Junior Year? What?

I'm designing a robotic puffer fish, 3D printing functional dynamic assemblies, making E. Coli glow in the dark, and hopefully sending out an autonomous robotic sailboat to cross the Atlantic Ocean by the end of this school year. I don't think there is any way to phrase how absurd this semester has been so far. What does all this stuff even mean? I don't even know where to start.

Robotic PufferfishThe robotic pufferfish I am designing for my Mechanical Design class

       I guess I'll start with freshman year at Olin. While I was a first year, graduation was a long way off. I didn't really know much, and I knew I didn't really know much. All of these really cool upperclassmen were running around doing insane things like building calligraphy writing robots, leading project teams, and creating massive, school wide events like Build Day. All of these things were so out of this world, so inspiring, and so exciting, and as a first year I didn't think I'd be doing anything like that in the near future.

       I can't really wrap my head around the idea that I may have become one of those people that I looked up to my freshman year. Do I really know what I'm doing? The answer is yes and no. There will always be room to learn more, and there will always be areas of study that I'm not too sure about. I may feel like some of my classes are a struggle because I'm not quite sure what is going on. However, those classes are tricky for the same reason that I'm taking them; because I haven't learned the material yet. Have I really learned that much? Well, that's where Olin's project based learning structure comes into play. Parents are always looking for toys for their children that are secretly educational. Toys that will help children learn, without letting the kid in on the secret that there is some educational experience in the game they are playing. Things like ant farms, that not only are cool to look at, but also teach kids about ecology, or Scrabble, which is secretly a test of spelling, vocabulary, and geometry (if this one isn't quite clear, I find Scrabble to be a very interesting space-packing problem; i.e. how can you fit the most amount of tiles in one turn the least amount of space?). I have found Olin to be an incredibly amazing, lifelong, secretly educational toy.


The Olin Robotic Sailing team's most recent boat, Damn Yankee, on display at Expo last semester. This semester we will be working to design and manufacture a boat that has the potential to cross the Atlantic Ocean.

             So somehow, I've learned all of these new things without realizing it, and as I look back on all of the projects I've worked on and I'm currently working on, I am constantly surprised at how much I have evolved, and how much I really have learned just working on them. By focusing on project based learning, Olin has really helped me learn how to tackle real world projects through my excitement for the school and for the projects that I have worked on. Even though I know I haven't learned everything about every type of system, through these projects I can see that I've learned how to teach myself what I need to know in order to tackle a difficult problem.

-Alex, c/o 2016


It has been approximately 3.006e+6 seconds since fellow Oliner, Brennan VandenHoek, and I pulled out of my driveway in Portland, Oregon and began the round-about sixteen-day cross-country trek (in a VW golf) from the great PNW to the long awaited destination of Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering.

A Road Trip in Pictures 

The very full car

Here is the Golf as a very full Golf in Washington. You can see how the back wheel wells are (nearly) resting on the back tires. This is after we took half of our things out of the car. 
Watching the road
The road in Montana. 
This is Brennan. 
The_View_Mountains.JPGWe spent 5 or so days hiking in Glacier National Park. It is so intensely beautiful there. 
The_View_Lake.jpgBanff National Park. 
The_Steps.JPGThis is in Ontario, on Lake Superior. And that is me. 
End of Road Trip

Life at Olin: Round 2

Hey there!

It's Haley again, now reporting to you as a sophomore!  (Weird how that happens...)  I've noticed that I tend to direct my posts towards Prospies, but I realize that not everyone who reads the OLINsider is one.  So, if you aren't actually a prospective student (hi mom!), just pretend that you are.  It'll be fun.

If you're anything like I was when I was a Prospie, then you've probably been dying to know what the schedule of a typical Oliner looks like!  If that's the case... well, you aren't exactly in luck.  Despite our small size, there is a lot to do here.  I don't know the actual numbers, but I do know that our club-to-student ratio is ridiculous. Factor in classes, co-curriculars, passionate pursuits, research, and a whole assortment of other activities, and you've got endless scheduling possibilities!  So, while I couldn't possibly show you a "typical" schedule, nor tell you about every single thing that's going on here, I can show you my schedule, which will hopefully allow you a sufficient glimpse into at least some aspects of student life here at Olin.

And that's a wrap!

Since I'm not sure if I'll be able to blog again, I wanted to take this chance to write one last post. So here it goes!

Just over a week ago was commencement (click to see some great 15 words).

That's right, dear readers. I, along with the rest of 2014, graduated. Crazy, right?

I think the scariest part is that it hasn't sunk in. I still feel like I will be returning in the fall, surrounded by my best friends.

I wanted to take this chance to list out some of the things I think Olin has helped me discover:

Build Day!

Dear Reader,

Imagine, if you will: Finals are approaching, steadily, on the horizon.  Classes have just ended, and a meager three days are left before the oncoming mass of due dates.  And what will Olin students be doing?

Now, "finishing projects" or "making posters" are perfectly reasonable guesses, but this is Olin we're talking about.

We decided last year that three days between the end of classes and the start of finals is much too much, and decided to do something special with one of them.  And thus, Build Day was born.

What is "Build Day," you ask?


(See more @BuildOlin.)

Build Day is the day when the whole Olin community (students, faculty, staff, administration--everyone) gets together and says, "We love this place.  But we want to make it better."  Some really awesome projects happened, and there was planting, discussing, and baking galore.  The Dining Hall even got into it, having Build Your Own Pizza, Hamburgers, Tacos, and Cupcakes for lunch.  It was an incredible event to be a part of, and I can't wait for Build Day 2015.  (Well actually I can, because I can't even think about being halfway to graduation.  Which leads me to...)

Congrats to Olin's Class of 2018!

You've all worked really hard to make it here, and Nagy's blog the a few days ago was 100% true.  So relax!  I have a feeling you made the right choice.  You'll be here this fall...

See ya real soon!

Michael, c/o '17

Recent Assets

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Recent Comments

  • Mel (Olin '07): I so wish I could be there to see the read more
  • Kevin Tostado: What time are the performances? As an alum in the read more
  • Brittany L. Strachota: Looks like a huge success! Keep it up. :) read more
  • Kimly Do: also also, an electric water kettle is not really necessary, read more
  • Brittany L. Strachota: We shall see. Though, 150 is an awful lot of read more
  • Chris Fitzhugh: That being said, I have a desktop and immensely value read more
  • Brittany L. Strachota: I want cookies! Also, don't forget, kids, you WILL be read more
  • Noam Rubin: Hey 2015, I'd also recommend bringing a couple cups, bowls, read more
  • Jordyn Burger: Yep! Congrats, Brendan's gonna give you cookies! [I'll let him read more
  • CSF: Is the title from The Jeffersons? read more