Looking forward and looking back

It's a bright but gusty day at Olin. Snowbanks slowly sink in the sunshine, but the air still cuts with winter's chill. It's quiet on campus. The students and faculty are away on their spring breaks. The staff still hum along. But the quietness belies an undercurrent of tension. It's the home stretch for so many: seniors, about to complete their time at Olin; candidates, awaiting the notification that will help them choose their future; Admission staff, eagerly anticipating the official announcement of the name of our new Dean. It's been a long journey getting here, and it's hard not to feel a little nostalgic.

For Olin's graduating class of 2015, the story starts four or five years ago, in 2011 for some, 2010 for others. Twelve students graduating this year initially enrolled after taking a gap year. More joined the class after taking semesters off over the course of their time at Olin. It was a time of upheaval - due to the financial crash, the scholarship had been dialed back from full- to half-tuition. They were joining a student body that had just barely been at Olin concurrent with someone who had been at Olin concurrent with the original partners (who founded the honor code and set the culture). '06 to '09, '09 to '12, and '12 to '15. All this matters a great deal when the community is looking at them to see how you are going to contribute to the student body, though they didn't know it yet. 

They arrived in the Fall of 2011, fresh-faced and eager. They were ready to, as the Honor Code they signed mandates, 'Do Something.' 

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Preparing to become exemplary engineering innovators who recognize needs, design solutions and engage in creative enterprises for the good of the world.

Since then, members of this class have revolutionized academic teams, founded social justice programs, earned outstanding accolades, started businesses, and led conversations that have shaped the way this college operates at every level. Without a doubt, they stepped up to the challenge of 'leaving their mark', and knocked it out of the park. Olin's buildings may have been built long before the class of 2015 arrived. But our tiny college is still very much under construction, and it's every Oliner's privilege to have an impact. 

Gap Year Part 2: Time is Flying!

Hey everyone!

Things have gotten super busy since my last post! I'm still working at the dry cleaner, but now in addition I have lots of extra stuff too.

I recently started volunteering at my local Red Cross Blood Donation center and the Rochester Museum and Science Center on the weekends. Volunteering was something that I didn't have much time for in high school, so I wanted to use my gap year as an opportunity to start. Although it often means I have to get up early on Saturdays, I really enjoy meeting new people through these jobs, and it feels nice to know that I am helping my community in a small way.

I'm also taking a couple iof evening classes at my community college, MCC. When I decided to take classes, I wanted to choose ones that I could get something useful out of that also had nothing to do with engineering. The two courses I decided on were ASL101 (American Sign Language) and Public Speaking.

I liked the idea of taking ASL because I wanted to take a language this year. I was originally going to take French, but the level that I wanted to take was not available for the spring semester. ASL appealed to me because it is a very different kind of language than written ones. I really enjoy the immersion approach that my professor uses too. We are not allowed to speak while class is in session. Instead, we have to use signs and notes to communicate. As well as learning the language, I feel like I am learning to take myself a little less seriously because it is important to use facial expressions as well as signs to convey meaning in ASL. Some of the facial expressions feel strange or forced when you first try them, but it is important to be able to laugh at yourself if you do it wrong and to relax.

Public Speaking is probably my favorite of the two courses. I can be pretty shy, so speaking in front of a group is challenging. I get nervous and shaky when I have to present to a large group, so I decided to take this class to improve and gain confidence. I have already learned to relax more in front of a group, and I am learning a lot about the preparation and hard work that goes into presenting a great speech. The best part, however, is listening to my classmates share their stories on speech day. Their speeches range from funny to sad to inspiring, and I love listening to every single one of them.

Through public speaking, I found out about the Otis Young Motivational Speak-off, which is a speech contest held in the spring. Current and former students who took Public Speaking at MCC are able to audition for an honors competitive speaking course that prepares them for the speak-off. I auditioned recently and was offered a place in the class, so I am super excited to start! Although I would love to win, I am most looking forward to further sharpening my speaking skills. Hopefully I'll be a pro by the time I get to Olin!  

Another pretty major thing is that I got to go to Candidates Weekend last month! It was so much fun! I got to meet some awesome students and candidates as well as get to hang out with a couple fellow gappies, Matthew and Duncan. I'm so glad that I had the opportunity to go and share my gap year experience. Candidates Weekend when I was a candidate was one of the best weekends I had last year, and it was just as great this year to attend as a gappie. I wish all the candidates the best of luck as letters from colleges start to come in! Visiting Olin for the weekend has made me even more impatient to go!

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I did a little reading up on Olin prior to CW

NaNoWriMo, Pompeii, and a flight to China

Hello, Oliners! Kaitlyn here again.

So. The new semester started, and I'm not taking any classes. And it is a strange feeling. I've had plenty to fill my time--work, Mandarin, flute, writing, baking, running, reading, etc.--but I keep finding I miss learning things! Like, officially learning things. Particularly math-y, science-y things. But I'm planning to start up some review, at the very least.

Anyway! Stuff that has happened since last I blogged. Well, first off, I finished NaNoWriMo with 68,000 something words and a couple of days to spare. That was pretty much thrilling, even though I am going to have to completely rework everything I wrote now. But hey, I made my goal.

NaNoWriMoVictory.pngAfter that, I participated in the SLO Wind Orchestra's Christmas concert, which was a ton of fun. Not too difficult music, but it was great to play with a group again after leaving the Youth Symphony from high school.

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And a week after the concert, my family left for Italy! That was... amazing. We spent three and a half weeks in the big sites: Venice, Florence, Rome, Pompeii, and then a little time in Sienna and back to Florence. 

Arpan Rau's gap year- Part 2: Running, Robots, and Web Design

Hi guys!

My gap year has been going great since I last checked in (here). FIRST robotics season has started, and working with two teams - my old team, 3061, and a 2nd year team out of nearby Hinsdale, 4979 - eats up most of my free time. It's great to get an opportunity to pass on what I learned during my four years with the team and hang out with old friends.

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Teaching FRC 4979 how to solve sum-of-torques problems

I'd love to post more pictures of the robots that my teams have been building this year, but unfortunately they're kept top-secret until the end of the six week build season.

arp5.jpg Here's a teaser of what 3061 has been up to

My parents run marathons. I've never had time to join in during high school, but I figured that my gap year would be a great time to start. I started training for a half marathon in May - it should be a good way to get into a shape other than round. I found a training schedule online and have been keeping to it as best I can, increasing the amount that I can run and decreasing my pace week by week. 

One large goal for my gap year was to pick up skills that I'd otherwise not have time to learn. In my rapidly diminishing spare time, I've been teaching myself web programming in an effort to learn more about how the websites I spend so much time on are built. It's slow going because I have multiple languages and tools to learn at once- Java, Javascript, and HTML for starters, but I hope to be building and hosting my own websites soon.

My gap year so far has been a fantastic change of pace and I'd recommend one to just about everyone. I'm looking forward to working another internship this summer in either mechanical engineering or web design and attending Olin next fall.

Thanks for reading!

Arpan

A whole semester already!

Hi again, It's Claire. I can't believe an entire semester has passed!  And my New Year's resolution is to remember when I have a blog due so that I don't end up writing it an hour before it's scheduled to get to Graham.  Luckily I squeaked by and here we are. 

To be perfectly honest, not much has happened since I last blogged.  Life has stayed pretty great.  Gotten better even.  I started some new activities (as if I wasn't busy enough already) and I'm working on growing my business and getting ahead academically for next year.  It just so happens that one of the Calculus professors from the Air Force Academy lives down the street and has agreed to teach me Advanced Calculus, Differential Equations, and Computer Programming until I head out, all for a low flat rate.  Now I just have to hope that the math doesn't bury me.

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At the USAF game!

I also started Taekwondo this past November.  I've done several martial arts in the past, including Karate and Jujitsu, but as a military child it's hard to keep up any particular style of martial art because when you move you have to change.  This time I chose Taekwondo because US Taekwondo is the largest martial arts company in the US, probably because Taekwondo is the only recognized Olympic Martial Art.  It's tons of fun and a great way to exercise and relieve stress.

I picked up dancing again too, and I go Swing and Blues dancing every Monday and Friday Night.  The dance crowd in The Springs are all wonderful people and great to hang out with, and the dancing itself is so fun! For New Year's we held a Great Gatsby Blues party and it was a blast! I can't wait to see what the dance scene in Boston is like. 

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My jobs have been really great, and now that the New Year has started my personal business is picking up as well.  I've had three custom orders this month all estimated at $300, one of which is from a customer in Italy. 

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So all in all, not much to report, but I'm doing pretty well. Hopefully I'll be able to visit Olin in march for the last Candidates weekend--it'll be great to meet up with some other gappies, friends from my Candidates weekend, and all the prospective new students.

Happy New Year!

-Claire

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