Being a Cornell Engineer isn’t only about taking classes, but also about working and interacting with other students, both in and outside of the engineering college. One of the most notable activities is project teams. Taking classes really focuses on giving you the foundation you need to understand important concepts in different engineering fields, but it usually doesn’t offer as many chances to apply that knowledge to real, physical projects. I joined a project team called Cornell Cup Robotics in my freshman year, and even though I was still new to developing large software projects at the time, I was immediately integrated into teams working on core features for the robot we were developing. I really appreciated being able to work on major parts of the project, all while learning about the tools commonly used in the industry. Another nice perk is that many project teams usually have large lab spaces, which are also open outside of regular club meetings, making it a perfect study spot!
Another common academic extracurricular is pursuing research. Although some students may not know whether research is the right path for them (as opposed to working in the industry), it’s always a good idea to give it a shot to experience it firsthand. Prior to coming to Cornell, I had never done research, so it was definitely something I was curious about. I had the opportunity to work in the Robotic Personal Assistants Lab during my freshman year summer and I really thought that it gave a good glimpse at what a career in academia could hold. Working on research projects exposes you to many open ended questions, many of which will require creative solutions. For example, one problem I had to work with was getting a robotic arm to pick up small rods off a table. To solve this, other members of the lab and I created tools for the robotic arm to use to increase its accuracy. This solution required a mix of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and computer science knowledge, so it was nice to see how they all come together on projects like this.
Additionally, there’s no shortage of non-academic clubs that you can participate in. One of the clubs that I’m more involved with is the Cornell Pro-Yos, a Chinese yoyo/diabolo performance group. I first learned about the club in my freshman year during ClubFest, an event that takes place during the beginning of each semester to learn about student organizations on campus. I had the chance to meet some of the members of the club and, seeing how friendly they are, decided to start going to regular club practices. Throughout each semester, we regularly perform at various on campus events, culminating in a large showcase performance at the end of the spring semester. Joining this club has always given me something to look forward to outside of classes and is a great way to relieve stress from classes.
There are definitely more to Cornell than what I just mentioned; too much to list in a post like this! No matter what you end up deciding to do when you arrive at Cornell, there’s sure to be something for everyone.
~Stanley, computer science