Monday, October 17, 2011

New Post?!!

Summer: Relaxed and exciting at the same time. Working for Abbott Vascular was one of the best experiences of my life. To be honest, I was a little nervous before the internship--I didn't know if I could measure up. But I was able to get some projects finished and got some important ones started, so I was pleasantly surprised at what I was able to accomplish.

Southern California in the summer was awesome. My roommate was this funky-fresh, tell-it-like-it-is Berkeley Bio-E student. The other interns were intelligent, fun-loving college students who all shared amazing work ethics, but still had a lot of levity about them. Sure, there were disagreements sometimes, but we were able to deal with them as engineers--with level heads and critical thinking...

School has been a mixture of extreme frustration and intense learning. I have some top-notch professors this semester, and also some professors whose teaching "styles" make me cringe during every lecture. It's difficult to imagine that an institution that can have so much of the good kind of professor can also have a few bad ones, but I guess that's life.

The SWE conference was this past weekend as well--that was pretty great. I love Chicago; it was great to be back with a bunch of bright young women and professionals. I enjoy my role in SWE--being internal vice president has a few responsibilities, but it's mostly a relaxed work-load. Also, I love working with the other officers, and helping us to bond. It's great to see a group of 17 young women work and succeed together.

Church stuff has been going well--we've been trying some interfaith kind of stuff, and I've taken a lot out of it. Last week, we met with members of Hillel to worship with them. A few weekends ago, we worshiped with Muslim students on campus. I feel that the more I learn about different religions and how different peoples' spiritual experiences are, the more connected I feel with the unknown. It's definitely eye-opening.

Books: Michel de Montaigne's collected essays and I Found This to be Funny. I tend to not want to invest all of my time into an entire novel--short stories and essays are kind of my thing. Both of these books have these and read fairly easily. I had to read Montaigne's essays for my French philosophy course, and even though he was writing in the late 15th and early 16th century, some of his views are still prevalent today. He's an entertaining writer, and his ideas span the gamut: he writes about sex, religion, education, and aging, to name a few topics. The book is huge, but even just reading a little made me think differently about these topics.
I Found This to be Funny I'm reading at a friend's request. I've been craving short stories recently, and this collection is both entertaining, intriguing, and well written. I'm enjoying reading a little every night before nodding off. Not all of the stories are funny, but there's truth in every story.

That's all for now--keep yer stick on the ice...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Procrastination station

So some stuff has happened recently that has been pretty freakin' awesome. To put it in a list:

1). iHelp
2). Football concessions ending
3). Dropping ECE 205 and 206
4). The end of TAM 210
5). Society of Women Engineers National Conference
6). Job offers

So basically, I have more time than I expected today. Blog post? I think yes.

iHelp was pretty fun. I created an event for my sorority, Alpha Omega Epsilon. They are a pretty swell bunch of young women. We made cookies for local firefighters, and both the sisters and the firefighters seemed to enjoy it. The only kind of downside to it is that I think I hit a creative slump after iHelp: I kind of stopped creating new Philanthropic events for the sorority. But my co-chair and I are ramping it up for the end of November/beginning of December with a toy drive and some caroling, so we'll see how that goes.

Football concessions for our section of the Society of Women Engineers have finally ended, so now I can smell like things other than Johnsonville Brats on Saturdays. Seriously though, it was a lot of fun working the stand; I expected it to be a lot more mind-crushingly boring, but I had a great time getting to know my fellow SWE-sters. :) The funny thing is, even though I've been working the stand for a ton of Saturdays, this last time is the first time when my roommate called me out on the brat smell. Nothing like, "Gosh, you smell like brats" to greet you after a 7-hour shift at Memorial Stadium.

Earlier this semester, after a lot of though and deliberation, I decided that 18 class hours + SWE fundraising + A.O.E. philanthropy + iEFX advising +WIMSE event planning + Tau Beta Pi initiate things = one really crazy Claire. I needed to cut something out, but what? Although I loved the lab section and learning about the course material, I realized that this semester, I could not handle Electrical and Computer Engineering 205 and 206. I loved learning about all the cool things in circuits and what they did; unfortunately, the amount of coursework and the difficulty level of it was too much for me. Although I will have to retake it next semester (looking forward to and dreading it at the same time!), I am so glad I dropped the course--I feel like I have my life and sanity back.

No more Theoretical and Applied Mathematics 210 (statics)!! Need I say more?

The SWE conference was freakin' awesome. It was in Orlando this year. I had a terrific time meeting SWE-sters from other collegiate and professional sections, as well as getting to know UIUC's officer board better. The corporate suites after the opening day of the career fair were really swanky: several of them were raffling away iPads (who cares if they can't play Flash--they're free!). Plus, I walked away with two interviews--one of which was probably the best of my life, one job offer, and a ton of corporate free stuffs :) It was nice to take all the learning experiences back to the UIUC SWE section. However, it was awfully hard to leave the sunshine and palm's to cold Chicago for next year!

Over the past few weeks, I've also accrued a few internship offers. While this is exciting, it's also kind of stressful; I feel like I'm not only weighing the options for this summer, but also for a future career. I'm a little stressed about this, to be honest.

I've been thinking a lot about what I've been doing recently. Although I love SWE, A.O.E., WIMSE, iEFX and all those other crazy acronyms that I'm involved with, I'm wondering what exactly the point is and what my motivation behind joining them is. Although I do want to improve my leadership and programming skills, as well as develop myself professionally, I'm not sure that this is exactly the path that is right for me. I've found myself thinking about Peace Corps and Teach for America recently, instead of future technologies and new entrepreneurial ventures. The desire to truly help others in desperate need has grown to a fever pitch inside me. I see myself becoming complacent with the life I live, living in the protective petri dish of privileged university life. I'm wondering if this is just a phase, or if it's something I should confront head-on. Engineering is a noble profession, but I believe I might be in it for the wrong reasons. I love math and physics, and I'd like to be at least marginally wealthy. But with all the resources that I have, why the heck am I not doing all I can to help those who need it the most? Something to ponder, for sure.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sophomore slump

Ok, so I've been bad. Haven't posted in a while...
I decided to hold off on Facebook for a while. I actually made my roommate permission to change my password, and she did. It was pretty epic. Basically, since I have no Facebook for a while, I need another way to procrastinate while sharing my mundane musings with the world.
So...sophomore year. Too much stuff going on already, but that's normal. SWE, WIMSE, NRHH, CUCC, iEFX, FC, PES, more acronyms than YOUR BODY HAS ROOM FOR!!!!!
I like my new mentoring roles. When WIMSE peer leaders had to complete the Strengths Finder Test, it turns out that I was a developer, or someone who likes to mentor others. So being a peer leader and an iSA makes me as happy as a clam.
The WIMSE girls and iEFX students are no slouches. Every time I talk to either group, they never cease to amaze me on their innovative thinking, their interesting ideas, and overall enthusiasm. It's nice to be looked up to, but it's far more exciting and meaningful to me to hear their amazing stories.
I totally forgot about this, but my summer was jam-packed as well. Germany was definitely the highlight. Very relaxing, very exciting, and very informative. I learned more in a two week internship than I did at any other job I've had. Coming home wasn't bad either. I read two excellent books, and started a third: "Made to Stick," "Ethics for the New Millennium," and "The Global Achievement Gap." I highly recommend all three.
Coming back to school has been interesting. To be honest, now that I've been here for a year, the excitement's kind of worn off. I know what to expect now, and I know what's going on. Kind of just jumped into the daily grind.
On the plus side, my roommate is pretty awesome this year. Nothing like rooming with a nuclear engineer! :)
Hope you all had a relaxing Labor Day weekend! Now we'll just count-down until Thanksgiving....

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Today, I realized that weekends have kind of a Catch-22. Usually my weekend activities consist of doing homework, hanging out with friends, and doing stuff with extracirriculars. But I find that if these things aren't balanced, the weekend turns out kind of cruddy. For example, last weekend I spent a lot of time with my friends. However, I wasn't able to get ahead on my homework and had to play catch-up for the rest of the week. This weekend, I finished a lot of homework, but didn't see my friends too often. This made me bummed out as well. The trick, I guess, is to have a good mix of both.
On a different note, this past week was not very good. Midterms were...interesting. I think this might be the first semester where I get a B in a couple of courses. That kind of freaks me out, because a lot of recruiters won't even look at you if you have a low GPA. But I think everything will work out ok. I tell myself that, anyway :)
I'm going to think positively this week, and focus more on learning more in my classes. I think that too much focus is put on just doing enough to pass an exam or to pass a class. What happened to the joy of learning? Personally, I'm getting a bit fatigued with classes. Haha, and we haven't even reached Spring Break yet! But if it wasn't hard, it wouldn't be college.
That's all the pithy insights I have for today! Until next time!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Why not?

What if everyone had to talk in rhetorical questions?

Friday, January 22, 2010


Today, I realized how important teamwork is. I realize that I'm not the smartest person on campus, but I have some areas that I'm fairly decent at. I feel that when I work in a team, it brings out the best in me because I use those areas to help benefit the team. But I also feel that I'm improving my own skills, because as other teammates make suggestions, I learn from them.
I realized that it's nearly impossible to be completely self-sufficient. And for the past few days, when I've had trouble, I've asked questions from more knowledgeable people and got the results I need. Although I've always been open to asking about how things operate, I've never actually realized how much other people account for my success, even on a daily basis.
Kind of on a tangent, as much as I believe in the power of asking questions, I also believe that there is a limit to that particular type of learning. I don't think one should blindly start asking if the answer is easily accessible. What's worked best for me is to struggle a bit, try hard, and if that doesn't work, ask someone. For example, when I was working on Physics 212 homework last night, I had to skip a problem because I couldn't figure out why I was getting the wrong answer. My instinct was to ask my friend down the hall about it, but I wanted to figure out what was going on myself. A few minutes later, I came back to the problem, found a simple mathematical error, and was able to answer the question on my own. I didn't waste her time, and I had the satisfaction on finishing a problem on my own. After all, how can one truly learn if all the answers are layed out in front of him/her?
In summary, teamwork is great. It's a good way to use the best skills, and it's a great way of building new skills. In terms of asking questions, if I'm truly stumped, I have no problem asking for help. But if the answer is somewhat attainable, I will work at it until I reach the desired results.

Friday, January 15, 2010


Today, I realized how nerdy I truly am. I used to be obsessive over Lord of the Rings. And every good Lord of the Rings movie fanatic knows about Figwit, the elf who never talks but pouts (here's the wiki on it: Well, it turns out that the extra who played Figwit is Bret McKenzie, from Flight of the Conchords(and the Flight of the Conchords wiki: Flight of the Conchords is a New Zealand comedic folk group with their own show on HBO. Conclusion: I'm a nerd and am not spending my time wisely at all.
I also realized how bad my spelling is. On the last post, I forgot to check my spelling; some of the stuff in there makes me cringe, literally (is "treasurer" even a word?). Oh well. Like engineering, you live, learn, and move on to the next thing.
Speaking of next things, next semester is only a couple of days away. Hooray (kind of)! I'm really glad to see my U of I friends again (woo hoo for out of state!) and I'm psyched for new and interesting classes like Physics 212, but I'm not packed, don't have my books, and just generally am spazzing out. But it's all good; in a few days, everything will work itself out. That's pretty much been my mantra all this week.
Oh, also, iFoundry stuff is really exciting this semester! I did a presentation for Mason High School students, which was cool. Also, I'm working on bringing in a presenter from IDEO, and we'll probably have a telecon this week! Amazing! Gosh, there's so much more stuff going on! A MechE graduate from Olin is coming in, interviews with Russ, the SWE Region H conference, etc. Also, in AED, we're lifting off on our mini design projects to get them ready for EOH! I'm a little stressed over it, but I'm way too happy and excited about it to let the stress be a bother.
Earlier last semester I mentioned in a post that I would try to channel my inner Winnie-the-Pooh. I think I'll try that again this week.

Here's Bret...

...and here's Figwit. Amazingly similar, no?