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

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

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

He cleans up nicely!

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

Lynsey Schroeder

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

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

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

Nicole Stott

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

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

Watch it here.

Ditch the Yellow Brick Road

Interning at Space Tango has certainly put project management into perspective. Throughout my last four years at Riddle nothing was more challenging to me than staying on task. Assignments sometimes require so much more than we expect.

So what happens when you give a communication major MATLAB for a math gen ed? What happens when you give an engineer a business plan? Or a paper to write? Or a lab to test for safety and health issues? At Space Tango, the CEO is more than just a businessman. Twyman Clements is not only an engineer, but sometimes he’s a marketing specialist, a technical report writer, and a human factors psychologist all in one day. Staying on task means taking on extra responsibility.
On the International Space Station, astronauts have a VERY strict schedule. Their days are planned out by the second. Astronauts don’t get to float back and watch an episode of Bob’s Burgers. They have to follow the red line. On their schedule, known as the Onboard Short Term Plan Viewer (OSTPV), a dotted red line runs across the screen at the pace they should be working. Astronauts use this to figure out if they are on task, or behind.

An old OSTPV that astronauts use. The dotted red line indicates where on their schedule astronauts should be.

An old OSTPV that astronauts use. The dotted red line indicates where on their schedule astronauts should be.

As we know, each astronaut is extensively skilled. They’re more than just astronauts. They’re physicists, biomedical engineers, researchers, and many of which are parents, too. “Astronaut” is a pretty broad title, and even with all their responsibility they manage to follow the red line.

We often overlook the humanities courses that we take, but I’m witnessing first-hand how it all fits together. We aren’t astronauts (not yet at least if that’s what you’re in to), but we are taught to recognize how interdependent our classes really are. The minors you take will only expand the depth of your knowledge.
I’m studying communication, but I don’t just focus on the complexities of grammar and speech. As a communication major I have to understand body language and the art of persuasion all while maintaining background knowledge in the subjects I address. I have to target an audience based on their interests and needs.

All of this sometimes, and more often than not, means I need to understand sociology, psychology, engineering, commercial space laws, international relations, marketing, physics, astronomy, organizational behavior – the list goes on. These are only a few of the subjects I’ve researched for papers, speeches, and interviews. It’s a lot, but by understanding everything, not only am I more valuable to a company, but I can depend on myself to get everything done on time.
I’m not an astronaut, but how could I ever say I’m just a communication major? I’m so much more than a writer and you are so much more than your major. We’re all just following the red line.

⋆ Dani

Human Factors Success Tips

Hello again, Riddle fans!

While doing my work this week and throughout the summer at Gulfstream, I’ve realized that Human Factors involves way more than we’re taught in school! The major project that I’ve been working on this summer has me working with several departments within the company, but also with companies across the country. It’s taught me what, besides my formal education, can make or break your success at a company.

What could this possibly mean? Well, human factors is already a mix of engineering and psychology, so what else could possibly be thrown in this mix? Well I’ve learned this summer that Human Factors is more than that. Human Factors is more than user-centered design, maintainability, ergonomics, and all of the other subsections of the topic. To be successful in Human Factors, you have to have more than just the GPA and number of projects you’ve completed.

To be successful, you have to be a quick-thinker and decision maker. You never know when an urgent project might drop on your desk and you have 2 days to get your human factors requirements out. This happened to me this summer; I had to assist another engineer with designing a new component for a customer and had to have a quick turn around on my inputs. At the same time, you have to be great at time management; you had to balance the new project AND the other projects piling up on your desk.

You to be a fast and great technical writer. Within the HF program at ERAU, yes we do have to write a bunch, but the way the program is designed, your growth as a technical writer is very structured. You always know exactly what and how you’re supposed to be writing. The professors are amazing sources on improving your writing abilities, too. Our Research Design class, which you normally take your second or third year in the program, teaches you step-by-step the technical and research report writing methods that are commonly used in industry. I can definitely say that that class and what I’ve retained from it has greatly influenced my time here at Gulfstream. Because of my writing skills gained from that class, I have been able to work on tougher, bigger projects that not many, if any, other interns are working on.

You have to be patient with those around you. Not everyone understands HF like real Human Factors Engineers and students do. You have to be able to explain why your input and requirements matter to the overall project; how they’ll assist in the outcome and why. Here at Gulfstream, Human Factors is very well received and understood, but other smaller companies might not be as familiar.

My last tidbit of success-in-HF advice (for now!) is you have to be confident in your understanding, knowledge, and abilities with Human Factors. Others can pick up on your confusion and lack of confidence really quickly. You also might have to fight for your input to be considered seriously; sometimes HF requirements and input can be lost in the overall development of something because some engineers are more concerned with completing the project and don’t think about the user. That’s why we exist!

If you have any questions about Human Factors, leave them in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer.

Until next time, blue skies!


Isn’t this summer “Phenom” – inal???

Nothing like starting off the post with a funny airplane pun, huh?

Throughout my very boring and relaxing weekend (which I am very grateful for – haven’t had one of those in what feels like years), I mulled over how awesome this summer has been. It’s not very often anyone can say that they’ve been able to compete in 2 National Flight competitions, placed in Top 10 in one and won the other competition AND intern at one of the greatest and most influential Business/Private Jet design and manufacturing companies in the world.

I’m in the process of creating my final internship presentation to present in front of other interns, my boss, my supervisor, and the head of the overseeing department that includes my human factors department. Trust me, after all of the presentations that I’ve given over the last 3 years at Riddle, especially this past spring semester, this is going to be a piece of cake. But in writing this presentation, I can’t help but be in total awe of the opportunities that ERAU has given me over just these past 3 years. I’ve been able to compete in 3 National Intercollegiate Flying Association Safety and Flight Evaluation Conferences (otherwise known as NIFA National SAFECONs), 2 going on 3 Regional SAFECON competitions, 2 Air Race Classic races, and interned at a leading aerospace company. I have been one busy girl, but I am incredibly thankful for those at ERAU who have helped me along the way.

People often look at a university for what some pretty obvious factors, like a football team, majors (of course), family history maybe, in-state vs. out-of-state, retention rate, money ($$$), and a few others. What I wish I had done, but what luckily worked out for me, were the hidden programs within the university. Other opportunities besides the obvious and marketed aspects. Of course, Riddle has an amazing flight program which I absolutely love, and great students and faculty, and amazing sports and flying opportunities. All of that is absolutely true, but what is often overlooked my incoming freshman are the countless careers paths and opportunities only offered to ERAU students. Of course, we all know about the cadet programs and gateway programs for the pilots, which I have considered over the years, but what about us engineers and specialists? It’s amazing how just mentioning your involvement with ERAU can put you leaps and bounds ahead of other students. I have at least 5 co-workers that are ERAU alum in one way or another and it’s fantastic networking. We share stories, gather advice, and share our love of Riddle. Many companies offer special scholarships to ERAU-only students, which I have been lucky enough to have received one this summer from Gulfstream. Aerospace companies and ERAU take pride in their connections, whether it’s students, employees, activities, Greek life, sports, anything and everything. People in industry are amazed at what Riddle has done for myself and its students.

I’m definitely proud to have been able to represent ERAU and be an Eagle thus far in my college career and I’m so looking forward to continue representing this amazing university for one final semester this fall.

I think you’ve heard enough of my early week ranting, so enjoy your week and get excited for more (hopefully more hysterical) posts from me.

Blue skies,


(For those of you unfamiliar with what a Phenom is, Phenoms are a series of business jets developed by Embraer out of Brazil. They’re very popular aircraft in the United States and around the world. They’re definitely one of my favorite series. I think I may like the Phenom 300 a little bit more than the Phenom 100, only because it’s a slightly bigger aircraft. They’re definitely on my flying-bucket-list!)

Monday’s Update

Hello everyone! I hope your week is going good so far! It’s a crazy week coming up since spring break is right around the corner. Just an update from my side, things have been going really well. Except for the fact that I am extremely tired, I am happy with where I am at.

I recently received an email from NASA regarding the Solar System Ambassador position, the teleconferences are really picking up and I have opportunities to work with STEM education as well so today I resigned as my position as President of Society 4 S.P.A.C.E. My Vice President, Neysha, is taking my place until an official election takes place. I am happy with the half-term I served and I am hopeful for where the club is headed in the future. However, this NASA position is something I cannot turn down. I am really excited to move forward working as an SSA and possible STEM educator.

On other hands, my MOOC for Human Factors in Aviation starts up at the end of the month on March 21, 2016. I am really excited because it is my first MOOC class of the year. I plan to sign up for all of them that are happening this year. MOOC classes are Massive Online Open Classes that are run through Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Worldwide. They range in topics but it only requires 2-3 hours of work during the week and although they are not for college credit, you receive a certificate. It is good to expand your knowledge and put it on your resume. I am super excited for the opportunity.

In the world of “Astro Skye,” I am just about at 5,000 followers on Instagram. I am really excited because I am going to start a giveaway/sweepstakes where a person can win a space care package with some goodies! Some include a photo signed by astronauts, space items, and a couple signed items from me. Astro Skye has really taken off and I can only thank ERAU for educating me on topics that I can include in my other life. I almost feel like Hannah Montana here!

Other than that it is just academics and space. No better combination! I hope you all have a great week and keep chugging along! Spring break is almost here!

Have a great night!

Finding ERAU, World Suicide Prevention Day and 9/11

The Question of College: How I Found ERAU
High school students, usually seniors, are constantly being hounded with the question of going to college. Parents get worried and students get frustrated. What to do, what to do, what to do. I can tell you from experience that I was in the same boat not too long ago. Here is where it started. Ever since I was four years old, I wanted to be a famous singer/actress/dancer. I ate, slept, and dreamt about being on stage in front of thousands of people performing my heart out. I had my first musical production of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” when I was in fifth grade. That followed with a myriad of productions all throughout middle school and high school. Some of which included: “A Christmas Story,” “Annie Get Your Gun,” and “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” In high school I took part in Senior Thespians and was in an elite group of singers that performed all around Broward County. Being swept up in the luxury of “fame,” I was never focused on getting an education and I never really enjoyed going to school – especially high school. This was until spring break 2013.
My family and I were heading to St. Augustine when my dad mentioned going to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC). The next thing I know, we were at the gates of KSC. The word “EXPLORE” in big blue letters was sitting on top of the entrance gate and seven rockets sat behind it. The moment I walked through that gate and saw those rockets I knew I had to do that. Now let me clarify, I didn’t know what “that” was at that moment. We spent the whole day at KSC meeting the people that worked there as well as an astronaut. By the end of the day, I was walking out of KSC in a blue NASA astronaut flight suit. That is what I wanted to do: I wanted to become an astronaut.
Two and a half years later I come to find myself at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach studying Human Factors & Mechanical Engineering with a focus in Biomechanical Engineering as a double degree, an officer and/or member of multiple clubs/organizations, involved on several projects, and working towards my ultimate dream of becoming an astronaut. On top of all that, I have managed my own website and social media sites interacting with people from all around the world sharing our love for space and knowledge.
skye and dad 1
My Dad and me at NASA 2013
So what is college to you? Building the next rocket to go to space? Creating a booming business that you will one day become the CEO of? Becoming the next Neil Armstrong or Sally Ride? Whatever it may be, a STEM degree, business degree, or anything else, you will find what you are looking for as long as you have a passion and drive behind it. That is how I found myself, my career, and ERAU. You can do the same.

World Suicide Prevention Day
Yesterday, September 10th, was World Suicide Prevention Day. Students, faculty and staff had the chance to write messages on colored flags that were put in the (the lawn in front of the Student Center). “Hope” and “love yourself” were just some of the words written by students and faculty at ERAU. With something as little as messages on colored flags, it speaks volumes.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1 (800) 273-8255 – www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
every eagle
Forever Remember 9/11. 14 years later we remember what happened on that tragic day back in 2001. Innocent lives were lost, and hearts were broken. We will forever remember their bravery and sacrifice. We will forever remember each one of the lives lost on that tragic day. They will never be forgotten. Together we stand as one. Never forget.


Taco Tuesday was my favorite day this week. Although I normally hate Tuesdays, on this particular one I happened to find the best fish tacos in all of San Diego. I was delighted to eat lunch with my coworkers and network with some fascinating people before I leave for Florida. But anybody who really knows me, knows that my brain orders everything in a hierarchy. At the top of the list is food, next comes sleep, after that is Foo Fighters, which is followed by maintaining healthy social interactions with the people around me. If you’ve read any of my other posts, you’ve probably noticed that a large portion of them are dedicated to what I ate that week. So instead of talking to these incredibly intelligent co-workers at this lunch, I ignored them and stuffed my face with tacos and hot sauce.

I would like to mention another important accomplishment this week. I paid for my last semester of classes! Yes, I saved up some money from my internship and used it to pay off classes for the upcoming semester this fall. I am expecting to graduate this December, a whole semester early because taking this internship knocked off 6 credits I would normally have to take. I feel like an adult! I actually refrained from blowing all of my money, and used it toward something productive. Coming from me that is a huge deal. This also means I will not have to take out loans to cover what my scholarships and grants did not. That means lower payments in my future. I will use that money to buy a Corgi.

This week also had an exciting event from my internship. In order to keep the interns coming back, the people running the program arranged for all interns to get a ship tour. Since there are about 100 students interning this summer, we signed up to go on different days. I was supposed to go with my friends last week, but I had another meeting to attend at that time. So, I essentially knew nobody on this tour, but made friends with another intern who was a San Diego local! So not only was I not bored the entire time, but he told me all the best places to go in the area. Even if I had no one to talk to, the tour would have been just as enjoyable.

The ship we toured was called the USS Harpers Ferry and has an amphibious transport dock. This means that the back half of the ship can sink below the ocean surface, as the water moves to the back of the ship it picks up the vehicles or packages in the lower deck of the ship As the ship proceeds forward, the payload is carried out by the water. It was fascinating to see how it all worked. We went on the deck where they were doing some kind of test along the side and were told we needed to back up. We saw the room they use for planning missions, the equipment they work with, and where the crew eats. So we walked around all of the main areas of the ship and even up to the bridge. It was amazing to see how many people can work there to operate this ship. As the tour guide talked about all of the equipment and procedures, my only friend who happened to be a gear head asked if he could take us to the engine room. Normally, he would not run everyone to this part of the ship, but we were a lucky bunch of people.

I remember climbing through at least 8 portholes to get all the way down to the engine room. It was beautiful! I wish I had been able to take pictures of this giant engine. I know my fellow Riddle gear heads and I could stare at it for hours. This engine had 16 giant cylinders and was two stories high! One of the guys working down there opened up the cover so we could see inside the 4 stroke cylinder. AND THEY HAD 4 OF THEM!! The engines were not in use, but the room was still hot and so loud we had to wear ear plugs. I was so excited to see this ship, but was even more excited that I was on the same military base used to test the new Orion capsule. If I wasn’t on a bus with all of the other interns I would have stayed behind to see it. The good news is, I can get on the base using my cards from work, I just need to find a ride there!

Although I had a very exciting week, the weekend was the best part. On Friday my roommate, Sharelle, invited her friends over for a game night. We stayed up until 2 in the morning playing card games. The best part was the food we had out… of course. I tried a famous Hawaiian dish called musubis. Sharelle is a born and raised Hawaiian, so she is obsessed with Spam. I know, right? Spam? I had no idea people loved it so much. Well they basically cut Spam into slices, put it on a seaweed wrap, top with rice, seasoning, and soy sauce. And when you wrap it all together it’s like heaven in your tummy. Try it, you’re welcome.

This get-together was really meant to plan the big event this weekend. San Diego Comic Con is biggest event of the year! It is the most famous Comic Convention, and is held just 10 minutes down the road. It is incredibly hard to get tickets to go to the actual event itself (if you watch Big Bang Theory you know what I’m talking about), but there are plenty of things going on downtown. So I essentially spent all day, everyday in downtown San Diego people-watching. There were so many detailed, realistic costumes. People work on what they will wear all year long, and this work pays off! #SDCC

The crowds waiting to cross the street

The crowds waiting to cross the street

Assassin's Creed course, similar to Ninja Warrior

Assassin’s Creed course, similar to Ninja Warrior

The "playground" of Comic Con

The “playground” of Comic Con

Found him!

Found him!

Aside from the 100,000+ people visiting for the convention, there is a lot going on around town. There was an Assassin’s Creed obstacle course, free laser tag, and zombie displays all around town. There was even a section for food trucks, panels, and carnival rides. The entire city was a playground. There were people outside of hotels with pens and paper waiting for cast members to come out. When I was walking along the sidewalk in front of the convention center, I did notice a face I thought looked familiar. So, as soon as I realized who it was I ran back to find him. It was Jamie Hyneman from Mythbusters. Nobody else was noticing him, I guess because he wasn’t wearing a beret. I asked if I could take a picture, and he kindly said “of course!” It was so cool to meet someone I learned so much from as a kid. I told him, “Thank you for all you did. You taught me the scientific method. I’m a huge scientist now!” Jeez, what a doof I am! Oh well, I was happy to see him, and was even more happy to be in a great city at the perfect time of year! Stay tuned for more goofy stories next week!



I got them to pose with me!

I got them to pose with me!

Close enough

Close enough

Transformers.. They didn't want to take pictures with me because I made them look short.

Transformers.. They didn’t want to take pictures with me because I made them look short.



Vegas Baby!

When I started this week, I was lost. Not the good, fun kind of lost; the confusing, I need to re-adapt to my surroundings kind of lost. For the past 3 months I had been sitting in the same office with the same set-up everyday. My office was on the second floor with a stunning view of San Diego bay! It always had a nice breeze coming through the window and I had plenty of room to take secret naps behind a closed door. Today, was not the same. I was ALL THE WAY on the other side of the hallway. No I don’t mean a full 15 second walk down the hallway, I mean take about 4 steps and you’re in my new office. Oh no! No more view of the bay! No more naps! No more loud chewing on food all day! I have a new office mate around. And folks, when that happens you need to act like a normal human being… apparently. This was not the case, though. I was moving in with the other intern from Embry-Riddle, Brittany. Ever since moving in I have been as happy as a hippo (not sure how that analogy works).

Everyday we get to chat back and forth and show each other funny pictures or videos. I love having her desk right behind mine. Aside from the awesome office mate, I get an even better breeze and kept my same comfy chair. Not to mention I don’t have to hear those pesky otters in the bay barking all day when I actually try to get work done. This new office is also a lot darker than my old one, so taking naps is easy and less obvious. Not that I’m promoting to interns that you should nap at work! Because, you know, that’s bad.

It is better getting work done when someone else is around you doing the same. Having an office mate is good to keeping me focused throughout the day. At least now, I want to seem like a professional that doesn’t get off track all day long looking up funny videos of baby polar bears or people running into trees. So, thanks to having someone around I finally got a lot of work done! Particularly on the website I have been designing at work. I had two meetings this week, one to discuss a few fixes, and the other to present my website to the project lead (umm.. which is terrifying). She liked it, though, and I was given a few more tasks to do during the next week.

This week went by fast. Although it was a 4 day work week for us, it was a shorter week than usual for me. My roommate, Sharelle, and I have been planning a weekend vacation for a while now. And this weekend, we were finally going to VEGAS!!! Yayyyyy!!!! I finally got a chance to act like a childish adult. I know, saying I am going on vacation when I work in the beautiful city of San Diego entitles me to have an angry mob. I can’t complain about where I work, but when I was this close to Las Vegas at a time where I could afford to go, I certainly wasn’t going to turn it down.

Trying to get a view from the Ferris wheel

Trying to get a view from the Ferris wheel

Fountains at Bellagio

Fountains at Bellagio

So, on Thursday I left work little earlier than usual. I know I seem like a slacker, but I had been working an extra hour everyday for weeks before this weekend. So it was excused. My roommate picked me up from work, we got our suitcases, and called a taxi for the airport. Airfare was extremely cheap! We flew out and I stayed at the airport a little longer because I was waiting for another friend’s flight to come in. My friend Antoine had just recently graduated from the ERAU Human Factors Masters program. He is now working at Honeywell in Phoenix. Since he was also so close, he decided to meet us for the weekend in Las Vegas, as well. It was so nice to have friends, new and old, together for a long weekend in a great city.

Gambling at penny slots

Gambling at penny slots

Both of my companions had been to Vegas previously, so I was the only newbie. I did not know what to expect, but boy was I surprised. What I had known about Vegas was what I had seen in movies like Ocean’s 11 or Vegas Vacation. And this was one of the few times, where I could honestly say it was much more incredible in person than what you see in movies or pictures. With the amount of money this city takes in, it actually has the ability to keep their attractions and hotels looking brand new. The night I got there, I was squinting at the intensity of lights. It was probably more bright at night than it was during the day, and that is saying a lot for the desert.


We walked around the strip, and stopped to get dinner in this playful restaurant that had the most extravagant deserts you would ever find. There was a sundae priced at $1,000!! Why? Because there was shavings of gold sprinkled on top! If you want to eat gold, this is the place to go. After that we saw a show at the fountains in front of the Bellagio hotel. This was the first of many times, because that was probably my favorite part of Las Vegas.

I love food, but not that much!

I love food, but not that much!

I also gambled for the first time, and successfully lost all of it. Over the next few days we saw everything! The Venetian hotel had a river inside with gondola rides. The ceiling was painted to look like the sky, and it even rained in one section of the aisle. There were shops, clubs, casinos, or buffets in every hotel. I saw a mock-up of the Eiffel Tower and a bar that was inside of a chandelier. I ate crepes, gelato, and the best macaroni and cheese in the world. There was so much to see and do I could have spent a week there.

The giant chandelier

The giant chandelier

The pool at our hotel

The pool at our hotel

Gondola rides at the Venetian

Gondola rides at the Venetian

To see the entire city was impossible, but I did just that. The world’s tallest Ferris Wheel was right across the street from my hotel. It took a little over 30 minutes to go all the way around. It was beautiful and terrifying at the same time. Since we did it at night, the lights looked spectacular. Since we were staying at The Mirage, we were able to see a show they did every night at the entrance. It had a “volcano,” so basically had water flowing from a mini-mountain surrounded by giant explosives. The giant balls of fire did not help the nearly 100 degree days. The pool downstairs did, though. It was a giant pool, and had an even bigger waterfall on the side. I actually sat in the water with a cool drink and soaked in the intense heat. So, let’s just say I was not ready to go back to work that week. This looks like a good place to stop writing as well, seeing as how I am sitting at work daydreaming about another vacation.

I met "overly attached girlfriend" if you have any idea what I'm talking about

I met “overly attached girlfriend” if you have any idea what I’m talking about

California’s Got Board Meetings.. Lots of Board Meetings

Hello Again! Thank you for coming back to listen to me ramble. This week I continued to work on the splash page for the military training website. At the beginning of this project, I was designing the website using very low fidelity mock-ups. And by low fidelity mock-ups, I mean drawing some pictures of a website on a sheet of paper or toilet paper or Kleenex. I did pretty well; my advisor said my drawings could pass for an advanced 8 year old, so I moved on to creating a more high fidelity mock-up. For people who claim to design websites, but don’t have the knowledge or talent to carry it out, there is a program called Axure RP (rapid prototyping). This is a very simple, intuitive program that allows people to show a website design without writing the code for it. You can also create links for other pages within the site and can “preview” how the entire website would work for the user. So, I’m very happy to have this skill because now I won’t get picked last for teams in my classes anymore!

My next project looked into designing a system for planning missions on aquatic vehicles. The systems used to do this are mostly paper-based. So, the branch I work for is giving the government an upgrade. It’s very deep work. HA! Get it? Deep, you know like deep water? Alright I’ll stop.

This Tuesday was my advisor’s last day at work for three weeks. She is taking time off to go on vacation in her hometown back in Colorado. So, she gave me a list of tasks to get done before she comes back. Oh! And she calls me a smurf, too. It’s probably because I’m shorter than the average 7th grader. I was also approached recently by a friend of a friend who said, “You are so cute! I just want to put you in my pocket!” Do you have any idea how scary it is for a stranger to tell you they want to take you and put you in a pocket? I’m getting off task, here.

On Tuesday, my boss invited me to participate in this event called CX SIG (Customer Experience Special Interest Group). There is an intern at my branch who is actually a graduate student in the Human Factors program at Embry-Riddle, so I invited her to come along. At this Customer Experience event, Human Factors specialists from all over San Diego come together for 1 night each month and evaluate an interface or product from a company. At this particular event, we evaluated the website for a company called “Personal Creations.” This is similar to the “Things Remembered” company, in that it allows customers to order products that can be personally customized before delivery. At this meeting I was instructed to act like someone who was trying to make an order and criticize any part of the website that needed fixing. At first, it is kind of weird to tell the programmers and representatives of the company how horrible their website looked, but as I continued, the arrogance in me began to bloom. Ha! Just kidding my arrogance was there all along.

After this event my boss and a few of my co-workers went to dinner at an Italian restaurant close-by. When we sat down, a friend of my boss and one of the participants of the CX SIG event decided to join us. I found out that he is actually an author of a very successful book used in the Human Factors world that I have been looking through over the past few weeks. He was also featured on NPR (National Public Radio)…a dream for most people! As we were heading out, he gave me and my co-workers his card and offered his help and advisement if we ever needed it. On the way back, I had to drive with my friend, Christian, because his apartment is across the street from mine. Since he brought his motorcycle, I had to hop on the back. Oh! And it was my FIRST TIME riding one!! We were about half an hour away from our apartments and took a highway almost the entire way home. I actually wasn’t scared for having the ground go below my feet at 70 mph. Now I have the itch to get a motorcycle, though. Which is a very expensive itch.

There were some other firsts this week in California. I also got my first Jack in the Box food. Oh boy Florida needs to get one of those. Although, I don’t know if my 5’2” frame can handle another 100 pounds. My other first happened on Saturday, when I attempted to paddleboard and surf. I met with some of the interns at SPAWAR who were trying to make friends while here for the next few months. We rented paddleboards and took them to this large bay where a lot of sailboats were kept. I didn’t fall! I can’t say the same for the people I went with. We also rented surfboards and took turns holding them in the water on the Pacific side of the peninsula. I say holding because that’s all we could do successfully (and unsuccessfully a few times). On the ocean, the water was choppy, and the waves were huge. I could not even stand without one side of the board sinking into the water. So the next time I go, I’ll start off in a puddle.



Boarding, Surfing, and Falling

Boarding, Surfing, and Falling

Paddleboarding on Mission Bay

Paddleboarding on Mission Bay

It was a really long day, and I had to get some food to wash down all of the seawater. I ate half a chicken at a restaurant called Phil’s BBQ. HALF A CHICKEN!! I’m well on my way to winning a food eating contest. On Saturday, I went with my co-workers and a few other friends to a fair by the closest shoreline called Ocean Beach. I got to ride a motorcycle again to get there! The main street had vendors of all kinds lined up and bands playing blues and rock. There were rides and carnival games at the end of the street set-up for children, but my friend decided they were there for everyone. It was fun watching him fall, but overall I enjoyed seeing the different things for sale. I brought a funnel cake.. and ate all of it! Stay tuned next week when I gain 14 pounds.

Eating Half a Chicken. Good thing I had a bib.

Eating Half a Chicken. Good thing I had a bib.

Cheap masquerade masks, shark fins you can buy for your dog, a shark (you know, like riding a bull), and some dancing fools

Cheap masquerade masks, shark fins you can buy for your dog, a shark (you know, like riding a bull), and some dancing fools

My co-worker trying to show up some kids

My co-worker trying to show up some kids

When Life Hands You Lemons.. Ignore Them and Make Fried Chicken

This week began with a rough start. While I stopped at a store, my bicycle was stolen. I was actually getting a new pair of sneakers so I could be more comfortable on my ride in to work. What a happy coincidence! I contacted everyone I could, asked around the neighborhood, and filed a report. So, with my fingers crossed, I will keep on keeping on. On the bright side, I work with some incredibly kind and giving people. My roommate, Sharelle, and a co-worker, Christian, have offered to give me a ride whenever I need. I  have been treated so kindly by everyone that I work with, and although I was not feeling the best about having my primary mode of transportation taken away, I was awfully happy and appreciative of everyone around me for their help. I never thought I would get a chance to work with such kind people!

Although I may have started the week in the wrong gear, I certainly wasn’t going to continue on without changing it up. So the next morning I went on a 2-hour cruise with my roommate and our friends. Working for the military has its perks, and apparently one of them is getting on boat tours for $7. It was fun going around the bay and main island. There were all kinds of military ships at dock and fighter jets skipping along the main island’s airport. After that, we got delicious fish tacos and walked around the beach area. California has pretty beaches, but the water is not as clean or warm as it is in Daytona. So, I’m Embry-Riddle homesick, but I’m sure I will be missing San Diego when I head home in 10 weeks.

On the boat tour of San Diego

An actual ship from the Pirates of the Caribbean Film

Want this job!

USS Midway

What a Life!

Titanic has forever ruined the view of ship captains

Monday morning, I got to work and immediately started working on my project to create Human Factors professional classes and workshops. My mentor will be in charge of presenting and organizing these events for other professionals at our company. The goal is to teach professionals in other fields the proper user and usability test methods. I also worked on making a final report about the research I did last week on visually impaired people using a company-wide website. I am so incredibly sleepy from writing the 11 pages it took for me to get my points across to the designers and programmers. But boy do I love bossing around engineers and telling them that they’re wrong! I had it finished just in time for the weekly meeting. My boss said that I have good time management skills. That poor lady knows nothing about me, either that or I am very talented at making things seem more incredible than they really are.

I stepped up for another project at work. This time, I will be working on designing a website for a training group. I will be doing something called wire-framing. This is a process of sketching out design ideas and continually changing them until you reach the final design which will be coded by the programmers. You start this process by drawing out the design using a pen and paper (or towel or toilet paper). You will need a more high fidelity wire-frame to accurately test with people. This can be designed on PowerPoint or other design software. For now I am taking the list of activities someone can do using this website and grouping them into a logical pattern. In user-centered design, people call that designing the information architecture.

At my workplace there’s something called the New Professional Program that allows newly graduated students to try different projects going on with the different branches at our company. It’s a great program because it allows the student going through it to explore the options in order to find work that they enjoy doing. This week I was assigned writing up the projects at my branch to make us sound, “young, hip, and cool.” Which would be a somewhat accurate feel for my branch, aside from the whole young part. Most of the people I work with are 50 years old and up, so a majority of time they are worrying about their hips going out or complaining that they are too cold. No, I’m just kidding. But not really because they are very old. That gives me an advantage, though. If I can take in all of their advice and experiences, it will help me greatly in my career one day. Always take hand-me-down wisdom!

On Thursday, I learned how to shoot a gun… or 6. Since this week was only 4 days long for me, I went out with a few friends to a shooting range for my first time shooting a gun. I am not a huge fan, but I had to try it once just to say I tried it. It was very cool, but I had horrible aim and have the arm strength of a fetus. So, the shooting range was an unsuccessful success… if that makes any sense. And I realized it’s about time I start working out. So keeping to this thought, I went out with those same friends and ate half a pizza. The next few days were used catching up on a few Riddle-based projects.. and by Riddle-based projects, what I really mean is sleep. Sleep was greatly needed.

I think I look cool!

I ended this week at the Corvette Diner, a 50’s themed restaurant. I had a root beer milkshake with fried chicken (oh I miss the South) and watched the waitresses shamefully dance with their co-workers. I was appalled and felt slightly uncomfortable as our waitress came up to our table and started spinning my hair around in a twist. I began to growl at her little when she started putting straws in my hair to keep the twist in place. Thankfully, my roommate, Sharelle, who had joined me said that was part of the “act” at that restaurant. I ignored Sharelle the first few times she said it was ok, but she got my attention when she sprayed water in my face and yelled, “Bad Carolyn!” My hair did look pretty lovely. I will definitely be coming back so that she can style my hair with straws for my wedding.


A bow-tie out of straws!

Keep coming by!