Não é Olin

I'm going to start off this post by highlighting the most important difference between me and the many snow-ridden posts before me: It's summer here!  We went to the beach last weekend!

2015-02-27 15.56.28.jpg

I'm checking in from the sunny São Paulo, Brazil.  In case you missed my last post, I'm here with four other Olin students, taking a leave of absence to work at a university called Insper to help develop their new engineering school.

Our job here is multi-faceted: we act as harbingers of Olin's culture, and figure out how to adjust it to improve it for a new iteration, but also to make it fit within Insper's constraints.  For example, we're acting as NINJAs in several of the first-semester courses that have just started.  But NINJAing here is very different from at Olin, and not just because of the language barrier.  Insper students don't live at school - every evening they go home to their family or to their apartment.  However, at Olin, one of the ways NINJAs are different from, say, TAs, is that the NINJAs are your peers.  The great thing about them is that they can be a close friend, or even someone that you help in a different class.  They live in the same buildings as you, and they're available late at night when the professors aren't, and you can talk to them when you need to.

So it's a difficult challenge to figure out how we can preserve the informal peer teaching aspect of NINJAing in the new environment here.  And the coolest part is, we'll be working on that, improving our roles as NINJAs, and hopefully creating an environment that will facilitate learning and peer teaching even after we leave in June.

Besides NINJAing, we're working alongside the professors to develop curricula for the coming semesters.  This is an exciting job that involves prototyping labs and lesson plans to see how everything connects.  Insper's courses are a little more overlapping than those at Olin.  For example, the ModSim that's running this first semester will be different from Olin's version, because at Insper, ModSim won't teach coding.  Students will learn Python programming in their Software Design class, and then will use that knowledge to implement their ModSim models.  It's less modular, because each course has to work for the whole curriculum to work, but with more space for underlying themes to tie all the classes together in a semester.

Overall, we're here to figure out what parts of Olin we can bring to Insper, what parts can be changed, and even what parts of Insper we can bring back to Olin.  It's already a busy schedule, and then you throw in learning Portuguese, taking a business class, social events, exploring the city, trips, and more - we have a busy life!  But it's a refreshing break from classes that allows me to be a little more introspective into my own education and what changes I can make when I return to Olin.

Iterating on Excitement

This is just getting ridiculous. Some of the snow piles around Olin are even taller than I am. But that's not the only thing that's ridiculous. In fact, that's not the only thing that's piling up either! As you may have read from previous posts, a lot of great stuff is coming. Classes will soon be entering full tilt mode as problem sets get harder to solve and projects begin, Candidates and their parents are nearly doubling Olin's population for three consecutive weekends, and so many events are happening just this weekend that I'm not sure what to do with myself. Yep, Candidate's Weekend 2, MakeMIT, a SWE (society for Women Engineers) Conference, and ICCAs (the International Competition for Collegiate A Cappella) are all popping up this Saturday. As a member of PowerChords, Olin's oldest a Cappella group, I need to be at ICCAs to perform. But that shouldn't detract from my point. There are so many things that Olin students do just because they want to, just because they think it will be fun. Someone, sometime, must have thought "you know what would be really cool? If I did this awesome thing, and got all my friends to help me out. And next year, we can do the same thing, and it will be even more awesome." This is the culture that Olin strives to create.

Every year since I've come to Olin, a bunch of students have gotten together and attempted to build an igloo. Usually, the entire Olin community ends up pitching in at some point, because building an igloo can be pretty fun, and the snow, like lots of other things at Olin, motivates students to have fun with their creativity. Every year, the igloo has gotten to about head height, and either we run out of snow, or because of the geometry of the igloo, nobody can figure out how to close off the top. This year, that finally changed. The igloo has been completed. It has even been slept in.

The Olin IglooThe first igloo to be completed since my arrival at Olin

I don't know why I'm so fascinated that the igloo has been finished this year, I mean, we've been getting so much snow that you could probably make an igloo just by tunneling under the snow of the great lawn (which also has been done). To me, the chain of igloos that I have helped build represents both the excitement that Oliners tend to have for completing particularly daunting tasks, and the natural evolution that comes from spiral learning. Every time a problem is solved, there are always ways to make it better, to increase its potential, to think about it differently. With each snowfall, each time we have the resources to create a new form of an old prototype, we iterate and improve. All that being an engineer means is figuring out how to do this on the go, so that even while we are designing mechanisms or software or igloos, we can improve our ideas.

Over the past few years here, I am not really sure how I have developed as an engineer from year to year. I know that I've taken more classes, but on the surface I don't feel much further than I have started. However, I've figured out a way to measure my experience, and that is just by comparing my thought process from year to year. Every year, as I learn new things, I learn how to incorporate them into my thinking toolbox, and as a result, I can think about old ideas differently. Being an engineer means being able to rethink problems that have supposedly already been solved. That's the exciting part, that's what gets me motivated. So lets get moving, lets iterate, and lets do something exciting!

Snowy Adventures

First off, I'd like to say welcome to our Candidates! This is the first of three weekends where ~65 prospective Oliners will flood our campus, meeting new friends, learning more about Olin, participating in the Design Challenge, wandering around the dorms meeting students, attending club fair, and just generally having a fantastic time. For those of you attending, here's a pro tip: Be yourself!! Have fun!! This weekend is about figuring out if you and Olin are a good fit, and that's a two way street. Find current students and ask them a bazillion questions, notice things, explore! I'm one of the student interviewers, so maybe I'll see you around. Stop me, ask me ANYTHING!

In honor of the crazy amounts of snow you see all over campus, please enjoy this snow related story.

At the end of last month, a group of 5 of my friends and I headed over to one of our professor's houses for a special adventure. We had won the SERV auction item* entitled "Sledding with Rebecca Christianson".
We had waited patiently for our first blizzard, and now that we had enough snow for Rebecca's sledding hill of choice to be ready, we planned our weekend. We drove over to Rebecca's house to meet up, and then headed to the hill together. We had brought some sleds that assorted Oliners had loaned us. Rebecca also had a huge supply of different shapes and sizes of sleds. The hill was the biggest sledding hill I had ever seen!** We started climbing up, higher and higher and higher. I'm not going to lie, I was kind of scared. Especially when I saw how fast other people were flying down the hill. This was my first time sledding on something bigger than the slightly sloped lawn of my grandparents house in New York. We got to the top, and posed for a quick picture. Then we began sledding!

sledding_hill.JPG

Meghan '17, David '18, me '17, Jacob '17, Gabrielle '17 (hidden somewhere), Rebecca (all the way down the hill), Photo cred to Emily '17 (behind the camera)


We spent about an hour or two testing out all the different sleds and picking our favorites. It became my goal to make it all the way down the hill each time. So even if I crashed into a snow bank or fell off, I would get back on and keep going. It was a lot of work to climb up that hill, and I wanted to get my money's worth.

It was sooo cold. I thought that I had dressed warmly enough with fleece lined leggings under jeans, a heat holding long sleeve shirt, another shirt, a fleece jacket, a winter jacket, gloves, and a hat. But when you flip off your sled and land face first into a snow bank, that's cold. When your eyelashes freeze, that's cold.

After we had all gotten good and frozen, we headed back to Rebecca's house where we changed into warm, dry clothes. (Soooo glad we remembered to bring those!) Then we sat down around her kitchen table and warmed up with hot chocolate and cookies.

It was not only the best sledding adventure I had ever been on, but also a really great way to get to know Rebecca and meet her family. Next year, we are definitely planning on bidding on this item again!

Enjoy Candidates' Weekend and the snow!!

-Meg


*SERV: Support, Encourage, and Recognize Volunteerism, our volunteer and service organization on campus. Check out their website here. (You can even see me bidding on this very auction item in the picture! I'm in the green plaid shirt.)
Every year SERV has a charity auction where students, professors, faculty, and alumni submit items to the silent and live auctions. These items range from fun experiences like ours to homemade food to bringing back fun gifts from overseas. It's a great way for Oliners to give back, and this year we raised over $9,000 to donate to Doctors Without Borders.

**I'm from Texas, so snow isn't really something I'm familiar with. Even those from cold weather climates said they thought the hill was really big though!

Between 11:11 and 2.2

Hi everyone, 

I was having a little trouble to think of a title for this post, so I looked at the bottom right of my computer, and it displayed 

"11:11PM     2/2".

What is between these numbers? TIME.

Two weeks have passed already since the beginning of this new semester! 

There are 24*7=168 hours in a week. I'm taking five 4-credit courses this semester. That means it will take me about 5*4*3=60 hours each week. 9*7=63 hours of sleep and personal hygiene, 2*7=14 hours of meals, 2*7=14 hours of miscellaneous activities, which leaves about 17 hours a week of free time this semester. 

What does this mean?

This means that if I spent my whole Saturday having fun with friends (which I did recently - I went to the Museum of Fine Arts, ate hot pot and learned to play HearthStone), I would have no time to play all week. But this math doesn't exactly represent my real life and I'm not complaining, because I like my courses.

My favorite class is Mechanical Prototyping. I didn't have any experience with Solidworks nor machine shop work before, so everything is new. We did a cool project where we 'designed' our own names already and I got trained on a half manual, half automated mill yesterday.

Thumbnail image for IMG_0350.JPG'Judy' design

A Flurry of Thoughts

Hello friends,

As you may or may not know from my last post, there's now a rather large ball pit in my room. As you may or may not also know from my roommate's last post, Anne is currently on LOA (leave of absence) in Brazil. Allow me to summarize the implications of these two facts:

  • Anne got to spend less than a month with the ball pit before she left :(
  • I now live in a double all by myself
  • I now have a ball pit all to myself

Life works in mysterious ways, friends.

In other news, this is my first year having a car on campus. In fact, it's my first year having a car at all. While I may be used to all this snow, having grown up in Massachusetts, I can't say that I was truly prepared for what it would mean for me as a car owner. Digging out my car every time there is a significant snowfall is proving to be huge pain in the neck. Did I mention my roommate was in Brazil? Where, according to the weather app on my phone, is it now 72°F? And the high today was 82°F? Don't get me wrong, I love living here... it can just stop snowing now. Please. The bottoms of my pants literally froze today.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to tell you all about the coolest project I've worked on at Olin thus far. I present to you, Wizard's Chess!

wizards_chess.JPG

 The Knights of the Electromagnetic Table: Raagini, Toni, me, Michael, and Tatiana 

Heavily inspired by the game from the Harry Potter universe, it's a voice-controlled chess board with "enchanted" pieces that enforces the rules of chess and gives users verbal feedback. How does it work, you ask? Magic, clearly. But if you aren't convinced, you can check out the project in more detail on my team's website. And, if you want to see it in action, we've been invited to demo it at the Wellesley STEM Expo on March 28th! We'll be working on revamping it up until then, and perhaps beyond. This is by far my favorite example of how "work" at Olin can actually be a ton of fun, and I'm really proud of my team for what we accomplished. 

-Haley '17

P.S.  Congrats to all the Candidates! Can't wait to meet you soon!

P.P.S.  Obligatory "Yay Patriots!" even though I actually cared way more about the Kitten Bowl than the Super Bowl...

Recent Assets

  • 2015-02-27 15.56.28.jpg
  • The Olin Igloo
  • sledding_hill.JPG
  • chocolate-walnut-pralines-crumbly-nutty-taste-with_1920x1200_17-wide.jpg
  • airport ball sculpture.JPG
  • wizards_chess.JPG
  • Igloo 2015
  • Snow Blocked Door
  • Snow from Juno in Room
  • Moriarty_DidYouMissMe

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