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:


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


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.