Summer @ SNC, Part 3: Concluding Thoughts and Advice

Make the most of your internship.

My internship ended almost a month ago, which means now is the time to look back on it and think about what I’ve learned. Of course, I learned a lot of technical skills and gained industry experience, but non-technical things are also important. Just because a skill isn’t technical doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable- for example, communication is a great “soft” skill that is essential to every workplace. So, here’s a list of some of the major non-technical things I learned from my internship!

1. You are not going to know everything and that’s okay. What you do know will still help!
That was certainly true for me. I had my ERAU education which was a good foundation. However, internships and jobs are not like the world of academia. Problems in academia are designed under certain simplifying assumptions. However, in real life, these assumptions are not always valid. Yes, you’ll likely be using in-class concepts to work on aircraft or rockets instead of, say, a baseball being thrown in a projectile motion problem. However, the aircraft or rocket problem takes more things into account than the baseball problem.

A lot of jobs have specific software that they like to use, and you might not be familiar with it. For example, ERAU uses CATIA for computer modeling, but several companies use different computer modeling software like AutoCAD or Solidworks. That doesn’t make your CATIA skills useless, it just means that you’ll have to adapt to a new software.

2. You might not use everything you’ve learned in class. That’s pretty normal- they’re not useless and unrelated, but your specific job might not use those concepts.
For example, I took statics and solid mechanics at ERAU and never once used them in my internship. To be fair, I was a systems engineer and not a structural/stress engineer. I had no real reason to use those concepts when there were full-time structural and stress engineers whose entire jobs were to analyze the structure of different aircraft. My roommate was a structural engineer, and she ended up using the concepts she learned in solid mechanics and structures classes during her internship. It really depends on what type of internship you have. It’s also good to know what type of internships to look for. If you don’t like your structures classes, then don’t look for structures internships and jobs.

3. Get to know your coworkers, both full-time and your fellow interns. They’ll make a good job even better.
I’m serious! If you’re having a slow day, your coworkers will make it go a lot faster. I also feel more comfortable asking questions of people I know rather than people who feel like strangers. Knowing your coworkers may also help you in your downtime- if you share similar interests, they may be able to provide recommendations. For example, some of my fellow interns were Colorado natives and suggested some hiking trails.

One of the Red Rocks trails, which was suggested by a Colorado native! Yes, we did hike a lot, and I did buy hiking boots.

4. The work week is 40 hours; there are 168 hours in a week. Do fun things when you’re not at work!!
In my time at SNC, on average, I worked 40-hour weeks. Sure, we got holidays like Memorial Day and the Fourth of July off, but on a regular week, I worked 40-hour weeks. This allowed me to do fun things on the weekend and on the weeknights. I went hiking, went to the Denver cat cafe, Colorado Rockies games, Pike’s Peak, Elitch Gardens (an amusement park), the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, and over to friends’ apartments. During the course of my internship, I stayed in an Airbnb, and my Airbnb host had a dog. She was more than happy to let me take him for walks, which was a good exercise for both of us!

The Airbnb puppy!

5. If you don’t like your job, that’s okay- but try and find a job you do like!
Not everyone will like their first internship- and that’s okay. I loved mine, but I have a few friends who didn’t like theirs. Instead of choosing to be miserable, I noticed that they would ask other people about their jobs and see what they were like. As I mentioned before, you likely won’t use every single class from your degree in real life. I liked my internship, but I also liked a few of my other classes and never got to see the course content used. So, I ended up asking around to see what other jobs did, and I found interest in a few other jobs. I want to keep exploring my options, so I’ll probably apply for internships like the other jobs to see if I like those, too!

That’s the last tip I have! Hopefully, you enjoyed my three-part series about obtaining an internship, what to do when you’re not working, and my concluding thoughts. I enjoyed writing the posts and definitely enjoyed the internship! I currently don’t have an internship for next summer, but the cycle is just starting and I’m excited to see what I do next. I’ll see you in the next post… and hopefully at Riddle!

New Year, New Adventures!

SLS Scrub?

I am back on the Embry-Riddle campus and it’s definitely good to be back! The drive back from the Denver area was about 27 hours, which wasn’t super fun. I was on the Orientation Team again this year (last year was super fun too!), which meant I had to be in town on the Monday after my internship ended for training.

This year, a few of the events, unfortunately, got cancelled early or entirely cancelled because of the weather. Even so, I had a lot of fun. Over orientation week, I did a lot of walking and running around campus welcoming new students. At the end of orientation, it was still kind of rainy, so the Movie in the Hangar event got moved inside the Student Union, and we took the team picture in front of balloons spelling out ERAU.

The 2022 Orientation Team!

After orientation week, just like last year, the annual Honors Mentor/Mentee social was hosted on the Sunday before classes started. I was a mentor again this year, and everyone got ice cream and got to meet their mentors and mentees. It unfortunately rained on that afternoon, so it was moved inside to the first floor of the aviation maintenance science building.

Just like last year, the orientation team wore their PFG shirts on the first day. However, this year, we also played a spotting game, taking pictures of each other as we walk around campus. It was easiest to identify us in our PFGs, but the game still continues to this day (although not as much). Someone took this photo of me heading into the union on the first day.

They see me rollin’…

The rest of the week was pretty normal. My five classes kicked into gear, and I’m liking them so far. Yes, I already have homework, but I worked on it over the long weekend. The first week of school is also the Week of Welcome, geared towards new students but open for everyone to participate. The week usually has a lot of free food and giveaways- this year, there was a lemonade stand and free ice cream!

I am living off-campus this year, so I’ve started using the shuttles that the Student Government Association provides free of charge to students. It’s pretty convenient. There’s a shuttle from my off-campus apartment to the student union about every 20 minutes, from early in the morning to the beginning of the evening. The shuttle runs every scheduled school day, which meant that it didn’t run over the Labor Day weekend, but I have a car so I can easily get to campus if needed.

As many people know, Artemis I was scheduled to initially launch on the first day of school, and then postponed to Saturday. Since I had class, I couldn’t attend the Monday launch time, but it was also scrubbed and rescheduled. Saturday was also a scrub, but my friend group hadn’t gotten down to the Cape yet- we were only on the road for about 10 minutes. It was unfortunate, but I’m hoping I get to see it launch before we go home for winter break.

The only upside was that I did get to see it on the launchpad. On Sunday, I took a few of my friends down to Kennedy Space Center. I’d won free tickets from ERAU Athletics and reserved my four tickets, which meant I got to spend the whole day at KSC for free! Last semester’s trip was super fun, but it was nice to go again and see the new exhibit. It had spacefaring vehicles from a bunch of different companies, including Sierra Space’s DreamChaser and Lockheed Martin’s Orion capsule (which is actually on top of the SLS).

Overall, it was a good long weekend. I think a few of my friends went home super quickly, which is much easier if you live on the East Coast. I was happy staying in Daytona Beach, starting the homework that’s already been assigned and going out with my friends. I’ll see you in the next post… and maybe at Riddle (or KSC)!

Me and Artemis 1, right above my photobombing friend’s head.

Summer @ SNC, Part 2: Never Forgetting the Good Times!

I hope I don’t see snow again soon.

I don’t know about you, but my summer went pretty well! I spent most of it in the Denver, Colorado area, working as a Systems Engineering Intern for Sierra Nevada Corporation. The internship was super cool and it’s an excellent way for me to make my first step into the aerospace industry, and I am grateful to everyone who helped me along the way. (If you’re interested in how I got to SNC- it’s here!)

I liked the flexibility I had on the job. I worked 40 hours per week, but the hours were flexible within a reasonable time period- some people liked to start their day at 7 AM while others preferred to start around 8 or 8:30. Some people took lunch breaks; others worked while they ate lunch. In addition, it was completely different from the retail jobs I’ve had no one was walking around the intern room making sure that we were on task. We were treated like responsible adults.

I learned a lot over the three months I was there, and I made some new friends! However, Denver is no Daytona Beach- it snowed on the second Friday in a freak snowstorm. I mostly stayed inside that weekend, since my roommate had just moved in. But the week after was Memorial Day weekend, so I had a three-day weekend.

A few of the other interns and I decided that we’d want to go hiking. It sounded fun to me- the trail was about four miles round-trip, and it was only an hour and a half away from my Airbnb.

Hike view!

Unfortunately, we ran into some snow and I had not yet bought proper hiking boots, so I ended up sliding down a small snowbank in my leggings and horrible hiking shoes. I didn’t end up making it to the top because of the snow- the hike was at a pretty high elevation, and my flats were not doing very well. I still found the hike worthwhile, I got to get to know my fellow interns and enjoy a walk through nature.

Over the summer I only ended up doing one other hike, this time at Red Rocks trail. By then I had adequate hiking shoes, and that hike was also during the heat of the summer. The view was breathtaking, but we had to leave after a few minutes since we heard thunder. Throughout the summer, the other interns did a lot of hikes, including a 14,000-foot mountain. That, to me, is dedication.

What else did I do? Whatever else I wanted.

For a lot of the summer, I mostly hung out around my Airbnb. I had a roommate, who I met online, and the Airbnb was fully furnished and came with dishes and utensils. It was perfect for a summer internship- it even came with a dog! We lived in a family’s basement, and it was great since they had anything we needed (such as a rice cooker), so I didn’t need to buy plastic utensils for the summer or worry about finding a three-month apartment lease.

Like a full-time employee, I was free to do whatever I wanted on my days off. For example. over the Fourth of July weekend, I ended up visiting one of my friends in Santa Barbara on a direct flight from Denver. I flew out on a Friday evening and came back on Monday, which we had off since it was the Fourth of July.

Ostrichland, USA! – Buellton, CA

While on that visit, we ended up driving to Solvang and Buellton, which are both in the valley. Buellton is known for Ostrichland, USA, where tourists can feed a bunch of ostriches and emus. I’d never really seen an ostrich up close, but once I did, I realized just how huge they are. I know they’re flightless birds, but I hope I never see an ostrich run after me.

I also attended two Rockies games with my friends! I’m not a huge sports fan, but in my opinion, baseball games are a good place to hang out. Yes, people can actually watch the game, but people who aren’t as into the spot can walk around the stadium and explore. The Rockies stadium had three levels, and the view from the top one was breathtaking. I even spotted a few flights.

Rockies vs Padres!

Near the end of the summer, I ended up visiting the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, which is an hour south of the Denver area. The zoo is quite literally built on a mountain, but I think it was a better choice than the Denver zoo since you get to interact with the animals a little more. I fed giraffes, watched wallabies freely run around the Australia exhibit, and saw plenty of big cats lying in the sun. It was a great experience, and I was glad I got the chance to experience it.

I loved my time in Denver with Sierra Nevada Corporation and am extremely thankful to everyone who helped me along the way. I highly recommend getting an internship. Not only does it give you the chance to experience the real engineering world, but it also gives you a chance to see what you’re doing with your degree. I’ll be honest, in some of my classes, I felt like some of the example problems weren’t directly related to my future career. However, I see how the concepts are applied to the real engineering world, even if not in my area of interning. For example, my roommate was a structural engineering intern, and the concepts I learned in solid mechanics applied to her internship. Talking to other interns was a good way to get to know everyone and learn about what disciplines would be for me.

While I miss SNC, it feels good to be home at Embry-Riddle. Classes have just started, and I’m excited to see what I’ll learn this semester. I’ll see you in the next post… and hopefully at Riddle!

Summer @ SNC, Part 1: Securing the Internship

I can confirm that airplanes are magical.

It’s been a pretty interesting month (and a little bit!) after the school year ended. Although I did go home for about a week, most of my summer has been spent in Denver, Colorado, working for Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) as a Systems Engineering Intern!

I’ve already had a lot of fun and am grateful for the opportunity. I interviewed for the internship in late October 2021 and got a call from the recruiter a couple of days later. I was ecstatic- I’d missed the initial call, but the recruiter had left a voicemail, and I immediately called her back. I signed the offer letter a few days later, committing to a summer at SNC in the Denver area.

Now, the part a lot of people have asked me is- how did you get there? To be honest, it was a long road getting from there to here. I applied for 118 internships before I received an offer.

The search for a summer internship started in the summer of 2021 before I even came back to ERAU. I applied for every aerospace-related internship that I could find, regardless of its focus on aircraft or rockets. Over the summer, I also planned on attending the Society of Women Engineers’ annual conference. In my spare time, I networked as much as I could.

The real work started during the school year. I continuously asked for résumé reviews and attended free SWE mentoring sessions. The sessions were free since I am a member of SWE, and several times throughout the year, I had sessions with various industry professionals. The mentor network allows you to filter through mentors so you can find someone to talk to who has a job you’re interested in. In my sessions, I asked for a résumé review, about their careers, and about the companies they worked for.

I continued to network and attended the annual ERAU career fair, where I gave my résumé to various recruiters at various companies. It was actually really fun- I got to know about people and the companies that they worked for. This way, I could also see if a company sounded like the right fit for me. The same process was repeated at the SWE conference, talking to recruiters and other students alike. It was fun- I made friends at other schools in other engineering disciplines, too!

Of the 118 internships I applied for, I interviewed for eight positions. That’s about a 6.78% interview rate, which I think is pretty good, considering I was a sophomore with no previous internships at the time. I was competing against juniors and seniors who were farther along in their academic journeys, and likely had more time to have project experience or previous internships.

Of those eight positions, there were five different companies, and I had networked with people from three of them. Networking is definitely what helped the best and eventually helped me in my internship search. I’m not saying that networking will always grant you an internship or that it’s the only way, but it doesn’t hurt.

Networking doesn’t have to be by going to career fairs and directly talking to a recruiter, either. Sometimes you’ll meet people out and about- I got an impromptu résumé review in a Starbucks line at the SWE conference. I met friends’ parents during Family Weekend and some of them were industry professionals. I met people in organizations freshman year who now work in the industry. Sometimes if you take a general education class, you’ll make friends with seniors who begin their careers in the next year.

Overall, I’d say it’s hard to get your first internship, especially as a sophomore. I’ve been told numerous times that companies are more likely to hire people with previous internship experience and upperclassmen, but that’s not always the case. It might just take a little extra work- which is okay with me. I’m really enjoying my internship, and it shows that hard work pays off! I’ll see you in the next post… and hopefully at Riddle!

Riddle Rewind, Take 2: Highlights of Sophomore Year

Embry-Riddle Year 2 (Carly’s Version)

Last year I decided to start my yearly Riddle Rewind tradition of the year’s highlights, starting in August and moving forward. So here it is for this year- and it’s been another amazing year.

Seeing my friends again!

Me, Krysti, and Karen!

It had been a long summer without seeing any of my friends, and on my first night back, I saw two of my friends from freshman year. Karen was a Resident Advisor and had therefore arrived early, while Krysti stayed for flight training.

Being part of the Orientation Team!

The Fall 2021 Orientation Team!

I had so much fun during Orientation Week! It was super cool to see orientation from the perspective of someone on the team. There was actually a picture of me from O-Week posted on the Embry-Riddle Instagram (here) during one of our events, too.

Hosting Trivia!

Hosting trivia!

I got to host (and write!) Star Trek trivia with one of my favorite professors! Last year (and every year), Dr. Lear hosts Star Wars trivia during Blue and Gold Week, which is like our spirit week, so we hosted Star Trek trivia in September instead. Hopefully, it will become a tradition!

Carpool Karaoke Nights!

Carpool karaoke continues!

Carpool karaoke continued this year, and it was super fun. We expanded our tastes from purely Broadway into various music styles- including Taylor Swift music.

Being on the Homecoming Court!

2021 Homecoming Court! Photo by Christian Muller, @christian.m.polariod

I was lucky to be voted onto the Homecoming Court by my peers for Fall 2021 Homecoming. It was super exciting, and even though I didn’t win, it was super awesome to be nominated!

Halloween Party on Halloween Night!

Halloween night!

I didn’t see any big Halloween costume contests like last year, but Halloween also fell on a Sunday instead of a Saturday, which probably had an impact. Either way, I still got to hang out with my friends- we dressed up and hung out outside of New Res 3, where another student had set up his telescope.

Soaring Into Finals Week!

Flying with my best friends!

I actually ended up going twice- once with both of my best friends, and once shadowing a friend on his own mock commercial checkride. But both times I went, the flights were super fun, and it’s one activity that I suggest you participate in at Riddle! (There are pilots all over campus. You might have to pay your share of the flight cost, but it’s an unforgettable experience.)

The Thunderbirds’ Annual Daytona 500 Flyover

A C-17 in Daytona!

In February, the annual Daytona 500 happens and everyone at ERAU steers clear of the crowded International Speedway Boulevard. Everyone at ERAU also heads up to the roof of the AMS balcony to watch aircraft come in, including that C-17 in the picture and the Thunderbirds!

Day Trip to KSC!

Ah, yes, the iconic meatball logo.

In March, the Honors Program sponsored a day trip to Kennedy Space Center! It was super fun, and tickets were offered at a discounted rate for 100 students. I’d never been, but since it’s only an hour away, I can say that it is a must-see for any space enthusiast!

Preview Day as an ERAU Rep!

Some of the Women’s Ambassadors on Preview Day! We’re holding one of our coordinators.

Preview Day was amazing, even though it rained in the afternoon. I had a lot of fun meeting some of the incoming class and working with the other Women’s Ambassadors and students from the aerospace engineering department. It was sooooo fun!

Sun n’ Fun (n’ Friends)!

Sun n’ Fun!

I ended up going to the Lakeland Sun n’ Fun Aerospace Expo, which was awesome to look at. I got to tour (and walk around) large aircraft, which I’d never done before. It’s definitely a “go with friends” activity- although I’ll never make it into the cockpit of an aircraft like the ones in the back, they were still fun to look at!

And finally… the Women’s Ambassadors Travel!

Me… and an ERAU Women’s Ambassador Alumna!

I had a lot of fun during the two Women’s Ambassadors-sponsored travel activities. It was awesome to meet accepted students across the country and talk about Embry-Riddle from a student’s perspective. I also got to meet an alumna of the program named Claudia, who now works for United Airlines!

Overall, sophomore year has been another amazing year in the books. I’m super excited to begin junior year next year- my classes have been great so far, and I’m expecting another great semester. In the meantime, I’m headed to Colorado for the summer for my internship with Sierra Nevada Corporation!

The Final WA Trip: San Francisco and Seattle

Oh yeah, and I just finished finals, too.

So in one of my previous posts, I attended three accepted student receptions in the northeast. On the final full weekend (and Monday and Tuesday!) of April, I had the opportunity to attend two more in San Francisco, California, and Seattle, Washington.

I was super excited since I’ve never been to either city. I flew out of Daytona on Saturday night, connecting in Charlotte on American Airlines to get to San Francisco. It was around 9:30 PM Pacific time when I got in, which is 12:30 AM Eastern, so I was pretty tired! I went to the hotel, slept, and then the fun began the next day.

On weekends, the accepted student receptions usually happen around 11:30 AM local time. The first one was at a restaurant called Flights, and it had an actual aircraft, which was pretty cool.

Pre-reception!

The reception was fun, as all of them are. The format is the same- it’s usually a Women’s Ambassador and two admissions representatives, usually joined by a parent or two. We all introduce ourselves, admissions will give their presentation, and then the floor is opened for a question-and-answer panel for everyone. After all public questions are answered, some families stick around and ask one-on-one questions. For example, some of my most commonly asked questions are about clubs and organizations, things to do in Daytona Beach, and the general student life.

After the reception, we get to eat. Since the presentation was on a Sunday morning, we had the rest of the day to explore San Francisco. It was super awesome- we went to a lot of places, including the Golden Gate Bridge and an art park called the Umbrella Alley, perfect for taking photos with! We also saw the coastline and went to Pier 39, where there were a bunch of sea lions.

Sea lion central!

The sea lions were pretty interesting. Apparently, the number of them in the picture is small, and sometimes every single platform will be densely packed with sea lions. I’ve heard that when there are more of them, the smell gets worse. They are wild animals that eat raw fish, so it is to be expected that they’ll be a little smelly.

The next morning, we ended up going to Seattle on a United flight. The flight was about two hours long, which is a little longer than I expected. Before we left, I met a Women’s Ambassador and ERAU alumna named Claudia who now works for United Airlines, which was pretty awesome! She also created the WA Instagram account, which I am now the manager of.

Seattle was fun. We had less than 24 hours there, so we had to make the trip kind of quick. After landing at the SeaTac airport, we rushed downtown to see the Pike Place Market, which is pretty infamous- it’s the site of the first Starbucks coffee shop! It also has a shop that sells fish where the workers will literally throw (and catch!) the fish at each other.

After hitting the market, we ended up going to see the Space Needle (from the outside) and then up to a lookout spot in Kerry Park. It’s pretty interesting how things come around full circle- my parents went to college together in Seattle, and they’d been to Kerry Park several times.

Kerry Park!

In regards to Seattle, we were pretty lucky that it only sprinkled on us, as seen on the concrete in the above picture. After that, we ended up heading back to the hotel for a few hours before heading to the reception venue, which was the Museum of Flight right next to one of the Boeing facilities.

It was pretty cool to be there. There was a balcony attached to the second-floor room we were on, and I ended up going outside to look at some of the aircraft. There were several parked out there, including some that looked brand new, which was super cool to see.

The presentation went the same way it did in San Francisco, and as always, I stayed around to answer questions. Since this location wasn’t at a restaurant, it was catered, which meant we could take all of the remaining food home. I got a bag of cookies, and I still have a few of the cookies in my fridge since they were massive!

After that, our flight the next morning left Seattle at 5 AM, so we had to be up and at the airport pretty early. I wasn’t complaining too much, since I planned to sleep on the flight, and I did for a bit. I also ended up doing some homework on the way back to Daytona, since it was the days before finals week.

Finals week, for me, is now over. I had two finals on Saturday and two on Monday, and two of my classes don’t require me to take the final. So now that that’s done, I’m slowly moving my way out of ERAU and looking toward the summer, where I have an internship with Sierra Nevada Corporation in Englewood, Colorado.

I am very excited about the internship, but I’ll definitely miss the warm Daytona weather. After the internship, I’ll be coming back to Daytona as part of the Orientation Team. Maybe I’ll see you in the fall… and if not, I’ll see you in the next post!

Sun n’ Fun Aerospace Expo

There was sun and there was a lot of fun!

The annual Sun n’ Fun Aerospace Expo happened last week, and I ended up going on Saturday the 9th. Since I had been planning to go, I was able to work around my classes so that I’d be able to attend. I went with Chris, and we made sure to check the weather beforehand. It looked a little windy, but we decided to go anyway.

Welcome to Sun n’ Fun!

Every year, the annual Sun n’ Fun event is held at the Lakeland (KLAL) airport. Lakeland is about a two-hour drive from Daytona, which means that we left early and got back pretty late. Chris and I ended up getting the two-day Florida discount in case we wanted to stay the extra day; we’d also brought camping supplies in the back of his car.

Once we got our daily wristbands, we pulled out the map and looked around for a bit. A lot of the larger planes were military aircraft (such as the Boeing C-17), which is where we headed first. On the way over, we ended up buying a lemonade and souvenir cup.

I’d never seen this many aircraft in one place before. It’s pretty amazing to think that someone had to fly the hundreds (or potentially even thousands) of aircraft on display over to the Lakeland airport. The aircraft ranged in size from small one or two-seater aircraft to big jets (aka the C-17 and other larger military aircraft).

Once we’d gotten our lemonade, we ended up behind the tail of the C-17. The back door was open, which meant that we were free to look inside.

Behind a C-17!

So we did!

The C-17 was taller than I expected, but not as long. Every year when the Thunderbirds arrive for the Daytona 500, so does a C-17. So I’ve seen them before, but they’ve always seemed shorter in height but longer in length.

It’s a wide-body aircraft, so it reminded me of some other wide-body aircraft I’d been in (like a 747), but it was weird to see no rows of seats. Instead, the seats were against the wall and more of a pull-down jumpseat style. It was interesting to explore for a bit, and then we ended up moving on.

Chris and I explored the larger aircraft and then headed over to get food. Once we’d gotten our food, the daytime airshow was about to start, so we watched the first part in the stands. It was pretty interesting to watch people turn their aircraft upside down and do pretty cool maneuvers.

After that, the two of us ended up going to apply sunscreen, which we’d forgotten earlier in the day. From there, we ended up visiting my friend (and a Riddle alumna!) at the Republic Airways tent, where she works as a recruiter. From there, we ended up going back to watch the airshow.

The airshow was pretty cool- there were plenty of aerobatic aircraft and a few military aircraft flying. The final act was the Thunderbirds, who also pay an annual visit to Daytona each year.

Thunderbird diamond!

However, at Sun n’ Fun, the Thunderbird show lasted a lot longer. I’d say it was almost a half-hour long, and they did a lot more than a flyover. They inverted their aircraft, flew in formations, and nearly blew out my eardrums. (Okay, I’m kidding- but they were very loud, especially when multiple flew overhead at once).

The airshow was really cool to watch. As a pilot, it shows the insane skill that some people have when it comes to controlling aircraft. As an engineer, it shows the edge of engineering- what angle of attack can an aircraft produce lift for, and how long will it produce lift? How many aileron rolls can an aircraft do in a row?

After the airshow, Chris and I ended up walking back to the car and going out to eat. Food onsite was super expensive, so the two of us ended up getting Burger King. After that, we went back to the main parking lot and parked while we waited for the night airshow to start. I ended up taking a nap in the car, and when the night airshow started, the two of us walked back.

It was golden hour when it started, so I had that to enjoy. A few of the aircraft that were in the daytime show were parked at the end of the runway, so we got a good look at them up close.

Aircraft at golden hour!

The night airshow was pretty cool. Everyone in it made use of their lights, but it was freezing outside, even with a sweatshirt and thick jeans. Chris and I ended up walking back to the parking lot and watching the finale of the airshow (a drone show and fireworks) from the car.

The drone show was pretty cool- they made various formations, from a Thunderbird F-16 to the American flag to a simulated rocket launch. The fireworks show was also pretty cool, and it lasted a good while.

After that, since we were already in the car, we had a head start on everyone else when trying to leave. The two of us ended up in a McDonald’s drive-thru, getting a small fry and hot chocolate for the two-hour trip back to Daytona. We ended up leaving around 10:30, getting back into Daytona around 12:30 AM.

Overall, I had a lot of fun at Sun n’ Fun and hopefully get to go back next year. Even though I’m currently planning to do the astronautics track, I still find aircraft super cool, and it’s especially cool to see airshows. This was my first airshow, and Sun n’ Fun is one of the biggest in the United States. It’s also great that it happens only a couple hours from Riddle- I know that a lot of Riddle students went on the weekend. If you become a Riddle student, I might see you there- and I’ll see you in the next post!

Preview Day as an ERAU Representative

Preview for next year’s Preview Day, maybe?

So, a couple of months ago I ended up writing a preview for Preview Day post. I was super excited for the real thing, which happened on Saturday, April 2- one day after April Fool’s Day! I never got to attend a Preview Day since mine was scheduled for mid-March of 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

This year, I got the opportunity to represent both the Women’s Ambassadors (WA) and Aerospace Engineering Student Advisory Board (AESAB). In the morning, I worked at the aerospace engineering booth as a student representative, answering questions from families about the department, course load, and the various tracks. Around 10:30, I switched over to represent the Women’s Ambassadors at the activities showcase, and I was done around 1:30.

I arrived at 7:30 at the Lehman building (one of our College of Engineering buildings) and helped move the handouts over to the second floor of the Student Union. Aerospace engineering is one of the largest departments on campus, so we had two tables to spread everything out on. The department was giving a lot of cool stuff away- wristlet lanyards, bags, sunglasses, candy airplanes, and a bunch of informational papers.

Free goodies, courtesy of the aerospace engineering department!

The first two and a half hours from 8 AM to 10:30 AM were really fast-paced. At 9 and 10 AM, the department held briefings and a question-and-answer panel for future Eagles and their families, so the crowd died down a bit but people still came up to talk to us. The bulk majority of questions that I got were about the flowcharts, tracks, and what they meant. Put simply, the tracks don’t separate until the end of sophomore year, and then you have to choose between the Aeronautics/Jet Propulsion or Astronautics/Rocket Propulsion paths. Then, you have until senior year to pick your final track- Aeronautics, Jet Propulsion, Astronautics, or Rocket Propulsion.

After working for the aerospace engineering department, I went over to work the activities fair for the Women’s Ambassadors. I ended up printing a QR code of our Instagram to display at the table and helped one of the admissions counselors set our free stuff up. We had lanyards, pens, sunglasses, and T-shirts to give away. I wasn’t by myself- another girl named Alexa joined me.

The WA booth- we got a visit from Ernie!

Working at the Women’s Ambassadors booth was similar to working at the aerospace engineering one. Most of the questions I answered were about the WA organization, other female-only organizations, and other general university life questions.

A few of my friends worked at various times on Preview Day, and I ended up getting one of them to get me the Starbucks on the table. The two hours for WA came and went, and then I was done for the day. However, other Women’s Ambassadors were still working in various volunteer positions- some were directing traffic, some were handing out T-shirts, but a lot of us were free. So we ended up meeting for a group picture!

After the group picture, I ended up heading back to my dorm for lunch. Preview Day is super fun, but it’s also pretty busy! Over 700 admitted students and their families showed up, and I was happy to meet everyone. One student even walked up to the Women’s Ambassador booth, having met one of the Women’s Ambassadors at an accepted student reception. I’m super excited for my last two accepted student receptions at the end of the month in San Francisco and Seattle. I hope to see you there, and if not, maybe at ERAU in the fall!

Blue and Gold Week: The Carnival!

Side note: Carnival first, eat dinner second.

So, Blue and Gold Week is off to a pretty good start here at ERAU! For those who don’t know, Blue and Gold Week is basically our spirit week. It has fun events every day for a week straight, and they’re all free for students to attend!

The first main event was Saturday night, which was the comedy show, but I was more excited for Sunday’s event: the carnival. Touch-N-Go Productions, the entertainment division of the Student Government Association, hosted both the carnival and the comedy show. It had some pretty good rides, similar to those you’d find at a county fair.

I didn’t go alone- I brought my best friend Chris (who also passed his commercial checkride this weekend!). The carnival ran for six hours, from 3 PM to 9 PM, but in my experience, events like these are the prettiest at night when everything is lit up. We arrived right as the 6:45 PM Delta (an A321) was about to take off. I guess the comedians were right when they made a joke saying that Riddle students use the flight schedule to tell what time it is.

The carnival was like your standard fair carnival, and I definitely enjoyed it. We arrived at what I’d like to think is a perfect time- the sun was setting, so it wasn’t dark, but you could still see the lights on the ride. The first one we rode was the spinning ride where everyone ended up pinned against their seat.

Spinning ride!

I thought it was super fun, and a few people ended up singing on it. We sang All Star and YMCA, which are two timeless classics. I ended up riding it twice before moving on, and I heard a few people singing I Want It That Way as I left. From there, I ended up in a few more lines.

As with any carnival, they had games that you could play to win prizes. However, all of the tries were free, and you could win free ERAU merch! I unfortunately didn’t end up winning anything, but I know a few of my friends took things home at the end of the night.

After playing the games, I ended up going to ride the vertical spinning ride. While the first ride I rode depended on a horizontal rotation, the second ride was more of a vertical rotation, and your height relative to the ground changed. It was pretty cool- at the top, you could see the runway.

The more vertical motion” ride and the runways!

It was, in my opinion, pretty cool. Rotational motion is a concept that you’ll see in class, but the carnival showed me a few applications for it. It’s a good reminder that when something seems pointless, you might end up using it in the future.

I rode the vertical spinning ride a few times before making my way over to the swings. As with any good carnival, there was a little swing ride, and I had fun going in circles and watching the carnival fly by. By that time, it was growing closer to 9- the carnival’s end- and I was ready to head back.

However, they also had a bungee cord trampoline thing, which is something I’ve always wanted to try. It was actually really fun, but harder than I expected. You constantly needed to jump to keep going up and down, and that could get a little hard when you just did a backflip. (Yes, I did several backflips- they were awesome!) However, you could always build up momentum and then get to the big jumps.

The carnival was super fun, and I hope that there’s another one during next year’s Blue and Gold Week. I’ve enjoyed the Blue and Gold events so far, and I look forward to the rest of the semester. It’ll be exciting! Preview Day is approaching, and maybe I’ll see you in the next post, or I’ll see you at Preview Day!

Carly’s Adventures at Flight School: Commercial Checkride Prep as a Passenger

We’re soarin’, flyin’…

So, on Sunday, March 20, I ended up going flying again, this time just with my friend Chris. The last time I’d stepped foot in a Cessna was in December, when I went flying with both Chris and our other friend Jack.

Me and Chris!

Chris has his commercial checkride coming up, and he wanted to practice for it. The commercial certificate is the third certificate that you work on at Embry-Riddle (after private and instrument). At ERAU, the private pilot certificate and instrument rating checkrides are done in-house or with an ERAU employee authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). However, the commercial checkride is with a FAA representative.

I’d never gotten past private pilot lessons, so it was interesting seeing some of the differences. The commercial pilot certificate allows the holder to legally get paid for flying, while the private pilot certificate only allows the holder to fly. I’ve heard that doing commercial is similar to private, just a little harder- for example, the tolerances are smaller.

The flight was pretty fun. Before any sort of checkride, you practice and learn maneuvers to do with an instructor, and then demonstrate them on the checkride. Just because you don’t have the license doesn’t mean that you can’t do the maneuvers. Since Chris had already passed his private pilot’s license, he could legally take me flying- as long as I didn’t pay more than my pro-rata, or equal part cost of the flight.

Some of the commercial maneuvers that Chris did were similar to ones that I did in my brief period of flight training or have heard about. For example, we did steep turns at a 50 degree angle, where private pilots only needed to do them at a 45 degree angle.

Steep turns! I don’t remember what the bank angle was here, but it seems pretty steep.

I experienced a little bit of steep turns during my training, and I always thought that it was cool. During a steep turn, you feel twice the force of gravity- an increased load factor- and it’s kind of like being on a roller coaster. It’s a little scarier than being being on a roller coaster since you’re not attached to a track, but I trust my friends.

A few of the other maneuvers that were practiced were power on and power off stalls. I’d experienced these in private pilot training, and every time it happens, the stall warning horn goes off. It’s kind of an annoying sound, but it’s definitely necessary. In the real world, power on stalls are more likely to happen when the aircraft takes off, and power off stalls are more likely to happen when the aircraft lands.

I enjoyed the flight. We ended up in the south practice area, and since Florida is flat, we could see for miles. The last things that we did were practice takeoffs and landings- two very important parts of every flight.

We did a few touch-and-gos at the Massey airport, which is several miles south of Daytona. A touch-and-go landing is just what it sounds like- landing and taking off without coming to a full stop. (It’s also the name of one of ERAU’s Student Government Organization divisions!)

Once we were done, we headed back to Daytona to do a few more. Daytona Beach International has a lot more activity than the Massey airport does, including airlines. We ended up doing one touch-and-go on Runway 7R (not the large one- there was an American Airlines flight coming in that used that!) before finally landing on it. And that was it for the day.

Final approach to 7R!

It was a pretty cool experience. That’s one thing that I love about ERAU- there are pilots everywhere, and you’re likely to meet a friendly one who’s willing to take you up on a flight. ERAU also has the option for students to ride in the backseat of their aircraft if the student, instructor, and flight department all agree. That’s something I want to do- hopefully I’ll get to sit in the backseat of one of our multi-engine aircraft, the Diamond DA-42. I’ll see you in the next post… and hopefully at Riddle!