PSEF’s Engineering Expo 2014

Every year, the Purdue Student Engineering Foundation (PSEF) puts on Engineering Expo. Expo is a day-long event for high school students designed to teach students about and get them interested in engineering. For this year’s Expo, the theme was Out of This World! and focused on space exploration and Aeronautical Engineering concepts.

During Expo 2014, 406 high school and middle school students from 23 schools learned about engineering principles and Purdue’s rich history with the space program. Did you know that 23 astronauts graduated from Purdue University, including Neil Armstrong (the first man on the moon) and Gene Cernan (the last an on the moon)?

One of the rockets miiiiight have gotten stuck in the Ballroom's ceiling... but you didn't hear that from me.

One of the rockets miiiiight have gotten stuck in the Ballroom’s ceiling… but you didn’t hear that from me.

In the morning, students participated in a Quiz Bowl competition where they tested their knowledge of space history, engineering, and Purdue trivia. They then got to learn about different engineering clubs at the Academic Fair. Finally, they made small paper rockets, which they then launched across the Purdue Memorial Union North Ballroom by stomping on empty 2-liter bottles.

The cornerstone of Expo is the Impromptu Design Competition that took place in the afternoon. This year’s design challenge was a modified egg drop meant to simulate a shuttle’s re-entry capsule. Students could choose to protect between 1 and 5 “astronauts” (eggs) on their journey back to Earth. The more astronauts that made it to Earth safely, the higher the team’s score; any astronauts that sustained injuries meant large deductions. The teams were also scored based on design considerations and short presentations they made before testing their device. The top three teams win scholarships if they choose to attend Purdue at West Lafayette!

Students present their device to PSEF judges.

A team presents their device.

A student shows off her design.

A student shows off her design.

 

 

 

 

 

The capsules are thrown to Earth.

The capsules are thrown to Earth.

 

R.I.P. to the astronauts that did not survive.

R.I.P. to the astronauts that did not survive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This year’s Expo was a huge success thanks to the hard work put in by everyone in PSEF and the awesome students and schools that participated. It’s a great event that helps students learn about engineering and get a chance to take part in an engaging design challenge. It’s been a huge privilege to direct Expo for the past two years. Thanks to everyone who came and made it great!

Katie

Spring Break in the Smokies

It’s the first week back from spring break – I’m happy to be back on campus and see my friends, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the time off from assignments and tests! For spring break, I went to the Smoky Mountains with a group of friends and spent a few days camping. I’m not the most outdoorsy person in the world, so I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, but it was a great time!

The first two days/3 nights were primitive camping, which means we packed up all of our stuff and hiked a few miles into the woods to our campsite. Our site was a bit of a clearing with a fire ring and pulley system to raise our stuff up at night to discourage any curious bears that might be wandering through. (We didn’t see any bears during the week, which was a little disappointing, but also we’re all still alive, which is nice.) The second day, we went on a 14 mile hike, where a few cool things happened.

Also, this was the general consensus after all that hiking.

Also, this was the general consensus after all that hiking.

The first cool thing was this – about 4 or 5 miles into the hike, we reached the top of one of the mountains, where we came across a group of people from Purdue – some of which we knew! Purdue is a big school, but who could have imagined running into other students – some of them engineering students – at the literal top of a mountain 8 hours away from campus? After talking for a while, we continued on our hike until we reached Abrams Falls, where we climbed down a path that turned out not to be a real path and came across this:

Abrams Falls

Abrams Falls

Beautiful, right? The third cool thing was this: about 12 miles into our hike, it got dark and we were all tired and more than ready to be sitting around a campfire eating. Unfortunately, it had rained all night and for part of the day, meaning all the wood was wet, and we also were not the best fire makers, as had been demonstrated the night before.

As we got closer to our campsite, though, we saw a light, which was kind of weird. Eventually, we got to our campsite and saw a man sitting next to a huge fire in the fire ring. I’ll be honest, for a moment I was less focused on the fire and more focused on an escape plan, but when we introduced ourselves, it turns out he was a Purdue alum! He hung out with us and talked around the fire for a few hours before we went to bed. (Also, apparently in the Smoky Mountains it works out that you’re often camping at the same camp site as other groups of people you don’t necessarily know, at least for the sites capable of holding bigger groups.)

I couldn’t believe that we had traveled south for spring break and run across so many people from Purdue IN THE MIDDLE OF THE MOUNTAINS. Every week I give presentations to visiting families and talk about how large and widespread our alumni network is, but it was really cool to see that played out! Plus, the guy at our campsite definitely saved us from another night of peanut butter on tortillas.

elevated views of Bell Tower and Hovde. Engineering Mall

Dreaming of a white… Spring Break?

Spring is in the air! The crazy winter is finally coming to an end! In the past couple of days we’ve been getting days with temperatures in the 50’s! What a nice break after the long days of cold and snow! There is always a sense of excitement in the air as us students get ready to break out the shorts and sunglasses. In fact I busted out my shorts and boat shoes on both Monday and Tuesday.

It’s a great feeling when you can sit outside in the sunshine getting some homework done or even running to grab a Den Pop on Chauncey Hill. One of my favorite spots to sit between classes is on the grass in the area surrounding the clapping circles. It’s a great place to sit and do some homework or even to lay back and catch some Z’s listening to Purdue students flying airplanes overhead.

Clapping Circles

My favorite thing about the spring here is that despite the ever looming threat of finals nearing, Purdue provides tons of great things to break up the studying. For example, I just bought tickets for a Justin Moore concert that will be in Elliot Hall on Thursday! Yeehaw! You bet I’ll be there in my cowboy boots and plaid shirt! As someone from good ole Floyds Knobs Indiana I have to represent my country side every now and then. On top of Justin Moore, I have tickets to go to Life in Color in April. This will be my second year going and I can’t wait to hear MGK, Cash Cash, and Adventure Club doing their thing!

Life in Color 2013

Last Years Life in Color!

Spring is this awesome sign to us students that WE MADE IT! After realizing that you weathered a cold snowy winter at Purdue there’s nothing that can stop you! The professors try and bring your good mood down with exams but even those can’t stop you! In fact, my professors decided to team up on me and schedule three exams in the same week. Talk about lots to do! However, with Spring break only a week away I just keep telling myself that all of my hard work will be rewarded! I’m not heading to the sunny beaches of Florida this Spring break like a lot of my friends, but I know that Indiana will treat me well!

With the weather warming up you have to love the excitement in the air! The only thing that can get you down is a return of that nasty winter weather. Unfortunately despite the excitement over the increasing temperatures, crazy Indiana weather decided to strike again! I woke up this morning ready to throw on some shorts only to realize that there were a couple fresh inches of snow on the group! What a bummer.  Hopefully the snow will all melt for Spring Break! No one dreams of a white Spring Break!

Anyways, I’ve got two exams later today and another tomorrow! I’ve been working hard and I’m ready to kick some butt! I Hope all of you are as excited for Spring as I am! Just three quick hurdles (exams) that I have to jump and then I’ll ready to enjoy the warming weather to its fullest! Here goes nothing! Wish me luck!

The Six Stages of a New Semester

Whether this was your last first day of school or you’re still trying to figure out the printing on campus (or both), you’re probably experiencing the same highs and lows of a new semester. After what seems like a record-setting month of winter break winds down…

1. You have to leave your family.

For a lot of us, this looks something like this:

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After all, who else is going to hang out with you 16 hours a day and only get annoyed at you a few (dozen) times?

And for the rest, this may be a more accurate picture:

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You love them, but 4 weeks is a long time.

2. You finally get to see your friends!

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Don’t pretend you haven’t missed their weird little quirks.

3. But only after you buy your books for the semester.

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So much for that laptop you had your eye on. Also the boots I wanted to buy will have to stay in my dreams.

4. You just know you’re going to be so much more on top of things this semester.

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ALL of your credit hours are engineering classes? No big. You and your multi-colored pens are totally prepared.

5. But then you realize it’s 11:30 the night before classes.

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Actually, you’re not totally prepared. And your graphing calculator is begging for new batteries. Where did the day go?!

But by some miracle (AKA your own capabilities), you pull everything together and have a totally focused and productive first day.

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Good luck this semester, Boilermakers – you’re smart, talented and off to a great start! For any help or advice you may need staying on top of academics this semester, check out some of our academic support resources here.

(gifs taken from reactiongifcollection.tumblr.com)

Photo Credit: Alex Baker

The Changing Seasons

If you live in the Midwest, you probably already know that the weather is unpredictableIf you don’t live in the Midwest, I hope you came prepared.

What I’ve learned in my 2.5 years attending Purdue is to never leave the apartment without first checking the weather forecast. Do not rely on the alleged ‘season of the year’ or how nice it was yesterday, because the weather will betray you. Oh, you think it’s Fall? How about some snow. It was 40 degrees out yesterday, so you’re wearing two coats? Let’s warm it up to 80 degrees. And sometimes, not even the weather forecast can save you; I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve left the apartment wearing rain boots only to not have it rain a drop.

But even though the Midwest basically makes up the seasons as it goes along, there’s something exciting about the transitions to Fall and Winter.

I mean, sure, there are bad things; allergies flare up, it gets dark too soon, the fountains shut off, and no matter how beautiful fresh-fallen snow is, trudging through the sludge it becomes on the street is just not a pleasant experience.

I think these things are made worth it by the good things that come with the new seasons. In the Fall, campus becomes more beautiful then ever with the changing leaves. And who doesn’t love sweater weather?! There’s nothing better than cozying up in a cardigan with some hot chocolate to watch a movie with friends. And then you’ve got your typical Fall activities, like picking apples, visiting corn mazes, and of course carving pumpkins for Halloween!

Photo Credit: Alisha Tungare

Photo Credit: Alisha Tungare

Photo Credit: Alex Baker

Photo Credit: Alex Baker

And though it gets cold in Winter, it’s impossible not to get excited for Starbucks’ seasonal drinks (and the red cups!), the social acceptability of a wardrobe consisting exclusively of Uggs and yoga pants, and using our resources and engineering creativity to go sledding down Slayter Hill (couch on skis, anyone?).sledding-slayter-hill

So don’t let the changing seasons get you down! Although the warmer weather may be gone for now, there are still plenty of ways to stay entertained.

Katie

Study Notes from a Procrastinator

Everyone tells you that college is a lot of work, but if you’re anything like me, it’s tempting to think “maybe it was hard for that person, but it won’t be a problem for me.” (Conceited, I know, but I have to be honest with you if my experiences are going to help at all.) You may have excellent study habits in high school, and if you do, then congratulations, you’re on your way to success! Half the battle is building those habits.

I was the opposite of those incoming students with excellent study habits. I coasted through high school on minimal effort, not because I was genius level smart, but because I was lazy. My senior showcase essay for AP Composition was written about procrastination, since I didn’t start it until the night before it was due and I knew I could get away with it by crafting some clever sentences about how it was a fitting topic. I still remember the conclusion – a pretty lame Harry Potter joke, followed by the quip “I could think of a better analogy than Harry Potter, but it’s getting late and I have math homework to finish.”

As it turns out, engineering classes don’t accept jokes about popular culture in place of the correct answer, something I quickly learned upon arrival at Purdue. I’ll be honest – I was not a model student when it came to studying. Or finishing homework. Or going to class. As a matter of fact, I probably attended 50 percent of my Calc I classes. DO NOT DO THAT. I had taken calculus in high school and had gotten a good score on the AP test, but had decided to retake the class since I didn’t feel ready to move on to Calc II. “I can totally do this, Calc wasn’t even hard in high school” I rationalized every time I didn’t feel like waking up for class. The 37% I got on the second test of the year shocked me into studying, but by that point I had tanked my grade enough that I got a C in the class, which is not easy to admit.

I would argue that learning to study was my hardest assignment that first year. There was a lot of trial and error, and I learned that studying for hours if you’re distracted or if you’re studying things you don’t really need to review is not as effective as diligently focusing on the right things for a shorter amount of time. You have to find what works for you – I get by on my monstrous to-do lists, color coded calendars and by keeping myself busy, since I’m more likely to study if I know this is my only opportunity to do so.

I’m not going to pretend that I now have it all together, and frankly there are much better people to take study advice from. There are so many parts of my study habits that I am trying to improve upon, and I still fall into the trap of thinking I can handle more than I actually can. I also can’t pretend that the bad grade I received my first semester kicked me into gear and suddenly I studied diligently between classes from 8 AM to 6 PM (which is not a bad strategy, honestly); even my junior year of college, I stepped back and realized “yikes, I need to re-evaluate what I’m doing to study.” But the sooner you realize that you need to put consistent, dedicated time and effort into your classes, the better – your grades will improve, your stress levels will drop, and you can stop living entire days hopped up on deadline adrenaline. Procrastination feels good in the moment; a well-earned grade keeps you proud and confident for days.

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Engineering Abroad

The cool thing about being an engineer is that you can see the impact of engineering everywhere you look. There are examples of bad engineering – like the kitchen in my apartment, which looks spacious but has extremely limited and inefficient storage; every time I go to grab something out of an inconveniently placed cabinet I think about how an engineer clearly had nothing to do with the design. But there are also examples of incredible engineering.

I’m sure most of you have heard of the London Eye: the giant Ferris Wheel in the middle of London, on the shore of the Thames, where tourists stand in glass carriages and look out over the whole of the city.Image

I’m Katie Phillips, a Junior in Chemical Engineering here at Purdue. For Spring Break 2013, I visited London with my mom and my sisters-in-law. I had heard of the London Eye, but I didn’t know anything about it – especially the amazing feat of engineering that it is.

The London eye has a diameter of nearly 400ft (which is nearly equivalent to a 40-story building) and stands about 450ft high. Each of the 32 glass capsules weigh over 22,000 lbs and can hold 25 people. All of this would be incredible in itself; but did you know that the London Eye is supported on only one side?Image

Hundreds of thousands of pounds, supported by two beams and several cables. That’s what the London Eye is. Being there in such a great city and seeing how cool engineering could be made me fall in love with my major all over again (although, as a Chemical Engineer my major had admittedly little to do with the London eye).

Engineering is everywhere. It’s all around you. And it is awesome.

-Katie

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On the road again – I’m back in Texas

I’m back in the great state of Texas this week talking to students and high school counselors about Purdue’s Engineering program and cheering on the Purdue Solar Team as they compete in the Shell Eco-marathon.

I’m staring off the trip in Fort Worth and staying at the Stockyards. What a great and historical place. Had dinner last night at H3 and wondered into the bar area to check out the horse saddle bar stools and the “surprise” behind the bar.

After dinner I stopped in at the White Elephant Saloon where, so I’ve been told, the TV show Walker Texas Ranger shot several. scenes. The owner collects white elephants and there is a huge wall displaying them. On the ceiling are cowboy hats with the names of their donors.

Having a bit of free tome, Yesterday I walked the yards and visited a few shops before heading to a reception with some wonderful HS counselors in the Dallas area.

Today I’m headed to some of the museums here in the Stockyards before hopping in the car for the 4.5 hr drive down to Houston.

Stay tuned…

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Back Home Again in Indiana – - – For now

After a whirlwind trip to Oak Brook IL, Minneapolis MN, and Miami FL, I’m back home in Indiana for a bit.  One the best parts about my job is that it allows me to meet some wonderful and exciting people from around the world both on and off campus.  To be honest, from a young age I wanted traveling to be a part of my job, that along with helping people.  Who knew that I would get to do both at the same time?

It’s a lot of fun to see the light-bulb of ideas switch on when talking to students and answering the sometimes unspoken question, “what do I need all this math and science for?”  For the students who understand a little about engineering, it’s fun to expand that knowledge by talking about the 15 different majors offered at Purdue.  This usually answers the unspoken question, “You mean there is more than mechanical, civil or electrical? What is Theater Engineering?”

While in Miami I had the opportunity to meet an Engineering Alum who became a corporate attorney for Southwestern Bell, which became SBC Global, which bought AT&T.  Wow, what a story he could tell being on the inside of such a trans-formative company.

As good as it was to travel it’s nice to be home.  We are now gearing up for families visiting campus and one of the biggest visit days of the year, February 18th, with Engineering Extravaganza kicking off the start of Engineers Week.   What an exciting time!

Office of Future Engineers Blog