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!

Greetings! How are you? I hope you’re doing well! As I write this, it’s still Tuesday, April 29. So today as a member of the Catholic Church, I’m celebrating the feast day of St. Catherine of Siena. She was pretty awesome so I highly recommend checking out who she is, regardless of your religion. It’s really appropriate that I’m writing this post on her feast day because my favorite quote of all time by St. Catherine of Siena is: “If you are what you should be, you shall set the world on fire.” How awesome is that? So, this is appropriate because of the joy I found in today.

My joy of engineering is: passion.

Tonight, I participated in “Fred Talks” as part of of the Campus Honors Program, which was essentially TED talks for a smaller organization. It’s awesome to see how passionate people are whether it be a physics major talking about why organic foods aren’t all their cracked up to be or a programmer discussing the future of Bitcoins. Earlier that day, I sat in the CUBE office doing homework while one of our project teams met to finish their final presentation to their client. This team lost their project manager earlier this semester due to time conflicts, so this team currently works autonomously without a designated leader. It was great to see how much they cared about producing a quality final product for their client as a collective group.

CUBE Consulting

I need to admit it everyone. I feel extremely passionate about CUBE Consulting and engineering. Can you believe it? (I promise that was sarcasm!)

I love to see passion in other people and share my passions with others. I love to a person become animated, eyes gleaming with excitement, talking with fervent enthusiasm when their passion is mentioned. Sometimes my engineering classes are really freaking hard. Sometimes I have mountains of homework. Sometimes I just want to crawl into bed with a book and mug of tea at 5 pm instead of emailing people and studying. I think everyone has those moments. It is witnessing passion, this unbridled joy for a certain topic, which reminds me of why I work so hard. My fire is rekindled and I share my passion with others in hopes of helping them to continue finding motivation. Passions inspire. Thank you for sharing your passions, both with me and with others.

Happy not-Monday-anymore! I hope you had a wonderful weekend and that you had a good Monday too. As of now, I have only one more Monday of classes left. I can’t believe this semester flew by already. Only a few more weeks and I’ll be a senior. Maybe that will be a joy of engineering at some point: You’re busy that you barely notice how much time flies past until graduation is less than 365 days away. But that will be saved for another day!

My joy in engineering today is: #WIEchooseIllinois.

#WIEchooseIllinois is a trending hashtag for Twitter that means Women in Engineering (WIE) choose Illinois. Tonight I participated in a Twitter chat for admitted students to ask questions about what it was like to be a woman in engineering at Illinois. I sat in a room some really beautiful women whose many talents include leadership, engineering (of course!), entrepreneurship, advocacy, etc. We answered admitted student questions and also shared stories of our past 3-4 years at Illinois. I loved seeing these incredible women sharing their Illinois experiences: researching to cure cancer, visiting Silicon Valley to learn more about start-up culture, leading the Society of Women Engineers, studying abroad and so much more. The level of passion for engineering and Illinois in the room was almost tangible.

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Did I mention the Alma Mater is back after her restoration? My first picture with the University of Illinois icon was as an admitted student when I came for orientation during the summer of 2011.

The other reason that my joy of engineering is #WIEchooseIllinois is because three years ago this month I made the decision to come to the University of Illinois. I had only visited Illinois twice. Everyone in my hometown thought UIUC was in Chicago, not Urbana-Champaign. It was by far one of the best decisions I have ever made. I’m so grateful for the experiences I’ve had as a student here at Illinois. I’m so very thankful for the people who chose to come to Illinois with me. I can’t imagine losing even one person from the communities I love like the Catholic Newman Center’s Koinonia “family”, the WIMSE (Women in Math, Science and Engineering) Living-Learning Community dorms, CUBE Consulting, etc. These people have changed my life. Not in a sappy way, but in a way that I will use to help me continue to become a better version of myself throughout the rest of my life.

So to all of my friends and fellow (or former) University of Illinois students: Thank you for choosing Illinois!

Hello again! I hope your day is just as beautiful as Illinois right now. It’s all blue skies and seventy degrees here. I love it!

Today my joy of engineering is: professors and TAs care.

At such a large university, it can be easy to feel like a number rather than a human being. Large lectures of 300 people can be kind of scary and overwhelming. Sometimes I have to take class with professors who teach because it’s in the job requirement, not because they like it. This is inevitable and I know I’ve been desensitized to this fact over the past few years.

For the past month, I’ve been serving as one of the undergraduates on a committee of faculty and staff talking about how to improve undergraduate education as a whole called C-CUE. As an engineering student, it’s easy to notice that the focus of most of my science and engineering professors is on their research, not their students. This is precisely why I enjoyed being on C-CUE. I loved every moment spent with this committee because the ultimate tone underlying our discussions was compassion for students. These professors, academics, leaders of the university, etc. truly care about making sure every student leaves the university completely transformed by his or her education. And I think that together these people have the power to change undergraduate education and inspire more academic professionals to care about their undergraduates.

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Karen Hyman, one of my first professors at Illinois, has become a mentor to me. She also served on C-CUE with me. I really appreciate how much she cares about her students (including me!). She awarded the Golden Shamrock by Knights of St. Patrick for 2014.

Also, as my discussion sections end, I must reiterate my appreciation for people in my academic life who care that I succeed as a student. Most of my discussion sections in college have consisted of graduate student TAs (teaching assistants) who worked out problems to teach me and my fellow undergraduate students how to apply difficult concepts learned in lecture. Throughout my college career, I have been very lucky to have discussion sections with some great TAs who were excellent teachers. This post goes out to my two TAs this semester: Andy for mass transfer and Andrea for engineering statistics (as well as my former TAs from previous semesters). These graduate students know what we don’t understand and teach material in such a way that I know what’s important and useful. So to any TA or former TA who might be reading this, thank you. You are greatly appreciated.

 

Hello! So I wanted to start actually writing blog posts earlier than this, but Firefox has been giving me 404 errors whenever I tried to access my website. A little bit of troubleshooting and a few cleared histories later, I’m finally able to write my first post for my “The Joys of Engineering” series which I will be abbreviating JoE. Why? Because it looks like JOY!

My joy of engineering today was: Being a person.

A few weeks ago, I had 4 engineering exams in the same week. It was not a fun experience, but I survived! At the end of the week, I felt more like a “brain on a stick” regurgitating information than I did a person with thoughts and feelings because that’s what my professors expected of me.

Today, I had brunch with a friend (and fellow engineering student). We barely talked about engineering the whole time. It was refreshing! When you live with three other engineers, it seems like engineering and classes are the only two subjects that come up with. It was refreshing to spend the morning with Bill talking about life, God, the future, our families, etc. just catching up with a good friend. I’m so busy with the end of the semester that I really appreciated the respite from studies and extracurricular activities.

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Breakfast in the UK. Because no matter where you are, breakfast is important. And it’s always more fun in good company. (I plan on inserting random, semi-relevant photos into JoE posts for fun. Enjoy!)

In the afternoon, I also had the opportunity to meet with Michael Loui, who’s a professor on campus specializing in engineering education. I loved hearing about his journey from Hawaii to the Midwest to become a scholar in computer engineering to become the editor-in-chief of the Journal for Engineering Education. In return for hearing about his path, he listened to my journey as a student and gave me advice on my future career as I look beyond my own graduation next year. He gave me advice and tips on my future which I sincerely appreciated. Not all of my professors are so open with me. Talking to Professor Loui today was a joy and also very beneficial to my future.

In order to find joy in engineering, I think, as a student, I have to go beyond the day-to-day work of being a chemical engineering undergraduate student. I want to be more than a GPA. I want to be a person. So when you have an opportunity to share your thoughts and feelings with other people (who may or may not be engineers) like this, you find a joy of engineering.

I’m back!

Yes, I promise. That’s my commitment to you. I apologize for the hiatus, but it’s been for good reasons. So, what’s happened since my last blog post? Here are the experiences I’m grateful for over the past 2 months:

  • I was knighted as a Knight of St. Patrick with friends, family and many amazing people from the College of Engineering. Iam honored and humbled by the entire experience.

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    My roommates (and best friends) and I at the Knights of St. Patrick ball after I was knighted.

  • I went on NFK (Newman Foundation Koinoinia) 121 as a team member where I helped participants return to God and grew deeper in my faith. It was beautiful!
  • I helped film physical chemistry lectures (check out Lecture 24!) to help as one my professor’s from last semester continues to develop and improve his flipped classroom learning style. It’s been an awesome learning experience for me.
  • I traveled to Minneapolis for spring break to job shadow at Cargill for the Cargill Global Scholars program. I learned so much from my mentor about how companies are improving the training of their engineers–I was introduced to a new type of engineering education! And afterwards, I traveled to visit my cousin (a PhD student at the University of Minnesota) and my aunt, uncle and cousin who live in Milwaukee.
  • I’ve been serving as 1 of 2 undergraduates on a Campus Conversation for Undergraduate Education working group pertaining to Integrative, Interdisciplinary and Experiential Education. We’ve been discussing how to improve undergraduate education by making general education requirements more meaningful, increasing the opportunities students of different majors work together, etc.
  • Finally, my pride and joy of the past 2 months: This past Friday, Karen Lamb and I finished our final draft of our paper International Experiential Education in Engineering: a Case Study of Junior Enterprise after 4 months of work and the challenge of writing a draft paper in less than 10 days. We will be published authors presenting this paper at the American Society of Engineering Education’s International Forum during their annual conference in Indianapolis this June. It’s a major opportunity to spread the Junior Enterprise concept throughout the US and I’m so excited!!

So, I think I have a reason for my hiatus. I apologize for committing to posting more blogs and failing at it though. And with that I bring you… (drumroll please!)

A new blog series!

The Joys of Engineering

Last semester, I was in a slump, constantly questioning my future vocation as an engineer. This semester, I’ve realized how blessed I am and how much engineering has taught me. I’m grateful for the challenges I’ve been given because they’ve helped me grow as a person and learn so much about the natural world. I love being on the forefront of technology, developing new scientific advances which will make the world a better place.

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Karen Lamb and I presenting our ASEE paper on Junior Enterprise at a poster session for chemical engineering. I learned so much about joy in engineering from researching the benefits of CUBE Consulting and Junior Enterprise.

With this change of heart, I have noticed a culture of negativity that pervades my education as an engineer: complaining about a professor, being upset over grades, depression over work and studies, etc. So many people tell me, “I just want to go work as an engineer.” One friend confessed to me that she has nervous breakdowns when she has drive from home back to school because being at the university is so stressful. As an empathetic person, I feel overwhelmed by desolation within engineering students.

I want to change this perception.

University is an amazing time for students to grow in all facets of their lives. Our time studying at university should not be spent wishing it were over already. We should enjoy every moment of this academic freedom where we have so many opportunities to learn about anything whether it be engineering, social sciences, history or even faith. College is a journey to the rest of our lives where we will be busy with a normal 9-to-5 work schedule, paying back student loans, creating a family, being members of our community, etc. I want to encourage you to make the most of this journey.

How?

I’m going to write a brief blog at least 3 times a week about the Joys of Engineering whether it be a new scientific development that’s awesome (ie: a possible cure to ALS), something exciting in my own life as an engineering student (ie: becoming a Knight of St. Patrick), or a spotlight on friends who are doing amazing things in engineering. I want to empower you, if you’re an engineering student or even if you’re not, to find joy within your own life every single day. I think that this will also help me to maintain my optimism so that I can try to be a light to others everyday. I believe that if you make the most of everyday God’s given you, you shall find happiness. Take the journey with me and we’ll travel this road of joy together! See you soon!

Credit to Shea Acott’s The Gratitude Project and 100 Happy Days for the inspiration for this blog series. Both movements have been beautiful. I’m so excited to see where this project takes me!

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