Since coming to Ohio State, I have had many opportunities to further myself as a scholar and a life-long learner. I began at Ohio State last fall as a pre-Industrial and Systems Engineering major. This meant that throughout my first year I completed many pre-requisite courses in Math, Science, and the College of Engineering. I looked into my options, and in October of last year I applied to take part in a spring semester Engineering Service Learning Study Abroad. The trip traveled to Nueva Esperanza, Honduras, and worked with an orphanage I had traveled to twice before both with my church and on an independent volunteer assignment.
The course was project-based and we split up into teams to solve various problems the orphanage was experiencing on property. My team worked to develop a small scale aquaponics system. Aquaponics is a sustainable method of raising both fish and vegetables in a system that promotes a symbiotic relationship between the two. The purpose of the system was to teach responsibility to some of the older children at the orphanage and to model a process that could potentially be built up in the future to generate a food source or income.
To ensure project success we had to learn not only the technical specifications for the system, but the culture and climate where we were planning to implement it. This included creating manuals and instructions in Spanish and working with the caretakers to understand how the system could fit with the existing chores for the kids. We traveled over spring break and the kids helped us build all week. During this time we began to teach them about the system and its properties. They asked questions, which was a good indication to us they were invested in the system and interested in keeping it going. We left the project up and running in caring hands.
Following spring semester I began my duties as a co-chair to the Service Committee in Mount. In this position, with two other chairs, I am responsible for planning and organizing volunteering opportunities for the first year scholars. Over the summer we reached out to many organizations to begin ironing out the details, times and locations of all of our projects. This also included thinking of ways to help the first year students reflect on their service and instill in them a yearning to continue this engagement throughout their time as an undergraduate and beyond.
I have also been able to engage with first year students this year in the College of Engineering through my new role as an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant (UTA) in the Fundamentals of Engineering sequence. In this course, first year engineering students are exposed to problem solving techniques, useful software, and various engineering disciplines through lecture and lab each week. As a UTA I am available in class and lab as a resource to students when they have questions. I also work with the instructional team to grade assignments and proctor exams throughout the semester.
This year the College of Engineering kicked off an Inclusive Excellence Certificate program to promote diversity and inclusion within the college. I attended one of the official kick off events and wondered what this looked like in the fundamentals sequence. Specifically I wanted to know: how do gender and minority identities affect academic performance and student retention in the Fundamentals of Engineering 1181/1182 sequence? Through one of my instructional team members I was introduced to a professor in the Department of Engineering Education already conducting similar research. I scheduled time to meet, and will begin work with her team next week.
I began my time at Ohio State as a pre-Industrial and Systems Engineering major. Just last week I received notice that my application was approved and I have been accepted into the major. Next semester I am able to begin course work in the department and soon will choose my track within ISE. I have had so much opportunity at Ohio State so far and I cannot wait to see what doors are opened by this latest academic achievement.