Category Archives: Student Writer


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.

How dead is “Dead Week?”

The week before finals at many universities is dubbed “Dead Week,” supposedly because of how you will feel by the time the week is over (head over to the Wikipedia article for an interesting read). So the question remains: how dead is Dead Week?

Well, it really varies from semester to semester. In the fall, my dead week comprised of working deadline-to-deadline, having a project or a paper due from Tuesday until Friday. Needless to say, after many sleepless nights and almost zero time to relax, this picture epitomizes how I felt: 

That’s my roommate passed out on the floor of his room after working on a project for quite a few hours. Thankfully though, I was able to find my bed before passing out to catch up on sleep after my monster of a week.

On the other end of the spectrum, however, sometimes your dead week can be pretty mild: you might have one or two papers/projects to finish up, but after that you are set to go to start studying for your finals the following week.

During dead week, the university mandates that you cannot have a test or quiz in any class because of the close proximity to finals. Some libraries on campus start to transition to a 24-hour open schedule through finals week, so you can always count on a nice, quiet place to study. It’s nice because sometimes you can pick up some free food/drink while studying. My freshman year, the reps from Red Bull walked into the library with cases of their product and just put them right onto one of the open tables. People from all over the library descended upon the table and within a minute, all of it was gone. When I was studying for finals in the Potter Engineering Library junior year, I got some free coffee, donuts, and snacks that were regularly put out by the staff there.

It seems like the university gets quieter as things wind down and people are finishing up their classes or studying for their exams. Although no one is a big fan of having tests, they are the final gateway to the freedom of summer.

2012 AIAA Design/Build/Fly Competition

This past weekend, I was able to see the culmination of two semesters’ worth of work put into an aircraft design for the AIAA Design/Build/Fly (DBF) competition.

Every year, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) holds a competition where university teams from around the country and the world get the opportunity to design an RC airplane that can meet three specific mission requirements that are set by the competition planning members. This year’s three mission requirements included:

  • Mission 1: Fly 1,000 foot lap rotations and determine how many can be flown within 4 minutes.
  • Mission 2: Take a 3.75 pound payload of aluminum bars and successfully fly three lap rotations within 4 minutes.
  • Mission 3: Design a mechanism to release 2 liters of water after the plane successfully reaches 100 meters.

I took DBF to fulfill my senior design requirements, but also because I had garnered an interest in it after my two friends (now roommates) had talked about their experiences with the team last year. I had been looking for an opportunity to get experience with going through the entire design cycle of an aircraft, and DBF was exactly that.

The competition this year was held out in Wichita, KS, from April 13th to April 15th, so last Thursday 26 members of the DBF team took a nice 12-hour drive all the way out there. The competition is co-sponsored by Cessna and Raytheon (Cessna’s HQ is in Wichita, and Raytheon’s is in Tuscon, AZ) and the competition location rotates in between the two.

Even though the forecast called for thunderstorms all three days of the competition, the first day turned out to be absolutely beautiful. It was partly cloudy, low winds, and a really comfortable temperature out at the Cessna airfield, where the competition was held. It was also pretty cool, because the airfield is located next to McConnell Air Force Base, home to one of the country’s largest refueling fleets of KC-135s. So all throughout the day, the tankers were doing practice landing runs, and this became a pretty regular site:

Wichita also houses a former Boeing facility, and we got to see a Boeing Dreamlifter (one of 4 planes that was constructed to transport parts for the Boeing 787) make a landing at McConnell as well.

As interesting as seeing the planes land over at the AFB was, the opportunity to see all of these other teams from other engineering schools and their airplane designs was also really neat as well. There were 69 teams in total that entered the competition, but about 60 that actually showed up on-site for flights. Here is a picture of us with our plane:

There’s me on the left, with Lee, the pilot, in the middle, and Jason, the team leader, on the right. The plane itself was constructed using balsa wood and some carbon fiber elements as well. Our plane successfully completed Mission 1 and 2 on the first and second day of the competition. However, on the night of the second day (April 14th) an intense storm system brought a number of tornadoes to the region, including an F4 tornado that struck about 8 miles away from our hotel. The aftermath of the weather left multiple downed power lines that blocked off access to the Cessna airfield, and the DBF competition officials had to cancel the rest of the competition.

We drove back home all day yesterday, and although it wasn’t the best of endings to the competition, it was still a really great experience to go out there, see how our design compared with everyone else’s, and appreciate the engineering talents that all of the schools brought out to the competition.

Whoa, where did the semester go?

Just a few months ago, I was packing up all my things into my Corolla (a feat of engineering in and of itself) and driving eighteen hours to get to Houston.  Now, I’m starting to look around my room in Houston and go “How on Earth am I going to get all of this back to Indiana?”  While my friends at Purdue are all starting to study for finals, I’m wrapping up things at work and only have another week left (and only one more paycheck coming).  As an engineer, I like lists, so I’ve broken down my experience into the best parts and the worst parts of being on co-op.

The Best Things:

1. The Work –  I’ve had an opportunity to learn a lot about both the company I work for and a branch of engineering (technical sales) that I’ve never seen before.
2. The Food – This is entirely subjective, but TexMex and Texan BBQ are some of the best cuisines out there and having it at least once a week is pretty awesome.
3. The Weather –  It started off really hot (Over two straight weeks of 100 degree weather), but the temperate finally moderated and I haven’t had to worry about snow at all this semester.
4.  The Work (Redux) – Or lack thereof.  My job doesn’t have homework.  No late nights of working or studying for me.

The Worst Things: (Which Really Aren’t All That Bad)

1. The Social Aspect – In this age of Facebook/Twitter/G+, it’s easy to keep up to date with what is going on with your friends.  This is kind of a double edged sword though, as (at least my friends’) posts are always about the best things that are going on at school.  You start to miss school.
2.  Missing Football Season – We beat Ohio State.  Again.  We rushed the field. Again.  And again, I wasn’t on campus.  Eventually I’ll be around for Purdue pulling off a huge upset in football.

Actually, the worst things hardly qualify as needing a list…I am looking forward to a change of scenery and being back on campus in January.  Just in time for Big Ten basketball season.  Boiler Up!

A Trip to Kansas City

Hey everone,

One of my goals for this semester was to find an internship that would expand my experience in Software Engineering. I went to Purdue’s Industrial Roundtable, which is the largest student run job fair in the nation, and talked to as many software engineering firms as I could. I had the opportunity to talk to companies such as Microsoft, Lexmark, IBM, Garmin, Amazon, Lutron, and many more.

3 weeks later, I was offered the opportunity the fly out to Olathe, Kansas(a suburb of Kansas City) to visit the campus of Garmin International. It was an absolutely amazing experience! We were able to learn about all the different sectors of their company and how I could fit in as an intern. We also were given the chance to network with many of the engineers there while hanging out at Dave and Busters. So basically, I got to play video games with a group of Engineers! On the final day, we had two 30-minute interviews as well as a few more presentations. A week later, I was offered a position as a software engineering intern for next summer!

My trip to KC was an absolutely amazing experience! I was able to meet a lot of students from Purdue who were also applying there, many of whom may end up there this summer as well. I know that I wouldn’t have had such an amazing experience without Purdue. Purdue has provided me with so many opportunities to grow and succeed, and I am so thankful for that!

Women In Engineering Program (WIEP) Event

Last night I helped run a booth for PSEF at a Women in Engineering (WIEP) event.There was a great turn out and girls asked a ton of great questions so I thought I’d blog about a few of the frequent questions girls asked last night. I often got, are the classes really as scary as people make them out to be? You will often hear that first year engineering is just one huge weed out process, but I have found that as long as you keep up with your work, you’ll do just fine. It’s true that you know longer have your parents there to remind you to do your homework, but chances are that if you’re interested in Purdue Engineering, they probably don’t have to anyway.

I also got asked about whether or not they they had to know what type of engineering they wanted to go into before they got here.  All first year engineers start off as just that, First-Year Engineers (FYE’s). You don’t declare which school you want to be in until sophomore year. All FYE’s are required to take an engineering class that allows them to be exposed to all the different types of engineering disciplines. For example my engineering class is visited by at least two professional schools a week. They come into our class, give us a presentation trying to sell us their school, and then they are there to answer any school specific questions we may have. It’s nice because I came in thinking I wanted biomedical engineering but then learned that biological engineering was more what I wanted. Now I’m even thinking Industrial Engineering, something I didn’t even know what it was until the schools representatives came into my Engineering 131 class.

One last common question was about learning communities. I am in the Women in Engineering learning community and I take the Women in Enigneering Seminar. There is an application for learning communities on your myPortal account (what you used to apply to Purdue). Purdue offers many learning communities, some require you to live with the other members and some require you to take classes. Women in Engineering is a residency hall program that allows me to live with just other women engineers. It’s kind of nice because if I have a homework question, I can just walk down the hall and knock on doors until I find someone who can help me, because we’re all taking virtually the same classes. Another popular learning community is EPICS. This is another residency program where you live with other engineers in EPICS. You also take classes with them and work on a real world project. Many students who do EPICS put it down as real work experience on their resumes because they are projects that are actually implemented by the companies who hire Purdue’s EPICS program.

There are so many great things about being a Purdue Engineer. I never visited campus before I came here, I just knew what high regards Purdue Engineers were held in and knew I wanted it for myself. That’s not to say you shouldn’t visit, everyone should come get a tour of the engineering campus from PSEF! If you’re interested, you can even shadow one of us to our classes. :)

My Job

One of the reasons I chose Purdue was the professional practice program.  Every February, over a hundred companies come to Purdue to recruit for freshman and sophomores in engineering to fill roles as co-op students for the next two/three years.  You alternate back and forth between school and work each semester and summer, earning money while getting valuable work experience.

As part of my job this semester, I’ve gotten to work with GE in Houston.  To better understand how our products work in the field, some people from my engineering team and I went to visit a drilling rig to see the field application of one of our engines.  Learned a lot, even if the rig manager gave me a hard time for being an intern.

Our products in the fieldFor perspective, I’m 5’8″.  The engine is about 8′ tall and ~30′ long.   Runs off of natural gas and is one of the most efficient on the market (Can you tell I work with Sales and Marketing a lot?)