Cornell Engineering studnet StanleyGoing to college isn’t only about the classes that one can take, it’s also about the opportunities that one can pursue outside of class. Luckily, Cornell has no shortage of these opportunities. As a freshman engineer, I remember being overwhelmed by all the activities and teams that were available; having just arrived, I wasn’t expecting to have such a wide selection of opportunities immediately available to me. But I took advantage of it, and joined one of the project teams, called Cornell Cup Robotics.

One of the first things I remember about the team was how sociable people were. There always seemed to be people hanging around the common lounge area, either talking or playing a game of Smash. Even on my very first day on the team, I felt comfortable approaching other members and striking up a conversation about anything, both related and not related to work. There were many social events that were also held throughout the year; one fun one in particular was when the team went to play paintball!

Of course, being able to work on large team projects is really where the advantage of joining a project team comes in. Immediately after the very first meeting of the semester, I already found myself getting an opportunity to write code for projects on our robot. And even as a new member, I never felt like I was excluded; in fact, my team leads would frequently include other members and me in different discussions on how certain features of the project should be implemented.

Depending on the project team, there are also sometimes opportunities to travel, usually to competitions. For example, one of the goals of Cornell Cup Robotics is to host a yearly systems engineering competition. As a result, the team was able to travel to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to host the competition! The trip was definitely one of my highlights of my freshman year, and really motivated me to stick with the team.

Another benefit of project teams is to be able to eventually get the chance to lead projects. In my sophomore year, I was able to start up a completely new project for the team, and be able to lead a group of students to implement it. This kind of leadership experience is very valuable and not something that can be taught in classrooms! It’s definitely a great experience to have, both for personal growth and as something to talk about in a resume. In fact, in almost every job interview I’ve had, I’ve always had the opportunity to talk about my experience at Cornell Cup.

Overall, project teams definitely worth joining. The skills and connections that can be made will stick with you wherever you go!

~Stanley, computer science