Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Back from Spring Break

Now that we're back from spring break, it finally feels like spring here at MSU. On Monday the temperature was in the 60s, and right now it is sunny and cool. I spent by spring break home in Brighton and in East Lansing. I know people who went on vacations, alternative spring break (ASB), and the Spring Break Corporate Tour. I went on the International Corporate Tour this summer, which is similar except the spring break tour is only for about a week and visits companies in the Midwest. Since my spring break was not super exciting, I will get you caught up on what I did before spring break. 

On the Friday of E-Week (February 27th), I went to the Chemical Engineering and Materials Science (ChEMS) Symposium Day. The event was organized by students from AIChE and MSES, and two of the chairs were actually my roommates. Symposium Day took place in the Brody building was free for students who only had to pay a $10 refundable deposit. Chemical engineering classes were cancelled that day because it lasted all morning until mid-afternoon. We had breakfast at the Sparty's in Brody, listened to some industry speakers, ate lunch at the Brody cafeteria, and listened to a keynote speaker. The day concluded with a raffle for prizes.

That night we left for the North-Central Regional Conference for AIChE (American Institute of Chemical Engineers). Our Chem-E car team went to compete in the regional car competition, and a couple other AIChE E-board members went to get some regional updates and support our Chem-E car team. The goal of the competition is to make a car powered by a chemical reaction that starts and stops moving on its own once the initial reaction is started. Last year, Michigan State hosted the conference, and this year it was hosted by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The members of our group who were not part of Chem-E car played Chem-E Jeopardy, accompanied our president to the presidents' meeting, and watched the competition to support our team. During that time, the Chem-E car team presented their poster, went through safety inspections, prepared for the competition, and finally competed. Our team did a great job, and the competition was fun to watch.

After all of the chemical engineering festivities that weekend, I was ready for a relaxing spring break to start the following weekend.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Happy E-Week!

Happy Engineers Week, or E-Week for short! E-Week is celebrated across the country and MSU College of Engineering has a lot of events every year in honor of this fantastic holiday. Different groups within the college plan events from Sunday through Saturday.

On Monday, SEC (Student Engineering Council) sponsored free pizza in the EB lobby, so that made my Monday that much better! I did not get there in time to grab a free E-Week t-shirt, but I was able to snag one last night at the Taste of Engineering/O-Night. Some of the advisors and student organizations had tables set up in Wonders, a dorm in South Neighborhood. A lot of the events targeted for underclassmen are hosted in South Neighborhood because that's where the CoRe Experience is located. Even though the location was convenient, it has been so cold outside that not many people want to go outside unless they absolutely have to, even if it is just to go to the dorm next to theirs. I stood by our AIChE (American Institute of Chemical Engineers) poster along with our president and talked with underclassmen about chemical engineering and our club. A lot of these student groups are always looking for new members of all class-levels, so we encouraged all the people who stopped by our table to stay in contact with us and attend our meetings.

Tonight is the annual Evening with Industry Banquet, which is hosted by SWE (Society of Women Engineers). I attended the banquet the past two years, so if you want to hear more about my experience, you should read my blog post from last year. This year, the banquet is going to be at the Marriott, which is off-campus but only about two blocks north of the MSU Union.

Tomorrow is Engineering Expo, which is a career fair just for engineers that is hosted in the Engineering Building. I have two classes in the Engineering Building and Anthony Hall (which is connected to the EB) on Thursday afternoons, so it is very convenient to be able to attend between classes without needing to even go outside. Although you are still expected to dress appropriately, the event is a bit more casual and relaxed compared to the Career Gallery in the fall. So, representatives are more understanding of the weather and that students are stopping by between classes.

Friday is the ChEMS (Chemical Engineering and Materials Science) Symposium Day. Junior-level CHE classes are cancelled so that students can attend this event. I'll write more about it next week.

Here is a more complete list of the official E-Week events at MSU:

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Student Support

I really love how supportive the engineering student body is here at MSU. Each engineering major provides its own challenges, and I'm sure most engineering students would agree that the engineering workload is rigorous. That's why it is important to find a group of people who will help you out when you are having problems and encourage you to keep on going.

A recent event organized by an engineering student was "Shoppin' with the Ladies." No, the participants did not go to the mall together. Hosted in the machine shop in the Engineering Building basement, female students learned how to use the machine shop equipment through demonstrations and hands-on experience. Some girls in engineering do not have prior experience with equipment like lathes, band saws, and drill presses before needing to use them for their design classes. With this workshop, hopefully more women will feel knowledgeable and confident on their first and future machine shop projects. The below picture shows Professor Bush and student event organizer Laura Gumpper in the machine shop.

Tammy Reid Bush and Laura Gumpper are hosting a hands-on opportunity in the Mechanical Machine Shop on Jan. 28.
For the full article on "Shoppin' with the Ladies," click here.

Tammy Reid Bush and Laura Gumpper are hosting a hands-on opportunity in the Mechanical Machine Shop on Jan. 28. - See more at:
Tammy Reid Bush and Laura Gumpper are hosting a hands-on opportunity in the Mechanical Machine Shop on Jan. 28. - See more at:
Tammy Reid Bush and Laura Gumpper are hosting a hands-on opportunity in the Mechanical Machine Shop on Jan. 28. - See more at:
Another way that women in engineering support each other is through student organizations. Phi Sigma Rho is a social sorority for women majoring in engineering and engineering technology. The national sorority was established in 1984 and the Michigan State chapter was installed as an official chapter in 2012. I am an active member of the MSU chapter of Phi Sigma Rho and really feel that it has made a positive impact on my time at Michigan State. I love being a part of a strong group of women that are very involved on campus and going through similar experiences as engineering majors.

For the full article on Phi Sigma Rho from the State News, click here.

I really enjoy being a part of a lot of engineering student organizations. It is nice to come to the meetings, socialize, and eat food with some of my classmates and familiar faces I see around the Engineering Building. For me, getting involved within engineering helped me adjust to college life as a freshman and still benefits me by helping me form a network of encouraging peers.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Lab classes

This semester I am taking the chemical engineering lab and statistics class. We apply the equations and concepts that we learned in current and previous classes. For example, my group is working on an experiment to calculate some heat transfer coefficients that we learned about last semester in CHE 311, Fluid Flow and Heat Transfer. In addition to heat transfer, some of the other topics that experiments cover are fluid flow, reaction engineering, and separations.

My CHE 316 class has two components: a lab and a lecture. Everyone has the same lecture twice a week where we learn about statistical analysis of experimental data. The class is divided into smaller lab sections that meet at different times twice a week. Students work in groups of 2-3 to run experiments using various chemical engineering equipment. Some of the equipment in the Unit Operations Lab include a mixer, evaporator, and distillation column that spans two stories. If you want some more specific information about the chemical engineering and materials science labs, you can find it here. Pictured below is the bottom of the large distillation apparatus in the CHE 316 Unit Operations Lab in the Engineering Building.


The professors are really approachable and understanding of the fact that this is the fist time that some of us are using equipment like this. But, they also push us to make our own decisions because the most effective way for us to learn is to work through the problems ourselves.

There are a lot of other lab and hands-on classes for the other engineering majors as well. Even in the first engineering class, EGR 100 (which all engineering majors are required to take), students work in groups to build something and solve a problem. One of the projects is designing and programming a Lego robot car to navigate its way through an obstacle course. There are also senior design classes in addition to other laboratory and design classes. In the Michigan State University College of Engineering, there are many opportunities to get hand-on engineering experience in class.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


When I had trouble printing out my notes for biochemistry, I went to DECS (Division of Engineering Computing Services). I have visited the DECS office in the past to print out a research poster and for technical support with the office computers. The DECS office is located on the ground floor of the engineering building near the computer labs and lobby and has 3D printers, poster printers, and technical support for students, staff, and faculty. 

Photo of the computer lab
Engineering students at MSU get an engineering account and access to resources maintained by DECS. So, engineering students can use engineering computers, printers, scanners, software, and email. From the engineering computers, students can access all the engineering software that they need for their classes. Therefore, you do not have to buy a special type of computer or software to do classwork. Engineering students also get 600 free prints per semester (which unfortunately do not rollover between semesters) so it is not necessary to have your own printer. Black and white, duplex, color, and poster printing can all be done using the print quota. You can purchase more prints if you need them. Here is some more information about printing.

Computer labs are on all floors of the Engineering Building, some of which are reserved for specific classes and departments while others are open to any engineering student. Some computer labs are open 24 hours a day, except during football games and holidays. There are also ways to remotely access your engineering account from your personal computer at home, but it is not possible to run some of the more intense engineering software.

There are also some engineering labs in Wilson Hall as a part of the CoRe Experience, which are for intro engineering classes (EGR 100, EGR 102) and students. On of the benefits of living in the CoRe Experience is that there are engineering computers and printers in your dorm, so don't have to go to the Engineering Building or even leave the building to do your homework. As the weather gets more intense, avoiding the cold becomes much more alluring!

If you want any more information about DECS, visit their website:

Monday, December 8, 2014

End of the Semester

This the final week of the semester: exam week. I am ready for the end of the semester, but I know that I will end up missing MSU in about two weeks.

Most of my classmates were super friendly, and I kept on meeting new people throughout the semester from group projects and just by talking to the people in my classes. Chemical engineering students are required to take almost all the same classes, so I know I will see most of my peers in my core classes next semester. It's not like when I was a freshman and took large general classes with people I never saw again. I will miss my professors from this semester because all of them were great and had a good sense of humor, which makes upperclassmen engineering classes much more enjoyable.

Even though I no longer have to go to class, classes are not over because I still have some exams left. I took one this morning at 7:45 and have two later in the week. In most of my classes, the final exam is worth 30-40% of my final grade, which is a large fraction. So, the final has the power to decimate or save my grade in a class. Since finals are so important, here is some advice:
  • Make sure you know when and where your final is
  • Know your professor's exam policies, such as what material it covers, how it is graded, what you are allowed to bring, what will be provided, etc.
  • At MSU if you have more than 2 exams scheduled on one day, you can reschedule some exams so they do not conflict or so you do not have more than 2 on one day. Know your professor's and the University's policy on rescheduling exams
  • Read your syllabus and attend the last week of class, because chances are, the above information will be discussed
  • It's better to arrive early so that you can get situated and make up for any unanticipated delays
  • Study
I'm looking forward to a relaxing winter break. Hopefully I could do some reading and craft projects. Have a great holiday season and I will be back in January.

Friday, December 5, 2014

AIChE National Conference

It has been crazy around here with the Thanksgiving holiday and the last week of classes. You know that it is the last week of class when the Engineering Library and computer labs are constantly full of people working on final papers, group projects, and Design Day projects.

The AIChE (American Institute of Chemical Engineers) Annual Student Conference took place from November 14th-16th in Atlanta, Georgia. As Vice President of the MSU AIChE chapter, I went to the conference along with several of our other executive board members. We flew out that Friday and came back late Sunday night, so I only missed one class. Engineering professors here tend to be understanding when students are absent for interviews or professional development events. Our registration would have gained us access to the AIChE Annual Meeting for professionals and academics the following week, but we would have missed way too much class.

As a part of the conference, we attending various sessions focused on running our chapters and professional development. Our chapter hosted the North Central Regional Conference at MSU this past spring. Some of our members who organized the event were asked to give a presentation at the national student conference about hosting a regional conference. Also our chapter earned an "Outstanding Chapter" award, which we accepted during the awards ceremony. I attended sessions on fundraising and planning large events where different chapters discussed their experiences, ideas, and advice. It was interesting seeing how different chapters had different needs and challenges and the ways that the chapters met them.

The teams that won the ChemE car and Jeopardy competitions at the regional conferences competed in the national competitions as part of the conference. There was also a breakfast with a keynote speaker, a student bash, and a recruitment fair that had mostly graduate schools in attendance. The student bash was a casual dance with a photobooth and sundae bar, so I ended up having fun. We also had enough free time to explore the city. Some of our members went to the aquarium and the World of Coke (Atlanta is the home of Coca-Cola), and I had dinner with one of my friends who goes to Georgia Tech.

There are so many great professional societies that have chapters here and opportunities for leadership and professional development. Seeing an organization at the national level and what the other student chapters have been doing makes me want to be a more active participant at the local and national level. I got to travel, hang out with friends, and learn more about AIChE, so I had a great weekend.