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Some friends and I in Madrid

Being a Woman in Engineering

With graduation rapidly approaching I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on my experience at USC, particularly as a woman in engineering. To be honest, I haven’t noticed a difference in my experience compared to my guy friends in engineering or USC in general. While my classes aren’t 50% girls, the ratio is high enough that I don’t even notice it in my classes. I’ve had such an incredible experience at USC, from my classes to doing research to studying abroad, and participating in student orgs, club sports, and greek life.

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The Parthenon, atop the Acropolis in Athens

I Came, I Saw, I Conquered: Winter Break 2014

As I stepped off the airplane into the cold confines of John F. Kennedy International Airport, I received a text message from my father that would jumpstart my winter break. Without any warning, my father and mother had scheduled a family vacation to Greece! So, five days after landing in New York City, I was off again, this time to the rainy foothills of Athens and Mount Olympus. Continue reading

Diamond Jubilee in Trafalgar Square.

Viterbi Summer Overseas in London

Diamond Jubilee in Trafalgar Square.

Diamond Jubilee in Trafalgar Square.

 

The past six weeks have flown by, and it is crazy to think that I only have two more weeks left in London! With at least one main essay each week, homework, weekly quizzes, traveling every weekend (and I mean every weekend), and trying to see London to feel like I actually lived here, I have decided that sleep can wait. This has been the most hectic, exhausting, and incredible adventure that I have experienced, and I have Viterbi to thank for it!

In one of my earlier posts, I mentioned my main worry about living in London: a lack of peanut butter. Luckily, there is no shortage of peanut butter whatsoever! London is primarily fueled by Nutella, but peanut butter is easily found. Needless to say, I am very happy about this! It is funny, though, how big Nutella is. When going through security at an airport, there are always the examples of “what not to bring” in your carry-on. At home, it’s always water bottles and large-sized toiletries. In every European airport that I’ve been in, there is always a jar of Nutella on display along with the toiletries and water bottles. I found that pretty bizarre and funny!

Anyways, I have found that living in London has been much easier than anticipated, but doing all of the touristy-stuff in London has been much harder than anticipated. I’m pretty directionally challenged, but I’ve found that it is very easy to get around here! There are maps almost every block, hundreds of bus and tube routes that can take you anywhere you want to go, and people who are always willing to point you in the right direction. I’ve been able to find my way to and from many of the main areas of London, and I’ve never gotten lost to the point of panic!

Westminster Abbey.

Westminster Abbey.

Though I feel like I have seen most of the areas of London, I do not feel like I have seen any of them in enough depth.  I don’t feel like I have been to even half of the main tourist attractions. Like I said earlier, I have been traveling every weekend, so I haven’t had much time to spend at the museums or on main tours within London. I wish I stayed in London more often, but traveling to different countries and cities within England has been spectacular!

I have been to Stonehenge and Bath, the Seven Sisters cliffs, Dublin, Edinburgh, Amsterdam, Oxford, and will be going to Brussels this coming weekend. Culturally, I think I would have to say that Dublin was my favorite because of the live music. Scenically, I would go with Edinburgh because it felt like I was in a medieval castle-village. It was funny in Edinburgh because every building looked like a castle and was made of beautiful stone and brick, but then you would look at what was inside the building and it would be a McDonald’s or H&M. Definitely not what I was expecting, but it was really cool how they could keep the whole scenic feel of the area even within the main center of the city. Food-wise, I’m thinking that Brussels will be my favorite with Belgium chocolate, waffles, and the original French fries, but that’s just a guess!

Edinburgh, Scotland.

Edinburgh, Scotland.

 

 

Traditional Irish Band at Open Mic Night.

Traditional Irish Band at Open Mic Night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seven Sisters Cliffs.

Seven Sisters Cliffs.

 

Stonehenge.

Stonehenge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The highlights of London for me have been the markets. Borough Market and Portobello Street Market are musts while in London. Borough Market has about every kind of cuisine you can imagine, but for me, the highlights are the fresh fruits and vegetables and cheeses! Portobello Street Market also has street food, but there are more vintage vendors selling clothes, jewelry, souvenirs, and small trinkets of all sorts. Both markets are fun to shop at, and they’re perfect for unique London souvenirs. They are also the perfect places to pick up an assortment of food for a picnic at a local park, which has been one of my favorite things to do.

I am sad that this program is coming to a close, but my plan is to fit as much into these next two weeks as humanly (and homework-permitting-ly) possible!

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Midsummer!

Being in the Skåne part of Sweden this summer because of an internship, I was lucky enough to witness one of Sweden’s biggest holidays: Midsummer.  Midsummer takes place towards the end of June on the longest day of the year in which the sun can sometimes set around as late as eleven pm.  The Friday before this day, to be exact  June 21st for this year, is Midsummer’s Eve—a Friday full of festivals, dancing and food.

Each of the small surrounding towns holds a gathering in which children wear crowns made of flowers of all colors and dance around a pole decorated with leaves and prästkrages.  Some ladies wear the traditional costume of a long skirt, button down shirt and vest with black leather shoes.  Historically, the clothing defined whether a woman was a maiden or not.

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With traditional Swedish Midsummer music playing in the background, booths are set up for people to play games or buy trinkets as couples dance in the center.  Lots of cakes, pastries and muffins of chocolate, rhubarb, lingonberry or vanilla are served.  But, the most popular one is a special Midsummer dessert made from strawberries which is simply superb for both the stomach and the eyes.
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Families gather together on this day to eat and celebrate the summer, for in Sweden, where most of the year is composed of the dark long cold days of winter, a summery strawberry filled day is much needed.  And at night when the day comes to an end, legend has that girls are to hand pick seven wildflowers and place them under their pillows.  So when they sleep, they will dream of their future husbands.
USC Students at the Hyundai Factory

My Summer So Far!

Hey everyone!

So we’re a few weeks into summer, and it’s already been an eventful one! I just got back a couple weeks ago from Korea, where I was finishing up the iPodia class (a global innovation class we can take with students from 4 other universities- PKU in China, KAIST in Korea, Aachen in Germany, and Technion in Israel). It was a truly amazing experience! After working on group projects with students from these other universities all semester, it was great to finally be able to meet them and talk with them in person.

We got to do a ton of awesome things in Korea, including going to the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone), going to the Hyundai Factory, and staying overnight in a Buddhist temple. Our Korean teammates helped us navigate all of these things (since only 2 of the 40 USC students spoke Korean), and I can truly say that I have friends for life in the students from the other universities.

When I got back I immediately began working in my research lab again. I’m still working on my woodpecker shockwave project, although for the summer I’m also taking on more work in testing piezoresistive gauges to measure shockwave velocity and intensity. Similar to piezoelectric gauges, these devices use a change in the electrical properties of the gauge grid in order to determine the overall strain on the device. By placing one device on either end of a cylinder and measuring resistance changes, we can determine both how fast the shockwave moves, as well as the force with which it propagates.

We’ve still got a lot of summer left, and I plan on enjoying the beaches and some of the great restaurants LA has to offer in my free time. Still, I’m pretty excited already for everyone to return in the fall and get my senior year (yikes!) started!

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Summer Escapades!

It seems like just yesterday that I was getting ready to go to the Kansas Cosmosphere to work as a space camp counselor for the summer after my freshman year. Now, I am studying for my last set of undergraduate finals and getting ready for post college life. And, while it is an anxiety ridden time, it is also a very exciting one, especially because this summer is going to be an eventful one.

After commencement next week, I will be traveling to South Korea for 2 weeks with the iPodia class that I am TA-ing. There, we will get to meet, in person, the students from Israel, Germany, South Korea, and China who are also a part of the class. We will get to explore a lot of the area around KAIST and even Seoul, the country’s capital. Oh, AND we get to go to a day of the USC Globalization Conference that will be hosted in Seoul. (I hear the Governator is going to be there too and I’m secretly hoping we’ll get to meet him.)

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My iPodia trip to Taiwan last year! All of us Midwesterners in front of a temple

 

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Enjoying Taiwanese street food!

After South Korea, I am coming back to Los Angeles for a couple days to pack up my room, store away some of it, and then drive down with the rest to Waco, Texas for my summer internship at SpaceX’s Test Facility. I’ll be there from June to the end of August and am VERY excited to get to work there (I mean, who wouldn’t be excited to see rocket engines get fired almost every day?). Once I’m done in August, things start to get a little hazey. But, I am excited to see what happens and where this next phase of life takes me!

Since this is my last blog post as a VSA, I wanted to wish all of you that are about to start your undergraduate careers the very best of luck. These next four years will undoubtedly bring a roller coaster of experiences and emotions, so prepare yourself, and, most importantly, remember to enjoy the entire ride!

Downtown London

My Summer: London Study Abroad!

This summer, I am going to be studying abroad in London at the USC ACCENT Center right next to the London School of Economics! I just signed up for the two classes I will be taking – the technical writing course that all engineers must take (WRIT340) and engineering economy (ISE460).

 

I have never been outside of North America, except for one trip in middle school when I visited Paris for a week with my French class. I am very curious what it will be like acclimating to a new culture, but I am very thankful that I will not have to deal with any language barriers in London.

 

My excitement pretty much masks all of my worries, but the one worry that I cannot seem to get out of my head is the fact that there is not peanut butter in Europe! Peanut butter is a primary part of my every day diet, and all of my friends that have been there tell me that it is super hard to get. I don’t know how that will go over, but I am starting to mentally prepare myself for the separation anxiety.

 

On a more serious note, though, I am super excited to go abroad and I cannot wait for all of the amazing experiences that will come with living and studying in a foreign country!

 

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USC In a Word: Engaging

One word that comes to mind when I try to describe USC and Viterbi is “engaging.” Throughout my college experience, USC has engaged me in all kinds of ways:

Academically: Particularly in my upper division ISE courses, my professors have really drawn me into their subjects both in and out of the classroom. Many of my assignments are group projects, and I have found that there is a lot I can learn about my class material by discussing it and working through it with my peers. For example, last semester, my friend Hannah and I performed a systems analysis of a Chase Bank ATM machine for our ISE 370 class. Once I had applied the principles we learned in our class to something that I regularly used, I began to see applications in other parts of my everyday life. This allows me to see how important these principles are and makes me enjoy learning them even more.

Here’s a picture of Hannah working on our project last year.

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Socially:Some people have asked me if it’s hard to make friends when you come to college. Where do I begin?! If you have read any of our other blogs, you know that Viterbi students are involved in all kinds of organizations. If you live in a dorm your first year here, it is likely that your resident advisor (RA) will periodically hold events where you can mingle with others from your floor/building. There are tons of clubs and special interest groups for students. Getting involved in a club is a great way to meet other students who share your same interests.

Culturally/Globally: There are tons of ways to learn about and experience other cultures. Last summer, I studied abroad with the Viterbi Summer Overseas Program in Madrid, and learned a lot about Spain. This semester, I am enrolled in a class called iPodia, where I am interacting with students from other universities in South Korea, China, Israel, and Germany. At the end of the semester, we will all travel to South Korea to meet each other. If you don’t think that studying abroad or visiting another country is for you, don’t worry! There are lots of ways to experience other cultures on campus! Specifically, the Visions and Voices program often holds presentations that highlight other cultures. In addition, there are tons of cultural clubs at school that have events to share their culture with others. Just last weekend, I went to a Japanese culture show. Finally, you’ll definitely be learning about at least a couple of other culture through the general education (GE) program. I am planning on taking an East Asian Contemporary Film class next semester- I can’t wait!

 

In Madrid last summer:

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Professionally: The main goal of going to college for many people is to find a good job. There are so many resources for USC students to find jobs and internships, including career fairs, resume workshops, company info sessions, USC job sites, and more. USC has an awesome career center where they hold on campus interviews, and Viterbi specifically has it’s own career services department. I actually have 3 internship interviews next week!

Athletically: Let’s face it; a big part of the USC experience is football. Before every football game, the whole campus is covered with students, alumni, and others tailgating. It’s quite an experience to see so many members of the Trojan family all celebrating together and preparing for the game. Basketball also gets pretty big in the winter. If you like playing sports, you’re in luck! Just walk down Trousdale during the involvement fair, and you’ll be bombarded by all kinds of club and intramural sports teams trying to recruit you. Personally, I play club water polo, and absolutely love it- especially when we travel in the spring!

With my Water Polo Team:

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To sum it up, USC students are engaged both in and out of the classroom. No matter what you’re interested in, you’ll find that USC has the resources to help you explore your interests.

Happy Spring Break!

Tourist picture at the Trevi fountain while studying abroad in Rome!

USC Scholars Program

One of the things I most remember about USC from my visits as a high school senior was learning about the Renaissance Scholars program. The staff and students I met described it as a way to honor students pursuing a combination of studies in widely separated fields. This intrigued me because although I was visiting USC as a prospective engineering student, I also wanted to continue being involved in theatre, which I realized I could do by adding a minor. USC and Viterbi’s encouragement of interdisciplinary studies was one of the reasons I ended up choosing to go to school here. Little did I know, USC’s support of diverse scholars did not end there.

I later found out that two other programs exist at USC to honor unique scholars, the Discovery Scholars program and the Global Scholars program. The former is for students who conduct unique or innovative research in either science or humanities while the latter honors student who have expanded their view of the world by studying, volunteering, or working abroad.

I have been lucky enough in my time at USC to study abroad twice. Two summers ago, I went to Rome with the Viterbi Overseas Program where I studied engineering communication. For the final project, my team and I wrote a research proposal about implementing dual flush toilets on USC’s campus as a way to reduce water consumption and make it a more sustainable campus.

The following fall I also traveled to Scotland to study at the University of Edinburgh for a semester. There I continued my study of sustainability by taking a course in which I learned about different types of renewable energy devices and energy saving methods. For my final report, I wrote an analysis of Scotland’s goal to reach 100% electricity from renewable sources by 2020. I analyzed the feasibility of this goal from an engineering, economic, and policy perspective.

Because of my extensive time abroad and research conducted, I decided to apply to be a Global and Discovery Scholar in additional to being a Renaissance Scholar. I plan to use both of the final projects from my time abroad in my Discovery and Global Scholars applications. This triple scholar distinction is not common among USC graduates and I am excited at the possibility of receiving this honor!

Check out some pictures below of my renaissance, discovery, and global involvement:

Acting in a School of Theatre production to get credit for my theatre minor!

Acting in a School of Theatre production to get credit for my theatre minor!

Group picture on a weekend trip to Orvieto

Group picture on a weekend trip to Orvieto while studying in Rome

Tourist picture at the Trevi fountain while studying abroad in Rome!

Tourist picture at the Trevi fountain while studying abroad in Rome!

Diagram from our final USC dual flush toilet proposal

Diagram from our final USC dual flush toilet proposal

On the Royal Yacht Britannia while studying in Edinburgh

On the Royal Yacht Britannia while studying in Edinburgh

Until next time,

Will

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