Now that the year has come to a close, I find myself asking both “Where did the time go?” and “What took so long?” Autumn semester passed in a fury of lab reports and coding assignments for the Fundamentals of Engineering Honors (FEH) class, which saw me tackling programming using MATLAB and C/C++ for the first time. Despite the learning curve, I successfully completed the final Video Game Design project by programming a touch-screen enabled temple run-style game with minigames and score tracking. Spring semester provided another completely new experience: I collaborated with three other engineering students to design, program, and compete with an autonomous robot on a unique obstacle course requiring completion of a series of tasks. As team coordinator and head programmer, I coded and tested the entirety of the robot’s programming and navigation, as well as organized and delegated the documentation requirements. Despite initial interpersonal difficulties, my team triumphed by placing in the top sixteen teams out of 62 at the competition and earning an A on both our final presentation and our 80-page final report.
The experiences above, in retrospect, sound like those of a confirmed Computer Science and Engineering, which is why I still wonder how I convinced myself, a Chemical Engineering Major with no designs to switch majors, to complete any of the FEH curriculum. However, my experiences were invaluable, and I discovered a previously unknown love (and aptitude for) programming that lead to my decision to add computer science engineering as a minor. As I heard my TA describe it, FEH was “The best class you’ll never want to take again”, and I agree completely. It was an amazing learning opportunity that truly distinguished OSU from other universities, but it was also the most stressful course I am ever likely to take.
Outside of my classes, I have become involved in the OSU chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), where I serve as an event coordinator for the Professional Development Committee. While I am currently assisting other, more experienced members with their events, I am excited to begin planning my own during my Sophomore Year. Overall, AIChE is an amazing way to meet and connect with people in my major.
During the spring semester, my Eminence Fellows group began developing a few key ideas for our service project. We had identified both an interest in and need for action related to the Opioid Epidemic, Social Isolation of Senior Citizens, and Housing Inequality. Eventually, after doing research and listening to community members involved in each issue, we decided to address high utility bills in Columbus, which many residents struggle to afford and maintain a safe, healthy standard of living. Our organization was officially named PowerHouse Ohio, with the goal to empower residents to reduce their utility bills by installing weatherization kits around their house.
This summer, I will travel to Iringa, Tanzania for a month to research how the spread of HIV has influenced the social development of Tanzania since the Iringa region has the highest prevalence in Tanzania. The trip will allow me to experience another culture with different social norms, as well as learn basic Swahili. When I return, I will share my experiences and findings with my peers in an effort to spread awareness about the different challenges faced by HIV-positive individuals in Tanzania vs. America.
I have had amazing experiences over the past year, from attending an OSU-sponsored drag show to competing in robot competition. Next year, I look forward to taking my first classes in chemical engineering, becoming more involved in AIChE, and contributing to the development of my class’s Eminence Service Project.