Lights, Camera, Action with Emma ('19)

Hey Oliners!

Over the past 5 months I've been working on a new show for NBC!  (I'm an actor) My sets were on the Paramount Studios lot in Hollywood, California.   On a future blog, I'd love to share all the neat engineering and technical jobs that one can find in the entertainment industry.  But...that isn't all I've been up to!  I also worked on an ExxonMobil campaign targeted at engineering students and spoke at a Girls in STEM event in Kansas City, for girls in grades K-12. 

Be An Engineer Campaign

Earlier this summer I filmed a commercial for ExxonMobil.  The spot featured STEM students in all sorts of majors - engineering, biochemistry, computer science.  We filmed in the engineering labs at CalState Long Beach, which was super fun.  During filming we each talked about why we think STEM is so important and how engineers are changing the world.  The commercial was aimed at recruiting high schoolers into engineering programs and to pursue careers in STEM.   Check out the commercial!


A few months later, in September, I traveled to Kansas City for a 'Girl in STEM' event put on my Time Warner Cable at Science City.  I've worked a lot with TWC in the past, mostly on their Connect a Million Minds initiative, which is another STEM outreach program - geared mostly towards elementary through high school students.  This event however was very special to me, because it was all about girls in STEM.  Time Warner Cable actually partnered with the Girl Scouts of Northeast Kansas and Northwest Missouri to put this event on and there were thousands of girls there.  I spoke at a panel, answering the girls' questions which was super fun. 




Application deadlines and you


The Olin Admission Deadline is January 1st at midnight!


Hello, prospies!

I remember how I felt while applying to colleges. It wasn't that long ago! I was in your shoes, soliciting letters of recommendation, rounding up current senior grades, and getting SAT scores sent. I wrote and rewrote my essays countless times. And I was one of the weary applicants who trudged through a snow/sand/thunder-storm on the eve of the application deadline to submit all my documents postmarked to the correct date. In retrospect, I should have aimed to submit calmly and confidently, on some Tuesday in December, rather than careening into the deadline with a flurry copyedits and content revisions. But at the time, my last-minute late nights felt appropriate, somehow, like I was paying my dues to my semester of struggle. That way, once it was done, I could say that I'd done all I could.

Could I have finished 'doing all I could' two weeks before the deadline, instead of two hours? Yes. definitely. But it's tough not to be tempted by a later target date. This is, of course, a trap. My advice is this: Give yourself a week of freedom at the end of this month. I've had a few years to think about how I wish I'd approached my applications (and now a highly relevant job, for perspective). If you're feeling stuck with your nose to the grindstone, I'd like to help you step back, breathe, and start to see the forest. Maybe it'll help you navigate around those trees.

foresttrees.pngSki free, friend. Ski free.

My biggest frustration with my application season was the feeling that I wasn't doing anything new - just talking about what I'd already accomplished beforehand. If Olin appeals to you, you're probably a big doer - you fill the day with exciting, rewarding activities, and if you can't find the opportunities you want, you make them. I was constantly on the move, creating adventures for myself and my friends, inventing, discovering, pushing myself (normally, it pays to be specific in your essays, but in this case my goal is to affect your thinking but not your content). When I wrote my essays, it felt like much of creativity came to a halt. I felt trapped by the text-boxes, chained to my talking points.

I've since realized that the time wasn't wasted. It was a growth opportunity (one that, admittedly, I only half seized). Today, I find joy in carefully examining the choices I've made in my life while tying them together into a narrative. It turns out, applications are an ideal time for you to practice this kind of self-reflection. While there is value in simply doing, it's important to know why you do what you do. How have you grown because of your experiences? What have you learned about yourself in the process? This is relevant to your application because: How will we understand you if you don't you understand yourself? Help us out with your essays. It's not enough to say that you created X or took action around Y. You have to share what it means to you, and make it clear what it would mean for us if you were here at Olin. It isn't easy, but it's key. Reflective practice will make you more effective in many parts of your life. Maybe the essays are a worthwhile use of time after all!

Now that (I'm sure) you're eager to jump right in, let me encourage you to from another perspective. Let me put on my admission officer hat.

pb131103.jpgClick to enlarge

Right now, the Admission office feels like the calm before the storm. It's my first time through the cycle, so my colleagues are (almost gleefully!) warning me to batten down the hatches and clear my calendar. We're hiring temporary assistants to help us with the deluge of mail and email that we are poised to receive, and making guesses as to how many more applicants than last year we'll recieve. All this to say: We're gearing up for a lot of work. And many applicants are like I was, choosing to hold off their submission until the last week or the last day. Well, the college's CIO is in the office now chatting with Charlie, and she's laughing about how we always seem to try to crash the servers on the last day. My colleagues and I will be back to work on January 2nd, and our toil - data entry and filing - will surely go down in history. And then of course we'll finally get to read the applications (which is always a pleasure, but it's a very time-and-energy-consuming sort of pleasure). Basically, it will help us immensely if we receive your application before we leave for the holidays (by Monday the 22nd of November), but of course we understand if you need more time to get everything together.

This brings me to my final point, however. It's a lesson that I've learned the hard way, many times over: When you have a project that involves coordinating many moving parts, don't imagine for even a second that once you've prepared all the parts, you are close to done. I once scheduled an hour-long meeting to integrate the Mechanical, Electrical, and Software componants of my POE project. We were still ironing out kinks after a weekend of work and one-and-a-half all-nighters. After all that work, Wizard's Chess was a qualified success. The next time I worked on a similar project, I knew what to do. My partner and I got the individual pieces working much earlier in the semester, and managed to get all of the components working in conjunction with one another in the late afternoon of the day before the final demo. All we had to do was arrange all of them into a small cage (which we had planned in advance), by artfully lowering them in (which we hadn't). "All we had to do" - HA!  We spent the whole night getting all of the parts of our Phoenix Clock into the cage without breaking or disconnecting anything. And of course there were stumbling blocks. One that surprised us was just how bulky the microcontroller's bundled up power cable turned out to be! We had about an hour to shower and eat breakfast before presenting. 


With panache

All that to say: For your own peace of mind, try to finish up your applications early. Just pretend to to get all of your materials together at once, and you'll discover what surprises or delays arise. You can adjust or tweak whatever details need adjusting and tweaking... but only after you know that you can get it out the door (and into the hands of a mail carrier) if you absolutely need to. And hey, if you give us some time to review the contents of your application before the deadline, we may be able to let you know if you're missing anything. Wouldn't that be nice!

In short: don't delay. You're engaging in a worthwhile process (while giving yourself a proper winter break). You're doing us a favour, by distributing our application-reading stress across many more days. And you're taking steps to avoid any last minute crises that might pop up. michael-scott-win-win-win.jpg

Best of luck with you applications, prospies! We're all looking forward to getting to know you.

Ariana Olson (2019): A year of real-world lessons

Hi everyone!

My name is Ariana Olson, and I will be joining the class of 2019 at Olin next year. My gap year has centered a lot on working so far. I'm also continuing to learn outside of school, enjoying having time to spend doing activities I love, trying new things, spending time with my family, and making new friends!

As I said, work takes up A LOT of my life right now. I recently started full time at my high school job at a dry cleaners. My work schedule conveniently fills the time that school used to take up during my day: I open at 7 every morning and usually leave between 3 and 4 in the afternoon. I do a little bit of everything at my job including sorting, folding, bagging, and cashiering. I am glad I decided to work this year. It has given me a glimpse of how my life could have been, had I decided not to continue my education in college. It has also really made me appreciate school! Believe it or not, I miss classes and homework. I'm itching to get back to school!

A week on the west coast

Hi readers!

At the beginning of this month, Charlie Nolan and I were in the Bay Area visiting schools, conducting interviews, and hosting an enormous recruiting event. This was a great opportunity for me: I got to escape the looming New England winter for a week (experiencing Dia de Los Muertos in the Mission, watching the sunrise from Bernal Heights park the morning after daylight savings, and taking 1 down the sunny, then foggy, then sunny again coast to Santa Cruz). I got to stay with recently graduated friends, and use the company p-card to take them out to a nice dinner as a thank-you. But most importantly, I got to visit some of the top-ranked schools in the area, and get a sense of what it would be like to work there. After my year at Olin, I hope to move to the West Coast to teach high school science, so it was great to get this taste of what that will be like. 

20141101_180626.jpgSunset from Potrero Hill

But it was also an invaluable week for the admission office. We normally see families from all over the country coming in for campus visits. Boston has a high density of attractive institutions, so Olin is easy to roll into the mix. But not everyone can make that flight over, so we've targeted a few key locations where we can 'bring Olin to you'. The Bay Area is one such place. We receive a TON of applications from the Bay Area - more than anywhere else - and we actually enroll more students from the region than from all of Massachusetts! Without this visit, a huge portion of our applicants (some of whom are on the fence or would be perfect for Olin but don't realize it yet) might not try to take a shot at a spot. And we'd be missing out on, as Charlie is fond of stating, some remarkable candidates!

Normally, we give info-sessions to 1-10 families at a time. They consist of a video, then a conversation or a presentation, and they are followed by a tour of the college. Well, we had over 30 students and their families came to the main prospective student event, which took place in the reception hall of a hotel near the San Francisco airport. Instead of a physical tour, Charlie turned the floor over for a Q&A segment with 7 alumni who had volunteered to participate. Yiyang, Rachel, Andrew, Hannah, Rebecca, Jason, and Zachary (who graduated in '11, '11, '13, '13, '13, '14, and '14, respectively) shared their extremely varied perspectives on their time at Olin and the post-graduate experience. The crowd loved it, and asked some very insightful questions! Our grads represented the diversity and breadth of Olin in many ways - Men and Women; EC:E, M:E, and E:self-designed major; going to grad school vs. working in industry vs. working at an Olin-founded start-up; applicants from the next country and applicants from the other side of the world. 

photo 1.JPG

Photograph by Duncan Murdoch, Olin's 4th employee

Afterwards, a few more grads joined us for a drink and a bite in the hotel restaurant. Then Three grads from '06 - Etosha, Dylan, and Kate came to share their stories of Olin's early days. And Mark ('14) pulled up on his company's prototype electric motorcycle, and Charlie regaled us with stories from his motorcycle heyday. He even had a test-sit on the bike! It was a lovely reunion.  


Some seriously cool wheels

In the end, my favourite take-away from the evening was what Charlie took away: in his subsequent presentations and information sessions, I heard him quoting and referring to these grads, incorporating their stories into his well-practiced spiel. We're never finished with learning from one another, it seems! 

Afterwards, we traveled up and down the coast talking with many outstanding students from exciting schools. Then we interviewed a dozen more prospies for two full days over the weekend. I'm getting nervous about the coming application season - trying to choose a pool of Candidates out of the superlative applications we read this year is going to be harder than ever. Luckily, I know that things will work out in the end. The students who are the best fit for Olin will find their place here. And the rest will do incredible things wherever they end up. 

Best of luck to all our applicants!


P.S. Big thank you to Paul, David, Matt, Noah, and Janice, Tim and Jialia, and finally Andrew, Hannah, and Zach - I had a great time catching up with you all.

Getting On Track with Kaitlyn Keil, class of 2019

Greetings, Oliners! I am Kaitlyn Keil, and, as you may have guessed, one of the fortunate Gappies this year. And reading over these other posts... wow. I have some pretty fantastic company. So far my year has gone... well, not entirely according to plan, but it is starting to come together!

Thankfully, being away from school doesn't mean I'm not learning. I think I'd go mad if it did. First thing that I learned in these months free from full-time school? Don't ignore little things, because they can cripple you. Literally. Explanation: I had planned to learn how to backpack this summer and do a bunch of hiking, camping, and running. But, well, at the end of June I landed badly from a short jump. Montage of walking around San Francisco, bouncing around at work, and wondering why my foot hurt too much to go for more than a light walk, then, five weeks after my injury, sitting on the operating table, taking derivatives in my head to figure out how awake I was (it was the first thing that came to mind) as they put a tiny piece of bone back in place.

Yeah... for the next month, this lovely chair was my 24 hour throne as I slowly went stir-crazy, and it was another month yet before I was allowed to actually get around to normal life. So, honestly, it is a really great thing I wasn't headed off to Olin this year, as much as I would love to be there; going across country with a broken foot would have been a pain, literally and figuratively.

Shoe Lineup Smaller.jpg

Enough of the tale of captivity! Now that I am back on my feet, I've gotten down to what I had planned for this fall: namely, a couple of classes at my community college (C Programming Language and Creative Writing), an online Mandarin course, as much work as they'll schedule me for, plenty of writing, and life in general.

That may not sound like much, but so far, it's been incredible. Though I'm only just getting introduced to programming, I really enjoy it so far... even when I am grumbling as I try to find the place where I mixed up = = with =. I'm far from a master, of course, which just makes it all that much more fun. I'm also the only girl in the class. I like to think I'm representing us well.

Cuesta Pic.jpg

With Creative Writing, it's great (if strange) to be in the same class as my older sister, and it's giving me the kick I need to really sit down and get down the stories in my head. Hence my decision to take on NaNoWriMo as well. And so far? Off to a really good start! Though how I am supposed to finish this tale in 50,000 words is beyond me...


So at the moment, that's kinda taking over my brain, even when I'm out walking my dog. I've gotten a couple strange looks as I chat into my phone, recording whatever new idea just slammed into my mind.

Dog Walk Smaller.jpg

The Mandarin has been very interesting. I started this summer with Rosetta Stone, which helped keep me sane as I sat in the confines of an armchair, but, once my subscription there ran out, have since switched to Fluenz. Confession: learning languages isn't my strong point, which is a very large part of why I'm determined to master Mandarin, or at least get to the point I can say 'Wǒ shuō yìdiǎnr Hànyǔ' truthfully (it appears there are many ways to type this, even in Pinyin, so that is just the way I am currently learning to write it). So far, it has been a nice challenge!

Fluenz Mashup.jpg

This all squeezes in between shifts at Doc Burnstein's Ice Cream Lab, where I am a scoopervisor/cleaner/whatever needs to be done. I wasn't able to finagle a picture of me actually in uniform, but here is me and the place, with some of my coworkers doing what we do best: making people's day better. I love it to death, even on the closing shifts (the downside of being a morning person).

Doc's Pic Smaller.jpg

Right, my wordiness is now wrapping up. The last note is my plans for the coming year and my well-wishes to all of you. This December, my family is going on a last big trip together, all the way to Italy! Then, skip a couple months, I am working on the details of a visit to China, where I will be taking intensive Mandarin lessons and helping out in a business that teaches Mandarin to foreigners and English to the Chinese. After that, hopefully I will finally get around to the backpacking and adventure stuff, as well as find some sort of course to rehash Calculus and Physics. I miss them.

Thanks for bearing through, best of luck to all, and see you in a few months!

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