So many positive experiences, adventures, and accomplishments over the past few months have made for such an exciting semester that I am really not ready to say goodbye to yet. Whether it had to do with turning 20, living in an apartment for the first time, or simply making bigger decisions on my own, I think I’ve definitely grown up a lot and am more stoked then ever to embrace what’s in store for the future!
The biggest highlight of my semester academically was probably realizing what direction I wanted to head with my career and making the decision to transfer into Mechanical Engineering. After deciding to make the move and register for 4 Mechanical classes over winter break, I was definitely a little nervous about whether I had made the right decision or not. My advisor, however, made the process super easy and much less scary. Knowing that I can always switch back or into something new before the drop deadline, a few weeks into the semester, or at the end of the year was very comforting. It’s also awesome knowing that regardless of what engineering discipline you take on, there are so many different directions in industry you can go within each major. I ended up loving my new classes and taking on even more of an interest in renewable energy as well as product design and development. I made some really good friends in the department who I actually hang out with outside of library study sessions now too. Having a fun crew to do late-night studying with honestly makes any kind of work so much better.
I also learned how to really apply classroom knowledge to a real-life setting by working in a water quality lab on campus all year. I had the opportunity to work under Dr. Pirbazari with a senior student, Peter, on Bio-electrochemical Systems. We basically studied how we could use the bacteria in different parts of a wastewater treatment plant to generate electricity through a Microbial Fuel Cell set up. A few times a week Peter and I would set-up, check, troubleshoot, or clean up our experiment, record and make graphs from our data, research how to achieve higher voltages, and put together proposals for research grants. We had the opportunity to present our research at the Undergraduate Research Symposium in front of a panel of judges and actually won first place for the Schwarzenegger Award. Even without the reward, I was extremely proud of our work and felt I developed important problem-solving and technical skills.
Staying true to USC’s “work hard play hard” mantra, I also had tons of fun this semester. Over spring break my friends and I (actually 5 engineers total haha) took a road trip all the way up the Pacific Coast Highway. We pitched a tent in the redwood forests, went kayaking with sea otters in Morrow Bay, hiked in Big Sur, and even spent some time up in San Francisco. Even the driving part was awesome…the scenery along coastline was incredible. I loved watching the geography, greenery, and shoreline transition every couple of hours as we made our way from LA to San Francisco. It was awesome getting so much fresh air and getting to explore parts of the Sunshine state I had no idea existed.
Along the lines of adventuring, I also finally bought a surfboard and wetsuit. I have wanted to learn ever since I moved out here, and this semester decided to take the matter into my own hands. I’ve gone a few times with friends so far and I get absolutely wrecked…but always have the best time ever. Regardless of how much I’ve made a fool out of myself out there, I have such a good time paddling out and being out in the ocean. I am determined to figure it out eventually and am planning on heading to the beach lots this summa!
Aside from beaching it, I will actually be working downtown in LA and taking summer classes once school lets out. I am interning at a solar start-up called SunStarter and will be keeping materials inventory, and doing operations and project management type work. I am super excited to learn everything there is to know about solar panels and start getting exposure to industry. I will be working four hours a day, five days a week, and also taking writing 340 as well as a design class. Writing is required but I am taking the design class so I can learn Illustrator software and pursue my interest in graphic design. I will be staying in my apartment this summer and my little brother/best friend will also be staying at USC attending a summer film program. I am psyched to have another little Arnold out on the west coast!!
I absolutely had the most amazing year and am ready to take on the summer. Now is such an exciting time in my life and I want to embrace as much of it as possible (:
Coachella with The Crew ! Mammoth Hot Springs