Emma Dumont: Engineering and Art

Lorna Dane is my favourite character on The Gifted. So I looked up her actress, Emma Dumont, on Wikipedia, and I was immediately delighted by what I found.

Like many actresses, she’s also a dancer. On top of that, she’s a violinist, a mechanical engineering student, and is into robotics. She embraces both STEM and the arts. So often, people are led to believe that science and art are mutually exclusive, but they’re not. They require many of the same skills, and arguably, they’re more similar than different.

Continue reading “Emma Dumont: Engineering and Art”

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Sixty Years of the Space Age: Happy Birthday, Sputnik

October 4th, 1957. A sphere of less than a foot radius. And signals detectable by any average Joe with a radio.  Sixty years ago today, Sputnik 1 was launched, and humanity entered the space age.

It didn’t do much aside from orbiting the Earth, but Sputnik changed the world forever. That first little satellite kicked off the space race. It made more people interested in science, both in general and as a potential career path. It contributed to the creation of NASA. It was the first step towards long distance wireless communication. Towards GPS. Towards environmental satellites and space telescopes. Towards rovers gathering data that humans can’t reach. We can’t know what the world would look like if it had never been launched, but it doesn’t require a huge stretch to think that in a world without Sputnik – and perhaps Yuri Gagarin becoming the first man in space four years later – we wouldn’t have had people on the moon or rovers on Mars. Sputnik may have influenced the development of military technologies, but that is nothing compared to its positive legacy.

Sputnik means travelling companion, and that’s what it was. A different Sputnik took Gagarin into space; all the satellites that bore the same name accompanied the Earth. And the image of that first artificial satellite – that mark of human ingenuity, launched only 54 years after the Wright brothers’ first flight – accompanies all of us as we continue to explore the universe.

I Got To Drive A Mustang Down A Test Track: Being An Intern Is Cool Sometimes

I intern at an automotive parts supplier, and so I got a chance to drive a few cars down a test track a few days ago.

It felt strange to be driving a pickup truck – I’ve never done that before, and I wasn’t used to being that high off the ground, but it wasn’t hard to control. It didn’t feel oversized, though somehow, driving it with the validation engineer in the passenger’s seat made me feel like I was taking my test again. I’d never buy a truck – I probably won’t ever have to haul a lot of stuff around, they’re heavy, they’re fuel inefficient, they take up a lot of space, and so on – but it was nice to drive one around and see what it’s like.

The Mustang wasn’t exactly what I’d call comfortable. Maybe I’m just too used to driving a Lacrosse, but something about the seat and climbing into the car just felt awkward. It’s not that I’m too tall – I was wearing heels, but even so, I probably topped out at less than 5’6″. I didn’t love how it handled. The steering felt a bit stiffer than I liked. The car had electric power steering, but even so, at low speeds, when a motor should be applying assistive torque, it felt like the wheel had too much resistance.

It was kind of fun to go from 0 to 70, then right back down to 0. I was gentler than most other people – I have too much respect for a car’s tires and brake linings to abuse them, even if it’s a) not my car, and b) a test vehicle – but it was still a much faster acceleration than in an every day situation.

I’ve talked before about how much I loved my Grand Prix, and this reminded me that that’s still my favourite of all the cars I’ve ever driven. It’s a very well rounded vehicle – not the best in any aspect, but very good in every one.

Things About Majoring In Engineering that Always Seemed Like Jokes But Are Actually Painfully True

A repost from my deleted blog, edited with updates.

1. The overwhelming male majority

Yes, I knew going in that electrical engineering is a male dominated major. But there’s a huge difference between knowing something intellectually and being able to comprehend what that means. My intro to electronics class was maybe fifteen percent female. The ratios in my engineering classes since then haven’t gotten better.

2. Forgetting how to write

My sister is four years older than me. She majored in neuroscience during her undergrad, and for years, she’s been making fun of me for wanting to go into engineering and telling me about how all the engineering students she knows have terrible grammar and can’t write anything comprehensible. I always thought that was just a stereotype.

I placed out of the freshman writing and research course, and the writing components of my gen eds up until second semester sophomore year were not remotely strenuous. As such, when I started writing my final paper for my Geography of Globalization class, I realized that I’d begun to lose any writing skills I ever had, a year and a half after starting university. If it’s already gotten this bad, I can only imagine it’s going to get worse when I have even fewer classes involving writing.

3. Feeling like you may have just joined a cult

At my school, the ECE building is pretty much the northernmost building on campus. It’s far away from everything else. It has its own coffee shop and its own store. People are there at all hours of the day and night. Most of my friends are other people in ECE, because for several reasons, despite next semester being the first in which I’ll have more than one actual ECE course at a time, these are the people I end up spending the most time around.

Summertime

Last week, I finished my finals, so I’m officially halfway through my engineering degree!  Today was my first day at my internship, which I’m incredibly excited about. I’m going to be working in electrical applications at Nexteer Automotive. I haven’t been given a specific assignment yet, but I look forward to learning more and seeing what there is to work on.

In other news, I can’t go to the Wonder Woman prescreening on Wednesday that’s literally fifteen minutes from my house, because I’m an hour and a half away for the summer, and I won’t be able to drive back in time to make it. That’s disappointing, but I have tickets to opening night, and I can’t wait to see it.