An Introduction to Mechanical Engineering

Math is hard. It was hard when I was dealing with just numbers, but then they started adding letters in there. Which was still alright. Then, they started adding symbols in there. Which is when it started getting confusing. Now, they’re adding freakin’ dimensions in there.

I’ve always thought myself to be a pretty smart guy. Top of my class in high school, doing well in all my college classes, and then I take this class. MECH003. Though the none of the problems assigned are “trick” problems with little secret things that make it easier, it doesn’t change the fact that every problem is tedious and tough to visualize. Going from a 3-D diagram to a F.B.D to a vector equation into three scalar equations can really take it’s toll on you once you start doing ten of those problems in a row. Although there is only one homework problem due every Monday, it is highly recommended that you do all the recommended problems as well, lest you get left behind.

But everything is difficult for a reason. To make you think. While the concepts of the class don’t go too far beyond Calculus 3 or Physics 2, the goal of the class isn’t to teach you Calculus or Physics, but it’s to give you an engineering sense, a feel of how to approach each problem and figure it out. It’s not as simple as finding a value and then plugging it into an equation. I look forward to growing as student in this class.

 

Spring ’16 GPA

GPA. Yes, GPA. That’s what I hate the most especially when I know that the semester was quite hard. I hate it when I know I didn’t hand in that Physics assignment, I didn’t do that Math quiz or when I know I know I didn’t do well in my first quiz. GPA can be depressing. How do you explain to your parent that you are getting B’s yet you were always an A student in High school? Some of us, international students, may say that the education system here in the US is different, but no! International students have no excuse whatsoever. In fact, they are expected to score highly because the are the best students in their countries, they represent their countries in academic platforms.

 

After getting my first college GPA, I swear to work hard in the subsequent semester. I sure did expect to start with such a GPA. If you got something you did expect or you did reach your target for the first semester, here is another chance to make a big change, SPRING 2016.

Senator Bill Bradley at Lehigh

This past Tuesday, February 2nd, NBA hall of famer and former Senator, Bill Bradley, came into the Zoellner Arts center to give a lecture on the theme of Cultural Understanding and Tolerance. Fortunately for me, my political science professor, Professor Saladin Ambar, was offering extra credit for attending and writing a reflection about the Senator’s speech. As a result, I decided to meet up with a group of friends to see what this lecture was all about.

Our group met for dinner prior to the lecture  and planned on getting to Zoellner at around 7:30pm to get good seats. Luckily we arrived early because people were already lined up outside the auditorium before we got there. I was surprised to see the large crowd of people that were waiting to hear this man speak. I had no idea what to expect, all I knew was that he played in the NBA, ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for president in 2000, and was a former Senator. He also recently wrote a book called We Can All Do Better in 2012.

For time and length purposes, I’m going to break down his speech into three parts: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

 The Good:

Senator Bradley is an entertaining and engaging speaker. He told several funny personal anecdotes but I’ll just write about my favorite. When Bradley played for the New York Knicks, a fan threatened to kill his dog, in a letter, if he didn’t start to play better. The fan even signed his name and left a return address on the letter. Bradley decided to write back to the fan saying that everyone makes mistakes and that he didn’t even own a dog. A little while later, the NBA star and his wife received a large brown box in the mail. The angry fan sent them a dog in the mail with a letter that said “don’t get too attached.” Bradley said he and his wife kept the dog for an entire year after that.

Moving onto the topic of how We Can All Do Better, the Senator began telling his favorite moments of his political career. Most importantly, Senator Bradley said what he misses the most about being in the Senate was “writing public policy and the people.” By the people, he meant the “goodness of the American people.” He said he saw acts of kindness all over such as how a shoe shiner donated half of his sales to children’s healthcare. He said that even though there are people that do acts of kindness all over America, everyone, even himself “can do better.”

     The Bad:

While the Senator stayed objective throughout most of the lecture, he became more polarized towards the end. He ended his lecture by insinuating that the American Conservative movement was responsible for making it harder to vote. He seemed to connect race and making it harder to vote to the Republican agenda. These statements may have alienated audience members and caused people to question his earlier position on the economy. For example, he stated that by investing $10 million over ten years, 5 million jobs would be created. How exactly would this happen? The senator never elaborated on this making it sound more like fact than theory.

 The Ugly:

The ugly actually doesn’t have much to do with the Senator’s lecture but rather a tough question that an audience member asked him. The audience member asked him “why he was on the American Committee for East-West Accord, with Stephen Cohen, a Putin-apologist?” This question much different than the other questions such as “how long he kept his dog?” or “could he beat Michael Jordan in a one-on-one?” The Senator responded to the question quite lengthily but stayed on topic and answered the question. He didn’t dodge the question like how many politicians do currently, which was quite refreshing. To sum up his response, he went over U.S-Russian history and how our relationship could be better. He also said he doesn’t see Cohen as an apologist, but the group’s mission in more important than the view of one member.

Conclusion:

Overall, Senator Bill Bradley was an entertaining speaker and offered interesting view points on various modern day issues. He provided occasional comical relief but also told stories that capture the true American spirit. This was a great opportunity to hear from a man that has accomplished so much in a life time. If Senator Bill Bradley comes to speak near you, its an opportunity you shouldn’t pass up.

 

 

 

 

A New Semester, a New Me

Ok, so maybe first semester didn’t go as well as I hoped it would. I mean, my grades were fine, I made some friends, and I was generally happy with where I was. But that’s not enough. You see, the reason why humanity has gotten this far is due to the intrinsic nature of humanity’s curiosity. Never satisfied with settling down, great thinkers such as Amedo Avogadro, Nietzsche, Galileo Galilei and many more pushed our understanding of our place in the world, all leading up to this moment.

Carpe Diem, AKA #YOLO, to make the most out of every moment. That’s what I originally planned to do this semester. No more Dominos for dinner three nights in a row. No more going to sleep at 2:00AM and waking up at 1:00PM. I was going to hit the gym, get swole, get that 4.0 GPA that was so elusive last semester and hit Challenger in League of Legends.

I’m currently sitting at my desk, munching on pop-tarts (because I was too lazy to walk to the Cort for breakfast), and hastily composing this post to earn me some money to live on. That I’m going to spend on Dominos. What happened, you may ask? Well there’s one great thinker that I’ve left out. Here are some of Garfield’s greatest sayings: “Eat every meal as if it’s your last” and “Oh no! I’ve overslept! I’m late for my nap.”

So hopefully everybody had a great winter break and is having an even better start to their second semester. Work hard and play harder. Carpe Diem!

 

LeaderShape

Towards the middle of last semester, all students had to complete something called an Evolution seminar. It is essentially a group discussion facilitated by a Lehigh faculty member. My Evolution seminar, in particular, was facilitated by Christine Gravelle of the Office of Student Leadership and Development. At the end of Evolution, she insisted that I apply for a national leadership institute called LeaderShape. I was skeptical at first knowing that I would lose my last week of winter break for this program. After persistently asking me to apply, I finally gave in and filled out my application for the LeaderShape Institute at Lehigh.

Fast forward a few months to today and now I look back and realize that filling out that application was one of the most important things I have done in my life. But lets go back for a second before I ramble on and provide a reflection on this experience. It all started on what’s called Day One. After a two hour bus ride, our group of fifty Lehigh students arrived at Camp Ladore, a retreat and conference center in the Pocono Mountains. We were given a few hours to relax before our briefing by the official LeaderShape coordinators.  Many people, including myself,  knew very few if not anybody on Day One. Most people started gathering in the game room to meet one another and play pool, ping pong, etc. Unbeknownst to me, these people would become my best friends by Day 6.

Our randomly selected coordinators were Melissa and Heemanshu who introduced themselves later that first day. We were given journals to reflect on our experiences and to learn key terms about leadership.  While every minute of our 6 days that started at 8.00 A.M and ended at 11:00 P.M were important, I’ll skip to the parts that were most important to me.

On Day 2, we met with our “family clusters” for the second time, which were our small groups of about ten facilitated by a Lehigh faculty member. Our first activity was an earthquake survival scenario in which we had to place survival techniques in order of importance. This activity revealed individual personalities, strengths, and weaknesses. This activity broke the ice and started the bonding process in our family cluster.

On Day 3, we were taken to Camp Ladore’s giant athletic facility, right outside of our bedrooms. The morning activity was a low level ropes course with team building exercises. The most intense moment of the ropes course was the trust fall  activity. It started off with a simple trust fall into someones arms and then finally to a three to four foot trust fall off a stage. I was able to trust people that I had barely known for three days, this was a defining moment.

While I can literally speak for hours about LeaderShape, I’m sure you won’t want to read it all. I learned so much over this week and I still hang out and eat lunch with my new LeaderShape friends. This institute is open to college freshman through graduate students at universities all across America. Do not miss this opportunity! IMG_20160125_171437

 

 

New Year

Cheers to definite optimism, aye?

Right from indefinite optimism, once, we were all at a point where we visualized the future to being better but not knowing how exactly hence making lousy or no plans; sadly where most of us youth are trapped in. Here is to another definitely optimistic year where the future gets better than the present if we plan and work to make it better. Sad truth is that we are slaves to education traffics in a kind of homogenized, generic knowledge. Every university believes in hundred page course catalogs arranged alphabetically according to arbitrary departments designed to reassure that “it doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you do it well.”; false convention. It does matter what you do. Focus relentlessly on what you’re good at doing, but before you must think hard whether it will be valuable in future.

Every year or rather Fall, the deans at top law schools, universities and business schools welcome the incoming class with the same implicit message: “You got into this elite institution. Your worries are over. You’re set for life.” But that’s probably the kind of thing that’s true only if you don’t believe it.

Business mind.

Best advice if you’re just starting or growing a business:

Focus at your customer more than your product. Get fixed on your customer experience, and your product will keep changing to serve them best. But fix your product, and customers will find a path that fits them, with or without you.

If you’re waiting on the street corner, wondering where all your customers are, this post is for you.

We’ve moved from the industrial age where it was all about the product and productization to the technological age where it’s all about the customer and customization.

Instead of focusing at product development and production lines (which we learned about and were a part of at school), focus at customer experiences and customization lines.

Your business doesn’t start when you have a product. It starts when you have a customer. So who is your perfect customer? Start from there and ask yourself (and them):

Problem – What’s the problem they need solved?

Promise – What’s the benefit you deliver to them by solving it?

Product – How will you solve it better than others?

Proof – Why should they trust you?

Keep upgrading your answers (and your products) regularly. Because what your customers need, their expectations and how they are being served will keep changing fast. And once you get into flow, you’ll begin to know what they need before them, and they’ll begin pre-buying your next product.

“Get closer than ever to your customer. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.” ~ Steve Jobs

The easiest way to future proof your business is to have customers that love you. The easiest way to fail is to love your idea or product more than you love your customers. So find your soul-market and fall in love all over again.

Stay positive

Free yourself from negative people, spend time with nice people who are smart, driven and likeminded. Relationships should help you, respect yourself enough to walk away from what no longer serves you. Move on and get out there for people who are optimistic, people who see a future in you. People who believe in you even when you don’t believe in yourself. Associate with people who will motivated you when you are discouraged, people who will lift you up when you fall and people who will move with you when you are strong. Surround yourself with people who reflect the person you want to be. Choose friends you are proud to know, people you admire, who love and respect you-people who make your day a little brighter simply by being in it.

 

Life is too short, you only live once-YOLO, to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you. When you free yourself from negative people, you free yourself to be YOU- and being YOU is truly the only way to live. Get out there and see those friends, are they taking you in the right direction? Don’t anymore with negative people. Make life interesting. Have fun and be smart.

This one got my eyes.

by Julia Layton

October 9, 2015

Among those who make the claim “I don’t see race,” only one group actually doesn’t. Blind people literally do not see the physical differences that sighted people rely on to identify race.

And yet they perceive race, Dr. Asia Friedman reported at a meeting of the American Sociological Association in August. They just perceive it differently.

Friedman, a sociology professor at the University of Delaware, interviewed 25 blind subjects about the ways they experience race. Among the subjects, age of vision loss varied from birth to adulthood. Some had lost sight progressively, others all at once. Eleven subjects identified as “white,” 12 as “black,” one as “Asian” and one as “multiracial.”

What Friedman uncovered may help explain why, despite what many scientists call the “biological meaninglessness” of racial categories, those categories “continue to be used as if they were self-evident and real,” Friedman writes in an email interview.

It may, her study suggests, have something to do with vision.

 

Sighted people often assign racial categories using “automatic cognition,” according to a pre-publication draft of Friedman’s paper. Race determination happens instantly, without conscious thought. A sighted person can assign race to any person in sight without even being aware of it.

 

Friedman’s blind subjects described a slower, more deliberate process of relying on nonvisual cues to piece together a racial assignment. Most talked about the sound of someone’s voice or a person’s name. A few mentioned touch or smell.

Regardless of the senses used, the relative slowness of the process means “the assignment of race typically only occurs in contexts of direct interaction, not in situations of simple co-presence without interaction,” explains Friedman. Her subjects commonly didn’t know the races of the people around them. Sometimes, even with interaction they didn’t know. And often, even when they did make a determination through interaction, they weren’t totally sure.

 

Friedman believes that the combination of slower-emerging race cues and consistent uncertainty prevents automatic thinking in a blind person’s assignment of race.

 

Automatic thinking is more cognitively efficient, Friedman says, but “it does not acknowledge the complexities of race.”

Her subjects were not without racial bias. One blind-from-birth subject noted how “the person who’s ‘black’ and went to Harvard might sound ‘white,’ and the person with a 10th grade education who’s ‘white’ might sound ‘black.'”

Their first impressions, however, could be without racial bias, which may serve to weaken the importance of racial assignment.

“I think because I can’t see what that person is, until I know what they have done and how they have treated me and how they behave, then I have the ability to base my thoughts and actions and perceptions of them on something other than skin color,” one subject related.

Friedman’s findings point to a possible connection between automatic cognition and the persistence of racial categorization. They also point to a possible way to break the habit.

“Anything that shifts our thinking from automatic to deliberate modes of processing,” Friedman states, “may help increase mindfulness of the ambiguities and complexities of race.”

Everyone “sees race.” But, Friedman’s study suggests, if we shut our eyes for a while we might see it differently.

What to do…

I just finished my last 8 a.m. class, my final projects; life is good. What does this mean? All I have left is finals and I can’t spend every day studying from sun up to sun down. With the end of classes, there isn’t much to do other than to see friends, study, or watch Netflix. Yes, Netflix has become a favorite pastime of mine due to periods of 2 to 3 hours of free time in the middle of the day.

Is it possible to watch hundreds of episodes in only a few weeks? Yes. The real question, however, is “Should I watch hundreds of episodes in only a few weeks?” When I take a break from homework, I always say I will just watch one or two episodes of How I Met Your Mother. One or two eventually turns to three or four, you get the point. I do always finish my homework though, maybe just not as early as I anticipated.

The truth is, it’s impossible to work nonstop without a break for more than two hours. After about two hours, I become restless, frustrated, and a dull headache begins to set in. Every part of me wants to stop working, yet, I fight that feeling knowing that I want to finish early. Don’t do this. Take an hour break, relax, and start over refreshed. What then, are my suggestions for shows you should watch?

Best television series to (binge) watch:

  • How I Met Your Mother (Episodes: 208)
  • Lost (Episodes: 121)
  • Breaking Bad (Episodes: 62)
  • The Walking Dead (Episodes: 75)
  • Arrow (Episodes: 77)
  • The Flash (Episodes: 31)
  • Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD (Episodes: 53)
  • Weeds (Episodes: 102)
  • Narcos (Episodes: 10)
  • Daredevil (Episodes: 13)
  • Gotham (Episodes: 33)
  • NCIS (Episodes: 292)

 

That’s just a short list, but it should keep you busy for a while