Category Archives: Student Writer

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.

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

Balance

Being a college student in engineering and maintaining outside interests can appear to be downright impossible sometimes. I have found in my time here at Purdue that finding balance is the key to keeping my sanity, and actually getting tasks accomplished. I am not going to lie, I would go insane if all I did was homework 24/7. I need to take breaks to do the other things that I enjoy. Whether that be running, playing soccer on an intramural team, reading a good book or just sitting and vegging out in front of the tv.  I am not some robot that can maintain focus for hours on end. I need balance in my life. That is possibly the most difficult thing to learn in college. Not differential equations or heat and mass transfer, but how to find that perfect equilibrium in your life between coursework, socializing, extra-curricular activities, and part-time jobs. There is not magic solution for everyone either, no one size fits all, making this a daunting task. Some people plan everything out, down to the minute whereas others just go with the flow. It comes down to what works for you. It doesn’t matter which type of person you are. Just take the time to figure it out; it will be worth it in the long run.

Summer at Purdue

This is my first summer staying at Purdue, and I have to say it is not quite what I expected. I am currently taking my last math class, doing undergraduate research, and holding a part time job, so needless to say I am keeping myself busy. Yet I still find myself missing the “normal” Purdue atmosphere. I miss the Big Ten sports. I miss the energy that the full student body brings to campus each fall and spring. I miss all the friends I have made here since freshman year, most of who are around the country with internships, research opportunities, or just relaxing back at home. All of these things I miss are what makes Purdue home to me each fall and spring semester.

Before I get everyone thinking that Purdue is a place to be avoided in the summer I should state that I have some awesome opportunities available to me here. I get to work with a professor on a research project pertaining to a copper alloy he is attempting to patent, something  I would have never gotten to do had I stayed back home for the summer.  I am excited to be able to do some meaningful, real world engineering work while having the flexibility of being able to work and take a class.

There are still plenty of things to do here on (and off) campus during the summer, from intramural sports on campus to going to Chicago or Indianapolis for a day or weekend. The atmosphere on campus is also calmer, quieter from the lack of students, something I appreciate when attempting to do homework on campus. I still miss the hustle and bustle of the fall and spring semester, but something can be said for a break from all the commotion that those semesters bring. So I am savoring my “relaxation” time I have this summer, as I know once I go into the real world and get my full-time job I will miss these days.

Purdue Pride

Every time I walk around Purdue’s campus I usually discover something new that I hadn’t seen or noticed before.  I know it is easy to get caught up in a routine and take things for granted.  My first memories of Purdue are ones I will cherish forever.  The awing moments when I first walked around campus, enjoying the simple beauty of the buildings and landscaping.  Things have changed a lot since I first arrived at Purdue during a visit in 2006…wow I feel old :P

But it’s not everyday that you get to see a view like this:

Purdue Engineering Fountain

When I actually take the time to appreciate the campus and look around a little more carefully, I beam with pride that I go to such an awesome university!  The opportunities that exist here at Purdue are endless.  You can get involved in research, study abroad, work for companies across the country, go to a sporting event, see a concert, or take part in some cool traditions only here at Purdue such as the fountain run, sledding down Slayter Hill, high fiving Purdue Pete, or riding in the Boilermaker Special!

Posing next to the Boilermaker Special!

So make sure to make the most of your college career, it goes by quick! Go Boilers!!

Reflection on Gov. Mitch Daniels as Purdue’s 12th President

Today I had the opportunity to watch the live video as Purdue’s Board of Trustees named Gov. Mitch Daniels as the next President of Purdue.  It was a great opportunity to see the formal selection process of a new president at a university.  I must admit that I do not know anything about Gov. Mitch Daniels because I do not keep up with politics as much as I should and my hometown is in Illinois, not Indiana where Mitch Daniels is governor.

Anyways, I just wanted to add my two cents about what I think of Purdue’s newly appointed president.  From the brief speech the Governor gave during the appointment ceremony, it appears that he is very excited about the opportunity and wants to make his time at Purdue a memorable one.  I feel that his relationships he has built across the nation, and even world-wide potentially, can help to improve and increase Purdue’s recognition and familiarity.  I am cautiously optimistic that Gov. Mitch Daniels will be able to grow Purdue and continue improving this great educational institution.  Only time will tell if he will become another successful Purdue President.

Here is the link to an article talking about the appointment ceremony:  http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/general/2012/120621KrachPresident.html

“All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ambition

I was reading a book today called “Words on Calm” when I came across something appalling, something I feel that I would never hear at Purdue.  The book itself is just one of those small feel-good Hallmark books that my mom picked up for one reason or another, and most of the things found in it are beautiful little poems about the importance of keeping calm. But this poem astonished me. “While others miserably pledge themselves to the insatiable pursuit of ambition and brief power, I will be stretched out in the shade, singing.”
My first reaction is, why are you singing you useless unhelpful blob? My second reaction is not much better, how can you be happy enough to sing without ambition? My definition of life is something with a pursuit. If we are not aiming for something how can you be living?

I am at Purdue to aim the highest I can. I am pledging myself to pursue genetic engineering, just as every other engineer here is pledging themselves to be successful. We’re not doing it for fame or power, we’re doing it because we realize the sweetest things in life come from accomplishment. Especially selfless accomplishment, aiming to making the world a better place.We realize that we did not choose the easiest route, but that none of us would be happy if we weren’t using our brains to their fullest capacity.

Engineers are people who love efficiency. We like getting things done as quickly and successfully as possible. I can’t speak for the others, however my life would be a waste if I sat back and watched others “miserably pledge themselves to the insatiable pursuit of ambition” as the poem said. Ambition gives us a reason to get out of bed.

As it is the summer and I have been out of classes for about a month now, I appreciate the fast paced environment of college more than ever. So far this summer I’ve worked a few times, seen some high school friends, and sewed a pretty awesome purse, but this is not the type of stagnant life style I could ever keep up for long. I love Purdue because I feel like I’m surrounded by people who would think the same way, the type of people who wake up in the morning and see opportunity in the future and would do anything to achieve it. We would not be happy avoiding ambition and singing by a river instead.

What I Wish I Would Have Known!

If there was one thing I wish I would have known before coming to Purdue, it would be to take more physics in high school.

This is my theory… the more successful you are in college physics is in direct correlation to the amount of high school physics you had. I ended the semester with a B minus. This is the worst grade I have ever received, but also the hardest I have ever worked for.

The classes here are Purdue are not necessarily harder than any I took in high school, in fact the hardest class I’ve ever taken (after Physics 172) was my anatomy/physiology class junior year of high school. The true difference lies in the amount of accomplishment you feel after completing them. In college you cover twice the amount of material in half the time. The work isn’t harder, there is just more of it. It is not out of anyone’s capability, it is just out of some peoples will.

One of my favorite parts about Purdue is that students will put their school work first. We work hard to accomplish that A and will not settle for the bare minimum. We are here to learn. I pay good money to sit in these classes and will not accept from myself or my professors,  anything less than a great education. I’m excited to go back in the fall and work hard. With Physics 172 out the way, I feel like I can tackle any material I set my mind to.

A Cincinnati Summer

This summer is the first summer I’ve had an internship and I’m so lucky to be working for Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati, OH. I started May 14th and I have loved every minute since. We had a lot of training and these first two weeks I have just been trying to learn as much about the company and my projects as possible. The great thing about this internship is that P&G actually gives its interns real work to do. My 4 projects I have to complete by the end of the summer will all be used globally by managers and employees.

So here’s how I got this internship: Purdue has an event in mid-September called “Industrial Roundtable”. It’s basically a huge company recruitment event where about 300 companies set up tables on the Memorial Mall and you can walk up and give your resume and talk with company representatives. It’s a great experience – even as a freshman when you’ve only been through about a month of school – because you get that experience of talking to company recruiters and developing your “elevator pitch”. This is basically a 30 second speech talking about yourself (your degree, leadership, etc). I went as a freshman and my resume was mainly high school activities and leadership I had then, but I still got interviews! Recruiters love to see freshman take the initiative and talk with them, and they actually remember you! I know it seems ridiculous because they visit so many schools, but I had a couple of company reps recognize my face and resume the next year.

Anyway, so once you give your resume to as many companies as you want, most of them conduct first round interviews as early as the next day (because the reps are travelling and want to get to the next school). So a company may call you back the next day and then you interview with recruiters (possibly the ones you met at  IR). After that first round interview, a couple weeks later, you will have a second round interview. This is usually with high ups in the company and could potentially be an on-site interview. That is when the company pays for you to come to their offices and interview on location. I had an on-site interview in Cincinnati and it was a great experience being able to see where I could work and interview with more people.

So that’s how I got my internship! I did well in my interviews and got a call in October saying that I was offered an internship. Being able to get work experience is the most valuable thing I think you can do in college. Not only does it look great on resume, but it give you an idea of if you would like doing this particular work in the future. It allows you to change your major or specialty if you discover that you dislike the work associated with it.

I love working here and I can’t wait to fill you all in on my Cincinnati adventures: I’ve already been to a Reds game and tonight a bunch of interns are going to Taste of Cincinnati! Here are me and my roommates eating dinner out a couple of nights ago:

Preparing for Finals

Hi Everyone!

As you can see, this is my first blog with COE recruitment and I’m so excited to be sharing my Purdue experiences with you all! I figured since it is Dead Week (see Dennis’s post below) I would talk about how I am preparing for finals and surviving the hectic work load.

During my first semester here at Purdue about a year and a half ago, I had no idea what to expect from Finals Week and especially the dreaded “Dead Week”. I decided to take the same approach I did in high school and just study for my finals in order as they were coming up. This is NOT a good idea in college. College classes pack in a lot more material and finals tend to be cumulative – so it’s best to spend equal amount of time on everything, as early as possible. I learned the hard way that studying for that Friday final on Thursday was just not going to work here. So as my 4th semester rounds out, I am taking this week as the time to make study guides, finish whatever last assignments I have to do, and continue to get regular amounts of sleep. That’s definitely key. Last semester I started off Dead Week hard and got a lot done, but my sleep schedule never got back on track and I was drained by the time finals week rolled around. This picture from last semester in Hick Undergrad Library at around 2:30 AM during dead week pretty much sums it up:

That’s a very tired and sad Kelly. But this semester I am determined to get a full 8 hours (that’s usually around 5/6 in college terms) a night and keep my sanity up. I would definitely recommend taking this time you have in high school to find out what study habits work best for you and changing it up every so often- you never know! I am happy to have found what works for me and what will hopefully make this finals week a breeze! Well, probably not but at least I know that I will have prepared to the best of my abilities.