Fall Semester & AFROTC

Happy August everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach and the Fall 2018 semester is about to begin!

The past couple days have been filled with late nights and early mornings, but instead of studying or AFROTC, the latest concentration has been on move-ins of residents as a Resident Advisor and new student orientation from the perspective of an O-Teamer. An O-Teamer is an Orientation Team Ambassador (ie team member) and Orientation Team is essentially a group of enthusiastic, positive, motivated individuals who come together to welcome students to campus. To sum up the past week, orientation has certainly been very busy, but also a lot of fun. From Paint-U, Glowcade, to the beach bash, the magic show, the movie viewings, the magicians, and the hypnotists, the past couple weeks have been eventful in preparation for student arrival.

A fellow O-Teamer and I before Paint-U!

In other news, AFROTC is starting up again and I’m feeling slightly reminiscent into my AS100 year as I look forward to my AS200 year and meeting all the new AS100s. One year ago I was new to Embry-Riddle, AFROTC, engineering, and Florida. Just looking at how far I’ve come in one year absolutely amazes me and gets me so excited to see all the potential of younger generations as I’m actively contributing to the culture and atmosphere at Embry-Riddle. When I first started college I didn’t know anyone, and I was very nervous. This year I have such a strong support system of people I’ve met only less than one year ago, but feel like I’ve known my entire life. Riddle changed from a foreign place to a home, and I didn’t even realize that was possible when I first arrived. As the Air Force’s birthday approaches, and AFROTC prepares its annual celebration I’m looking back at photos from last year and how I greatly appreciated the irreplaceable connection with the people who surround me. We really were and are such a close community. I am so proud to be a part of our detachment.

The Air Force’s birthday in 2017!

I will be picking up my ABUs again pretty soon and as the semester kicks off I’m ready to be fully back in the swing of things. After spending the past month training and preparing for the school year to begin I’ve come to appreciate that no matter how much time you spend with any given group of people there is always something new you can learn from them every day. That beautiful phenomenon occurred to me as I bask in the nostalgic glory of how I’ve learned, grew, and bonded with the people that have been working besides me this past month.

Orientation Team group photo!

Will report back soon!

President’s Day Weekend

Approaching Toronto-Pearson International Airport on a beautiful Saturday around noon.

Approaching Toronto-Pearson International Airport on a beautiful Saturday morning.

During the President’s Day weekend, I flew back home to Montreal to see my parents and some friends. In some parts of Canada, some people also got to enjoy an extra day off due to Family Day.

I left Florida early Saturday morning just before 07:00AM instead of Friday, since I have an evening Biology lab that ends at 8:45PM. At that time, it is too late to catch a flight, unfortunately.

I arrived in Montreal around noon after I had a connecting flight through Toronto-Pearson. I texted my mom earlier in the day and asked her to bring my winter coat. When I got out the plane, I didn’t even need it since it felt actually warm for winter. It was about 45 degrees and there were no clouds in the skies. I guess I picked the right weekend to visit!

My aunt was also in town for a business trip so we had a family dinner in the evening. The next day, I met with a friend who is currently applying for college. I tried the best I could to convince him to come to Embry-Riddle in Daytona Beach, Florida.  Like me, he is also an “avgeek” so I told him ERAU was a perfect place to study aviation. Hopefully, he’ll come for a visit and see for himself.

Overall, it was a fun relaxing weekend and I already look forward for Spring Break!

Nicolas

Unexpected Very Long Weekend

As many of you know, the ERAU Daytona Beach campus has been closed from Thursday to Saturday morning due to Hurricane Matthew. Embry-Riddle announced on Saturday that classes would resume on Tuesday. This leaves time for students and faculty to return home in the Daytona Beach area. Many have driven away from Daytona heading west and north to places such as Tampa and Atlanta. I know people that even flew away north to escape the hurricane.

Knowing that the storm was approaching the state of Florida and that Volusia County would require evacuation, I left Daytona Beach on Wednesday night after classes and headed to my friend’s house in the Orlando area. On Thursday morning, we went to buy soil bags to protect the house from potential flooding. The store didn’t have any sand bags in stock.

The next morning, we woke up and Hurricane Matthew had already passed and was continuing on its way to the north. Compared to the east coast of Florida, Orlando was not badly hit by the storm. From the location I was, there wasn’t any debris on the ground. I am still in Orlando since my apartment does not have electricity. I will head back to Daytona once the power will be restored, hopefully before classes start on Tuesday.

Due to the gravity of Hurricane Matthew and the damage it made, ERAU students are enjoying a long five day weekend. This weekend is also Thanksgiving weekend back in Canada (Columbus Day in the US). Many will take these extra days off to cleanup debris around their house. Others will try to get some homework done. As of Saturday, many areas of Volusia County were still without power. It might take a few days before 100% of the residents get their lights back on.

Industry/Career Expo Postponed

Embry-Riddle has decided on Wednesday to cancel the annual “Career Fair”  due to the hurricane. The majority of the company information sessions and the interview day on Friday were cancelled as well. Career Services announced that the event will be postponed until the 2017 Spring semester. Keep checking your emails because Career Services will soon announce the new date for the expo!

Until next time!

Nicolas

What are the “Hippity Haps” for this week?

Hello, hello! Back at it again with the biweekly updates. With another two weeks under my belt, I cut right to the chase.

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You can catch me on the air with my good friends Lonnie and Ella Wednesday mornings on WIKD!

As usual, classes are starting to get more and more challenging as the semester progresses. And with my time management getting slightly better, I am definitely looking forward to using Spring Break as a period of time to catch up.

Yeah so you can actually see a rocket launch from campus which is legit.

Yeah so you can actually see a rocket launch from campus which is legit.

Speaking of Spring Break, I was selected to represent The Avion Newspaper at this years CMA conference in New York City. The College Media Association (CMA) is an organization that offers resources for news organizations on college campus nationally, and every year, they host a media conference where students from different colleges can meet and get feedback on their material.

Even though I’ve been to New York City many times, I am still excited for the trip. It’s been a long time since I’ve been on a vacation and I’m looking forward to meeting people across the nation to gain insight and knowledge that would help benefit the newspaper.

Cue the CSI Miami music.

Cue the CSI Miami music.

It snowed in Daytona Beach.

It snowed in Daytona Beach.

In other news, Daytona Beach International Airport (DAB) recently held their tri-annual safety drill. The drill, which involved the FAA, FBI, DHS, and the Red Cross, simulated an aircraft that over-ran the runway. It was nice that DAB had a reserved section for Riddle students to view the training exercise.

Ah, the new residence hall.

Ah, the new residence hall.

That’s pretty much it for now so I’ll see you all in another two weeks!

Thunderbirds Are Go!

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Hello, hello! I hope everyone is doing ok. I’ve been severely busy so this whole “4 jobs plus school” thing is really starting to take its toll on me. If anyone has good time-management tips, please send them my way.

Some pretty cool stuff has happened in the past few days since my last update. Most notably the Thunderbirds came to campus a few days ago. They have been here since last Sunday, and it was no secret that they were in the area. The sound of an F-16 taking off is something that you do not forget, and if you somehow did not hear them, then the 3.5 magnitude earthquake that followed would definitely get your attention. I was sitting in physics the other day and the class stopped one we heard the engines spooled up: it’s intense.

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Watching all eight of them landing is also a sight to see. Because the Daytona International Speedway had recent exterior modifications, the Thunderbirds did a few flyovers with smoke for promotional photos. Also, watching he C-17 land, taxi to the left, and back up was also a sight to see.

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Recently, Touch-N-Go had their Casino Night where attendees were given $5,000 worth of casino chips to play for prizes. The prizes ranged from TVs and copies of Battlefront to a Frozen snow-cone maker and a popcorn maker. That was the first time I have ever “gambled,” and while I lost quite a bit of money, I would definitely do it again. Plus TNG had free pizza and drinks.

Aside from that, there isn’t anything else to report. I’ll see you all in another two weeks!

 

Winter Break

It’s almost time for the Spring 2016 semester to begin which means that the end of Winter Break is near. It has been nice to be off for a few weeks, but I am looking forward to classes beginning.

After my last final on Wednesday, December 9, I worked the rest of the week in Career Services which was actually a lot of fun as I was able to help out a lot with all of the internship paperwork. Plus, it is a unique experience being on campus when most of the students are away, and even the squirrels disappear. Although, I couldn’t wait to go home that Saturday, but unfortunately, some weather impacted my flight which caused me to have to stay until Sunday morning.

With my extra afternoon in Daytona Beach, I wanted to make the most of it. I hopped in my car and drove out to Ponce Inlet and visited the Light House. It was a nice sunny and warm afternoon, and I was treated to some spectacular views. I am glad that I had some extra time in Daytona Beach as who knows when I would have made it out to the light house or explored Ponce Inlet.

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Finally, Sunday morning came around, and I was able to fly back home. There, I spent about a week running errands and hanging out with my friends, but then it was back to South Florida for a week for a family vacation.

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After returning home, I enjoyed about a week-and-a-half at home, spending most of it with friends, but then in what seemed like a blink of an eye, I was boarding my flight to return back to Daytona Beach.

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I hope everybody had a very Happy Holidays and has a great 2016! Stay tuned!

Already Half of the Semester

I can’t believe we have already been through half of the fall semester. First, let’s go back to the beginning of the semester back in August.

About a week before the beginning of classes, I left Montreal, Canada and drove all the way south to Florida. The 1,400 miles drive takes 20 hours without traffic (I wish it took us 20 hours). Trust me, there is a lot of traffic between the New York area and Baltimore.

This year, I am living in an apartment with one of my friends. I spent a good amount of the week getting settled in the apartment which is 10 minute away from campus. I also spent many hours building IKEA furnitures. I built my bed, my dresser, the kitchen table, four chairs, and the sofa. Thanks to my mom for packing a small drill in my luggages.

I like living in an apartment off campus because I can have my own room and I am able to cook whenever I want. One thing I miss living on campus is the proximity. If I had a question on an assignment, I could just walk a few steps and knock on my friend’s door. The College of Business computer lab and the library were also a close reach.

For the fall semester, I have decided to take 18 credit hours. I am taking Speech, Western Humanities II (Renaissance to Postmodern), Airline Management, Business Law, Transportation Principles, and International Business.

Speech is definitely not my favorite class even though I know it will help me to develop skills to become a better public speaker. As of today, we have done four speeches.

The humanities class is also not in my top classes. Some of the material we are going over in class is the same than my history class from my sophomore year of high school. This class should be easy, but I already forgot the material from high school.

Airline Management is certainly my favorite class because it is an area I want to work for after I graduate from Embry-Riddle. So far, we learned about network structures (point-to-point and hub-and-spoke system), time banks, and important measures such as available seat-miles (ASMs) and revenue passenger-miles (RPMs). Now, we have just started talking about revenue management.

My longest class is Business Law with a duration of 3 hours, and we only have a break of five minute during the class. The good thing about this class is that we only meet once a week on every Monday.

In Transportation Principles, we have learned about the railroads and ports. I hope the aviation part comes soon because this is what I like the most.

My last class on my schedule is International Business. We are doing a project where we act as a U.S. based company selling a video game system trying to sell our product in foreign countries. I decided to pick Mexico since it borders the United States.

Well, this is all about my classes. I am enjoying my semester so far but I look forward to Fall Break so I can rest  for a few days.

Until next time!

Nicolas

New Location, New Experiences

“Be willing to be uncomfortable. Be comfortable being uncomfortable. It may get tough, but it’s a small price to pay for living a dream” -Peter McWilliams

This quote has been my motto ever since my senior year of high school, when I decided I wanted to go to school in Florida… 3, 140 miles away from my home in Lake Tapps, WA. Most of my friends were choosing to attend colleges either in the state of Washington or in the surrounding states. Everyone thought I was crazy for wanting to go to school all the way across the country, but this quote is what gave me the faith to pursue my dreams and move to Daytona Beach.

Throughout my first four months of college, I can tell you that I have been uncomfortable many times. But being uncomfortable in this case does not have to have a negative connotation. I believe that being uncomfortable can also mean living outside of our comfort zone, and I am a strong believer that stepping out of our comfort zone is what helps us to truly experience growth as a person.

Making the decision to attend ERAU in Daytona Beach has been the biggest and most difficult decision of my life so far, but I am positive that I made the right decision by coming here. I am able to pursue my major, which is Aviation Business Administration, and also network with so many people who are high-up in the aviation industry. Embry-Riddle provides so many opportunities for students to meet with industry professionals and the Career Expo is just one of them. Had I not come to ERAU, I am certain I would not be holding conversations with professionals who are high up in the aviation industry, especially as a first semester freshman!

My suite mates and I at the Career Expo on campus.

My suite mates and I at the Career Expo on campus.

Not only do I love my school and all the academic opportunities that are available here, but I also love to experience new things. By coming to ERAU, I have been able to do so many things that I never would have been able to do if I went to any other university. These are just a few examples…

The Florida coastline from 3000 ft above.

The Florida coastline from 3000 ft above.

Here at ERAU, flying is in our DNA. Even though I am not a pilot, I still have a passion for aviation. There is something so freeing about being thousands of feet above, looking down and seeing the buildings get smaller and smaller, and then looking to your left and to your right and watching the clouds float past your window.

I want to give you a peek at some of my experiences I have had throughout my first semester…

Me standing on the Daytona International Speedway finish line.

Me standing on the Daytona International Speedway finish line.

The USAF Thunderbirds flying over the beach for the Wings and Waves Air Show.

The USAF Thunderbirds flying over the beach for the Wings and Waves Air Show.

 

I got to stand in front of a C-17 at the NAS JAX Air Show.

Me standing in front of a C-17 at the NAS JAX Air Show.

I went boogie boarding at Ponce Inlet.

I went boogie boarding at Ponce Inlet.

 

I got to tour the observatory at ERAU and see the telescope on top of the COAS building.

I was able to see the ERAU telescope on top of the COAS building.

The original ERAU Waco.

The original ERAU Waco.

I got to spend a day at the "Happiest Place on Earth".

I got to spend a day at the “Happiest Place on Earth”.

I am so glad that I decided to step outside of my comfort zone and attend ERAU. Peter McWilliams’ quote has held true for me throughout my first semester. Taking the risk of moving across the country, starting a new life, and beginning university is a daunting task for anyone, but it has definitely been worth all of the experiences I have already had, and will continue to have here in Florida. I am completely in love with my new life here at Embry-Riddle and I know that even though I am continuing to push myself to live outside my comfort zone, “it’s a small price to pay for living a dream”.

 

 

 

 

Only the Beginning

Last week was officially the last week of my internship. I can’t believe this incredible summer is already coming to an end. It seems like just yesterday I was on a plane to Charlotte heading to the All-Star race. But let me tell you, this summer will definitely go down as one of the most memorable, opportunistic, and eventful summers of my life. I’ve met so many people, had a blast with the interns here in Daytona, and have learned more about NASCAR than I thought was possible. I’m sure it will be difficult for me to go back to school after my amazing summer, but I’ve never been so focused, determined, and excited for what’s to come.

The July races at Daytona International Speedway were definitely one of the highlights this summer. I finally had the opportunity to attend a race as a professional and not as a fan, and that made all the difference for me. It’s my time to decide which side of the fence I will be on: am I destined as a fan in the grandstands, or do I really have what it takes to be in the garages with some of the best in the business. I took advantage of every minute I had at the track by walking through the garages and networking. Like I’ve said before, if there’s one thing you need to be good at in life, it should be networking.

I was curious to see how some of the engineers got their start and what advice they could give me. I am so very grateful that engineers from Stewart-Hass Racing took the time to talk to me, tell me about what they do, give me advice as I finish up my last two years in school, and even keep in contact with me. John Klausmeier, the Race Engineer for Danica Patrick’s crew, has been helping me build my résumé and make it motorsports engineering specific. I also got the chance to talk to Alan Gustafson, Jeff Gordon’s crew chief, who I also met at the All-Star race in Charlotte. Alan is someone who I’ve always looked up to as an engineering student working towards a career in NASCAR. He previously attended Embry-Riddle, which influenced my decision to attend ERAU.

Alba Colon, the program manager at GM, went out of her way to meet up with me for a few minutes. She is truly a pioneer for women in engineering in motorsports, and someone who will be a great mentor for me as I pursue my career. I even got the chance to give my business card to Chad Knaus, Jimmie Johnson’s crew chief. The advice and time that I received from these professionals in this sport was priceless and confirmed my aspirations to be in their shoes someday.

 

A few more highlights from race weekend included a pace car ride, victory lane with Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth, check presentations, and enjoying the race with the interns.

Coke Zero 400 Victory Lane

The last few weeks of my 10-week internship went by the fastest. I was busy working on several projects up until the very last day! The most time consuming project that I was tasked with was the weekly track survey. During the month of July, it was my responsibility to call the 55 weekly promoters and conduct a survey, gaining valuable feedback about sponsorship programs, promoter events, and future business opportunities.  Although I spent most of my days on the phone, this project was the biggest learning experience for me. Not only was I able to learn about the program from my supervisors in the Weekly and Touring department, but from the promoters, who often shared many different views and perspectives.
 
Using the feedback from the promoters, I created a Survey Recap and presented it to my entire department. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so nervous in my life… In the end, my presentation went very well, and my department was impressed with all of the hard work I had put into the recap. I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing it felt to receive such high recognition from everyone in my department.
 

The interns with VP Marcus Jadotte

Just about every week, the NASCAR interns had the opportunity to connect with NASCAR executives at a Lunch & Learn. The executives would share with us their role in the company, their perspective as professionals in the sports industry, and ended the lunch with a Q&A session. A few of the featured executives included: NASCAR President Mike Helton, VP of Public Affairs and Multicultural Development Marcus Jadotte, VP of Strategic Development Eric Nyquist, VP of Human Resources Paula Miller, and Human Rights Activist Dr. Richard Lapchick.

The interns with Dr. Richard Lapchick

The NASCAR interns showed Daytona that they knew how to have a good time. We had an unforgettable summer together – whether it was going to the beach, movies, Daytona night life, line dancing, hibachi, New Smyrna Speedway, or a tour at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. There was never a dull moment with the interns. I can easily say that we will all be lifelong friends as we pursue our careers in the sports industry.

New Smyrna Speedway

Checking out weekly racing at New Smyrna Speedway

4th of July in Daytona

Touring ESPN Wide World of Sports

The interns with Pluto!

As I sadly watch this experience come to the end, I now know exactly what I need to do as I build my engineering experience. I plan on getting involved with local race teams or maybe even gaining experience at Spirit of Daytona. I’ve never wanted this more than I do now and I am going to do everything possible to ensure my career in motorsports is a success. My NASCAR internship may be over, but I can assure you that this is only the beginning.

 

Check out the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program Newsletters:

Night of Fire

Racing, racing, and more racing! These last few weeks I’ve been so caught up in the motorsports scene and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The weekend following my trip to Connecticut, I traveled with the Larsen Motorsports team to Georgia for the Night of Fire at Atlanta Dragway. Even though I haven’t been to a whole lot of races with the team, considering I started interning there in January, I’m still going to say that this race was my favorite! After arriving Friday afternoon and setting up, we enjoyed the night with some teambuilding. We ate delicious BBQ, had a blast at Funopolis with go-karts, bumper boats, laser tag, and arcade games, and ended the night with the pool and hot tub.

Setting up at Atlanta Dragway with the jet shop greaser girls.

After a fun night of play, the next day at the track was all work. However, being a part of the team never seems like work to me. I always enjoy being at the track, learning something new, and interacting with the fans.  Because of my internship with NASCAR this summer, I have noticed I am paying even more attention to detail. Now that I have a better understanding of the business side of the motorsports industry, I believe that this has allowed me to understand the technical side a little better, oddly enough. I now have a well-rounded perspective of racing, which will enable me to become a better engineer. I have a greater sense of urgency to learn – and not only learn what, but how and why, as well. I am making every single moment a learning opportunity, even when we are just talking with fans or during some down time.

Theresa Brown, right, and I crewing for Elaine’s Miller team.

Theresa Brown and I crewed Elaine Larsen’s Decade of Thrills jet dragster with crew chief Brian Tocci. Before each pass, we must run through a checklist in order to prep the car and ensure its safety before every run. This includes packing parachutes, filling tires, inspecting all components of the car, and ensuring all materials needed at the starting line are in the truck. When it’s finally our time to race, we push the car out on the starting line, where Theresa cleans the tires with Brake Cleaner and I ensure that all tires have VHT, a liquid epoxy resin applied to the tires before each run to help the car stick to the track.

Brian starts the dragster and takes off in the truck down the drag strip. Theresa then puts Elaine on the starting line while I get some good footage of the action.

Standing in between two, 5000 horsepower jet dragsters is a feeling that I can’t even describe. Watching these dragsters take off up close, and race down the track successfully, brings a feeling of accomplishment and makes every minute worked at the shop completely worth it. Now we get to do it all over again and prep for the second run! Unfortunately, the second pass turned into a smoke and fire show because dew had settled on the drag strip, but it was still just as incredible. And to top it off, the whole team sat along the wall down the track and watched some amazing fireworks!

Theresa, Elaine, and I on the back of a humvee!

The best part of being on the Larsen Motorsports team is that the Larsens truly make us feel like we each have an important role on the team. They appreciate all of us and realize our potential. After the first pass at Atlanta Dragway, the team got to ride in the back of a couple humvees down the drag strip. The crowd was cheering us on as we rode by waving at them, and the recognition we all received felt so incredible.

 

This was definitely one of the best weekends of my summer and it’s all thanks to Chris and Elaine Larsen. I am proud to say that I am one of their interns and always look forward to the opportunities that I have at the jet shop. Keep reading the blog because I still have so much to tell you about race weekend here in Daytona!

For now, here’s a few more photos from the weekend!

 

 

The pit area

Embry-Riddle jet dragster

Miller Decade of Thrills jet dragster

Atlanta Dragway