much teaching myself material in addition to completing homework, projects, and “in-class” assignments on my own.

Verdict: I prefer in person learning to online classes.

Will report back soon folks, keep on keeping on, stay safe and stay well!

#meetRiddleAlumni

Embry-Riddle’s reputation for leading the aviation and aerospace industry is recognized worldwide. There’s also a lot of creative talent among Riddle alumni, and some gifted grads are garnering a good deal of attention on social media. If you’re looking for interesting sites to follow, check these out – featuring photography, inspiration and laughs!

Lonnie Marts III
Lonnie is not a typical ERAU student, but his ability to connect and engage those around him has been evident throughout his time as a student – and now on his channels.  Buzzfeed recently published a write-up on Lonnie’s efforts and he’s reached one million plus followers on his TikTok account.

Lonnie’s first passion has been athletics, and he came to the Daytona Campus to compete in track and field. He earned his undergraduate degree in Human Factors Psychology and then went on to earn an MBA through the accelerated program.  His goal of succeeding in the digital world is well underway!

He cleans up nicely!

You can also see Lonnie’s work on his YouTube Channel,  and check out the university video featuring Lonnie.

Lynsey Schroeder

Lynsey began blogging as a student shortly after arriving at Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach campus where she studied Engineering Physics. Why did she choose to attend ERAU? She summed it up well: “Its reputation, specialty and community.” In her student blog she shared her passion for science, love of music and experience interning with the SETI Institute where the search for extraterrestrial intelligence is the mission. Spoiler alert! No extraterrestrials were discovered. She also recalls the time National Geographic visited the Daytona Campus to film “Evacuate Earth,” a doomsday scenario with a plan to save the human race. Of course Embry-Riddle was the perfect place to serve as the base for developing the technologies that would carry humans to safety.

 She earned both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree through the accelerated program.  In 2014, Lynsey was recognized by Aviation Week & Space Technology as one of “Tomorrow’s Emerging Leaders: 20 in their 20s.” Now she works for Raytheon on Arizona where she really can’t tell us too much about her work – we’d need security clearance for that! But she does still share her talent and passion for photography and her photos are truly breathtaking! Her specialty is the night sky over the desert, she’d particularly adept at capturing images of the Milky Way. Her time lapse of the full moon can be viewed on her Facebook page.

Or see more of her work on her website: https://lschroederphoto.com/

Nicole Stott

Embry-Riddle alumna and retired astronaut Nicole Stott can also be found inspiring people online and on campus. An advocate for the arts and STEAM – including art as an important part of STEM studies, the Nicole Stott Art Gallery at the Daytona Beach campus is named in her honor and often features work by students and staff.  

Most recently, she shared advice on managing isolation from her unique experiences spending more than 100 days on the International Space Station. It’s filled with inspiration and includes valuable tips that are particularly relevant now, but it’s also a truly timeless perspective.

Watch it here.

Quarantine & Self Care

Happy April everyone! I am currently blogging from Northern Virginia, where I am blessed to be quarantined with my sister who is an amazing chef. Currently sipping on whipped iced coffee with coconut sugar and vanilla almond milk and it’s lovely. I would like to provide a Quarantine update as April is the last month in the spring semester, and focusing on your studies is as important as balancing that with time to relax.

Staying constantly plugged in is something I’ve definitely struggled with while adjusting to online classes. So when I’m not monitoring my laptop or my phone, here are some things I like to do in Quarantine besides study, take notes, and do homework:

If you have the luxury of living in a semi-rural to rural area, take walks, runs, or hike! I’m working out, taking vitamins, drinking a lot of water, running, going on walks, hikes, or hilly/wooded area treks, eating healthy, and doing yoga daily. My personal favorite is Yoga With Adriene on Youtube, a virtual online yoga class with everything to relaxing sequences to power yoga that will give your muscles a run for their money. I usually practice her videos in my dorm room at school when I don’t have time to go to a class at the fitness center and they are perfect to do in your backyard or in your house, while using safe social distancing techniques (6 feet bubble)!

Try to branch out from boredom by listening to new music, or tuning into free social media live-streamed digital concerts from your favorite artists.

Catch up on podcasts! For me Crime Junkie by audiochuck, The Long Distance Love Bombs Podcast by Dr. Jeremy Goldberg, and Press Send with Chinae Alexander by Dear Media are my favorites to stream on Spotify.

Catch up on some shows or movies!

Things I’ve personally been watching include:

Hulu: Dave, Little Fires Everywhere

HBO-Go: Euphoria, Ramy Youssef: Feelings

Netflix: On My Block, Night on Earth, Tiger King

Disney +: All of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, Ice Age, Ratatouille

Social media cleanse! The rule I’ve been following lately is to unfollow any pages that does not inspire or motivate me, or if I don’t think I’d be willing to stop and have a conversation with someone in person, there is no reason why I would need to keep their life online, so I unfollow! Be picky about what you expose yourself to, it’s under-appreciated self care!

Side-note: The Spring 2020 AFROTC Det 157 patch design I collaborated with another Professional Officer Course (POC) cadet came back from production, so now we have a decal. I’m super excited about it (even if I won’t be able to physically have it until the Fall 2020 semester, @social distancing).

Keep on keeping on folks, stay safe, wash your hands, cover your faces, and I will report back soon!

Checkride Season

What is a Checkride?

Here at Embry-Riddle, the flight portion of our degree for those majoring in Aeronautical Science requires us to complete the Private, Instrument, Commercial and Multi-Engine certificates / ratings. I have been working on my Commercial Single-Engine Certificate which will be added to my instrument rated private pilot certificate. Every rating or certificate you complete, you need to take a knowledge test and a practical test, known as the checkride. These checkrides can be completed with a check airmen (ERAU instructors) or a Designated Pilot Examiners (DPE) (FAA).

Commercial Pilot Checkride

If you are completing your commercial pilot training here at Riddle, you need to take the in-house checkride (oral and flight with ERAU check airmen) then you need to complete an oral and a flight with a DPE, known as the DE. By the time this post goes up, I will be waiting for my DE to get scheduled upon completing and passing my in-house checkride.

My In-house Checkride

My checkride was fairly straight forward. The oral portion went by rather quickly, just like every other oral checkride here at Riddle. I had about 3 observers who were also students on the commercial track, who wanted to observe my checkride before they have to go on their own. We are sometimes asked to take observers on our orals and flights to encourage backseat learning. After about 2 hours of intense briefing and questions being tossed around, I had passed my oral portion of the in-house checkride.

Couple of days later, I was put on schedule for the flight portion. It was a 2 hour and 20 minute flight on a hot, spring day here in Florida. Despite all the thermal bumps in the air and the extreme afternoon heat in our small cockpit, the flight went smoothly. The check airmen asked me to perform the required maneuvers, perform my landings in a small non-controlled airport near Melbourne and demonstrate my abilities to safely operate and conduct this flight. He was very helpful in guiding me in times when I was stuck on a question or occupied with maneuvering my way through other traffic.

Riddle provides these cool pins for every rating / certificate you earn!
Here’s a pretty neat visual on what my checkride looked like from the sky! (N430ER)

Checkrides in the Future

Now as I study and prepare for my “real” checkride, a DE with the Designated Pilot Examiner, I am heading back into self-quarantine surrounding myself with books, documents, study guides and other references to prepare myself.

For those who are hoping to become airline pilots in the future, you will start to hear a lot about checkrides starting with your very first Private Pilot certificate. You will start to hate everything about checkrides because they are the most daunting part about flying if you are not a big fan of examinations. Good news and bad news, you will be well prepared for every one of your checkride despite what your nerves tell you. Bad news, the checkrides will never end until you decide to retire at the age of 65 because airline pilots go on their “checkrides” every 6 to 12 months (depending on your company).

Stay safe and healthy everyone!

Spring Break & Schedule Changes

Happy March everyone! I am currently blogging from Northern Virginia, in quarantine for the n-th day, and WOW at the current global situation with COVID-19 currently afflicting the world…but honestly we should’ve left this one in 2019.

BUT FIRST, let’s flash back to the beginning of March when college students were about to go on Spring Break, COVID-19 seemed like a distant tragedy, and life only seemed stressful at average levels.

Greetings from Key West! Our postcard decal.

I spent Spring break with one of my best friends in Key West, Florida and even though it was still Florida, being on *basically* an island for a week was absolutely well needed. In the current situation, confined from the great public domain with a strict and paranoid 6ft rule of distancing from strangers, I am feeling greatly nostalgic of a week ago when I was happily soaking up sunshine and basking in the glory of constantly being sun kissed and barefoot with salt water hair and always a little bit sandy, despite all the showers I took.

A short lived windy bike ride to the Southern Most Point in the USA.
Being one with nature (currently reminiscing from inside my house).
A potato head selfie from the plane.

Key West had an extremely casual, laid back, go with the flow atmosphere which is completely opposite of my usually very busy and structured life. During the last few days of Spring Break we got an official university communication email saying that Spring Break would be extended two days into the following week and online classes would be happening until early April. At first this sounded like a fantastic and fun idea, until reality set in when we returned. When we got back to Daytona Beach, stores were starting to run out of food, the media seemed to be spreading paranoia, and everyone was panicking. A few days later residence halls were vacating and I prepared to come back to Virginia as there was talk about canceling flights and limiting domestic travel across state lines.

Fast forward a week and I’m in a quarantined lifestyle with online classes until the end of the semester, metros shut down inside Washington DC, Uber and Lyft currently closed, and Amazon not delivering groceries anymore, yikes!

To be continued folks, will report back soon, COVID-19 updates are around the corner!

Safety, Sanity, Sanitary

Spring Break 2020

When most of us got out of class as we headed into our spring break, we didn’t expect what kind of change we were going to be dealing with during the break. The outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) spread rather rapidly, and our school extended our spring break. The admin concluded that our classes will be conducted online with all of our campus events cancelled. This caused a lot of travel and academic plans to be changed by our faculties and staff as well as the student body. As a flight student who is planning on staying to finish my rating, I noticed how empty and deserted our campus feels now that the majority of our students have made their way back home.

I realized that some students who are staying to finish their flight training or who couldn’t plan to travel back home might be stuck around here for some time. It can be difficult when all your friends are away and you are stuck at home or around campus because many places are closing down for safety reasons. I wanted to write a blurb about how to maintain your safety, sanity and sanitary as we prepare for the worst.

Safety

Daytona Beach just hosted their annual Bike Week 2020 which really marks the beginning of spring break season. Thousands of college students and visitors make their way to Daytona Beach to enjoy the beaches and the warm weather. That is more reason for the Riddle student body to be cautious as they hang out around certain parts of the town. As we all know, the beachside with Seabreeze and A1A gets bombarded with tourists coming in and we all experience increased traffic on ISB and Beville. We have to be careful of motor accidents and other incidents that could take place with increased population from out of state.

Sanity

It is hard to keep yourself busy and on track when you are sitting on your couch back home. It can be especially more difficult if you are still in Daytona Beach. I have been trying my best at keeping myself busy and active with the resources I have.

I have been traveling around locally as my days are mostly free of classes now. I took advantage of some of Florida’s best natural perks by kayaking and going on walks by the beach and the state park. If you have your own car or one of your friends does, you can also explore by leaving Daytona Beach and going to places like Orlando or St. Augustine. You really have to actively try to stay fit and mentally awake as the temptation of procrastination grows larger everyday.

Sanitary

Lastly, let us practice common sense and take care of ourselves by washing our hands and avoiding interactions with a large group of people. The time we are going through is absolutely crazy and it may seem like the end of the world but with simple practices, we can prevent and solve the issue at hand. Especially the flight students who are here to fly, we have been using Lysol wipes and hand sanitizer before, during and after our flights. It should become a habit as we try our best to disinfect our aircraft.

It is a tragedy and an unfortunate turn of event but we have to make the most out of the situation that was given to us and move forward. To those who are still in town, keep your head up and always stay safe, sane and clean. Blue skies, tail winds and coronavirus-free!

Keep the spirits high!

I Can Sea Clearly Now

Spring break is finally here, the weather is finally warmer, and it is now the perfect opportunity to relax while getting slightly ahead on a some of the schoolwork for weeks to come. This break has given me the opportunity to get back to a place in Daytona I love so much. The Beach.

The sand beneath my toes. The warmth of the sun on my skin. The feel and smell of the salt in my hair. And the feel of the breeze (unfortunately the water is still too cold to swim in). The beach is my escape and place for relaxation, a home away from home, and this spring break has been amazing weather to be able to enjoy the beach. I believe the beach is a major perk of going to Embry-Riddle’s Daytona campus that isn’t used properly by everyone who goes here. Even though schoolwork is top priority, it is good to prioritize a little bit of fun every once in a while, and the beach is a perfect place to get some sun and be one with the outdoors. It is a great place to focus on yourself and spend time with friends outside. This spring break I have even enjoyed a little sunshine and schoolwork outside which has also improved my mood and making me even more ready to crush the rest of the semester.

Meanwhile, I have also been getting schoolwork done at a productive pace to keep my mind fresh on new topics and prepared for the next round of tests. It is good to know I will go back to classes with a little edge being on some major projects and coding assignments. I am looking forward to starting classes again with a more relaxed feel and ready to conquer the rest of the semester attitude.

Eyes Peeled for Open Doors

Embry-Riddle offers a wide variety of student organizations and clubs that students can take part in to develop their interpersonal relationships and find a way to de-stress from their rigorous academics. It can be overwhelming at first when deciding what organizations to join and I learned after 3 years at Riddle, that this process can be very long and exhausting.

For this blog, I will be talking about one particular event I had this past weekend with one of the student organizations I am part of on campus. I am a general board member of the Alpha Omicron Alpha (AOA) Aeronautical Honor Society. It is an organization built for students who are studying in the aeronautical science major. We work with the College of Aviation in assisting with various on-campus events along with our own unique social, fundraiser and educational events. Our organization is among the few pilot specific groups including the Tutor lab team, FLAP team and the Riddle Flight Team.

Group photo in front of the Airbus training center in Miami, Fla.

This past weekend, I was fortunate to go on an overnight trip to Miami, Fla with about 30 AOA students to an Airbus training center. We were greeted at the center where professional airline pilots come in for initial, currency and type rating trainings in their state-of-the-art simulators. We were able to sit down for an informational presentation about the Airbus company followed by a tour of their simulators. These simulators included sections for the emergency slide practice, cabin crew door modules, and full-motion simulators for the A320, A330, A340, A350 types. We were able to see these simulators up close and allowed to briefly jump in these modules for some hands-on experience.

The entire group was thoroughly briefed and presented the Airbus’ philosophy and their safety culture. It was a meaningful experience as most students in the organization are working towards becoming airline pilots, who will be completing the same training in these simulators in the near future. Our presenter and the guide was a Riddle alumni who was now the Director of Safety in the Americas for Airbus and he opened up so many doors for us and gave us an idea of what it’s like to choose this career path.

It is very important to choose the right number of organizations where you know you can handle the workload as you try to manage your academics, personal life and flight training (if it applies to you). It is also important to find a healthy balance between groups that you are passionate about and groups that look good on your resume or for your future career path. You need to give yourself plenty of opportunities where you can take advantage of your organization’s resources and network in order to open doors for yourself and your peers. It is important to know that we have all the resources and the power to shape our own college experience which can drastically shape our career path.

Who doesn’t like cool, free merch?!

A New Experience Awaits

My current home in Phase II

As a resident advisor (RA), this time of year comes with the excitement of receiving our building placements for the fall semester. I have been through interviews and met with multiple supervisors to figure out where the best community is for me to thrive as an RA. I am currently in the brand-new residence building of New Hall Phase II which has been an amazing opportunity and I have had the best residence this year. I have enjoyed the difference in experience from last year where I spent my time in the entertaining, but close-knit Doolittle.

My new home for 20-21 year

But after waiting for weeks, the Housing and Residence Life team finally issued our placements for the 20-21 school year. I am happy to announce, I have the honor of being a resident advisor in Stimpson in our student village, and I am looking forward to the new environment and challenges that come with this residence hall. It will be different from the past two years I have been a resident advisor, and it will be the first time I have upperclassmen as residents. I am greatly looking forward to working with a new supervisor and meeting and working with new people next year. As of right now though, I need to continue to focus on my current residents and make sure they make it through their first year of college. Being a resident advisor has helped me come out of my shell and develop new skills for communicating and helping students at Embry Riddle. It is an experience I would not change for anything as the Housing and Residence Life team has become a second family to me. I am excited to help everyone get through the rest of this semester and even more excited to help students continue living at Embry-Riddle next year.

Half Way & Happenings

Happy February everyone! Back again blogging from Daytona Beach, Speed Week has calmed downed, and we’ve been having some particularly mild weather: a bit cold and rainy, but Florida tends to be wonky before getting to the consistent sunshine with afternoon showers (aka nap time).

Valentine’s Day recently passed and February is flying by! Things around the corner include *drum roll please* Mid-term exams, the Spring PT test… and also, Spring Break! We’re almost half way through Spring semester and I can barely believe it! 

My sister sent me a very positive card, a super cute scrunchie, and some Namaste socks for V-day! I love care packages.

Some notable things I get to do with my position this semester in ROTC as the Mission Support Group, Force Support Squadron, Deputy Commander, aside from assist the Squadron Commander, are plan Dining Out, a yearly event where all cadets and cadre wear Service Dress (the fancy blues), gather for a meal, celebrate notable accomplishments of the Cadet Wing, and announce new Wing Staff for the following semester. I also have the amazing opportunity to team up with an upperclassman cadet and organize an Air Force Retirement Ceremony for a Major in our cadre. I have the privilege of gaining insight to this exciting event at a very young point in my career, which makes this opportunity THAT much cooler.

Another super cool thing I do in my position that I’ve particularly had a lot of fun with in preparation for Dining Out, is collaborating with other Professional Officer Course (POC) cadets to design the logo that will be on the Dining Out gift. I’ve got to work with a particularly talented POC cadet who I also collaborated with to help design the Spring 2020 AFROTC Detachment 157 Semester Patch.

Additionally, being an RA has been even more fun lately because I helped to organize a Tye-Dye event that will be happening shortly. I’ve attached the flyer I designed below, but essentially it’s an Area Initiative as a community builder for the residence hall I live in where we invite residents to come de-stress and get creative, and colorful!

Additionally, I recently solidified my summer plans, which was a huge stress relief and also an opportunity I anticipate to be extremely challenging and fun. I will be participating in Project GO Study Abroad in Morocco working on Arabic Year 4. More details to come on that, and I am very excited to give some future updates on my Arabic learning experience. Keep on keeping on folks. Will report back soon!