Category Archives: Student Writer

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

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:

6Stages_crying

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:

6stages_wavingbye

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

2. You finally get to see your friends!

 6stages_happyteletubbies

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

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

  6stages_batman

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.

 6stages_productive

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.

 6stages_shocked 

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.

 6stages_proud

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)

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.

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 😛

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.