Friday, September 12, 2014

Getting involved

One advantage of Michigan State being such a large university is that there are a lot of organizations that students can join. Sparticipation is a huge Welcome Week event where students learn about different student organizations by visiting their tables. Normally the rain location is the Breslin Center, but storms were so bad this year that the event was rescheduled for this weekend. The following link has information on Sparticipation 2014 and getting involved at MSU:

http://studentlife.msu.edu/?s=sparticipation

Some of the groups on campus are professional and social Greek organizations. I am an active sister of Phi Sigma Rho Sorority, a national social sorority that is different from other sororities because it is only open to women majoring in engineering. Our chapter was officially installed in December 2012, so we are still very new on the MSU campus.

Last night was our 2nd Rush event for Phi Sigma Rho. We have four nights of recruitment each semester where girls interested in our sorority can come get to know us and what we are all about. Our activity for the night was painting small boxes, and on Monday we did icebreaker activities and painted nails.

All the supplies for our painting boxes, the craft Rush event, for Phi Sigma Rho this semester
I love being involved with Phi Sigma Rho because I continually make new friends, see friendly faces in the Engineering Building, and have a place to go where I can relax and enjoy the bonds of sisterhood with girls who understand what I am going through as an engineering student. We have done a lot of fun sisterhood events together, including pumpkin painting, ice skating, laser tag, and visiting the planetarium.

I personally recommend that students of all ages get involved at MSU. Two things that I did not know about Greek life before I came to college are that all ages, not just freshmen, can join and some groups recruit at the beginning of the spring semester as well as the fall. Other student groups welcome new members of all ages at any time. So, you did not miss your chance to get involved with Greek life or many other groups. It is never too late to get involved!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Summer 2014: International Corporate Tour

As I talk to fellow students about their summers, many of them said that they regretted not going abroad. I have already studied abroad and absolutely loved it! If you are not interested in taking classes abroad, MSU has other international opportunities that are not for academic credit.

The main highlight of my summer was traveling across Europe on the International Corporate Tour (ICT). The ICT is put on by the Lear Corporation Career Services Center, which is located in the Eppley Center attached to the Business College Complex. The goal of the trips is for freshman and sophomores in business and engineering to be exposed to different places and types of careers in industry. In addition to the ICT Europe trip, there is also an ICT China trip.

We started off the trip by spending a few days in London. We stayed at the beautiful Regent's University in Regent's Park. Some other MSU study abroad programs are housed at Regent's, so we ran into some other MSU students just finishing a study abroad in London.

Regent's University, our accommodations in London
Next, we flew to Germany and spent about 2 days in the Cologne area. Some participants brought an MSU flag for pictures which attracted some alumni. In front of the famous Cologne Cathedral, we ran into some girls who had just graduated from MSU who were traveling around Europe. Go Green!

Cologne Cathedral, Cologne, Germany
We stopped in Luxembourg next for about 3 days. I thought that Luxembourg city was very beautiful and different from any place I had ever been.

Luxembourg City
National Bank Museum, Luxembourg City

From Luxembourg City, we spent an entire day driving to Geneva, Switzerland. So, if you are not a fan of long bus rides, another one of MSU's learning abroad experiences might be better for you.

Geneva, Switzerland, with the Jet d'Eau and Lake Geneva
Next we traveled to Turin, Italy, and visited Diageo while we were there. The site was a historic winery, so we got to see a mini museum of glasses, a hand-dug wine cellar, and old spices and distillation apparatuses that were historically used to make beverages. This was one of my favorite site visits because I learned about the history of the site and region in addition to touring their modern bottling facilities.

Taking a tour of the Diageo facilities
I liked that I was able to see companies from a business perspective as well as the engineering perspective. When company representatives come to speak at meetings put on by engineering student groups, they tend to focus on engineering roles within their company. Seeing the different types of people needed to run all areas of the company helped me appreciated the diversity in the workplace and engineering career paths.

We finished our European tour in Venice, Italy. We visited 7 companies (BP, GM, Eaton, ArcelorMittal, Diageo, Bosch, and ALCOA) on our trip, but still had a lot of free time to explore the cities. We visited 5 countries (UK, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and Italy) and also drove through France. Our program was just over 2 weeks long, so we visited a lot of companies and countries in a short amount of time. I thought that going on this trip was a fun way to build my resume and learn about careers.

If you want more information on the International Corporate Tours, visit http://lear.broad.msu.edu/students/international-corporate-tours/

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Summer Programs

As an engineering student, I put a lot of thought into how I spend my summers. Summer is an awesome opportunity to take extra classes, learn about companies, gain work experience in industry or research, travel, and experience other cultures. This summer, I am going on the International Corporate Tour of Europe, and last summer I studied Music, Art, and Language in Bregenz, Austria. The summer of 2012, after my senior year of high school, I participated in Beacon, one of the summer programs offered by MSU College of Engineering's Office for Recruitment and K12 Outreach. There are programs for people of all ages, and if you are interested in more information about them, please follow the link below:

http://www.egr.msu.edu/future-engineer/programs

Beacon is a residential program at the Kellogg Biological Station that is funded by the NSF and focuses on biology, evolution, and engineering. This program is by invitation only, but there are other great programs that are open to all eligible students, such as the High School Engineering Institute (HSEI). Some of the people that I met at Beacon had participated in HSEI before and had so much fun that they wanted to participate in another engineering summer program.

During the summer program, I spent a couple days learning about engineering and science in a classroom and out in the field. This program reminded me of a mix between summer classes without the homework and summer camp. In our free time, we played card games, hung out by the lake, played sports, and had a bonfire. I still am friends with some of the people from my summer program, and I see some other participants around campus sometimes because a lot of us ended up attending MSU for engineering. I thought that participating in a summer program was a fun way to meet other people interested in engineering and learn more about engineering before actually starting college.

Looking through a microscope at D. melanogaster larvae, July 2012
Measuring the sizes of damselflies in a population, July 2012
There are some more awesome pictures like these from our summer programs posted on our Flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/msuengineeringk12/sets/

Among my other friends studying engineering, the most popular ways they are spending their summers are studying abroad, working at internships or other jobs, and taking classes. If you are wondering what to to this summer that will prepare you for studying, here are some tips:
  • Attend a MSU engineering summer program! Learn about engineering and make new friends
  • Take some time to prepare for college. 
    • Sophomores and juniors (as of fall 2014): study for the ACT or other standardized tests and take practice tests. I spent a couple hours of my summer studying for the ACT because good scores can help you get into college and get scholarships.
    • Seniors (as of fall 2014): work on college applications. Some become available at the end of the summer and you are NOT going to want to work on them once the school year starts. Trust me on that one... 
  •  Maybe earn some extra money by working a summer job
  • Taking summer classes is also an option. At transfer.msu.edu you can see what classes transfer from a community college to MSU. I took a psychology class at home the summer before my senior year at Washtenaw Community College that was able to transfer here.
  • Have fun! Enjoy the weather while it is nice. 
I hope that everyone has a great summer, I know I will! It is the last week of class and next week I have my final exams, so summer break begins next week for me. I am also looking forward to starting a great junior year in the fall. We just had our E-board elections for AIChE, and I am going to be the Vice President next year. Well, I better start studying for my exams...
 All opinions expressed in this blog are my own personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Michigan State University

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

UURAF

One of the many activities undergraduate students can participate in here at MSU is undergraduate research. I have worked in a research lab in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science since the beginning of my freshman year. The Honors College pays me a stipend to do research for my first 2 years at MSU as a part of their Professorial Assistantship (PA) program. The following link has more information about the PA program: http://honorscollege.msu.edu/professorial-assistantship-pa-program Even though the PA program was how I got involved with research, there are other ways to get involved with research.

Friday, April 4th was the annual University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum, called UURAF for short. The event was held at the MSU Union and about 660 undergraduate students participated. This is an opportunity for undergraduate students to present their research as posters in a morning or afternoon poster session or to give oral presentations. All of the posters and oral presentations are divided into sections within their categories for judging. There are graduate student evaluators who give feedback and faculty judges who score the presentations to determine the first place winners in each section. Other faculty members, students, and family members also attend and ask questions about the posters.

One of the other undergraduate students I work with and I made a poster of our research and presented it during the afternoon poster session. Neither of us had ever participated in an event like UURAF before, so we thought it would be a good chance to gain more experience explaining our research to other people. Talking about our poster was not as bad as we thought it would be, especially as we got more comfortable as the 2-hour session progressed.

Standing next to my UURAF 2014 research poster
After all of the events of the day, there was an awards ceremony. At this ceremony, the winners of some study abroad scholarships, the Faculty Mentor of the Year award, and first place awards in each section of UURAF were announced. My poster won first place in its section within the Engineering, Computer Science, & Mathematics category! The winners each get $100 and are eligible to submit their work for the UURAF Grand Prize, which is $500 and will be announced in early June. Even when working with a group, each member of a winning project earns the $100 prize money (up to $400 would be awarded to a group of 4 people or more). So, my poster partner and I did not have to split our prize money, we each won $100! When we decided to do this event, money and awards never crossed our minds, but it is definitely a nice bonus! We wanted to have the experience of making a research poster and presenting it a poster session, and I now feel more comfortable talking about my research, so we accomplished what we set out to do.

There were so many interesting posters that I wish I could have gotten the chance to look at them, but I had to stay with my poster the entire poster session. I had a quiz and an exam in the morning, so I was unable to attend the morning session and stay for the entire day. I am really glad that I participated in this event, and I would be interested in participating again in the future.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Relay for Life

It is the last month of school, and it finally feels like spring outside. I just signed up for my junior classes, and most other people will be signing up for their classes soon. Signing up for classes early is one perk of being an Honors College member. Today I have my chemical engineering thermodynamics exam, and the month will end with me taking my final exams.

Last Friday was Relay for Life at MSU. Relay for Life is an event held in a lot of communities around the country where teams raise money for the American Cancer Society and have members walk around a track through the night. This year it was held at the Breslin Center, and last year it was at Jenison Field House. Thank goodness the event have been held inside the past two year, because you never know how the weather is going to be this time of year. Even though the weather was nice this year, the campus was flooded AND it was snowing last year!  During the event, there were performances by various a cappella groups and dance clubs. Each team had a stand along the track where they sold a variety of things to donate the money to cancer research.


There were a lot of student groups in attendance, including a team of Spartan engineers, which was open to anyone in engineering. The event was especially large because Relay was a part of Greek Week this year. There are a lot of professional and social Greek organizations on campus. Just because you are studying engineering does not mean that you cannot be involved in Greek Life. I know lots of engineering students that are members of many different social sororities and fraternities, including me! I am an active member of Phi Sigma Rho, a social sorority for engineering majors. I really like having a large support group that understands what I am going through as a girl in engineering. We also do a lot of fun events, like spring formal, which helps me take the time to enjoy myself in addition to my school work.

With events like Relay for Life, members of all types of student organizations can come together and support a good cause.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Going back to Europe!

The spring semester is halfway over, so summer is quickly approaching! The snow is melting and the sidewalks are clear, but knowing Michigan, it will probably get cold again. I have finally decided on something I am going to do this summer. Two months from now, I will be in Europe as a part of the International Corporate Tour.

The International Corporate Tour (ICT) is a two-week experience for freshmen and sophomores in business and engineering. It is an opportunity for students to visit some of MSU's international corporate partners, network with them, and tour their facilities. There is no homework, but this learning experience does NOT count for course credit. In each of the destinations, there will be at least one free day to explore the city. There are two ICTs this summer: one in Europe and another in China. As part of the Europe ICT, London, Cologne, Luxembourg, Geneva, and Venice are some of the cities we will be visiting. Some of the companies we are planning on visiting are BP, GM, Eaton,  ArcelorMittal, Bosch, Diageo, and ALCOA.

I think that a program like the ICT definitely has its advantages. A lot of people forget that you have to do homework when you study abroad. I spent the two weeks after I returned home from my trip finishing up all my homework. You may not get class credit for an ICT, but you can focus on all of the company visits and exploring cities without worrying about any homework. Also, I have to do minimal planning for the trip. I just have to pay the cost of the trip, buy my plane ticket, and attend a few informational meetings. They even suggested a flight so that we could travel with the group, which  made finding a flight really easy. I do not have to worry about any of the logistics, like lodging and travel, which would be necessary if I planned a trip to Europe on my own.

I already have some international experience on my resume from my study abroad last summer, and I think that a lot of companies were impressed. I have been asked to elaborate on my study abroad at career fairs and during interviews, so I know that it is definitely something they look at. A lot of companies that have presented at club meetings have international opportunities for engineers, such as rotations abroad as a part of a rotational program. I have been to London and Venice before, but I haven't been to any of the other cities. My family and I went to London almost 6 years ago for a family vacation, and I went to Venice last summer during the free weekend of my study abroad trip.

I took this picture last summer when I visited Venice, Italy
I am looking forward to going back to Europe, especially because I had so much fun last summer! Visiting all of these countries and facilities will help me see in what kind of environment I would like to live and work. Michigan State University has a variety of international experiences available, you just have to choose which one is right for you!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Back from Break

Last week was Spring Break for Michigan State. A lot of people I know went to Florida and Mexico, but I just went back home to cold Brighton. The weather here hasn't decided if it wants to be spring or winter. The past two days the snow was melting, but right now it looks like a blizzard! Everything is white, and I really do not want to walk to class in this weather! One of the most random things I had to get used to when I came to college was that I had to actually walk outside and cross the street to get to class. In high school I wore heels since all my classes were in the same building, but that doesn't happen anymore! Now that I am deeper in my engineering curriculum, a lot of my classes are in and near the Engineering Building, but I am still not going to wear high heals to class anytime soon.

One important part of choosing a college is the faculty. The faculty are the people who will be teaching you classes, writing recommendation letters, and maybe even giving you a campus job if you work in a lab or grading papers. I like learning from people who are very involved in and excited about what they do, and most of the engineering faculty I know are like this. A lot of the professors are involved with a lot of cool projects at the university and national level. I like hearing about all of the interesting things that Michigan State and its professors are involved in, so I thought that maybe you would be, too.

Mechanical Engineering professor Farhang Pourboghrat went to the White House at the end of last month for the president's announcement on a new Detroit manufacturing institute. Canton Township will be home to the new Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing Innovation Institute which will bring about 10,000 new jobs to the area. The $148 million Department of Defense institute will be supported by $70 million of federal funding and the rest will be supported by consortium partners. Here is the link to the full article with the list of university, corporate, and organizational sponsors:
Farhang Pourboghrat

http://www.egr.msu.edu/news/2014/02/24/me-professor-headed-white-house-announcement-manufacturing-institute