Throwing it back…

Today I am home in Castle Rock, Colorado for spring break. While I’m cruising through these old, familiar streets, I have been quite nostalgic of the times leading up to college. I remember being so excited after being accepted since Embry-Riddle was my first pick. I know many of you are going through similar experiences now, so I thought I would tell you a little bit about the last bit of time before college.

I have said this before, but if you are torn on which college to choose, go visit! Each college has its own personality and you’ll get a feeling once you’re standing there on whether or not you can see yourself there. I understand traveling can be expensive so take the online virtual tours and read blogs like these to understand student life! If you’ve visited both schools and are still unsure, do more research!

This time of year for seniors is pretty calm. Most know where they will be attending or at the very least, where they are accepted. The pressure of applications is off and all that is left to worry about is graduation and possibly some AP exams. The good news is… it only gets better from here!

Most colleges have an orientation or preview day. We have both here at Riddle! Preview Day is April 7th so be sure to RSVP for that! It is only for accepted students. Orientation is in fall before classes begin. At our Preview Day, you can sit in on classes, make tuition and housing deposits, take tours of the campus and dorms, get your eagle ID, and register for classes. You can also talk to financial aid if you have any questions or problems! I know many people who made friends and even found roommates during this day! Many campus organizations will be out and talking about their clubs so accepted students can get to know more about them. Girls can meet with their woman ambassador too – I know I am meeting with some of mine! I’m adding some very cheesy photos from my Preview Day in 2016 (I feel old) *cringe*!

Got my eagle ID!

Here I am getting help registering for classes. They provide a sheet of recommendations.

I met up with a girl from my town who was a senior at Riddle. Our mom’s worked together.

Meeting with my woman ambassador, Jackie! We still talk even though she has graduated.

Taking a housing tour and making friends! I still say hi to these guys when I see them on campus!

In the days leading up to graduation, cherish the moments. Don’t get too caught up in all the unimportant details like what shoes to wear or planning the perfect party. Enjoy your family who came to celebrate with you, thank your teachers for their support, and spend time with your friends before everyone goes to either side of the country! Get pictures before the graduation so you have better chances of getting non-crowded, and your first pick of backgrounds.

After graduation, enjoy your summer because the next ones will be filled with internships, flights, or summer classes. I worked the whole summer before coming to college and I am thankful I did. When the family plans a vacation, join them! (note: I have an older sister who is always super busy during the summer, so my parents learned from her that we need vacations now)!

You will also begin packing and preparing for school now! Soon I will be posting a thorough packing list. Until then, start getting necessities like bedding (for an XL twin bed) and other obvious items. (Note: I recommend Target, Macy’s, or PB Teen for bedding!)

One more thing about Preview Day, you get to tour Daytona when you have free time. While there is a lot to do, there is no strict schedule. My mom and I went to the flea market, beach, and Disney!

At Daytona Beach!

At the flea market!

Disney World with my mom!

Your Embry-Riddle gear gets you into cockpits! I was welcomed up on my flight back home!

Please leave a comment if you have any questions! I’d be happy to help!

– Maddie Dietrich

It’s Over!

I can’t believe the fall 2016 semester is already over. I feel like it was not a long time ago that I ended my summer internship. I’m very happy that finals are now over and that we have a bit less than a month of vacation.

I had my last final on Tuesday evening. This semester, only has two finals during the four days that are considered “finals week.” In most of my classes, the professors gave the final during regular class time on the last day of classes. Instead of being a big comprehensive exam with the material we saw from the beginning of the semester, it was just a normal exam with the material covered in the last few weeks. To make it even easier, one of my finals was open book and we were allowed to reference our textbook, our computer (with no internet access), PowerPoint slides and notes. It was definitely my easiest exam!

I am now at the airport waiting for my flight to go home for the holidays! Before I left Daytona Beach, I made sure my schedule was set for next semester. I was on the waitlist for one of my classes that only had one section. Fortunately, the Department of Physical Sciences decided to add a second section of Biology because many students were on the waiting list for the class. If you are currently on a waitlist for one of your classes, you have a few options. First, you can wait until the first week of classes in January where the class might open since many students drop classes. Second, you can try to force entry in a class, but this process is more complicated since you have to talk with your Program Coordinator, the Department of your class and the professor teaching the course. Finally, you might be able to take the class online* through Worldwide. You can read my blog to see if an online class is a good option for you.

I will be home with my family until January 1. On the first day of 2017, I will head with my family to London for a week!

Happy holidays and see you in 2017!


*Current residential campus students must submit appropriate paperwork before enrolling in online courses through the Worldwide Campus. Consult with the Record’s Office, your advisor or admissions counselor before deciding whether online courses are right for you.

Fall Break Fun (Plus Everything Since)

I’m running out of creative ways to start these entries. Generic greetings are so boring…

My shiny Charizard, Deimos. Named after one of Mars’ moons 🙂

We left off last time right before fall break, so you’re probably dying to know what I did for that long, 4-day weekend. In short, I really didn’t do anything. I caught up on sleep, played Pokemon Y (I hatched a shiny charmander – if you know what that means, I know you’re jealous), watched some Breaking Bad, and took some time to just chill and forget about school. It was glorious, apart from being sick for most of the break. But thanks to my friends orange juice and NyQuil, I was able to bounce back pretty quickly.

My new bookshelf (well, CD/DVD/Spaceship shelf) from IKEA on the left, along with my new Gravity poster 😀

The only real exciting thing I did over the break was spend some time in Orlando on Saturday. After waking up at about noon, I read on Facebook that Buzz Aldrin was doing a book signing in Kissimmee at 1 PM – well it was 1 PM when I read that post! So I took the quickest shower of my life, hopped in my car, and booked it to Orlando. We called when we were at about downtown Orlando to see if it was still going on, and it wasn’t. 🙁 I was pretty bummed about that, especially because his book is about the future of space travel (i.e. Mars). So since we were in Orlando anyways, we spent the day at IKEA, ate some cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory, and ended the evening playing some games at Dave N Busters – and I won a telescope. 😀 I have yet to see anything interesting with it though, it’s probably worth about $20; but still.

The week after a break is never fun. Especially the first couple days when you haven’t really recovered the motivation you left behind. But somehow I found the strength to get back into school-mode. Which was good, because I had my EP 501 midterm – and boy, was that an experience. I don’t think I’ve ever studied so much for a test in my life. Grad classes are scary because you have one exam and one final, so if you mess up the midterm chances are that your grade is doomed. I managed to scrape out a 90, which I’m very proud of (I would have hung the exam on my fridge except that my professor doesn’t give them back). Not to brag, but I’m 6 for 6 on exams this semester, which means this is my best semester yet – including freshman year! I have two more exams this week, in Spaceflight Dynamics and Thermodynamics, so hopefully I’ll be able to maintain the streak… fingers crossed.

Spring semester schedule. i.e. “Death by Physics”

Spring semester registration is now upon us! At least for the honors students – that’s one of our perks: we get to register before everybody else. So that means first dibs on the good professors. (I think I might be obligated to say that every single professor at Embry-Riddle is one of the “good professors.”) Of course it doesn’t really matter for me; I think I mentioned last time that every single class I am taking next semester only has one option, so my schedule is essentially made for me. Oh well, less work required on my part. This was also the first semester since I switched majors that I’ve been able to register online without it throwing an error at me for one or more classes and having to go sort it out with records! And the timings seem to work out very nicely – it’s just the classes that are going to kill me!

The new building is almost done and it’s beautiful – and it’s all mine! And, y’know, the rest of the physics/human factors/business/etc. students and faculty.

I also mentioned last time about the new College of Arts and Sciences building. All of my classes will be in there, and the lab I work in…. I wonder if I can just live there too? I am giving the presentation about our new lab to the Board of Trustees on Friday, so you’ll hear about that in my next entry.

Speaking of presentations, this past weekend I was asked to be on a student panel at the open house – so, any prospective students reading this, if you were there you probably saw me. I felt pretty honored to have been asked, which is why I was willing to wake up so early to be there (I don’t even wake up that early for classes!) I got to tell my story about choosing Riddle (my first entry – if you haven’t read it) to a whole bunch of people, so it was pretty cool. Then I went home and went back to bed for a little bit before lending my evening to freshmen who wanted help planning out their spring semesters.

My boyfriend and I with Echosmith (we are the two in the middle – it might be hard to tell because the band is our age!) They were really flattered when I told them we were at the concert specifically to see them. I suppose as openers they don’t get that a lot.

On Sunday I got to go to another concert! We went to see the opener, Echosmith. I’m pretty sure I talked about them in my entry about Warped Tour – they are all siblings that are age 14-20. And they’re awesome. The downside about them being the opener, is that we missed most of their set! 🙁 Orlando had some carnival or something going on so a lot of the streets downtown were closed and we couldn’t figure out how to get to the venue. But we caught their last two songs, which were really good, and then got to chat with them a bit after they played – which is the upside of them being an opener. There were three other bands playing; the second was For the Foxes, who weren’t really my cup of tea, but one or two of their songs were pretty good. Then The Downtown Fiction played, who I’ve had on my iTunes library but never really listened to aside from just shuffling the whole library. But they did play one song of theirs that I really like, along with some other I recognized. I also got to meet them, and got them to sign an album for me. The headlining band was Tonight Alive, a band from Australia. They were awesome! It turned out to be a really fun show, especially since we just went to see the opener. I got a signed copy of Tonight Alive’s album too (so I now have 9 signed CDs in total, plus 2 signed vinyls).

There is another concert I want to go to this Saturday, In This Moment, but nobody will go with me so I suppose I’ll sit this one out and save the money. But I only say that because I’ve seen them before and they haven’t released any new music since then. It’s really awesome how many bands play Orlando – I’ve been to more concerts since starting school at Riddle than the rest of my life combined. And that’s not counting the ones freshman year I would have gone to had I had a car.

One of my Bitstrips from last night. Hehe.

I discovered this super entertaining Facebook app called Bitstrips, where you make a cartoon of yourself and can put yourself in little comics with cartoon versions of your friends. There are some really funny comic templates, and my Facebook friends are probably sick of me posting them, but I don’t care because I think they’re hilarious. Although my parents and aunts started making them too, and everybody knows that parents ruin anything cool on the internet.

I think that’s about it for my life nowadays. I haven’t made too much progress on my research, mostly because I’ve been spending a good chunk of my lab time working on the poster for the Board of Trustees presentation. I have to write a major research paper about software development processes for my SE 500 class, so I plan to get working on that soon… I haven’t written a paper in about a year so I’m actually kind of looking forward to it; writing is definitely one of my strong suits (and for some reason I decided to be a physicist.)

I believe I’ve mentioned this before, but with all the prospective students who might start reading this, I’ll say it again: Ask me questions! I’m happy to answer anything about ERAU, especially about the Engineering Physics program. Or, y’know, just send me fan-mail telling me how awesome I am. Email me at, or you can probably find me on Facebook pretty easily. I don’t bite 🙂

Until next time….


The Exciting Life of a Physics Student

Hello hello!

Time is sure flying, I can’t believe it’s been another two weeks. But I suppose I’ll pick up right where I left off in writing my life’s story. So here it goes…

A plot, similar to the one in my last entry, showing altitude above sea level and the corresponding vertical wind speed. This one is for Olympus Mons on Mars! Notice that the wind speed is about 10X higher, which makes sense because the mountain is a lot bigger.

Let me start off by pointing out the terrible error in my last post – my Mars map was upside down! I noticed it while working on my model in MATLAB. Major oops on that one. But I will say that it is now fixed, and the model is working beautifully. I was able to plot the vertical wind speed across Olympus Mons (which, as you recall from my earlier entries, is the largest volcano in the solar system at a height of about 26 km), and our next step is to implement these calculations in the atmospheric dynamics model to simulate some waves! If that sentence didn’t make sense to you, go back and read some of my past entries where I explain the basics of my research.

My CORRECT Martian topographic map generated in MATLAB. This time I used the copper color bar option, because the blue was a bit misleading. Lighter is higher elevation, and darker is lower elevation.

Speaking of physics and research and all that jazz, I’m getting pretty excited for the new College of Arts and Sciences building! They’ve named our new lab – it will be called ECLAIR:  Experimental and Computational Laboratory for Atmospheric and Ionospheric Research. Which is apparently French for “flash of lightning”, in addition to being a delicious French pastry. So for atmospheric scientists who are also partial to pastries, it seemed like a good fit. I will be presenting a poster about the new lab to the board of trustees on November 1st, which means I get to be one of the first people to stand inside the new building! Plus I get to wear a suit, and I always feel snazzy in a suit.

The new building seems like a good segway to my next topic – registering for next semester classes. Ah! It seems like this semester just started, and we’re already getting ready to register. My schedule for the spring seems pretty chill time-wise (only a couple classes on MWF, and a decent break on TTh) – I should note that, once you get to upper-level EP classes you start to lose control of making your own schedule. Every class I’m taking only has one section, and I lucked out in not having to take any 8:15s! Nonetheless, I’ll be taking five 300-level EP classes (Classical Mechanics, Optics, Microcomputers, Space Systems Engineering, and Junior Design); I saw my advisor today, and I quote… Me: “I just want to make sure next semester won’t kill me.” Him: “Oh it will.” Well then. I suppose it evens out for the fact that the classes will be really cool.

I also have to start thinking about a thesis topic, and man that feels so far off. I will probably continue to pursue my Martian atmospheric research, unless something else nifty catches my attention.

You never really get too old for Pokemon.

Now for those of you readers who are geeks like me, you’re probably wondering if I’m going to mention last weekend’s big release – Pokemon X and Y! Yes, I am, because that’s all I did this weekend. I bought a shiny new (used, but it’s new to me) 3DS – which is amazing technology might I add; I was skeptical – and picked up my copy of Y. I definitely have to give this game five stars, it’s completely revolutionized the franchise. And if you’re wondering, my entire team is named after moons, constellations, and space missions (Apollo, Aries, Triton, Phobos, Deimos, and Orion) because that’s just how I roll. I also found a shiny in the wild. If you don’t know what that means, just keep scrolling.

This weekend is fall break! Which is much needed. I’m planning to sleep, play Pokemon, sleep some more, watch Breaking Bad, and maybe plan a trip down to Kennedy Space Center if the government decides to run again. I should note that, while KSC is privately owned and operated and therefore still open during the shutdown, none of its tours run since it’s a government facility that’s being toured, and what’s the fun if you can’t see the cool space buildings?

This was posted on the Embry-Riddle Memes page the day of the career fair, with 298 “likes” and 33 “shares”. It made me lol.

Speaking of the government shut down, the career fair was last Wednesday (yes, that transition was completely relevant, just wait.) NASA wasn’t there obviously, which made me very very sad. I even stood next to their empty booth for a while hoping they’d magically appear and give me a job. They didn’t. BUT I did have a really good chat with a woman from Northrop-Grumman who seemed to really want to hire me. She had the same first name, so total ice-breaker, and asked me for two copies of my resume – one for the pile and one to take with her. So I’m expecting a phone call any day now, she practically promised -fingers crossed-. I also talked to some other small space companies that seemed really cool, and they seemed promising as well. Boeing seemed unimpressed, but they can keep their airplanes, I’m not interested.

And I almost forgot to mention Gravity! The movie, not the force. Go see it. Right now. It was so awesome. We went to the very first showing at 10 pm on Thursday night and saw it in 3D. Wow. That’s all I have to say about that. Granted the physics is a bit off in some places, but the amount of things they did right and the fact that the movie is simply incredible makes breaking physics worth it – and that’s coming from a physicist. (Plus, Sandra Bullock as an astronaut? You don’t want to miss that.)

Let’s see what else is going on… I suffered through an assignment for EP 501 that I think took 20-25 hours of work. It was four problems, and it took that long. What. I decided I don’t like grad school. Also, I had to go get a shot the other day, which, if you know me, you know is a big deal. I’m planning a trip to India this summer, so it’s probably worth it, but still – wah! Also also, the Indian restaurant here in Daytona that I go to about once a week got a new chef, and he makes my usual different and I’m sad. It’s not bad, it’s just not my usual anymore, y’know? (Have you ever noticed that the last paragraph of my blog entries are just the most random things I can think to mention?)

Will Northrop-Grumman ever call? What will happen with my Martian vertical forcing model? How much will I sleep during fall break? Get these exciting answers and more next time!