As the clouds receded, the sun's rays grew in intensity, and vaccination rates in Seattle skyrocketed, life became more chaotic. Between barely catching 8:30am classes and racking up thousands of steps walking between my apartment and the HUB every weekday, pledging a fraternity, getting operated on for the first time, getting vaccinated against COVID-19, flying to LA again, dropping engineering projects, and beginning others, life came at me at a familiar yet novel kind of breakneck speed. I felt my fundamental extroversion and drive for growth come back to me, the seeds of which were sown mostly by chance.
In a way, my true college experience continued right where it left off in February 2020.
• HONORS 391 A, Climate Crisis: an International Perspective, a study of climate science and its response in art and activism
• M E 230, the third (and last!) in a series of three "engineering physics fundamentals" courses, dealing with kinematics and dynamics (the physics and geometry of things that move)
• MATH 307, an introduction to solving first- and second-order differential equations
• MSE 170, a survey of basic materials science concepts and properties of metals, ceramics, and polymers
cutting my cheek
March 29, 2021 | overcoming anxiety
I never considered rushing (going through recruitment) for a fraternity on campus before @uwthetatau followed me on Instagram during spring break. Half an hour before the first rush event on the first day of the quarter, I found myself... well, rushing to groom myself and make dinner before the start of the event. In my hasty shaving, I slid my razor across (read: not down) my cheek, which immediately resulted in a river of blood flowing down my cheek. Having forgotten my styptic pencil at my parents' house, I had to somehow take control of this crisis fast. Applying warm towels and rounds of chapstick managed to stop the bleeding two minutes before the Zoom call for the event was supposed to start, so I jumped on my laptop with a large and painful scab on my face after trying to set myself up for a good first visual impression to my potential future brothers.
Ultimately, how I looked likely mattered less than my character, as I was initiated into the Theta Beta chapter of the Theta Tau professional engineering fraternity after being offered a bid after the recruitment process and undergoing a jam-packed six-week pledging process. As of writing this, I still have a scar where the cut used to be to remind me to stay calm when things get out of control.
cutting my finger
April 6, 2021 | overcoming anxiety
In general, I used to be very afraid of anything being thrust into my body, especially needles. I used to wonder when I would get operated on for the first time, and I also used to wonder how I would react to getting parts of my body numbed or going under. After thrusting a sharp chisel into my left index finger while trying to remove finished parts from a 3D printer buildplate at an on-campus makerspace, most of my questions were answered.
At the beginning, I felt no pain but I did see blood gushing out of my finger and all over the table. I was able to calmly walk over to a student employee who, horrified, told me to wrap my finger in a paper towel and apply pressure onto it. Another student who was there walked me over to Hall Health, where I was able to get care from a nurse. It was only when I got to the waiting room there when the adrenaline wore off, sharp pain started shooting up my left arm, and I lost my vision and hearing, nearly fainting.
Getting my cut finger anesthetized and stitched up was easy after that. However, it did not prepare me for the pain which followed the anesthetic wearing off and its continued existence through the months-long healing process. The week in which I wore a metal cast around my finger and the following week before getting my stitches out each felt like they took a month to pass by. As of writing this, I still have a scar that limits my finger's motion and occasionally feels painful... now that I'm writing it down, that might be something to get checked out.
Anyway, this and me cutting my cheek were two experiences that I couldn't predict and significantly impacted events that immediately came afterward, including having to completely back out of an engineering project that I was doing for a HuskyADAPT donor. I believe that this ultimately hardened me in ways that I couldn't have foreseen when going through this experience. In all, I've found myself being less afraid of the unknown.
Besides, it made a good story to tell at Theta Tau rush sessions.
cutting a new mold
late May, 2021 | eating disorder
Another thing that I used to be afraid of was trying new foods. Since being a toddler, I've battled an eating disorder essentially equivalent to being an extremely picky eater. However, during my second trip to LA this academic year (my last opportunity to see my close friend there until autumn quarter 2021), I managed to not only go without eating at a chain restaurant but also ate foods I wasn't used to every day. In the span of four days, I got to enjoy KBBQ, tacos, pita sandwiches, loaded burgers, fried rice, and other dishes to their fullest, and I suddenly got to be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of options available to me on a restaurant menu like most "normal" people do (using this term lightly).
I still haven't figured out quite what changed to make this happen, but my working theory is that my body decided that not liking the taste or texture of some food couldn't possibly be worse than having stitches in my finger for two weeks.
June 10, 2021 | interdisciplinary design
My quarter in HONORS 391 A was spent learning about not only what climate change was, but also some of the policy-based strategies that have been implemented in the last few decades (or could be in the future) to fight the climate crisis. However, I signed up for this class to gain some footing into how I, as a future engineer, can orient my thinking and my technical skills towards fighting the climate crisis. I used the class's final paper assignment to independently explore a way that industrial design, manufacturing engineering, and materials science principles have been combined to fight the climate crisis: cradle-to-cradle (C2C) design, which aims to reduce materials wastage through clever bio-inspired processes and design frameworks.
By analyzing the benefits and drawbacks of C2C and comparing it to other environmental analysis frameworks used by engineers, like life cycle assessments, I got a better understanding of how engineers design products for the environment and how I can use my brainpower to contribute positively in the future. (I also turned this paper in a full 8 hours before my extended deadline instead of at 11:59 pm the night my deadline got extended to, which is indicative of my bettered time management skills and something I'm endlessly proud of.)