Greetings from Michigan!

That’s right, I just completed my sixth move in 3 years. On Friday after my last final, I packed up my apartment in Urbana, Illinois. On Saturday, we left at 6 am to drive through Ohio so I could (finally) renew my driver’s license then continued up to northern Michigan. After dropping all of my boxes in my room, I soon left to go back to Ohio and visit my family for less than 24 hours before returning to Michigan on Sunday. Quite the turnaround, right? But I do have exciting news about all this moving business: 1.) I’m living closer to my family now than I have since leaving for university! 2) I GOT A NEW CAR AND IT’S BEAUTIFUL. (Because I needed it for work!)

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My new car: a Chevy Cruze 2014!! (This is the first vehicle I’ve ever owned personally. I’ve never actually had my own car.)

So now that I’m settled in Michigan, I started my internship with Dow Corning on Monday. It’s only been three days, but I can already tell it’s going to be a great summer and that I’m going to learn so much. My head is currently spinning a little bit from all the chemical processes I’ve learned the past few days and that’s a good thing! In addition to work, I’ve also been spending time getting to know my roommates. I really do miss my roommates from Illinois right now, but I feel very blessed to have three beautiful women to live and get to know this summer. And this morning, one of my roommates reminded me of a reason why I love engineering.

My joy of engineering is: not wearing pant suits!

All summer, I’ll be working as a manufacturing engineering intern at Dow Corning on a specific unit. One of my roommates is a marketing intern so she’ll actually be working in the Corporate Center all summer wearing business clothing. I think marketing is incredibly important and a necessity in any chemical company. That’s just honestly not my thing. My first day at work, I ended my day walking around my unit in business casual clothing with heels. True engineering in the work force doesn’t happen in a suit. You need to be able to get dirty while crawling through equipment, climbing up 50 feet in the air to check a bad pressure gauge, testing samples in a lab, walk around inspecting your unit, etc.

On my second day of work, my operator stopped by my office and told me he was happy to see me wearing jeans to work. Why? Because I looked ready to do really get to work. There is definitely a time and place in my line of work where I need to wear a suit, but I’m happy that I can wear jeans to work most days. It means that I’m ready for whatever work I have that day whether it’s sitting in meetings or exploring my unit getting to know a new chemical process. I’m so excited for work this summer. I became an engineer to develop new technology which would continue advancing technology and making the world a better place. I think Dow Corning will really empower me to do this every day. All I can do is thank the people like my CHEM 203 TA who first told me about Dow Corning and my recruiters who have given me this fantastic opportunity.

Hello! Greetings from my textbooks, notebooks and piles of practice exams! Yes, that’s right. It is currently finals week here at the University of Illinois. Only a few more days until summer! But until then, tests which cover everything you’ve been learning (or were supposed to learn) over the past few months must be completed which will determine your whole future. No pressure. Currently I’ve taken one final, have two more tomorrow and my last final will be Friday morning. Then I get to move to Michigan and start work on Monday. Yep. I know. It’s a quick turnaround, but it’s exciting! So, I haven’t written a Joy of Engineering post because I’ve been stuck under quite a few textbooks, but I wanted to find joy in finals, so here we go.

My joy of engineering is faith.

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NFK 118 Chapel Cover, helping out with a church retreat earlier this school year.

As many close friends know, I’ve experienced statistically significant spiritual growth over the past year. When I lived Houston, I really struggled to find God in my life because I had no community or support in a city where I knew very few people. Upon returning to Illinois, I slowly increased my involvement in the Catholic community on campus. When I encountered struggles, I always had friends with in this spiritual family to fall back on who loved me and guided me in growing closer to God. Even though this semester was even busier than last semester, I was able to serve on a retreat and increase my attendance at daily mass and prayer time. And I found so many more joys in my life, even though I was busier. God is responsible for my joys. In Him, all things are possible. And so my joy of engineering is faith.

My joy of engineering is faith because I know that whatever happens with final exams, God has a plan for me. I have faith that my studies will be well spent just as the time I take off of studying to go to daily mass or go pray in the chapel will also be well spent. I have faith that God will help me grow in whatever way he sees fit and that he will help me succeed this week. By succeed, I mean take finals to the best of my ability. I do not want to define my success by a grade on a final, but by how these exams fit into God’s plan for me and how they help me grow closer to God. I find joy in knowing that I am not alone through the struggles of studying and completion of challenging final. I have faith. I have God.

Regardless of your beliefs, I think you should also find joy in having faith in yourself. Never ever think that you are stupid or that your questions are dumb as you study for finals. Instead, look at your textbook and admire how many chapters of new material you learned this semester. Redo homework problems you struggled with and be amazed by how much better you understand them. Take joy in having faith in yourself because you have learned so much and have conquered the semester.

I cannot begin to express my love and gratitude to my friends who have shown me Christ over the past year through Koinonia, small group, mass, etc. Thank you to all of Illinois’s Catholic community for being fellow children of God!

Hello! Happy Wednesday! Classes end today at the University of Illinois. Tomorrow is Reading Day and then exams begin on Friday. After 11 am on Friday, May 16, I’ll have completed my junior year of undergrad. Only one year left until college graduation. I’m so scared. I’m so excited. I really don’t know how I feel about college graduation. Anyways, I have a week and half left of spring semester and my first day of work will be Monday, May 19 (quick turnaround, I know). I’ll be interning for Dow Corning all summer and I’m so excited! Now, on to the main purpose of this post…

My joy of engineering is: accomplishment.

It is amazing what can be achieved and accomplished in only a couple months. I think any undergraduate student reflecting on a semester of college feels this way. In engineering, These accomplishments give me joy because they are the culmination of what I learn (inside and outside of the classroom) everyday. I find the sheer quantity of technical information taught to undergraduate students per semester to be amazing. It’s also incredible to think how much undergraduate students (especially engineers, in my biased opinion) do at the same time without spontaneously combusting or something. There is significant satisfaction in completing a semester of  college and looking back at what you’ve accomplished in just a few months. So my joy of engineering today is accomplishment because I started out this semester a little lost. But over the course of the semester, I received so many blessings. I’m beyond grateful for everything. Allow me to reflect…

When spring semester started in January 2014:

  • I had just completed my worst academic semester of college ever which did include one two C’s. Yes, I’m human and my grades aren’t always stellar.
  • CUBE Consulting, the student consulting organization I’m president of which revolves around project teams, had a project manager in charge of a project team leave the organization suddenly and unexpectedly without warning. It was the hardest challenge I had faced as a leader.
  • In November, I had broken up with a (now ex-)boyfriend which had made my question both my beliefs and what I was looking for in a relationship. Even in January, I was still looking for answers.
  • I had just scheduled an interview for Knights of St. Patrick which was really exciting, but I had absolutely no expectation. I was just honored to have picked from the large pool of applicants for an interview.
  • I was on team for a church retreat (NFK 121) to give a talk about Christian Living. My talk had a lot of very personal stories in it. I was really unsure if it would inspire other people or not.
  • One of my professors had just asked me to help him re-film some of his physical chemistry lectures, but I had no idea what that would really entail.
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This picture was taken while I helped film a new lecture on physical chemistry and valence bond theory.

With spring semester ending in May 2014:

  • It may be a little soon to talk about grades since I still have finals to take, but I know that this semester has been much more successful.
  • CUBE Consulting exceeded my expectations as it recovered from its initial speed bump. Our projects finished strongly and all of our clients were very happy. CUBE Consulting has retained members better this year and had the most applicants ever.
  • I gave my Christian Living talk on NFK 121 and I was really happy with it. I think it did turn some stone hearts into hearts of flesh. The weekend strengthened my faith and put my questions to rest.
  • I am now a Knight of St. Patrick!
  • I filmed several physical chemistry lectures with Professor So Hirata which taught me a great deal about flipped classroom education and was a very cool experience.
  • I served on a Campus Conversation for Undergraduate Education working group discussing interdisciplinary, integrative, and experiential education. We offered several quality recommendations that I’m excited to see put in place. (I’ll keep you posted as they actually happen.)
  • I worked with several colleagues to develop a course for undeclared engineers to determine which engineering type they’re interested in, which will be implemented in the fall.
  • Most importantly: My classes taught me so much! I had multiple chemical engineering classes that were incredibly interesting and even horticulture has been useful in my grocery shopping.

It’s been a fantastic semester of amazing accomplishments. Whenever I struggle to focus on studying over the next ten days, I’m going to look back to this post to remind myself of these accomplishments. I’ve been blessed and I do not want to forget that. I’m so thankful for so much.

Are you struggling with finals blues?

Make a list like this for yourself. What have you done this semester that you’re incredibly proud of? Share it in the comments or tape it to the wall above your desk to look at while you study. It helps so much. You will look back at the semester and be just as amazed and grateful for so much.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me this past semester in accomplishing my goals! Best of luck on finals!

Hello! Happy Thursday! This is going to be a short post because I have 2 midterms and group project between now and Monday so I probably won’t write anything until later next week (classes end Wednesday and finals start a week from tomorrow). I do have an announcement though! I have been hired by Admissions to write blog articles for prospective Illinois students! So next year I’ll be writing a post or two for the Admissions blog every week. I’m excited! Now that I shared that news, I’d like to talk about my joy for the day…

My joy of engineering is: my sister.

It’s been hard to be living in another state and see my family so infrequently. It’s even more difficult when I’m so busy that I don’t have as much time to talk to them as I would like. But my sister Hannah? She gets it. She understands that I’m busy and calls me persistently (even while I’m in class) until she gets a hold of me so she can tell me about her week. She supports me and encourages me in everything I do. I just spent over an hour talking to her on the phone instead of studying for my midterm tomorrow and I wouldn’t change a thing. A major joy of engineering is that engineering makes you appreciate the people who are there for you despite the craziness of school and life. When you’re busy and stressed, you need people to keep cheering you on to keep going and being the best you can be. So thank you, Hannah Bakies, for being an amazing sister. I love you, miss you, and can’t wait to see you on May 17.

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