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.

arp4.jpg

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.

USAF football blog.jpg

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. 

blog great gatsby.jpg

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. 

blog selfie.jpg

blog amethyst.jpg

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

Gap year guest post: Illusions and enigmas at NYU

Hello again!

My name is Matthew Beaudouin-Lafon, and if you've been following this blog you might remember me as the NYU-attending frenchman. Since my last post, a lot of interesting things happened. The most significant one I would say is that I won the dorm's talent show with a card cheating demonstration. For example, I demonstrate a technique called Bottom Dealing which, as you might have guessed, involves dealing cards from the bottom rather than the top. The beauty of my presentation, in my eyes, is that I am using the four Aces throughout the routine, but in the end, under the pretense that I am dealing them to a 'partner', I give myself a Royal Flush.

 matthew2.jpg

The original plan was to hook up a normal camera to the projector, but that didn't work. So we Facetimed the projector's computer. Poly is a school of problem solvers.

 

The prize was a trophy and $50 gift card for Amazon. Not too bad! But the really interesting part is that I will enter the NYU-wide talent show, in which the top performers of each dorm competes. The grand prize being $1000. So that's pretty attractive. Though I will be competing against students of NYU's school of performing arts, who may know a thing or two about, well, performing.

matthew1.jpg

Winning came as quite a surprise!

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. 

 emma1.jpg

emma2.jpg

emma3.png

Application deadlines and you

plug

The Olin Admission Deadline is January 1st at midnight!

/plug

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. 

phoenix_clock.jpg

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.

Recent Comments

  • Kevin: Welcome, looking forward to meeting you in the Fall! read more
  • Anonymous: Josh...Welcome to Olin!!! read more
  • Anonymous: Josh, welcome to Olin! read more
  • suzgc: From our first encounter with President Miller at Candidates' Week-end read more
  • Laura Cotten: Waitlist and Accept letters are going out via Fed Ex read more

Archives