Big Hero 355*

*Warning!* May contain minor spoilers about the movie Big Hero 6 and major spoilers about the Olin experience.

Greetings, Olin friends!

When I saw the movie Big Hero 6 last weekend, (shout out to fellow blogger Haley '17 for being a kid at heart!) there were many parts that made another Oliner and I laugh, squee, exchange knowing glances, and jump up and down with excitement.  But perhaps none more than the end of Hiro's first visit to Olin Sanfransokyo Institute of Technology.  After discovering all the amazing projects going on inside (ranging from robotic arms to magnetically-suspended bikes to healthcare improvements), he stands staring at the campus, and says something along the lines of "If I don't go to this nerd school, I'm going to lose my mind. How do I get in?" 

Sound familiar?


Not sure I see the difference?

I was saying the exact same thing after my first (few) visit(s) to Olin.  But the connections don't end there: thoughout the film, we're reminded of what our goal should be as engineers: to help people.  Tadashi, Hiro's brother, is proud of his healthcare robot Baymax because he knows it's "going to help so many people!", and many of us at Olin are working to be sure we can look at what we've done and say the exact same thing.  As I head home for Thanksgiving break it'll be great to have a few days off, but being away always makes me even more excited to get back to what I do.

To my Olin friends: see you in a week!  To my family: great to see you again! To Prospies (prospective students): wishing you the best as you start (thinking about) your essays! To Olin: I'm glad I have a couple more years before I say "I'm satisfied with my care."

Until we meet again!

Michael '17

(P.S.: Shout out to Grand Challenge Scholars' Program! Engineering can change the world.)

*I believe the current number of students at Olin.

Do Something Awesome

One clause of Olin's Honor Code is entitled "Do Something", and states the following:

"I will strive to better myself and my community and take responsibility for my own behavior. When I become aware of a violation of the Honor Code or an issue within the community, I will take action towards resolution of the situation. I expect others to do the same"

While this clause can be interpreted to focus on issues and violations of the Honor Code, to take action to resolve problems that arise, I have found an alternate meaning in the Honor Code's "Do Something" clause. If I have something that I want to do; a change I wish to make, a place I want to go, or an idea I want to solidify, then it is my responsibility to make that happen. The Do Something clause has taught me how to empower creativity and change.

Students may sometimes get lost in their work and forget what it feels like to take a moment and relax, reflect, or do something silly. When those moments do happen, amazing ideas occur. Those moments, when minimal thought is given to the work you actually have to finish, create beautiful things. A few nights ago, a few Olin students decided that they should go arrange some leaves out in the "O" in the middle of the night. What they ended up creating shows just how amazing people can be when they have an interesting idea that they want to pursue, and it brought smiles to the face of everyone who noticed.

Leaf ArtLeaf art made by a few spontaneously creative Oliners.

Last weekend, I fractured my hand. How did I do this, you may ask? Well, another student and I had an idea that we wanted to come true. We wanted to operate giant robots. A few months ago, Olin alumnus and past professor Gui Cavalcanti helped create MegaBots, a Kickstarter campaign with a grand plan to bring giant robot combat into reality. The MegaBots team recently offered a challenge: whoever could make the most convincing video about why they wanted to be a MegaBots pilot could win a chance to pilot a MegaBot. This challenge prompted me to drop what I was doing and think: why not make a super awesome video about why I want to drive giant robots? Yea, sure, I tripped and fractured my hand in the process. But being part of something creative and amazing is worth the trip (pun intended). Here was the end result:

Having the time and the mental energy to spend on doing what you love is incredibly satisfying and rewarding. Not only do you get to have fun and goof off, but also you get to have fun and take on some pretty daunting challenges not because you have to, because they are for school or work or research, but because you think that no matter how much time it will take, you know it will be pretty cool. So I challenge all those reading this: over Thanksgiving break, explore your creativity. Delve into your passions. Do something awesome. 

Alex Crease, c/o 2016

We Bought a Ball Pit

About two months ago, I turned twenty.  The small existential crisis that followed got me thinking: What does it mean to be an adult?  Frankly, I have no idea.  But what I do know is that an adult who has no desire to play in a ball pit is hardly an adult worth becoming.


A bit about myself:  I am the proud owner of three onesies, a horse head mask, and a squeaky rubber chicken.  The last two movies I watched were Disney movies, and I have an intense love for Adventure Time.  My Principles of Engineering project was born of a team love for Harry Potter.  At twenty years old, I went trick-or-treating in a nearby neighborhood on Halloween.  My roommate (Anne LoVerso '17) and I have covered our room with an absurd amount of posters, and on Friday nights, we host Rock Band while our neighbors (s/o to Michael Sheets '17) serve waffles shaped like Mickey Mouse. Perhaps the most important of these things, however, is that about a month ago, Anne and I impulsively purchased 1600 plastic balls so that we could have a ball pit in our room.

Thumbnail image for haley.jpgNew Olin PR photo?

Some people might consider these things childish, and maybe they are.  But these are the things that make me happy.  Should being an adult mean giving up the things that make you happy just because they might be "childish"?  Well, I suppose I can't tell you how to live your life.  But I know where I stand.

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Take a moment out of your day to embrace your inner child.

Haley '17

A Weekend of Soccer

On Saturday morning, I went out to the Olin soccer fields to support my boyfriend Jacob and the boys' team in their last regular season game of the year. I met more Oliners on the sidelines and we started chatting before the game started up. Somehow it came up that I couldn't make Ultimate Frisbee practices anymore (the schedule changed when it started to get dark earlier). Someone suggested, "You should join the girls' soccer team! We have a game tomorrow!"

I stopped to think about it. I wasn't doing anything tomorrow. Hey, why not? I warned them that I hadn't played since middle school but they said there were plenty of girls on the team who had never had any soccer experience before. Okay sure, I'm in.

I borrowed shin guards, soccer socks, and a jersey from a fellow Oliner. The morning of the game, it was raining. Then, it started snowing. The first snow of the year came early! But the game was still on. As a Texas girl, snow still fascinates me and I was really excited to be able to have an excuse to run around in it. We only had one extra player as a sub so we were all on the field almost all the time. Which was actually good because: IT. WAS. FREEZING. We put our big sweatshirts and raincoats under our jerseys to try and stay warm. We looked like a team of marshmallows and hunchbacks, but hey, at least we were warm.


(Look, you can even see the snow flurries!)

The game was a blast! I played defense, which was basically me just trying to stay between the other team and the goal. The other girls on my team were really considerate of my lack of soccer understanding. (I was one of three new recruits that week.) They answered all of my questions about game play and where I should stand and who I should be covering and on and on. (I ask a lot of questions!) We scored one goal in the first half and another in the beginning of the second half. By this point, the snow had really picked up and both teams agreed to call the game. So... we won!!

Then to celebrate, Jacob took me to Starbucks to warm up with Peppermint Mochas!

STOP WHAT YOU'RE DOING (and do something even cooler)

The following post has been transmitted across the oceans by Mitch ('16.5) to me from his highly irregular LOA in Brazil.

Olin is great and all, but one of my best experiences at Olin so far has been in this semester, the first time I've been away from Olin in two years. That's right folks, I've taken the fabled and legendary LEAVE OF ABSENCE.

What is a Leave of Absence, you may ask? At Olin, an LOA is when you leave the school for a semester, usually to do something cool. They're nice in that a) there's no restrictions in what you can do, because you've left the school, b) you do not pay money to Olin, because you've left the school, and c) you get an 'extra' semester at Olin with a scholarship at the end, because you have 8 total semesters of scholarship, because you've left the school. It may seem counter-intuitive that one of the best experiences AT Olin is when you LEAVE it, but really, I'm so glad that Olin cares about its students enough to allow the flexibility to let students leave and do cool things with their lives.

mitch.jpgAditi, Cecelia (rising sophomores), Doyung and Mitch (rising juniors) at Insper

So what is this cool thing I'm doing, you may ask? Well, three otherOlin students and I have gone to São Paulo, Brazil, to help start a new engineering college at Insper business school. And if that doesn't sound like THE COOLEST THING EVER, allow me to explain. Every day, I work with Insper Engineering faculty members to design a curriculum that is innovative, hands-on, and entrepreneurial. I'm a consultant/collaborator on a huge project, and we're trying to make Insper a leader in Engineering Education in Brazil. And the school doesn't even exist yet! Sound familiar?

It's especially interesting, at least for me, because the semester I spend away from Olin is the one in which it's basically my job to think about Olin all the time. I've had a few insights about Olin, about Brazil and about myself, and I think now's as good a time as any to share them with you.

1. Life is FANTASTIC, and people are great.

Really, anywhere you go, from Needham to Vila Olímpia, there's always something to be happy about, and people to be happy with. When anybody used to ask me what my favorite thing about Olin was, I would always say something like "The people. Oliners are excited about engineering, passionate about doing something meaningful, and are generally just good people to be around. And that's pretty true of everybody, the students, the faculty, and the staff." The funny thing is this: I'm now convinced that people are my favorite thing about life! The people at Insper have similar passions, and are similarly kind and interesting. Almost every person I've met in Brazil is friendly, helpful, and fun. Really, anywhere you go, your experiences are not so much determined by what you do or how you do them, but the people you do them with. And in my opinion, there's always 'gente boa' to be with.

2. Olin is really, really weird.

The student life at Olin is totally unique. Students at Olin spend a lot of their time with each other, and a lot of time working on their classes. That's probably somewhat true of any college, but at Olin, it's taken to an entirely new level. Something about spending all of your time with the same 350 people does something to you, where spending more time with those 350 people is all you want to do 90% of your waking moments. This goes back to my first insight, that people are great. But students at Olin have a zeal for life like you wouldn't believe, and they LOVE to learn, to the point where studying is a major 'fun' activity to do with friends. It helps that courses at Olin are interesting, and work feels more like play than actual work, but it really is STRANGE how close Oliners are to each other, and how much they love what they do. Add to that a student-faculty relationship that is so close it's staggering, compared to basically anywhere else, and Olin sounds more and more like an imaginary place than a real institution of learning. And that simple fact is very easy to forget while you're AT Olin.

3. Everyone should take a break from what they're doing.

And I'm not just talking about taking a coffee break, or going on vacation, but taking a full-blown month AT LEAST to step away from your life and do something else. Whether you're at Olin or at work or going to high school, this is a good idea. I love engineering, and although I talk about it all the time, I'm not 'doing engineering' like I do at Olin. And that's great! The work I do here is refreshing, interesting, and helps me be more reflective about my 'normal' life. I know that I will return to Olin more excited about my courses, and more excited to live a good life. My LOA opens my mind to new ways to think about the world, and that's gotta be good for just about everybody. So go press the pause button on your regularly scheduled life and do something exciting - you'll be glad you did.

Um abraço,


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