Grad Lesson #17 – Stay Classy Cornell

Last week we finally did it–completed our Structural Engineering project.  We finished our paper, suited up, and gave our presentation in front of a filled McManus Lounge.  This was the only time within the year, and probably forever again, that we were all dressed in suits, together, for a good 5+ hours.  In order to freeze this moment in time, here’s some classy photos:

Suit Up

Serious Faces

In a broader, graduate school, sense, on Tuesday at around 11pm I finished EVERYTHING–all classes, all finals, all projects.  Everything was done.

So what now? Well, there’s plenty of time for more important things! Such as, finishing up the “161 Things To Do” list. Ok, I’ll face it, I will never actually finish them all. 1) Time, 2) Some things require me to have been a freshman here and 3) I actually have some sense of morality.  But so far, I’ve managed to check off 38 out of 161. Not half-bad…well, actually, less than half bad, but oh well.  The next week and half is fairly filled with camping expeditions, PA road trips, and heading up to Canada for the fun of it.  But I’m sure I can check off a few more things, such as:

  • Road trip it to Canada <–Happening next week, CHECK!
  • Buying an Ithaca is Gorges t-shirt
  • Play croquet on the quad with a popped collar <–I’ve been waiting so long in anticipation for this!
  • Eat breakfast at 2am at the State Diner
  • …and more!

Look forward to more posts in the next weeks w/ adventures leading up to graduating from grad school, and then the real “gap” begins…


Grad Lesson #16 – Priorities, such as supporting those who choose to run 26.2 miles–straight

Last week, Monday, was the Boston Marathon.  Keith and a couple other WPI guys were running, along with 28,000 other people that I’m sure were equally awesome.  Therefore, I was back in MA. All the driving was fairly rough, but being able to cheer on the runners made it all worth it.  Accompanied by Marissa (an old WPI roommate) we made a sick sign and managed to see the guys THREE times throughout the 26.2 mile course!  (apparently our feat is unheard of)

E-I Radical Pi...

We even managed to sneak in the background of one of the professional photographs of Keith along the course….at least we think we did.  You can attempt to be the judge.

Largely Zoomed in Marathon Photo...yes, that's me...I think...

Now onto the last few weeks of grad school:

7 Days – Final Graduate Project Report Due

9 Days – End of Classes

12 Days – Graduate Project Presentation

30 Days – End of Finals

39 Days – Graduation

Grad Lesson #15 – Diversity in the Workplace

I am obviously a sheltered person–born in Massachusetts, attend elementary, high school, and college in Massachusetts.  Where over 50 % of my college peers were also from the New England region.

Go to grad school *dramatic pause* in New York, where there are *another even more dramatic pause* supporters of OTHER

athletic team organizations.

Living in New England has meant growing up with some pretty awesome sports dynasties–Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics… who wouldn’t appreciate that? Well apparently a lot of people–that typically route for the opposing teams.  I remember skipping school to go to the first Patriots Superbowl Parade in Boston (where Tom Brady obviously looked straight at me and waved…obviously) and thought, who wouldn’t like this team they’re great?  Well, the real world hit in grad school where exclamations of  “F– the Patriots” and “Boston Sucks” frequently arise around the office.  I admit, I’ve never been in a world where the majority of people DON’T support the same teams I do; but it definitely has been eye-opening and even keeps the world of engineering a bit drama-filled.  Such as having one peer complaining, showing me the score of his loosing Twins vs. Red Sox on an iphone in the middle of Dynamics class.  Or getting a text message while driving the says “Boston Sucks” because the Red Sox are loosing to some other team.  All the hostility is quite fascinating really.

Patriots Parade in Boston

So what’s next, sensitivity training for opposing team supporters?  Probably not, it might make the office far less interesting. 🙂

Grad Lesson #14 – Passing on Knowledge to the “Next Generation”

I went home for Easter Weekend these past few days.  Probably not the best idea due to the amount of work I had to do; nevertheless, I had a great time and happened to get work done sporadically.

Spending a lot of time in traffic and on the road lately

Anyways, I was doing dynamics homework in Keith’s kitchen when his 9 yr old twin cousins came over and started to invade my space.  Background–I’m great with kids when I’m paid (day camp counselor for 3 yrs, holla), but in all other walks of life, it’s frankly something I need to work on.  Being curious and seeing that I had an awesome shiny laptop they slowly started to cautiously approach me to find out who I was and what I was doing typing away on the sweet toy.  Realizing that I’m an impressionable young adult, I figured this would be a great female engineering mentoring moment.

This turned out a bit more difficult than originally idealized.

Upon looking at my confusing coding sequence the twins asked what I was doing.  Instead of diving right into the theory of dynamics I attempted to explain that buildings are like sticks tied together, and when pushed with too much force they fall down.  This appeared to get the point across–especially after I showed that if I pushed on the kitchen island it would not move; whereas if a bulldozer came and pushed it, the island would be destroyed (kids apparently like to imagine things getting destroyed).  Moving onto skyscrappers got interesting:

Twin – what are you studying

Me – “Structural Engineering”

Twin – (pause of confusion)

Me – “Okay, so I’m studying to design and build buildings, like giant skyscrapers”

Twin – “what’s a skyscraper?”

Me – (Trying to remember what age I was when I learned the vocabulary word – Skyscraper) “Okay, well, when you go into Boston and see all those tall buildings? Those are skyscrappers”

Twin – “So they touch the sky!!!???”

Me – “Uh, no, but they look like they do, I guess that’s the point”

Conversation continues with me googling cityscapes to further explain my point

I attempted to do my duty as a knowledgeable female engineer and share my love with the next generation.  It seemed to work for as long as their attention span held.  However, eventually they seemed to get scared off and realized that riding bikes is a bit more interesting than interrupting Jen when she’s trying to do homework.  I guess I’ll just have to leave the “passing on engineering knowledge to the next generation” up to Engineering Barbie.

Grad Lesson #13 – Don’t lose you’re purse, or rather, just never leave your apartment

Saturday was probably my worst day in Ithaca thus far.  Not only did I lay around feeling awful all day, I lost my purse somewhere in town Friday night.  After forcing myself to get out and look for it at every conceivable place imaginable, I realized there may be no hope in ever getting it back.  So after taking inventory, goodbye and RIP:

Coach key ring received as a high school graduation gift,

Dooney & Burke clutch...thankfully this was free, but still,

Multiple important keys,

Anything you can imagine putting into a wallet,

And of course most importantly…

2 free coffee cards (1 for CTB and 1 for Stellas) that took me over a month to fill...

After thinking about I realized it could have been a lot worse, I could have not had an extra set of keys lying around, and I could have had actual cash in my wallet.   After canceling all credit cards, copying some keys, and realizing I might be able to actually fill up 2 more coffee cards before I graduate, I felt a lot better.  And in other cool news, my family bought a puppy this week:

"Still Nameless"

So what better to cheer me up than a puppy?!  And additionally, the parentals will be visiting this upcoming weekend, which means I can see this cute scruff ball, as well as eat lots of free food.  So things may be looking up.

But just a future suggestion to myself, never going out again…except for the occasional obligatory trip to class.

Grad Lesson #10 – Enjoy the Things that Have Nothing to do w/ School

The great thing about still being in school is that I still get great deals on great trips.  For instance, last week, a mass Engineering Grad Student Association (EGSA) email was sent out announcing a $10 Ski/Snowboard learning package and $30 day ticket package at Greek Peak for the first 30 or so people to sign up.  So of course, us Structures kids practically ran to go sign up.  I had never been snowboaring before, so this sounded like an amazing, yet cheap, opportunity!  The roommate and his chemical engineering peers often visit Greek Peak; but I had never made the trek out considering passes + rental equipment costs never seemed worth it.

Sitting at the top of the Bunny Slope

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it before, but I have a cross-country skiing background–this is when you ski UP the hills too, in case you were wondering.  I tried alpine skiing for the first time a few years ago in Colorado, and I think I was pretty good at it–at least for a first timer.  So that being said, snowboarding is A LOT different.  I think I was able to get the balancing fairly easily; however, the hard part was definitely going down a mountain sideways.  The skier habit of facing forward could not let this one go.  Therefore, I constantly turned left and dug my heels into the snow most of the runs down.  Currently, my knees hate me, my thighs hate me, and my butt definitely hates me because I had to collapse on it so much.  Despite all this hatred, I still had a fun time!

The roommate - aka far more experienced and superior snowboarder

And yes, snowboarding was a chance to get away from school, but my peers and I can never manage to get completely away from our education.  Throughout the day we talked about stress concentrations within our boards, the composite materials involved in fracture mechanics, the tension and sag caused on the chair lift, and the structural stability of the brand new wooden lodge.  Yes, we constantly made fun of ourselves for it, but it’s what we do.

Stress Concentration...

Grad Lesson #9 – Avoid Saying “Wicked” Around Your Non-Massachusetts Project Partners

It finally slipped.  Somehow I managed to hold in my use of the word “wicked” for the entire first semester of grad school.  Through countless wing nights, project meetings, exclamatory statements, it managed to never expose itself…until last night.

Thursdays, at least for my peers and I, are our “off night.”  This typically involves going to wing night at Dinos and showing up at Dunbar’s far too early making us the only group of people present till around 11:30 or 12, but why would we care?–more fresh breathable air for us.

Last night may have been a little atypical. Mainly because Dinos was replaced by the Nines Pizza, lots of ice skating was involved, and we arrived at Dunbars perfectly fashionably late, so late in fact that we were eventually kicked out. Maybe this out-of-the-norm Thursday is why my vocabulary slipped, who knows? Anyways, we were sitting down at the Nines and I don’t even remember what I said, probably something along the lines of–

“This (insert noun) blah blah blah, it’s wicked awesome!”

Within a couple seconds I realized what I had done, mainly because Pennsylvania friend Brandon started cracking up.  Staton Island friend Denis had no clue what was going on and then upon realizing, explained that his brain translator automatically caused him to hear “really” versus “wicked” within his head.

Of course, now that I said it once, I continued to slip a few times throughout the rest of the night. Not to say I’m bashing my Mass heritage, I love that I can say crazy random things like “wicked,” deal with all this cold & snowy weather, and despite my lack of any Boston accent, my peers continue to say I sound a bit like Julianne Moore from 30 Rock.  But whatever. It’s interesting to be on the other side of the fence.

Leaving you w/ some skating photos from last night:

Guys at the Rink

Gals at the Rink