Its not all Calculus
I’ve written mainly about my life outside of classes, which I realize can be deceiving since that is where the majority of my time and patience is spent. Not that you would want to watch a reality television show entitled “The Real Life of Stressed Out Engineering Majors” with dynamic settings of late night study sessions and overused whiteboard calculations. I know I wouldn’t. The class and homework load definitely shot up after freshman year, but the lab experiments and concepts covered this semester balance out the extra work with exciting projects. I didn’t want to write a blog about how great it is to be an engineer, so I won’t. Here’s an overview, however, of what I enjoy about my academic life. That’s different, right?
It all starts with the commute. If you have ever exited off the 91 freeway onto Adams, taken a left, and then driven down to Magnolia Ave, you have at least passed by the sacred building all CBU engineers migrate to on a daily basis. The building is indeed off campus. Every day hoards of engineers-to-be walk in groups across the front lawn, cut through the Village and circle around the Rec Center just to get to class on time. With only a 10 minute gap, there isn’t much time to wait at the crosswalk or forget something at your apartment. Engineers solve problems, though. A lot of people ride longboards and bikes around campus, but they are almost required for engineering students who want to be in class on time. Honestly, I like it. I biked every day last year and enjoyed riding with the other guys in the dorm. I bought a longboard this summer after having borrowed my roommate’s board so often, and cruising through campus hasn’t been greater. I’m always laughing on my way back to my apartment, because I see lines of bikes, longboards, and scooters rolling around. At this point, I don’t think I could stand walking to any of my classes. Efficiency is a valued engineering objective. We should get extra credit for this.
The destination isn’t always as enjoyable as the journey, but when it is, it usually involves building something cool in a lab. Last semester I worked on NAO robots and programmed one to control a Samsung Smart TV through only voice and hand motions. By the end of the semester my group had built a hand for the robot to wear that the TV could sense and react to. That was only a freshman class, too, so I was psyched to see what I would be experimenting with this year. The anticipation was met in Digital Logic class this year. It’s true that I have learned exactly what a series of 1s and 0s means (0110 = 6) but it’s the labs that make the theory all worth it. Last Friday, we wrote VHDL code that could interpret on and off input switches and output numbers onto an Altera Cyclone IV chip. That means absolutely nothing to you, but I was freaking out when I lifted a switch and a number 1 appeared on a previously blank panel. Four switches could be arranged to create every digit and letters from A to F. I rode back to campus with a sense of pride I’ve never felt before. The professor told us that we would build a digital watch by the end of the semester.
Just another day of learning at the College of Engineering.