Wow.  It’s hard to believe that the Fall Semester is already coming to an end.  This has been a crazy semester for a lot of reasons – it was probably the busiest semester of my life! I took six classes, maintained involvement in my extracurriculars, and took on some extra responsibilities and leadership positions.  When thinking back to the highlights of the semester, I’ve come up with a list of my top 10 experiences of the Fall 2013 semester.

1. AME341a – Mechoptronics Laboratory

Well, it’s the fall of my Junior year, and as a Mechanical Engineer that can only mean one thing: Mechoptronics.  This class was, by far, the most demanding class I have ever taken.  Each week, it required me to perform an experiment, and then write a technical report on it.  Although it was a lot of work, I truly feel as if  completing 8 reports over the course of the semester helped me develop my technical writing skills.  Beyond this, we were expected to understand and design our own experiments, which helped me develop my critical thinking and problem solving skills.  When I look back to this semester in the future, I know one of the things I will think about is my experience with MechOp.

2. The Weekender!

Every year, when the Trojans play in San Francisco, students from USC travel up to Northern California for the game.  This was my first year attending the “Weekender”, and I had a blast!  Because I do not have classes on Fridays this semester, I was able to road trip up to Northern California with my roommates on Thursday night.  On Friday, we walked around the city – we went to Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghiradelli Square, and even Chinatown.  Then, the next day, we drove up to Cal for the game!  The game was packed with USC students – it was incredible!  The next morning, we drove home (I worked on a MechOp report in the car).  I can’t wait until next year when I get to go to the Weekender again.

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3. Trip to Disneyland!

One of my absolute favorite things to do in the Los Angeles area is go to Disneyland.  This year, I got to go at the beginning of the semester.  Disney is only about 45 minutes away from campus, so it’s really easy to take a day trip out to the park.  Students here go often!


4. FreshFest

At the beginning of the semester, before classes even started, I got to lead an event for incoming Jewish freshmen called FreshFest.  This event was run through Hillel, and it was an overnight retreat that was meant to promote interactions between new Jewish students.  I spent a lot of time over the summer working to plan the event, so it was really great to see it come to life.

5. ADPi Recruitment

Immediately after FreshFest was recruitment for my sorority, Alpha Delta Pi.  Recruitment is a very demanding process- it occurs during the first week of school, and it requires us to be at the sorority house for many hours per day.  Although it is time consuming, it is also one of the most rewarding experiences, and it is what connects me to ADPi the most.  When spending so much time with the other girls in my sorority, I am reminded why I chose to be a part of ADPi – because I have so many genuine friendships that have stemmed from my involvement.  It has been a great experience, and recruitment is my favorite thing I do with ADPi.


6. Rocket Project for Fluid Dynamics

One of the really cool things about engineering is that a lot of the curriculum is hands on.  For my Fluid Dynamics class, we were asked to build a rocket made of a 20 oz. bottle, that would function entirely due to pressure differences.  This was a really interesting project to help bring to life all of the concepts we had learned throughout the semester.  Our official rocket launch is tomorrow morning, so I am really excited to see how my group’s rocket performs!

7. Filming on a Sound Stage

For my Creating Poetic Cinema class, I was lucky enough to be able to film one of my projects on a USC Sound Stage.  It was an absolutely incredible experience to run my own set, and to be able to rig a lighting system and build a set.  The class was an amazing way to balance my curriculum out so that I was doing both engineering and art.

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8. Friends and Neighbors Days

This semester, I joined the Community Partners Committee with the USC Volunteer Center.  This committee helps lead events called Friends and Neighbors Days.  At these events, USC students travel to locations surrounding USC to perform service work.  There are a lot of ways to give back to the community, so it was really great for me to become a part of this committee.

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9. Filming for LINKS

In the Spring, the Viterbi Student Ambassadors will be releasing LINKS, a resource for admitted students.  I have been very involved with the creation of LINKS, mostly in the filming of the videos that we will incorporate.  LINKS has been a huge part of my semester, and will continue to be a huge part of my Spring Semester.  I’ve really enjoyed working on it so far, and I can’t wait to release it in the Spring!

10. Storming the field at the Stanford game

I think the biggest highlight of not only my semester, but also of my USC experience as a whole, was storming the field after we beat Stanford.  The game was an incredible game – we played really hard, and we deserved the win.  As soon as the clock ran out, students just starting running down the stairs – it was absolutely insane.  Being on the field, with the players who had just brought us the win and with other students, was an incredibly communal experience, and definitely a huge example of Trojan Spirit and the Trojan Family.

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So there you have it: my Top 10 Experiences of the Semester.  I can’t wait for the Spring!

Samantha Kaplan-2015

Samantha Kaplan-2015

Mechanical Engineering, Class of 2015, Learn more on her profile here!