Saturday, December 8, 2012

Design Day

Yesterday was the College of Engineering's Design Day at the MSU Union. Every semester on the last day of classes, people from some of the engineerings classes present their projects at Design Day. Engineering students of all grade levels and majors present, even freshmen. Some groups from EGR 100, the Cornerstone introductory design course required for all engineering majors, present their design projects. Most of the groups are there presenting their projects for their Capstone senior design courses, which are often funded by actual companies. Also, students from local high schools come to learn about engineering, see the design projects, and vote for their favorites.

Classes are now over for the semester and final exams are this week. I cannot believe that the semester is just about over! Now I need to study for my exams and start packing up some of my stuff for winter break.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Glee Club Concert

This Tuesday was the Men's Glee Club and Women's Glee Club concert at the Wharton Center. I sang in a lot of choirs when I was in high school, so I decided to sign up for Women's Glee Club this semester and spring semester.

Women's Glee Club is a 1 credit hour class open to all girls, and no audition or experience is required. Class meets from 4:10-5:30 on Mondays and Wednesdays. The grade in the class is based on participation and showing up on time to class, the concert, and an additional choral music concert. We spend each class period learning and practicing each of the songs that we sing at the concert.

The Men's Glee Club is also a 1 credit hour class that is open to all guys. No audition or experience is required, and class meets from 4:10-5:30 on Tuesdays and Thurdays. There are optional activities that the members can do, such as singing at tailgates and going on tour to Europe. I am SO jealous! I have a few friends that are in Men's Glee Club, and they really like it.

We sang a total of 8 songs in 3 different languages: English, Latin, and Italian. All of the songs we sang from memory except for one. The amount of music we were able to learn and memorize in such a short amount of time really impressed me. All of the pieces we sang were so varied, all from different time periods and genres and telling different stories. The Austrian composer Mozart, who died in 1791, composed "Ricevete" which was from the opera "Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro)." On the other hand, Andrea Ramsey, who composed "Let All the World in Every Corner Sing," is a contemporary American composer who is still alive today. She actually came to our concert, and she really liked what we did with the piece! "Gaudete" was a combined number that the men and women sang together. I actually had a duet at the beginning of the song.  Singing at the front of the stage and looking into the audience was so cool!

Taking part in one of the glee clubs still allows me to be involved with music even though I am not majoring or minoring in music.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Halloween with SWE

I hope that all of you had a great Halloween! Since I didn't have any plans, I went to a Halloween party hosted by SWE, the Society of Women Engineers.

SWE is one of the organizations on campus geared toward female engineering students. Even though the club focuses on women students, men are welcome to join. There actually were a few guys at the meeting! Generally SWE supplies food and invites representatives from different companies to speak at their meetings. I have not been able to go to a lot of them because AIChE (American Institute of Chemical Engineers) almost always meets at the same time.

Since it was Halloween, they had pizza, candy, and a costume contest (with prizes!) instead of the usual presentation. After everyone settled in, the board members gave a presentation on becoming a nationl member of SWE. The Society of Women Engineers is a national organization with members all across the country. National members have access to scholarships and career resources that are not available to other students. It costs money to become a national member ($20 a year for students or $50 for all of college + 1 year as a professional), but it can be worth it if you take advantage of all the opportunities that being a national member offers.

MSU's chapter of SWE also organizes different social and volunteer events. This year, they already visited a cider mill, held a movie night, and hosted a tailgate. At the meeting, they also discussed bringing a group of volunteers to the humane society and the Ronald McDonald House.

Joining a group like SWE could help you get involved with the community of Spartan engineers, greater East Lansing community, and a community of professional engineers across the country.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


I have focused a lot on a lot of the events going on around campus, but I really haven't mentioned much about my classes except to say that I was busy studying for midterms. That is quite ironic, because the main reason I am at college is to take classes and complete my degree. I better talk about some classes then!

All engineering majors need to complete a specific set of classes with at least a certain technical GPA (depending on the major) in order to be admitted into the College of Engineering. Calculus 1 and Calculus 2 are among these requirements. I know that my major, Chemical Engineering, requires both Multivariable Calculus and Differential Equations as well, but I am not so sure about the degree requirements for the other majors. This following link has information on the degree requirements for each of the majors:

Right now, I am in Multivariable Calculus, more commonly called Calculus 3. I took AP Calculus BC my senior year of high school, and I scored high enough to receive course credit for both Calculus 1 & 2. I worked hard during calculus and I had a really great teacher, so I was really prepared for college calculus. At first I was worried about making the transition into college classes in general, but I took AP classes and other challenging classes all throughout high school, which really helped me make the transition. I would recommend to take AP or other similar classes while in high school, because it really prepared me for college and saved me time and money! Just for taking the AP Calculus BC exam and scoring well, I earned a total of 7 credits for 2 classes required for my engineering major.

Here is a link to the course equivalencies at MSU just in case you are interested:

Each class and professor are different, but I could describe how my calculus class works since many other classes follow this same basic format.

My larger lecture meets on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for 50 minutes. There are no more than 80 people, which is small for a lecture. Even though that class size is about 3 times larger than a high school class, it really does not feel that large, especially since I sit closer to the front. The class size will be much smaller once I get into the higher level engineering classes. My professor spends the class explaining each day's topic and doing a few examples of different problems. Really it is not very different from my high school classes, except for the fact that the seats are much closer together and the desks are tiny!

Each Tuesday, I have a 50 minute recitation. It takes place in a classroom with about 20 people. A graduate student TA spends most of the class answering any questions on the homework or content that anyone may have. The last 15 minutes of each recitation is reserved for a really short quiz over the past few lessons. Our exams are 50 minutes long and take place during the recitation period for which they are scheduled.

The four exams make up most of our grades with a small portion (about 14%) coming from the quizzes. We have assigned homework problems, but so far none of it has been graded. The biggest difference that I have noticed between high school and college is that for most of my college classes, homework makes up only a small portion of my grade, if any. Exams make up the majority of my grades. Seriously I only have one grade so far in my honors archaeology class, which is my first exam score.

So that is the basic format of most of my classes. Overall, classes have been going well. Speaking (well, writing) of class, I better head to class right now!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Midterms & Homecoming Weekend

I can't believe that the semester is just about halfway over! Recently I have been super busy studying for my midterms, which mostly are this week. After I am done with my exams, I will hopefully be posting more often. Of course, it had to be homecoming weekend when I had to study the most.

Friday night I went to the homecoming parade which was along Grand River. Many of the student groups on campus and sports teams had floats and walked in the parade. Well, not all of them walked. The rodeo team rode theirs horses, many of which were painted with some green paint and spirited designs. Also, many of the sports teams were pulled by tractors. I really liked that Student Alumni Foundation's float that is pictured below. Sparty for President!

Friday night was also Midnight Madness. I had never heard of Midnight Madness before Friday afternoon, so I had to ask some upperclassmen what it was all about. Basically people come to watch the first basketball practice of the year at midnight and celebrate the official beginning of the basketball season. Admission is free and open to the public. The doors to the Breslin Center opened at 9:30 PM when activities such as autographs from coaches and players started. I decided to stop by for a few minutes towards the beginning to check it out. After walking around for about 30 minutes, I left because I needed to study for exams, but I really wish that I stayed! Apparently Tom Izzo entered wearing a full Iron Man suit, which would have been a sight to see!

Even though Saturday was the homecoming football game, I am glad that I did not go because the weather was awful. I decided to cheer on my team from the inside of my dry dorm room rather than cold and soaking wet in the rain. Michigan State lost to Iowa 16-19 in double overtime, which was a bit disappointing. Overall, this weekend was fun, but I would have enjoyed myself more if I didn't have to study so much for my midterms.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Study Abroad Fair

This past Thursday from 12-6, the Breslin Center housed the annual study abroad fair. I have always been interested in studying abroad, so I decided to check it out. I remember hearing that MSU has the #1 study abroad program in the country when I visited campus, but I really had no idea what to expect. The Breslin Center was full of tables representing different countries or different programs through different MSU colleges. Just to give you an idea of the scale of the fair and MSU's study abroad program in general, the 2012-13 Study Abroad brochure states that there are over 275 programs in more than 60 countries. Also, approximately 1 in 4 students study abroad during their time at MSU. Sadly, I forgot to bring my camera with me, so I have no pictures.

First, I checked out the programs offered through the College of Engineering. There were a lot of cool programs offered for a semester or year in countries such as Germany, Australia, and Spain that offer classes that are required for an engineering major, allowing you to stay on track for graduation. Since I would rather be abroad for only 4-8 weeks, I looked at the summer programs offered through both the College of Engineering and other colleges. A lot of the other programs offered classes that would fulfill my ISS or IAH requirements, which are classes in the arts and humanities or social studies that all MSU students are required to take. I think it would be cool to earn some humanities credits by visiting museums across Europe or going to the opera!

I picked up so many fliers from all of the different booths that I do not even know what to do with them! I think it is so cool that someone can choose to take part in a program that relates to their major or future career or something completely different! Definitely I will attend some of the informational meetings and apply to some of the programs. Now I better go do some homework...

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Go Green! Go White!

So I made the biggest freshman mistake when I did not buy season football tickets. I have never been a huge fan of football, and to be honest, I don't think I know any of the rules. But, going to a home football game is such a great experience for everyone!

This was my first college football game, since I went home for Labor Day weekend and missed the first home game. Never had I seen so many people in East Lansing! The Engineering Building had a great view of the stadium and all of the tailgating festivities.

Until I entered the stadium, I did not truly understand just how large Spartan Stadium really was! Cheering with thousands and thousands of other people felt so cool! Being with so many people who have pride in their school and team made me feel like I was a part of one gigantic Spartan family. It really is hard to describe how awesome it felt to be there.
I enjoyed watching the marching band perform, especially because I was a member of my high school's color guard. Watching them from the stands felt a little strange because I was so used to being one of the people performing, but it was a good change.

I am disappointed that the Spartans lost 20-3, but I still had a great time. In my opinion, every MSU student should go to at least one football game.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Move in, Sparticipation, and More!

So I have been asked to write a blog describing my first year experience at Michigan State. I am a member of the Honors College majoring in chemical engineering with a biomedical concentration. In June 2012, I graduated from Brighton High School which is located in my hometown of Brighton, Michigan. During high school, I belonged to various vocal ensembles, community service clubs, and the color guard. Besides singing, I love to read, travel, and sew. Hi, I'm Sarah Thorwall, and I am excited to be a future Spartan engineer!

So much has happened over the past few days as we all moved in and started our classes. On Sunday, all of the freshmen moved into their residence halls, and we got to know the students and staff of our buildings by playing games and attending hall meetings. All of the Class of 2016 gathered in the Breslin Center Monday morning for the University Welcome. The deans of all the colleges, dressed in their academic regalia, welcomed us in a formal academic ceremony. A few faculty members spoke as well as Katherine Boo, the author of our assigned reading "Behind the Beautiful Forevers." which tells the true stories of Mumbai slum residents. Later that afternoon, students could go ice skating and pick up some free stuff at UFest in the Munn Ice Arena. Free buses also took students to Meijer for the Moonlight Madness sale. Grocery shopping would be much more entertaining if Meijer always had dance-offs!

The main event Tuesday was Sparticipation. Representatives from most clubs and student organizations on campus set up booths and posters on Munn Field. Students could pick up fliers, sign up for email notifications, and ask members of the clubs questions. All of the dining halls were closed down during this time, so students could use their meal plans to eat at the cook out on Munn Field. The amount of people attendence and the number of student groups was overwelming. There really are clubs for everything you can (or cannot) imagine, from the MSU Jedi Council to underwater hockey!

Now that classes began, I really feel like college has started. I'll keep you posted on my classes, extracurricular activities, and events happening around campus. Now it is time for me to start some of my homework...