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Why Should I Be Involved on Campus?

Brad IIE Blog

Being involved is an important and fun part of being a college student. When you’re applying to colleges, you always hear admissions counselors telling you to be a well-rounded student involved in extra-curricular activities and clubs because it looks better and shows that you can balance a busy schedule. While this is definitely true, I’ve come to realize that one of the reasons they encourage this has to do with something totally different. They’re pushing you to be prepared for college, where being involved on campus can truly mean success both in and outside of the class room.

During my 4 years here on Purdue’s campus, I’ve been involved in a number of student organizations. Most noticeably I’ve been a large part of both The Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE) and Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity. Both of these groups mix the professional aspects of a club as well as the social aspects and I’m going to talk a bit about both sides of any group you might join on campus.

Each semester, clubs will hold “call-outs,” which are usually short presentations showing what the club does on campus (and sometimes have free food!) In any given semester at Purdue, I’ve been invited to more club callouts than I can count, so it’s hard to know where to start. I simplified things by finding a handful of clubs that sounded interesting and made it a point to attend their call-outs. I remember walking into the IIE callout and instantly being excited by the number of people in the club that I already knew from my classes and major. I was nervous going into the first meeting as they started explaining all of the events I would be required to attend and wondering how I would handle it all, but luckily I didn’t try and walk out or give-up on the idea.

I spent the semester attending a plethora of events from Luncheons with the Faculty,  a career fair with 10 different companies, and one-on-one presentations from companies like Pepsico, FedEx, and Disney (yes Disney World!) These events were not only a great chance to network and gain experience talking to companies, and even getting to know some of my Professors in a more relaxed setting, but they also gave me the chance to make some great friends with the club members that I saw at every event.

It may not sound like much fun going to a ton of networking events but they actually did end up being a good time. On top of the networking events, IIE hosted even more fun social events throughout the semester! They had different fun things going on every couple of weeks throughout the semester which would range from things like going to a corn maze during the fall, renting out the Purdue Memorial Union bowling alley one night, or even sometimes just a get together at someone’s apartment where would all go and hang out to blow off some steam.

I think the biggest thing to be taken away from my experiences in IIE is that the true benefits of joining almost any group are usually intangible. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade anything for the great times I had nor do I under-appreciate all the help I’ve received in searching for internships and eventually full time jobs. However, the intangible benefit comes into effect when you walk into a class at the beginning of semester and you know over half of the people in it. From this first day, the opportunities for study sessions with friends, homework help, and once again just the opportunity to come together as a group and have fun becomes limitless.

I would encourage anyone reading this to really take the chance to become involved on campus at every turn in their college career. It can be tough and sometimes scary to attend callouts and try to impress the current club members enough into being invited to join. But the huge payout potential of putting yourself out there really is worth it! I always use the motto that “It doesn’t hurt to try something new at least once.” The worst that could happen is that you won’t enjoy it and you’ll move on, so go out there and get involved!

ROTC and Engineering at Purdue

Sometimes you’ll see us walking around on campus in our uniforms. Sometimes you’ll hear us chanting our running cadences in the early hours of the morning. Most people can recognize us from the way our hair is cut, how we walk, talk, and hold ourselves. It’s hard not to notice the 340+ ROTC cadets and midshipmen walking around campus…and if you were a male coming to Purdue between 1888 -1964, we’d be standing in formation together

ROTC stands for Reserve Officer Training Corp, and its ties to Purdue are almost as old as the university itself. What is now known as ROTC started as “The Corp” at Purdue in 1888, and up until 1964, all males were required to join. Purdue ROTC today is quite different that it was in 1888, but it continues to be one of the best college military training programs offered in the country.

Here’s how it works: you go to college whilst simultaneously receiving military training for four years through one of the four services – Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force (for the military buffs out there…yes, I know that Navy and Marines are the same branch, but good luck getting a Marine to admit that). You are both college student and a military officer in training. When you graduate Purdue, you’ll also commission as an officer in one of those branches. In exchange for the military helping you out with college expenses through scholarships, living stipends, and/or tuition assistance, you owe that branch anywhere from four to ten years active duty service. Not a bad deal, but of course after four years of Air Force ROTC myself, you can imagine I am rather biased at this point.

Purdue has one of the best Army, Navy, and Air Force ROTC programs in the nation (see my previous statement). Couple that with one of the best engineering schools in the country, and you’ve got a pretty formidable combination. Over half of the 340 Purdue ROTC cadets and midshipmen I mentioned before are engineering students, myself included.

Now, it’s no secret that Purdue’s engineering curriculum can be quite rigorous. Add to that physical training three times a week before the sun is up, an academic course one to two times a week, a two-hour Leadership Lab once a week, and various ROTC-related extracurriculars, and you’ve got one heck of a schedule. Welcome to the life of a Purdue ROTC engineering student.

If you catch an engineering ROTC student and ask them about their experiences and their degree choice, they’re likely to say that their choice of major has assisted them in their ROTC responsibilities and vice versa in several ways:

Time management—I’d bet that nearly every engineering student will tell you time management is critical to have a healthy college experience (let’s take healthy to mean decent grades, a social life, and sleep…we can ignore our late night eating habits for now). Engineering students have to practice time management every day. That practice comes in handy for ROTC students when they are juggling ROTC responsibilities on top of their academic ones – learning time management through one program helps you manage your responsibilities in the other.

Critical Thinking & Problem Solving– Applying critical thinking to problem solving… ROTC or Engineering? If you answered both, you’re getting the point already. Much of our ROTC training is dedicated to learning how to critically think and make smart decisions under pressure (a skill I imagine faithful taxpayers want in the leaders of their military). Conveniently, getting a bachelor’s degree in engineering is essentially a four to five year-long course in critical thinking and problem solving. While the problems in engineering vs. ROTC might be different, the fundamentals of critical thinking stay the same. Practice in one helps you in the other.

Public Speaking & Presentations –Part of our academic ROTC curriculum includes learning how to construct and practicing how to give good briefings…sometimes a little too often (Death by PowerPoint is a hazard for us in the military). ROTC students are usually very comfortable–and if not comfortable, they are at least practiced in hiding it—with getting up in front of peers to give presentations. That comes in handy when it comes time to present your engineering project to your peers and professors.

Leadership –This is one area that I feel where ROTC engineering students get a slight advantage over non-ROTC engineering students. Don’t get me wrong, there are a TON of other places/clubs/organizations at Purdue that provide leadership development to rival ROTC. However, the driving purpose and ultimate objective of ROTC is to mold cadets and midshipmen into leaders. The Air Force ROTC’s mission is very literal about this, stating, “Develop quality leaders for the Air Force.” It’s hard to find a student organization like it anywhere else on campus. We learn the principals, ethics, morality, and legality of leadership, we do leadership studies, and we practice it among our peers. Having someone with that kind of experience can come in handy in a project team and in a project management setting as an engineer.

So, will being in ROTC automatically make you a better engineering student or vice versa? Nope. But the skills you practice and learn in one of those programs can transfer well over to the other if you know where to apply them. The funny thing is, the majority of cadets and midshipmen will not be engineers in the military when they graduate. So why do engineering and ROTC? Well, some do it for the scholarship opportunities…others just really really (really) like to take classes that sound like they’re out of Star Trek—“Transonic Aerodynamics” is an actual class (AAE 513). The truth may be somewhere in between. Regardless of why we chose Purdue ROTC and engineering, there’s no better place to do it than Purdue University.

 

 

Dead Week

We’ve almost made it through another Dead Week here at Purdue!

Every year, Dead Week comes along. At first, it’s exciting! It’s the last week of classes! It’s almost summer!

StewYou’re going to be good this year and start studying for Finals early.

Or maybe not.

But then suddenly you realize that you have two lab reports, a project, and a presentation this week.

You learn that it’s not called Dead Week because campus is calm, but because they’re trying to kill you.

Somehow, you make it through and get everything turned in. You might have even done a decent job!

And at the end of it all your brain, like this week, is dead.

…Just in time for Finals!

Stay strong, friends! You can do it!

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 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.

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.

Washington D.C. (Part 1)

Some days I have to pinch myself because my job is so cool.

Imagine being told “we want you to go and hang out at the USA Science & Engineering Festival in Washington D.C. and, oh by the way, you’ll get to meet some really cool people while your there.” Wow, did I ?!?

Over the three days in D.C. I got to see some really cool things, eat some really great food, and most of all meet some fantastic people.

In Part 1 of this series I would like to share with you some of the great People that I got to meet.  First of all we met several outstanding future engineering students from the northeast and hope to see them all on Purdue’s campus in the future. Unfortunately, since we were so busy talking I didn’t get pictures of the students and their families

In addition to the students I also had the opportunity to meet some names and faces that you might have heard of such as the Mythbusters (Jamie & Adam).

Mythbusters (Jamie and Adam) & me

These great guys have been to Purdue’s campus but it was nice to meet them in person. They are both really nice. I would have loved to had to hang out and visit for a bit or blow something up, but we all had to get back to work.

Mayim Bialik
(Big Bang Theory’s-
Amy Farrah Fowler)
& me

After walking blocks in the drizzling rain to catch a cab, David Bowker and I made it to the reception and, looking like a drowned rat, we got to meet Big Bang Theory’s Amy Farrah Fowler.  Mayim (AFF’s real name) has a PhD in neuroscience which is really cool. She was very nice and gracious to these two soaked Big Bang fans.

Josh Wurman w/ DOW
Storm Chasers (Discovery Channel)
& me

Living in the Midwest we hear about tornadoes all the time so shows like Discovery Channel’s Storm Chasers really capture my interest, as they let me see tornadoes up-close from the safety of my sofa.  However the truth is that there are men and women in the field everyday who are braving these dangerous elements to try to keep me safe and for that I’m thankful too.  So the opportunity of meeting Josh from Storm Chasers and see the DOW up-close was fascinating.

Well that’s it for the people.  Stay tuned for the more great highlights from Washington D.C.