Potentially a Wonderful Opportunity

The third week of school has begun, and it has been educational (which sounds ironic, but bear with me). While my class schedule is limited, the work load for each class has picked up immensely. I seem to have found a semester with almost no tests and quizzes, but homework and projects instead.

The day starts with my senior design class, for which I’m working on a robotics competition for an IGV, or Intellegent Ground Vehicle competition. Out of approximately twenty students, we have subdivided the class into five sections to complete a respective portion of our autonomous robot, and I will be working on the visual input system. In a nutshell, I’m working with two or three people to give the robot eyes through which it can see the world, particularly a chalk-on-grass maze that it will have to navigate for the competition. These eyes come in two forms: real-time video cameras that capture data and translate it into a language the computer can understand, and a laser range finder to point out the distance from objects, including those the robot has difficulty seeing. As my first major hands-on experience in engineering, I’m fascinated by the level of detail involved, and I’m working particularly hard to make sure my teammates feel my contribution.

The rest of classes are very interesting. I have a machine design course, which emphasizes the design aspect of a complex assembly based not only on material parameters and measurements, but the ability to build our designs using common tools. The primary driving force of our class is a group design project for which we need to design a piece of assisted living equipment (read: anything that can help a disabled or impaired person). I find this particularly interesting because, in all my time so far in school, I have never really considered the potential medical aspect of engineering design, except for my bio-mechanical engineer friend Abby. Following is a course in system dynamics, which utilizes mathematical relationships to analyze complex structures. For any readers potentially interested in engineering, I highly recommend familiarizing yourself with Laplace transforms; they are very helpful for making equations controllable. Lastly, I have my aerospace design class, which I mentioned earlier. I love this course, not only because of the “rocket scientist” crap I wrote about previously, but because of the professor’s attitude towards teaching, as well as the method by which he explains things. Unlike many other classes, I really have the ability to relate to our topics on a familiar level. As an added bonus, the professor pushes for our work to be as professional as possible, so my parents can look at my work and say “DAMN SON! THAT SHITS GOOOOD!”

Okay, they don’t normally speak like that, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did once in a while.

On a side note, I’ve been emailing someone from Boeing who was very excited to tell me information about his job, and offered assistance towards potential employment. This is potentially a wonderful opportunity, but to be honest, I get very scared whenever I talk to someone about a potential engineering job. Due to my lack of experience, I’m afraid of showing up on a job and somehow not meeting the criteria. Ashley and my friends will tell me that’s not the case, but it’s like a waking dream. When I get my foot in that first door some day, I believe it’ll get easier and easier.

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~ by MichaelStaudenmeir on September 8, 2010.

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