Oh, the Places I’ll Go (And the Places I’ve Been)

Alex-2016 Alex, Viterbi Summer Leave a Comment

Today marks the start of the last week of classes. At the end of this week, I will be half way done with college, having completed two full years here at the University of Southern California. Looking back on these last two years, I am a little nostalgic and somewhat melancholy that I only have two more years to spend at this beautiful university. That being said, my nostalgia stems from all the amazing experiences I have had over the past two years, and this past semester was no different.

While always busy, I managed to have so many amazing experiences in a few short months. I have continued consulting for the Israeli space start-up SpaceIL and, in preparation for our $1 million crowd funding campaign, have learned the business skills required to market successful engineering projects. I started working on a virtual reality research project and got my first experience using the Oculus Rift technology. Right now, my PhD research leader and I are testing the virtual environments we created on subjects through the Oculus Rift goggles to determine if humans’ natural reactions are different in a virtual environment. In the Rocket Lab, I was able to build my first rocket motorcase, staying up all night to lay layer upon layer of carbon fiber down on the mandrel to form the main body of our space-shot Traveler II rocket, which we hope to launch this weekend. Throughout the semester, I have also become an expert in the parachute systems of the rocket, taking the time to learn how to properly roll and compact our main parachute and drogue parachute into the body of the rocket.

Outside of the classroom, I attended my first Dodgers’ game since the first week of school, a 4-2 extra inning loss to the Diamondbacks. I also took Nautical Sciences, a USC course that teaches its students the basics of sailing. In early March, my crewmates and I set out for Catalina Island with our newfound knowledge. I also really enjoyed the ExploreUSC and PreviewUSC sessions for high school seniors that occurred throughout the semester. It was a pleasure meeting all the excited students and parents who will hopefully become a part of the Trojan family this fall.

But before the fall comes in Southern California, I have other, more exciting plans. On May 26th, I will be embarking for the summer of a lifetime on a Delta flight to the grand city of Rome, Italy. For eight weeks, I will be studying through the Viterbi Summer Overseas Program, taking two courses for six units in one of Europe’s oldest cities. When I am not in the classroom taking Writing 340 or Engineering Economy, I will out and about, walking the streets of Rome, buying gelato from street vendors, and spending too much money on pizza than I probably should. Because classes only occur between Monday and Thursday, the Italian weekends will be the most exciting part of the trip. I cannot wait to travel all over Europe. Whether I go to Disneyland Paris or Croatia, I will have a splendid time. Also, several of the weekends will include group trips with my fellow Viterbi students. I will hop on a bus, and in a few hours I’ll get to walk the Amalfi Coast with Lauren or explore Pompeii with Patrick. I probably won’t ever want to leave.

I have had a tremendous year and am looking forward to an even better summer. I hope to see you all at SC in the fall!

Signing off for now,

Alex

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