In early August 2019, I took the bus back and forth between the UW campus and the suburb where my parents live over a couple days for orientation. One day, on the way back, I caught up with people who graduated from my high school the year before me, while they were doing homework for their summer classes on the bus. I saw this and I swore to myself that I would never do summer quarter while I was at the UW, because I would be studying abroad or doing internships.
Summer 2020 came, but the internships and study abroad opportunities I had lined up both ceased to exist due to the coronavirus pandemic. Despite my earlier swearing not to, I enrolled in summer classes.
• AMATH 301, a class about applying linear algebra and scientific computing principles to data analysis through MATLAB programming
• M E 123, an introduction to engineering drafting and visualization using SolidWorks (while attempting to not have it crash every five minutes), also my first in-major class (!)
a summer school birthday
late June, 2020
One of the things that I found most fun about my birthday was that every year, before I entered college, it would land around a week after school got out, which meant that it was soon enough after the school year that I could still enjoy freedom from busywork invite a bunch of my friends, who wouldn't have all left on vacation yet, to celebrate with me. This year, there would have been a buffer of about two weeks between Spring 2020 finals and my 19th birthday, and if it weren't for the coronavirus pandemic, some of my closest friends and I would have made the trek up to Vancouver, British Columbia the next day to legally have a pint (or two... or three... you get the idea) as I would have been one of the last in that friend group to turn 19, the legal drinking age in BC.
Of course, none of that happened this year. For the first time in my life, my birthday fell on a school day, in the first week of Summer 2020, having enrolled for summer courses in large part because of the pandemic. I didn't let that impede my joy—I still invited a few close friends to my parents' back patio for dinner and cake, and FaceTimed a friend who had just departed for LA (to house-sit for his brother) in the process. However, it felt weird knowing the entire time that I would have to take an AMATH 301 quiz at noon the next day. Such are the joys of growing up, I guess.
major major decisions, part 2
July 1, 2020
In Winter 2020, I had made up my mind about my major choice; now, in the second week of Summer 2020, was my time to act on it.
I threw a Hail Mary, in a sense, by requesting placement (basically, applying) into just Mechanical Engineering, as I had completed the prerequisites for five engineering majors and the recommendation is six to be guaranteed a place in an engineering major. At the end of the process, I would either be placed into the major or rejected out of the first placement round entirely, where I would have to reapply in Winter 2021 with more majors requested.
The process involved creating a resumé summarizing my freshman-year "major exploration process,", which involved me completely redesigning my previous resumé formats and completely rethinking how I talk about myself and my skills (via consulting the Engineering Career Center on campus), and writing a 750-word personal statement expanding on my resumé and talking about other challenges that I experienced in the process, as well as why I was choosing to request the major that I was requesting.
I'm particularly proud of the personal statement I wrote. I consulted advisers and friends in the process and reached out to the Odegaard Writing and Research Center for the first time, whose tutors helped me optimally express my struggles through my first year of college as well as my life goals. In the end, I believe I wrote a strong narrative that covered all parts of my first-year journey, through stepping on campus for the first time to being ready to enter the Mechanical Engineering major.
July 16, 2020
The third homework assignment for AMATH 301, given to the class just after learning how to convert systems of linear equations into sets of matrices for calculations, involved creating a 19x19 matrix of coefficients from equations used to find the forces at 19 joints of a truss bridge system. Here's the catch: any discernible patterns between the equations were interrupted by virtue of the locations of the joints in relation to the two ends of the bridge shown in the homework assignment, so I figured the simplest way to create this matrix (to be used later to find the 19 unknown forces) was to hand-input each value.
Not only did it take 49 lines of code to create the matrix, but I also had every single other calculation fail due to an issue with the matrix. I spent roughly six hours trying to debug the entire script before finally contacting a friend of mine who already took this class. Within minutes, he pinpointed the issue: a 0.5000 instead of a -0.5000 value in row 16, column 14 of the matrix. Immediately after making the change to the correct value, all of the calculations I had set up for the truss bridge in the script gave the correct output values.
This experience, more than anything, taught me the value of two brains put together when it came to solving any kind of problem. I also made an effort to avoid hardcoding in the additional scripts that I wrote in the following five weeks fo the class.
major major successes
July 31, 2020
My hard work in the placement process paid off! No more stress from being major-less at the UW.
I made my placement into the Mechanical Engineering major the topic of my first-ever LinkedIn post. I did not expect it to receive over 3,000 views, however, with likes and congratulations coming from both colleagues from my UW classes and, funnily enough, a few of my mom's former coworkers. Thanks to this post, I also got to reconnect with my engineering/design teacher from my junior and senior years of high school, who is himself a UW Mechanical Engineering grad and whose class was my main inspiration in pursuing a career in product design engineering.
Hence, my conclusion that I definitely haven't made enough use of LinkedIn.