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A Day in the Life of a Cornell Engineer

I don’t know if there’s such thing as a typical day, as they’re always changing. Even regularly scheduled events get moved around and rescheduled, or canceled outright, so you never really know what to expect. The past couple of semesters have also been completely different and unpredictable thanks to the pandemic. This semester I happen to be on campus, after spending the previous two and a half semesters online. As a sophomore, it also happens to be the first time I get to witness spring on campus.

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My Favorite Spot on Campus

Cornell Engineering student GlennWhen the weather is warm in Ithaca, I make sure to always be outside, taking advantage of the gorgeous nature surrounding campus. When I was a freshman, I was overwhelmed with the physical size of Cornell. Everyday I was discovering new places to see, new buildings to study in, or new places to eat at. It was not until the beginning of my sophomore year that I discovered what is now my favorite spot on campus, the arboretum.

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Project Team: CU Solar Boat

CU Solar Boat: gathering the skills and the experience needed to bring alternative energy into the mainstream and fuel a more sustainable future.

While the link between engineering and positive world change can often get lost in a flurry of detailed formulations and carefully crafted diagrams, nowhere is this connection clearer than in the landscape of project teams housed under Cornell’s College of Engineering. My experience with CU Solar Boat, for example, has been Project Team CU Solar Boatinstrumental in helping to strengthen this tie between our curriculum and our role in revolutionizing the future. We are an undergraduate project team working to design and construct a single-occupant, solar-powered vessel that will carry the Cornell spirit to the intercollegiate Solar Splash Competition. While our objective is speed, what we learn along the way is vastly more important — we are gathering the skills and the experience needed to bring alternative energy into the mainstream and fuel a more sustainable future. As the youngest and smallest project team on campus, CUSB is unique in that every member can remain incredibly involved in each aspect of the production process. Our team is composed of five engineering sub-teams — drivetrain and steering, hull, solar, system controls, and business — that each specialize in actualizing one facet of our boat’s design. More seasoned teammates serve as guides for younger members as they acquire technical expertise that surpasses what is learned in a lecture hall. From working with CAD software to soldering solar cells or machining anti-ventilation plates, the emphasis on hands-on discovery is an essential component of the project team advantage.

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A Day in the Life of a Cornell Engineer

Despite being a Cornell Engineering student who does not like to sit and do work for long periods of time, my day is usually still quite productive.

Cornell Engineering student NikiOn a typical weekday, I spend the morning and early afternoon attending my online classes. After those are over, I usually make a sandwich or some other quick food for lunch and enjoy eating while watching an episode of Arrested Development. Once I’m finished eating, I work on some assignments for my classes. I like to get my assignments done a few days in advance of when they are due, which is why I tend to work on them earlier in the day.

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A Day in the Life of a Cornell Engineer during the Pandemic

Cornell Engineering student StephieMy typical day during the pandemic consists of fewer in-person activities than before the pandemic, but we are very lucky at Cornell that we have successfully pulled off a hybrid model and still have some in-person opportunities! Typically, I wake up and take any morning classes I have at home. I also try to take a break where I can run or go on a walk with a friend in the mornings (see picture). My afternoons are more variable, depending on whether or not I have something in person. If I have to go into lab, or if I have an in-person discussion or lab class, I usually go to Duffield with my friends to study before and after my in-person activity. If not, I stay home to study. Then I usually eat dinner with my roommates, or get takeout with some friends, and proceed to do my homework or club activities over Zoom. If I don’t have too much work, I try to bake or watch Netflix with my roommates.

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Making New Friends

A photograph of a group of students posing with Cornell President Martha PollockMaking friends at any point in life can be daunting. However, nothing-quite compares to the time where you leave everything you know including your family, friends, and hometown to start fresh in a small upstate New York town. I know firsthand how daunting it can be as I moved from Houston to Ithaca not knowing a single soul. However, as our parents like to say, “it will all work out” and it certainly did.

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Making My Dreams Come True

A photograph of Kenny, a Cornell Engineering studentI wrote my college application essays almost four years ago about wanting to shoot for the stars. My childhood was punctuated by space missions: Discovery’s Return to Flight, Cassini-Huygens, and New Horizons. In Cornell Engineering’s project teams and work co-op program, I saw a place that would enable me to fulfill my dream of becoming an engineer in the new Space Race.

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Cornell: My Childhood Dream

A photograph of Cornell Engineering student SydneyI’ve known about Cornell since I was little. From when I first learned about careers to about sophomore year of high school, I wanted to be a veterinarian, and attending Cornell Veterinary School was my dream. When I became interested in engineering, Cornell faded from the picture slightly as I looked at closer schools (I live in Utah, so it’s a real trek to Cornell). In the last few days of the application time period, I decided to apply to Cornell just to see what would happen, since it had been a childhood dream to attend.

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My Summer Abroad in London

A photo of Cornell engineering student standing in front of a call box in London.Hello everyone! My name is Shristi Varshney, and I am from Framingham, Massachusetts. I am a senior majoring in chemical & biomolecular engineering and minoring in business. I am also concurrently pursuing a Masters in Engineering (M.Eng.) in chemical & biomolecular engineering and will be graduating with that in December 2020 with both my B.S. and M.Eng. This blog post is about my study abroad experience in London in the summer of 2018!

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What a Surprise: My Cornell Life

A photo of Cornell Engineering student, TseTse in a labIf three years ago, you told me that I would be writing a blog about my experience at Cornell, the first thing that would surprise me is that I’m writing a blog. The second thing, however, would be that I attended Cornell. I chose Cornell simply because I thought it was one of the best engineering schools with the best combination of prestige and education. I turned out to be right. What I did not know nor think of, was what living at Cornell would be like. I can proudly tell you that I have loved my experience here and will miss it when I graduate next year. To help you, now that you are where I was a few years ago, I can describe to you my daily life at Cornell.

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