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!

The 2024 Rolex 24

Try saying that three times fast!

Two weekends ago I went to the Roar Before the 24 and then wrote about it in my last blog post. This weekend was the real race – the Rolex 24, also known as the 24 Hours of Daytona. True to its name, it lasted a full 24 hours, from 1:40 PM on Saturday to 1:40 PM on Sunday.

Unlike last week, parking was scarce! I’m a fan of things that are free, and the free parking was at the Volusia Mall. It took a couple of laps around the parking lot for me and my friend to get a spot, and then we had to walk to the speedway. If you ever end up going to the races, be prepared for a long walk, and factor that in to the time it takes to get there. We entered on the east side of the speedway in Tunnel 4 only about fifteen or so minutes before the race started.

We ended up getting to the stands a few minutes after the race had started and they were packed. Everyone was excited to watch the race, especially since all of the cars were grouped up together. It was just a whiz of race cars one after another, and there was so much energy all around. It was definitely a thrill.

View from the stands at the start of the Rolex 24

I watched from the stands for a bit and then noticed a normal-looking car go out onto the track. I later learned that it was the safety car which is brought out during incidents. Everyone else has to follow them, and it was odd seeing a bunch of race cars following a normal-looking car that an ordinary person could buy.

I had gotten the tickets for free as part of my involvement in the Women’s Ambassadors. The events coordinator at IMSA, who was running the race, had reached out to us asking if we’d like free tickets, and I was lucky enough to get one. The attending ambassadors met up with her at around 3:30, and it was awesome to see other women doing well in male-dominated industries like motorsports. She also brought up that there were several female drivers and a few all-women teams in the race.

My favorite car in the race.

One of the all-female teams was racing in this pink car, which was my favorite one in the race. The IMSA coordinator also explained about her job and how she got into motorsports before showing us around the infield. Part of her job included the logistics of the event, and it was cool to see everything come together and all of the empty car garages just waiting for cars.

After that, everyone went their separate ways. I checked out the food court with my friend who I had come with and watched the race on the big screens. It was news-style coverage following a car (or a group of cars) at once. The food was a bit expensive so I decided to not get anything and just eat at home.

Once we were done for the day, my friend and I walked back to her car, and somehow, the walk felt longer at the end of the day. I headed back to my apartment after that, and I unfortunately didn’t end up getting back to the race like I wanted. Since it’s a 24-hour race, admission is open- once you have a ticket, you can come and go as you pleased. One of my roommates went early in the morning to watch the sun rise at the race track.

The Rolex 24 was a great experience, even though I didn’t stay the whole time. If you come to Riddle, it’s definitely worth going to, even if it’s just once, for the experience. I don’t know much about motorsports, but I enjoyed the social aspect of hanging out with my friends, walking around, and learning a little bit about the sport. When I move for my new job I’ll also be keeping an eye out for any races that I could go to. I’ll see you in the next post… and hopefully at Riddle!

Adopting A Pet As A Student

Hello, Radar… cute kitten pics incoming!

So, a few months ago, I adopted a cat! A lot of my other friends at ERAU who live off campus also have pets, and I’ve been wanting a cat for awhile. As a kid, I always had at least one cat, and going to college was my first time without one. My roommate last year had a kitten, so I got to experience the student life with a pet in the apartment, and this year, I finally decided to get my own!

I adopted my cat, Radar, from the local humane society in September. The adoption process was relatively simple. I found a cat I liked, filled out the paperwork, got approved, and then paid the adoption fee. They do ensure that every cat that passes through is spayed/neutered, so I had to wait a few days before I could take him home. Once he was ready, then I simply went back to the humane society and picked him up.

Radar the cat!

Thankfully, cats are relatively low-maintenance pets, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t additional considerations. I’ve made plans or chosen to stay over school breaks so I can take care of him, and added his food, litter, and other supplies to my budget. My apartment complex also requires pets to be registered and for me to pay pet rent, which isn’t too much of a big deal. I have three roommates, and all of them were happy to have a new addition to our apartment.

As I mentioned previously, I had cats as a kid, but I didn’t have responsibility for them. Ultimately, they were my parents’ pets. Now, as a full-time cat owner, I’ve had to do all the not-so-fun parts too, like scooping the litter box. To help me, I bought an automatic feeder (around $50) and a water fountain (about $20) so that my kitty could be on a regular schedule. My class schedules differ throughout the day, so I wanted to establish a constant schedule for my new furry friend.

I’ve also had to consider what I want to do with him when I’m gone, like for break or Women’s Ambassadors travel. That’s part of the reason I got an automatic feeder and waterer. If the trip is really long, I’ll pay one of my roommates to shovel his litter box. It requires a little bit of planning ahead, especially for long breaks like winter break, but I’ve been able to make it work.

I’ve also added a bunch of cat things to my apartment for him- my roommates have gotten used to having random cat toys on the floor. I also bought a cat hammock to put in my window that is held up with suction cups. He enjoys sitting there and watching things run around outside. The hammock is also right next to my desk, which is very nice when I need a study break.

Radar in his hammock!

Since it’s winter in Florida, it’s quite nice outside- nice enough to keep the window open. It’s not very humid anymore and the temperatures are comfortable for both people and their pets. I like to keep my window open on days when it’s nice out so Radar can get fresh air. My apartment complex also has a balcony, so when I’m in the common area I’ll open the door and let him sit out there, too.

He’s also a great support to have when studying. Radar loves to cuddle, so when I study, he will sometimes sit on my lap while I’m at my desk. Of course, he’s still a kitten and will frequently leave to go run around my apartment, but it’s nice to have a study buddy at home. He also likes to sleep at the foot of my bed, and when I’m ready to sleep I sometimes feel badly about disturbing him.

It’s definitely been an adjustment to have a pet, but it’s a welcome one. I’ve already been looking at pet-friendly apartment complexes for when I move to my full-time job, since Radar is now part of my family. I’m so glad I got him. It’s been fun to watch him grow over the past few months. His birthday is in late April, so I may be throwing a birthday party for him later this year. I hope you enjoyed reading this post, and I’ll see you in the next one- and hopefully at Riddle!