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!

I’m doing things a little differently for this week’s blog post. Instead of commentary on advocating for engineering, I want to update anyone who reads this on my life because right now my life is really exciting and I want to share my excitement.

So, I didn’t write a blog post for the past because I was pretty swamped with exams and homework. Almost all of my classes this semester have weekly homework which I would complain about I hadn’t written this post last year while I was in Wales. So instead, I’m appreciating the work I’ve been giving and studying hard. Sounds like a good plan, right? I’ll try to keep it up.

Last year at this time, I was in Wales planning a trip to Paris (my dream trip as a former French student) and thinking about which countries I wanted to visit over spring break. A year later, I’m no longer a world traveler. I’m focusing all my efforts into developing myself as an engineer and making a positive impact within the College of Engineering. So here’s what I’ve been up to recently:

As a Knight of St. Patrick, I polished my own sword to perfection.

As a Knight of St. Patrick, I polished my own sword to perfection.

I was recently named a Knight of St. Patrick, an honor bestowed to 8-15 upperclassmen within the College of Engineering who represent leadership, excellence in character, and exceptional contribution to the College of Engineering and its students. It’s one of the highest honors you can receive in engineering. I honestly cannot believe I was picked out of the hundreds of talented applicants, but I am so lucky because it has given me an opportunity to become good friends with other fellow leaders within the College of Engineering. So what’s next? As a Knight of St. Patrick, I’ll be pulling pranks on the College of Engineering with my fellow knights until the Knights of St. Patrick Ball on March 15!

CUBE Consulting continues to thrive, as it takes on 3 new consultants and a new project. We finished one project already this semester for a start up company and will now be working with the Student Sustainable Farms, which I believe will be an excellent project.  I love the work I’m doing with CUBE and cannot wait to see what new opportunities come up this semester. One of my current projects is to find means for traveling to the Junior Enterprise World Conference in Switzerland this August which would put Junior Enterprise USA officially on the map!

The College of Engineering will use a new group, Student Consultants on Teaching (SCOTs), to help evaluate new professors as they learn to teach university classes. One of the deans and an academic adviser run a class on teaching which is required for all first year professors. Part of this class includes a classroom observation and evaluation by the instructors. The instructors would like have students provide a student perspective for this classroom observation.  Last semester, I assisted with the development of this opportunity. Now, I’m excited to be conducting my first observation with the academic adviser in charge of the program. It will be a great way to look at university class instruction from a new perspective. I will also be serving as the student member of a team choosing the recipients of $20,000 teaching grants in engineering through SCOTs over the next few weeks.

CUBE's consultants are hard at work during this new semester accomplishing the next deliverable of their projects.

CUBE’s consultants are hard at work during this new semester accomplishing the next deliverable of their projects.

In Fall 2014, I will be an Engineering Learning Assistant for undeclared engineers, which means I’ll introduce freshman engineers to the University of Illinois and the College of Engineering. I’ll also help undeclared engineers determine what kind of engineer they would like to be. I’m really excited for this unique opportunity to showcase all types of engineering to freshman, but there will be a significant amount of planning (starting now!) in ensuring that students receive the tools they need to be both successful and choose a major. It’s a great opportunity for me to exercise my passion and knowledge within engineering education to create a meaningful curriculum for undeclared engineers to help freshmen determine their future career.

Finally, I’m assisting with a Koinonia retreat through St. John’s Catholic Newman Center, NFK 121 from March 7-9. It’s less than 2 weeks away! I’m really excited and for anyone reading this, I highly encourage you to ask me about NFK 121 if you’re curious because we would absolutely love to have you.

So I’m currently doing all of these things as well as classes, but I wouldn’t have my life be any other way. I love all of these activities and I am so fortunate to work with amazing people everyday. I recently found an excellent quote that describes exactly how I feel about my life right now:

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” -Steve Jobs

I think I’ve found it.

That’s it from me this week! Thanks and have a great Tuesday!

After a very long semester, I’m happy to say that I’m back. So, hello again! I hope anyone following this blog or discovering it for the first time is doing well. I apologize for the absence. It was necessary in order to keep my life in order. I came back to Illinois already committed to several organization. I also had a class load that was much more time intensive than what I had experienced in the UK last spring.

So what have I been up to?

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Our CUBE Consulting executive board and project managers at the corn maze near Champaign.

CUBE Consulting: I took on the job as President of CUBE Consulting, the first United States Junior Enterprise, over the summer, searching for projects for this school year. Since then, my executive board and I have successfully recruited 17 new members. My vice president and I transferred planned projects to our project managers and their project teams. We trained our consultants and then watched as our consultants put engineering in practice, solving company’s technical problems. I also started an entrepreneurial speaker series for consultants to learn more from successful entrepreneurs. Want to learn more about CUBE Consulting and Junior Enterprise? Check out this post I wrote about it!

Engineering Initiatives: I joined a new group before returning to Illinois focusing on projects that better the College of Engineering at Illinois. My project last semester was increasing student awareness of necessary documentation for working at an internship, co-op or – employment. My next project will be publicly addressing the fact that chemical engineering is within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, not the College of Engineering, to interested students. Chemical engineers are still engineers and it’s actually very beneficial for chemical engineers to be considered within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Engineering Learning Assistant: I helped teach an Aspirations to Leadership course for freshman engineers. As a leader in several extracurricular activities, I loved teaching a subject that I’m very passionate about. I also enjoyed serving as a mentor to incoming students still adjusting to student life. This course was part of the First Year Experience classes started by iFoundry to create a more hands on, interactive education for first year engineering students which has become a program of the College of Engineering. It was great to be part of such a successful improvement of engineering education at Illinois.

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Some of the ladies I became good friends with this year while helping out at St. John’s Catholic Newman Center on campus.

St. John’s Catholic Newman Center Retreats: For those who don’t know, I’m a Catholic who actively enjoys living my faith. When I left Illinois in Fall 2012 to study abroad, I had just attended my first retreat with the Newman Center on campus. I returned this past fall to assist with another retreat and will be on team for a retreat this spring. I really enjoy this aspect of my life because it helps me grow closer to God and become more involved outside of engineering. I absolutely love engineering, but it’s really important to be diverse! These retreat teams develop my communication and social skills, unlike most of my engineering classes.I’ve made the most amazing friends from being involved. I am already excited for the retreat I’ll be on team for this coming semester!

So this is why I haven’t had a chance to write many any blog posts. I apologize. I’ve been actively investing my time in making a difference for other engineering students. As Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” I’ve been doing just that because actions speak louder than words.

That does not change the fact that I want to continue connecting to engineering education advocates around the world. I want to be a change while also sharing my ideas because I think ideas are what creates action.

My New Years Resolution to You

I am going to blog once a week on Monday at 3 pm CST. It won’t be long, but there will be a post every Monday here about new research and developments within engineering and engineering education. I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you, but more importantly, hearing your thoughts.

Thanks for your support and I look forward to seeing you on Monday!

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