Things I Did In My Freshman Year of College That You Should, Too

Your future self will thank you. Love, a senior.

So you’ve finally decided that you’re coming to ERAU for college- good decision! Getting into college is just the beginning. I’ve loved my time here at ERAU and feel like I’ve made the most of it, and of course I have some advice for you!

1. GET INVOLVED!!!
I’m serious. Getting involved has not only given me things for my resume that I can talk about in job interviews, but it’s also given me some awesome experiences that I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise. I’ve gotten to go all over the country with Women’s Ambassadors and gone to professional conferences thanks to the Society of Women Engineers. It doesn’t matter what you get involved with, as long as you get involved! Below is a picture of a pretty seagull I saw in San Francisco while traveling for Women’s Ambassadors.

2. When on campus- LEAVE YOUR DORM! Go to events.
Not just events that the organizations you joined (see tip 1) are hosting, but the ones that the campus hosts. The Avion, our school newspaper, will occasionally give out free donuts. Touch-N-Go, our entertainment division, gives out a lot of free stuff too! People will also play sports in the common area between New Res 1 and 2; from my experience, people are always looking for new players. Plus, leaving your dorm gets you a breath of fresh air.

3. If needed, go to tutoring.
It’s free and the tutors are great! I’ve gone to tutoring for math, physics, and chemistry when I needed help. Your grades will thank you. Freshman year is the time that you’ll learn the foundations of your major. Things will only build from there. In engineering, you’ll build on your freshman and sophomore year math and physics classes, so it’s important to have a strong foundation.

4. Apply for internships!
Internships are SO. MUCH. FUN!!! They will also teach you about the jobs in the industry that are available so you can find out what you like and don’t like. I’ve had three internships and they’ve all been very helpful. I’ve learned a lot about the industry while getting paid, which was awesome. The picture below is from my summer 2023 internship with Boeing in Oklahoma City. There was a free public airshow while I was there, which meant that I had to go! Plus, internships will give you an opportunity for networking…


5. Network and find a mentor!
Networking is different than mentoring. Mentoring is more focused, where you’re looking for advice or help on a specific situation. Networking is broad, where you’re meeting people who you can ask for help (and who can ask for help from you). Mentoring is usually available through career-based organizations like the Society of Women Engineers, whereas networking can be found and done with anyone. You can definitely network with people from organizations- this year’s seniors will likely be entering the workforce soon, so you could ask them about their jobs.

6. Start (and preferably finish) your homework early!
I know it seems odd coming from a student but I’ve stayed up until 11:59 PM hoping that my assignment gets done and… it’s not the greatest feeling in the world. I do, however, like finishing an assignment early and having time at the end of the night to fully relax. If you finish your homework, then you can also attend the pop-up events in the community! I was studying with a friend at a coffee shop in One Daytona once, and when we took a break, we discovered it was the middle of the NASCAR Hauler Showcase! So we took a two-hour study break to watch the band perform and take a look around the area.

7. And last but not least… have FUN in college!
College has been the best four years of my life, and I attribute that partially because I made myself get out and do things I thought were cool. I did things that I thought I’d never do that still sounded fun, and it really enhanced my college experience. Embry-Riddle is a very special place- there’s a lot to do in the Daytona Beach area and there’s new airplanes to see every month. I hope I’ll see you here one day- and if not, I’ll see you in the next post!


My Favorite Classes I’ve Taken

With love from a senior.

The aerospace engineering program here at ERAU allows you to pick from between four tracks: aeronautics (airplanes), astronautics (space vehicles), jet propulsion, and rocket propulsion. Currently I’m in the astronautics track, and here are a few of my favorite classes I’ve taken so far:

AE 313 (Space Mechanics)
This was my favorite class I’ve ever taken. It’s an introductory orbital mechanics class, so you get to learn about transfer orbits and creating trajectories. I also got to learn Systems Tool Kit (STK), which is a software that helps visualize the orbit. It’s a software I’m using right now in my senior design class. My professor was funny and engaging, so that was a plus too!

AE 427/425 (Senior Design)
I really like my senior design class- it’s broken into preliminary and detail design classes, but you’re supposed to stay with your team in the same class for a whole year. Our project deals with space situational awareness and we are designing a theoretical CubeSat to take pictures of objects in the geostationary orbit belt. I also have a great group that’s full of hard-working friends, which makes the class so much more fun.

AE 315 (Experimental Aerodynamics Lab)
Although I’m more of a space person, I loved my experimental aerodynamics lab. The professor who runs the lab requires a do-it-yourself group project, and my group chose to put a model 737 fuselage in the wind tunnel. This project takes place after you do five pre-designed experiments and you split each lab section of 10 students into 2 groups.

AE 426 (Spacecraft Attitude Dynamics)
I loved this class- even though people abbreviate it at SAD. My professor taught it in a real-world application method, letting us do a final project to put together what we’d learned. It was a fully theoretical do it yourself and like a miniature senior design class without all of the requirements. The class builds on AE 313 and talks more about an individual spacecraft’s attitude rather than an orbital dynamic.

AE 434 (Spacecraft Controls)
This class builds on AE 426, and my professor did a semester-long project to go along with the class. He gave us a scenario about a satellite and had us model controllers for it, starting with the attitude control and moving to basic controller design.

I am more of a project lover than a test lover as you can probably tell, but I find them less stressful and more applicable to the real world. People aren’t going to hide your textbooks, and engineering is a group effort, so you can ask other engineers if you need help. I hope you enjoyed this post, and I’ll see you in the next one… and hopefully at Riddle!

Letters to Myself

The Spring 2024 semester is upon us, and with that, the beginning of my senior year! A year that will undoubtedly be challenging, and one that will pass by faster than I could ever imagine. With the start of the last year of my college career, I’ve decided to do some reflection in the form of letters to my past, present, and future self. I hope you enjoy these letters, whether or not you relate to past, present, or future me.

Dear fresh high school-graduate Chloe,

My high school graduation, in May 2021. It took place on my school’s football field, with seats placed six feet apart, so as to lessen the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Sweet girl, you have no idea what you’re about to do. No ideas about the world you’re going to become immersed in and grow to love. No idea who you’re going to meet. I know that you never thought you’d even get to college and I wish you could see yourself now. You’ve learned so many things about the world, your degree (you love it, by the way), and most importantly, yourself. You will go through some tough times, as we all do. I’m not going to lie, in your first two years of college, you are going to hit your lowest low. You are going to feel as though all hope is lost. But guess what? You’re gonna make it out okay. In fact, you’re gonna make it out of the trenches stronger and smarter than you ever have been. And I am so proud of you. You’ll begin to learn that you’re allowed to be proud of yourself and your achievements. I am so proud of you. I know that you won’t hear that often, especially from yourself, which is why I’m saying it now. You will learn to love everything about yourself, a lot of this thanks to some wonderful people you’ve met. You will write a note on your mirror that is still there; “Be nice to the girl looking back at you.” You won’t be very good at that at first, but now it isn’t even a second thought. Your friends will come and go. Some are meant to stay a while, and some are not, and you’ll learn that is just how life is sometimes. All of this combined, you are going to grow so much. You will make some mistakes but you will achieve so much. Your worries and doubts are not in vain, but dearest, let me tell you, everything will work out. Everything you are worried about will no longer have a place in your mind. Oh and hey, you’ll break your foot eventually, but don’t worry, it didn’t hurt when it happened, and you’ll heal and be back in the gym only a few months later. I am so proud of you, and I know that I would not be where I am doing what I do without your strength and resilience. You are the strongest version of us, and I am so grateful for our experiences. I know you’ll have days where all you wanna do is grow up and be a “real adult,” but I kinda wished you never had to grow up. You will learn to appreciate the little things and maybe the things that seem somewhat childish, and that’s totally okay. You are healing. I am so proud of what you have done and what you have yet to do.

To the girl writing this letter,

This is me in a photo taken for the Avion, where I work on the broadcast project.

You’ve got this. Remember not to get too in your head. You are kind, intelligent, and driven. You are going to accomplish so much, and you actually already have! Remember that you are surrounded by people who love and support you, and that you deserve this love and support. Don’t take this for granted, as these people deserve your love and support too. But don’t let others tear you down. You don’t owe anyone an excuse for the way you live your life. And you don’t owe love to anyone. Your love will naturally flow to those who need it, and you don’t have to keep people around who don’t make you happy. I think this will be an important point to remember- surround yourself with what makes you happy. This includes having a clean space, a clean body, and a clean mind. And, of course, good food, good times, and good people. Feed your body and feed your soul. You are young, but you’re growing up too. The “real world” is less than 365 days away. Your degree is in sight, and you can absolutely do it. You have less college left than you’ve already done, so don’t sweat it. You’ve got this. Make this year the best year you’ve ever had. It should be easy for you, love. 

To future Chloe,

(I don’t have a picture for this one…)

I have no idea what you’re up to. All I know is that I hope you’re happy. I know you’re successful, because not succeeding was never an option for you. Maybe you’re a flight attendant, maybe you’re a corporate girl boss. Or maybe even, you’re back in school getting another degree… I’m hoping for you that where you’re getting your next meal from or how you’re buying your next tank of gas is no longer a worry for you. Maybe you’re engaged to be married, maybe you’re happily living life solo. Only time will tell. This is quite a short letter, but that’s mostly because I cannot see into the future. I can only hope for something and work towards it, which is exactly what I intend to do. I’m incredibly excited to see what you accomplish, and I know that no matter where you end up and what you do, you will be happy and successful.

Sincerely,

Chloe Christovich

I hope you enjoyed my letters, and maybe they even inspired you to write your own. I hope all your dreams come true and that you are the happiest you’ve ever been.

Flying Through Finals Week

Let’s go flying!

Finals week is upon us at ERAU, taking place from Saturday, December 9 through Wednesday, December 13, with the exception of Sunday, December 10. And fun fact: professors have two days after that to grade everything, meaning final grades should be in by the end of day on Friday, December 15. Hooray!

After this semester, I will only have one more semester left before I graduate with my degree in aerospace engineering. I’m really excited since I already have a job lined up, and all I need to do is graduate.

I had two finals this year: AE 434, Spacecraft Controls, and AE 418, Aerospace Structures II. My other three classes didn’t have finals during finals week, and it was nice to only have two finals this year. My controls final has already been graded, and I did better than I expected (and definitely good enough to keep a grade I like). My structures final hasn’t been graded yet, but I only took it last night, so I don’t blame the professor.

I studied hard for my finals- we have a Study Day which is the Friday before finals start. I spent all of Study Day, Saturday, and Sunday studying before my two finals on Monday. They were at 12:30 PM and 7:15 PM, respectively. It’s an unpopular opinion, but I really do prefer night finals compared to the 8 AM time. I’m personally someone who enjoys waking up later, but I know some people disagree with me.

Tuesday rolled around, meaning I was free from my finals and instead was in purgatory waiting for my grades. Chris came back to town, which meant we could go flying! I haven’t been flying all semester, so it was a nice treat for me. Of course, I paid my fair share of the flight costs.

Our plane!

We rented from one of the nearby flight schools since they had an available plane. After the preflight, we got in line for take off and then went flying around the area. It was also cool to see some of the things I’ve been hearing about in the classroom in the real world. I’m in a group chat with a bunch of my friends in the program, some of which are aeronautics-track students, and their controls professor was talking about flight control surfaces. When in a real airplane, I could see them in action.

Chris showed me some of the other maneuvers he’s been teaching as a flight instructor- stalls, steep turns, chandelles, and lazy eights. We flew over to DeLand, landed, and then got right back into the air to fly around some more. Since Chris is a CFI (and CFII), he could also let me legally fly the plane, which made me remember how I started as an AS major. If I had stuck with AS, my life would look much differently. That’s weird to think about- I’m definitely glad I made the jump to AE, since I really like the program.

After about an hour of flying, we headed back to the Daytona airport. They were using the north-south runway today, which meant I got a great view of Riddle coming in. We taxied back to the ramp and tied down the plane before leaving. It was cold (at least for Daytona!) and the wind was blowing hard, so I couldn’t wait to get back inside. We went back to my apartment before Chris had to leave, but it was nice to see him for a short while.

I think I’ve said it before, but getting crazy fun experiences through people you’ve met is one of my favorite parts about ERAU. There aren’t pilots who are willing to take you flying at every university! There’s also a skydiving club for students here, which could be fun if you’re into it. I’m not- I like staying inside a perfectly good airplane. Either way, I’ll see you in the next post… and hopefully at Riddle!

A Broken Foot, but not a Broken Spirit

How breaking my foot affected the course of my Fall 2023 semester. If you’re not super interested in the backstory, go ahead and skip to the first picture set in this post!

One fateful night during the Fall 2023 semester, also known as Wednesday, September 27, I was playing in an intramural volleyball game with my sorority, Sigma Kappa. We were doing pretty okay, and definitely had a chance to win the game. So, naturally, I put my all into the game. And broke my foot doing it. 

I have loved playing intramural sports and I actually played lacrosse for about 6 years prior to attending Embry-Riddle, and never broke a single bone in my body, until this relatively low-stakes volleyball game. (We weren’t playing for a championship ring, really just for fun) 

Like I said, I played lacrosse, not volleyball. So I was really just trying to get the ball over the net. About halfway through our first game, I jumped up to hit the ball back over the net (which I did successfully, and we got the point) and upon landing back on the ground, I felt my left foot do something weird and immediately start to hurt. 

I didn’t want to delay the game, so I got up off the ground as quickly as I possibly could, and have been told I did it so quickly that most of the people there didn’t even know I got hurt. I made my way to the sidelines of the court, where a couple of my sorority sisters were there to check on me. I received a bag of ice and someone asked if I wanted medical attention, to which I responded; ‘No, I’ll be fine,’ genuinely believing that the pain would go away by the morning and I would be fine. 

I stayed for the remainder of the game, which we unfortunately lost, and I went to get up from my seat and go out to my car in the ICI parking lot and drive back to Residence Hall 2 (RH2). Upon attempting to get up, I realized that I could hardly put any weight on my left foot, which was a problem. One of my sorority sisters went to get my car and drive it closer to the entrance of the ICI center, while a few members of the opposing team, who were also my friends and brothers of the Delta Chi fraternity, acted somewhat as ‘human crutches’ and helped me out and to my car. 

One of my sorority sisters drove me back to my dorm in RH2 and parked my car for me. That night, I got into bed with my foot elevated and some ice on it, took some pain reliever, and somehow fell asleep, with the hope my foot would be alright in the morning.

Surprise! My foot was not alright in the morning. I woke up around 8:30 am and intended to get ready for my 9:45 class, in which I had an exam, but found I could barely walk. I called the campus’ Health and Wellness Center, who advised me to call Campus Safety to pick me up and drive me over to the center so they could take a look at my foot. I called Campus Safety, and only waited about 10 minutes for them to arrive, and they were incredibly helpful in making sure I got to the Wellness Center safely. Once there, the lovely nurse told me that I needed to get an X-ray and referred me to a local orthopedic clinic. The center provided me with crutches and I once again called Campus Safety to drive me to my car so I could go to the clinic. (It was my left foot that was broken, and all I needed was my right foot to drive, so no worries there.)

I sent an email to my professor explaining the situation, in hopes I would still be able to take that exam I mentioned. (I did, again no worries there.) After my X-rays, I was told I did in fact break my foot, and I should expect to be on crutches for about 3-4 weeks. Here’s where I guess I figured it was time to continue on with life as normal.

I truly appreciated the support when the injury occurred, and I included all of this context because every time I was asked how I broke my foot, this is just about everything I ended up responding with. (People love details, I guess)

The Fun Part: Life on Crutches!

No one told me how physically exhausting it would be to go through daily life on crutches. The first day was actually the easiest, I think. I wasn’t quite tired of the crutches, and was really just trying to ignore the pain in my foot. I answered a lot of questions and told the story of how it happened many, many times. 

The biggest thing I noticed was how much I had to ask for help, which is something I’m not at all used to, and that’s where being on crutches began to take a mental toll. Many times, I found it incredibly frustrating to have to wait to ask someone to carry my lunch for me or to open a door for me, or I just had to figure out how to do it myself.

Usually, one of my friends would be around to help me get lunch, and that was no big deal. But sometimes, there was no one around, so unfortunately, I thought my solution was to just forget about it and try to get food another time. This is not the best way to go about my situation, and I have learned that now. 

In regards to opening doors, many of the buildings I entered had a button I could press that would automatically open the door for me. However, when going to individual classes or even to the bathroom in some buildings, I struggled to open doors. Usually, when going to class, there was another person arriving around the same time, and would hold the door for me. Bathrooms, however, I found often had very heavy doors that were difficult to open, and was somewhat frustrating. It made me stop and think how accessible our campus really is. 

All of these little frustrations really took a toll on my mental health. Having to rely on Campus Safety to get me across campus, or on friends to get my lunch, or on random classmates to hold the door open for me are things I never thought I would have to do, and I felt so incredibly helpless. Additionally, I am a very social person, but there were many things I couldn’t go do with my friends because I was on crutches. I fell into a lonely couple of weeks where I really didn’t feel like I had anyone to rely on. But, as soon as I realized what was making me upset (not being able to hang out with friends and do ‘fun’ stuff) I took some time to think about what I could do. 

I could still go to my sorority’s chapter meetings, and even put on a little heel on my good foot when I had to dress up for chapter, hoping to gain a sense of normalcy. I found that I could still go to mass on campus, which helped to ease some of my mental troubles. I was able to go to the movie theater a couple of times, and even participate in my sorority’s philanthropy event. 

Yes, it was hard to find the energy to do these things sometimes, but I realized that I was surrounded by people who wanted me to be there and wanted me to want to be there. Although being on crutches meant I couldn’t go bouldering in the fitness center, play volleyball with sisters, or play tug of war at my sorority’s Camp Sigma Kappa, I was still able to have plenty of fun being around the people I love. 

Many of my professors were very understanding when I needed some extra time on assignments, because I was so physically and mentally exhausted while being on crutches. My bosses in Housing and Residence Life (p.s. I am still an RA, if you forgot) were helpful when I needed anything, as well as my coworkers, who often helped me get lunch or take out my trash, or even do my laundry.

Being on crutches taught me that it’s okay to ask for help, and that many people are usually willing to help! I also taught myself to discover things I could do on my own that still made me happy, even when I couldn’t run and jump and dance around my room.

There’s so much more that I could say in regards to breaking my foot, but perhaps that will be in a second story. For now though, I’m thankful to be off my crutches and out of my boot, while still taking it easy and allowing my foot to heal. Life isn’t quite back to normal yet, but I know that it will be soon, and I’ll be sure to update more as life goes on. With finals quickly approaching, my main focus is finishing the end of the semester strong, although much of it was quite the struggle. 

I have truly appreciated everyone’s support while I was dealing with my injury, and appreciate the support I am still receiving from my family, my friends, my peers, and my professors. 

Thanks for reading, 

Chloe

Thanksgiving Break 2023

I love doing mostly nothing for a week.

Thanksgiving Break has come and, unfortunately, gone. I spent most of my time doing absolutely nothing which was pretty relaxing. My last class was on Monday, meaning that I got Tuesday off in addition to the rest of the week.

I did have homework due on Tuesday night, but I had already done most of it and then turned it in. After that, I was free to do what I wanted when I wanted. That meant going down to Vero Beach to see my best friend Chris, and riding the train from West Palm Beach to Orlando and back. We didn’t have anything better to, we were that bored, and it was a new experience, so we figured why not? Chris also had Thanksgiving off from his job, since the flight school he works at was closed for the holiday.

The train station was pretty small- nothing like Union Station in DC or Grand Central Station in New York City. I was pretty surprised, but then I found out that there’s only two trains that pass through, which makes a lot more sense. It was very modern and had an overlook of where the trains came in.

The train we were on!

As for the train itself, it was still pretty cool. There was much more legroom than an airplane, free internet (although it didn’t work for me) and a huge bathroom. The train went up the coast and then inward towards Orlando, but it was too far inland for me to see many ocean views. I liked how much you could walk around the train. Where the cars connected, they would have a few windows so you could watch what was happening.

The train pulled into the Orlando airport. I’d seen a lot of people with suitcases, but me and Chris had just brought our backpacks. It pulled into the Terminal C, which I think is much more fancy than A and B. The main food court was over by the TSA lines in Terminals A and B, so we had to take the train over… and of course, spotted a couple of planes on the way.

Delta flights in Orlando.

We got lunch and then headed back to the train. I ended up sleeping for most of the way back, which I definitely needed after this semester. After that, Chris and I got Thanksgiving dinner at an iHOP, and my week continued on as normal.

I also ended up going over to a friend’s house and got to meet his two orange cats! They aren’t siblings, but they do get along well. It was his birthday, so of course we celebrated. At the end of the night, I went back home, went to bed, and prepared for a normal Sunday of doing homework.

I had a project due the Monday we got back which I was mostly done with, but I needed to finish it. The project is for AE 434, Spacecraft Controls, and aims to continuously point a satellite at the Earth. The class was working on part 2 of 3, creating block diagrams and adding a disturbance to the system. A disturbance is exactly what it sounds like- anything that disturbs the system from the state that it’s in. It’s a class I definitly find interesting, but it’s also a lot of work! If you come for Preview Day in April, I think you can observe classes. Although I’ll be finished with the class, I’ll still be on campus. I hope to see you there!

The College “Extras” I Find Absolutely Essential

You do not need a rug but you 100% need a water bottle!!

If you didn’t know, now you do, but ERAU has a suggested packing list! However, I didn’t end up bringing everything on this list. Honestly, most of the things I brought were the bare essentials- sheets, towels, and storage containers for other things I wanted like shoes or extra blankets. I didn’t bring any sort of decoration whatsoever because I was a little too lazy to put it up and take it down every year. And I didn’t mind. However, some of the things on the list I absolutely used every day– they were definitely on my “must bring to college” list. Here are my thoughts:

1. A Very Long Phone Charger
This was probably my most-used item. I lived in New Residence Hall 2 during my freshman year and kept my bed fully lofted. Thus, it was important for me to have a very, very, very long phone charger to reach up to my bed. I also added a Command hook on the side of my bed so that I wouldn’t have to climb out of my bed if I lost it. Instead, I threaded it through the Command hook when I wasn’t using it so that it would always be reachable from my bed. I also had my desk under my bed, and the charger was long enough to loop through the Command hook on the side of my bed and then back to my desk if I needed it there, too.

My final dorm arrangement.

2. A Water Bottle
ERAU is in Florida and it is HOT, which means it’s also important to stay hydrated. Definitely bring some sort of water bottle! There are plenty of water bottle filling stations on campus, so the amount it holds doesn’t really matter as much. I would also suggest a vacuum insulated water bottle to keep your drink cold, especially in the warmer months.

3. Sweatshirt, Pants, and/or Long Sleeve Shirts
Florida gets hot, but it also gets cool. It never snows here or anything, but it can be a humid cold, which makes it feel colder. I’m from Kentucky, so I’ve been through snow, but never a whole lot of it. Even so, I still need a sweatshirt and pants during some times of the year. If you’re from a colder climate, it may be still be a good idea to bring some colder-weather clothes, but maybe not a heavy winter coat.

4. An Extra Phone/Laptop Charger for Your Backpack
This one may be a preference if your phone and laptop have an amazing battery life, but my phone dies during the day, so I always carry a charger with me. ERAU has plenty of spaces to charge your phone or laptop- the library, the student union, even in some classrooms.

5. An Umbrella or Raincoat for Your Backpack
Ah, the joys of living in Florida- popup rain showers. Every so often I will go to class, and within the hour, it’s pouring outside. Sometimes I have the luxury to wait out the rain, and other times I don’t. Therefore, I highly suggest having an umbrella or raincoat (or both!) for your backpack when it does rain.

6. A Decent Camera for Surprise Visitors
As this is ERAU, sometimes we get a few surprise visitors on campus. Of course we have regularly scheduled Delta Air Lines and American Airlines flights, but we’ve had C-17s, the Thunderbirds, an Atlas Air 747, an F-15, and plenty of other aircraft that I may not have even seen! So it’s great to have a decent camera- even if it’s just on your phone- to take pictures of anything that drops in for a day or so. I’m excited to see what sort of aircraft will come in this semester. I’ll see you in the next post… and hopefully at Riddle!

Washington D.C. & New York!

I don’t know how it gets better than this!

A couple weeks ago I went to Pittsburgh for a Regional Admissions Presentation (RAP). Last weekend I got back on the road again and ended up in Washington D.C. and New York City!

For this trip, I flew out of the Orlando airport on a morning flight. That required me to get up a bit early, but I didn’t mind. D.C. and New York City were destinations that I really wanted to visit. I got into D.C. in the late morning, so that meant I had the day to explore. Of course, my first spot was the Udvar-Hazy Center, which is home to a Concorde, a SR-71, and Space Shuttle Discovery.

SR-71 Blackbird!

The Udvar-Hazy Center was amazing. It also had a tall air traffic control-like structure that looked over the runways at Dulles Airport. That spot also had a live stream of the air traffic control communications, so I could hear the pilots and tower talking as planes started to land. A lot of traffic came in during the short time I was there, including a couple of international flights. That was super cool to watch!

After I was done at the museum, I ended up going over to a friend’s house and got to meet his cats. He has two black cats and one orange cat, and all three of them were very sweet. I missed my cat at home, even though I had only left him that day, so it was nice to be able to see some other kitties.

Cosmo (left) and Venus.

After playing with the cats a bit, I headed over to my hotel. My friend dropped me off at the metro, which I was excited to take. I had all of my things with me, and I took the metro into the city to the hotel. I ended up walking a couple blocks to the hotel and checking in. I didn’t get much time to relax- having known I would be going to D.C., I planned out a few things that I’d want to do.

I walked back to the metro and met a friend at another metro stop, where we got dinner and then went to a movie theater. Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour movie was out this weekend, and we’d managed to get tickets! We spent the evening watching the three hour movie before I went back to my hotel.

Saturday was the first RAP in downtown D.C., and it was super fun! Since D.C. is a huge city, we had a great turnout. At the RAP, full-time personnel from admissions talk about the university and then at certain points, students (like myself!) are given the chance to speak. At these RAPs, I talked about my previous internships, experiences with professors, and student organizations at the Daytona Beach campus. The D.C. and NYC events were joint events, meaning that representatives from the Prescott campus were there too.

After the presentation, people are allowed to ask questions until the time scheduled is up. Once the scheduled time is up, the families are allowed to leave while we stay behind and answer individual questions. That’s where I get the more personalized questions about my experiences in the degree program, how I manage my time, and other student life-specific questions. I love it- it’s so much fun to meet new people!

Once everyone has left, then it’s time to pack up. I usually change into something that isn’t a business casual outfit, and since we had another RAP in NYC the next day, we went to the train station. Union Station in D.C. is huge- it also reminded me a lot of Grand Central Station in NYC. We took the Amtrak train to NYC’s Moynihan Train Hall at Penn Station. It was a three hour ride, and the train was much more spacious than a plane.

Following the train, we headed to our hotel and checked in. After that, I was able to do what I wanted! I met up with the other student and one of the full-time admissions people from Prescott, and we ended up exploring New York City together at night. It was very exciting. I got to try NYC pizza (it was amazing) and we stopped by Grand Central Station.

Grand Central Station at night!

We got back pretty late, and I fell asleep super fast. The morning came, and I ended up venturing back out into downtown NYC to get another slice of pizza. Our hotel was right next to Times Square and as I found, shops that sell pizza by the slice are everywhere! So I had pizza for breakfast before I met the admissions personnel in the lobby and we walked to the RAP venue.

The NYC RAP went the same way the D.C. one did. All RAPs present the same information. It was hosted in a venue right next to Times Square and the Hamilton theater, which I thought was super cool. After the RAP, the entire admissions group walked across the street to an Italian restaurant for dinner before we parted ways. I, along with the other members of the Daytona team, were flying out of the LaGuardia airport that night.

My flight got back into Orlando at 12:18 AM, and once I got to my car, it was about a one-hour drive back to Daytona. I didn’t even bother to unpack that night (well, morning) and instead fell asleep ASAP since I had class the next day. The trip was definitely worth it, though. I had so much fun walking around in D.C. and NYC. Even though I’m from a small town, I’m definitely a big city person at heart. I really enjoyed my time here, and I can’t wait to see what’s next. Maybe I’ll see you at an event next semester, during Open House, on Preview Day… if not, I’ll see you in the next post!

The Weirdest First Week Ever

Here we are! First day of senior year!

After (almost) three years of blogging and three internships… I AM A SENIOR!

It’s honestly a very weird thing to think about- I am a senior which means I graduate in May. After graduation, I won’t be a college student anymore- I’ll have to find a job, which is terrifying to think about. I’ve loved being in college- it’s the perfect bubble of freedom without too much responsibility.

Before the school year even started, the Women’s Ambassadors held their first mentoring event! The Women’s Ambassadors Mentoring Program- or WAMP- held a meet and greet luncheon for the new female students. There, students got a chance to meet us- their mentors! I had a lot of fun at event- over 400 female students showed, and it was great meeting some of my mentees this year!

The first week has definitely been interesting. Monday went pretty normally, and so did Tuesday until the university announced that Wednesday classes were cancelled due to Hurricane Idalia. That afternoon, I headed out to buy a case of water bottles in case we couldn’t get water.

Idalia mostly hit Florida’s panhandle and moved its way through Georgia, so we only experienced tropical storm-force winds and rain. There is a pond in my off-campus apartment complex, and I noticed that the water level had risen a little bit. The storm wasn’t very noisy, so on the off day, I slept in pretty late. I mostly stayed inside and hung out with a few friends. I never ended up needing the water bottles.

Classes resumed on Thursday, and the Daytona Beach area felt minimal damage from the hurricane because the eye of the storm didn’t come very close to us. I have one laboratory class that wasn’t starting, so Thursday was short for me.

On Thursday night, I had my first meeting of the school year! It was also for Women’s Ambassadors, and we had pizza for dinner while we talked about the upcoming plans for the academic year. We have a lot of new ambassadors this year, and it was great seeing them step up and volunteer for leadership positions.

Friday came and went, and I had my second meeting of the year- this time for the Society of Women Engineers. I’m the Professional Engagement Chair this year, which means it’s my job to help SWE members with their professional development as well as interface with companies. SWE, like always, also has a lot of cool things planned!

After that, of course, was Labor Day weekend. I didn’t do much. I spent the time relaxing, sleeping in, and not thinking about school, work, or anything related. I did, however, end up buying LED lights for my room, which I’ve wanted for awhile but just never got around to buying.

Over the summer I interned with Boeing in Oklahoma City and while it was fun, this Labor Day weekend was a definitely needed break. Over the summer I got to do some really cool things there and even got to attend the yearly Tinker Air Show, hosted by Tinker Air Force Base. Oklahoma City reminded me a bit of Embry-Riddle; planes would come and go, and since I lived along the approach path, I heard them all the time. Sometimes I’d even see some military ones go by, which was awesome to track.

I’m looking forward to my senior year here at Embry-Riddle. When I graduate, I’m definitely going to miss the school. It’s been my home for the past three years. The people are great, I love the aviation-centric environment, and (personally) I love sunny Florida weather. The humidity might be a drag, but I hate snow, and it never snows here. It’s an ideal environment for me, and one day, I hope to see you here too- but if not, I’ll see you in the next post!

A Look into the Baja SAE Competition

The Baja SAE competition was held in Oshkosh, Wisconsin this year. If you are unfamiliar with Baja SAE, allow me to give a brief synopsis on the organization. Baja SAE is a collegiate design series competition that is held by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) every year. The organization aims to expose students to different aspects of the engineering process along with learning how to work within a team environment. There are multiple events a year (three to be exact) and student teams from around the US and other countries are given the ability to compete in this event. Students are tasked with designing, manufacturing, and assembling a one-seater, off-road vehicle that can withstand the grueling courses set up by the judges of the competition (most of which are Baja SAE alumni). Each team has to complete and submit a business presentation, design presentation, and an extensive cost report. Students attending competition are also given the opportunity to network with sponsoring companies and have a chance to apply for internships or full-time positions.

Oshkosh Corporation military vehicles on display at competition

This year was the first time since 2019 that the team has gone to competition. At the beginning of the fall 2022 semester, it was announced that teams would have to design vehicles with an all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive system. In previous years, Baja SAE had only required two driven wheels. Given the limited knowledge of an all-wheel drive system, the team decided it would be best to attend competition and gain an insight into the process other teams had taken to determine their designs.

Team leads and officers from the ERAU Baja SAE team

Competition is set to take place throughout four days, each day consisting of different dynamic events with the final day holding the four-hour endurance race. The first day opens with registration and the business presentation. Teams are given a prompt where they have to pitch their vehicle design to a team of judges and explain why their design makes the most sense from an economic and manufacturing standpoint. Teams also have to go through engine and frame checks on the first day. Baja SAE rules dictate that the engine is the only component of the vehicle that is not allowed to be modified, therefore teams must complete an engine check at the start of competition to ensure they are compliant with rules. The first day also included a car show sponsored by Oshkosh Corporation, where they showed off the military vehicles that the company has designed and manufactured.

Remote controlled military vehicle brought by Pratt & Miller
Oshkosh vehicles on display for the car show

Day two introduces the first dynamic event of the competition (dynamic braking) along with the design judging, cost evaluation, tech inspection, and 4WD check. Teams are evaluated on their design choices during the design judging portion of the event. Tech inspection focuses on evaluating the vehicle overall and ensuring that it meets rules. Day three introduces the rest of the dynamic events. These include the maneuverability, acceleration, sled pull, and suspension events. The last day focuses solely on the endurance event. This is where all 100 teams line up their vehicles in grid form and drive around the track for four hours. The track itself is composed of different aspects of the dynamic events that took place the previous days. The team that completes the most laps around the track is the winner of the event. There is a fun statistic that I love to share with new teams members, which is that during the first few laps of the endurance race, about half of the teams on track would have experienced some form of damage to their vehicle. The track this year was extremely muddy due to weather, so most vehicles at some point found themselves stuck in the mud.

Different competing teams out on the muddy course

Overall, it was a great learning experience for our team to be a part of. Not only did we gain a valuable insight into the innerworkings of competition, but we were able to bond with our peers and developed a desire to succeed at competition in the following years to come.