ABET and Stanford have a list of things I should be able to do when I graduate with a mechanical engineering degree. But how do I actually demonstrate that I have learned these things, when not everything comes from a class? This page allows me to explain and showcase the skills I have developed throughout my development as an engineer.
An ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering.
E14: Statics: This was the first real engineering class I took here at Stanford. It is an excellent example of learning how to take math and physics and apply it to engineering. For example, we learned about bridges and how to analyze the forces on them, and then we had to build a balsa wood bridge to meet specific specifications, which we then tested until they failed.
Basically every other engineering class has also taught me how to apply math, science, and engineering in some way.
An ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data.
Summer Research 2011 and 2012: My reserach work has taught me the most about desinging and conducting experiments and analyzing data, as I have been involved in the development, deployment, and data analysis of two different surveys, PEARS and PEACHES. In my work during Summer 2012, I learned how to use SPSS and apply statistics to survey data, which has been invaluable in my being able to better understant statistics and how they are used.
An ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs.
- ME101: This design class presented us with challenges that we had to design and build a solution to accomplish the task. One challenge involved building a tower, and we also had to build the tools we needed and optimize the process to be able to construct it quickly. The main project involved a mechanically-powered robot, basically - it had to move, turn, stop, and throw a ball, all without any eletronic components.
- ME203: This machine shop design class emphasized the process from inital concept to completely fabricated and assembled product. I made a toolbox that solves a tipping-over problem my other toolbox has, as well as tailor it specifically to my needs.
An ability to function on multidisciplinary teams.
- FIRST Robotics: Our team was broken into subteams, and it was only with all the subteams working together that our team was successful. The build team worked tightly with the electronics and programming team, but the website and public relations subteams were just as important, since we needed sponsors to be able to build a robot at all. There were times when it felt like we were speaking different languages, but I learned about teamwork and the importance of clear communication.
- NASA Ames Robotics Academy: This was a very similar experience, with different subteams working on different parts of a lunar micro rover. However, it was especially interesting for me, being part of the software subteam as a mechanical engineer, and learning how to function on a team with electrical and computer engineers and computer scientists. I learned that the way to accomplish anything is to start with the common ground everyone shares, and explain things from there.
- Designing Education Lab research team: Our research team comprises mostly people with mechanical egnineering backgrounds, but also business, education, and communications. It has also taught me that "multidisciplinary" can just as easily mean "different life stages" because as a student, I hold a unique perspective that they value.
- EE23N: Imaging: From the Atom to the Universe: This freshman introductory seminar had people from all different departments, including humanities. We often split into groups to do experiments, and I had to learn to work with people who were all at different levels of understanding what we were supposed to be doing and why.
- Wushu: My wushu team has perhaps taught me the biggest lesson in how to best function in multidisciplinary teams: to have an open mind and remember that I really can learn from everyone. Here, it does not matter that I am a college engineering student; I have only been doing wushu for a few years, and I have much to learn from anyone who has been doing it longer. This was best exemplified when my coaches' 7-year-old son, who has been doing wushu since he could walk, taught me how to do a section of my broadsword form.
An ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems.
- Any problem-set based class: The goal of all these classes, from statics to fluid mechanics to sensors, is to teach me how to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems. Often, they identify the problem for me, but it is up to me to solve it.
- ME220: Introduction to Sensors: The final project for this class was to come up with a problem that we could use a sensor to solve. Here, we had to identify a problem, formulate the specifications, and solve it. I decided to tackle the problem of wushu staffs and spears breaking due to excessive force by putting a strain guage with an LED to warn the user that it was in danger of breaking if it experienced force above a certain threshold.
An understanding of professional and ethical responsibility.
STS110: Ethics and Public Policy: This class taught me how to analyze ethical arguements on both sides of every issue. It was not engineering-specific, which I believe was a good thing, because there are ethical debates going on in every area, and it broadened my understanding of some of them, like heath care and stem cell research. I had the opportunity to look at illegal immigrants and driver's licenses, an issue I never otherwise would have thought about, because I do not feel like it affects my life. However, I realized that it does, because every time I'm on the road, there could be an illegal immigrant driving next to me.
An ability to communicate effectively.
- Conference Papers
- Program in Writing and Rhetoric: This sequence of two classes is all about writing research papers effectively.
- STS110 Ethics and Public Policy: This class was about ethics, but also teaching how to write consice critical analysis essays. Critical Analysis 2 Who owns research results.pdf
- E102M: Technical Writing for Mechanical Engineers: This class taught me the importance of clear communication, especially with non-engineers. It taught me specific techniques for getting my message across both in written and poster form.
- Program in Writing and Rhetoric 2: The culmination of this class is a 10-minute presentation on the research paper we wrote. My topic was what makes modern art valuable, and my presentation was one of the best I've given. (My professor told me at the end that mine was one of the best in the class!)
- ASEE Conference Presentation about Delta Design paper: I had the opportunity to give a 15-minute presentation at the ASEE Annual Conference in San Antonio, TX about the work I did on the Delta Design game as part of my research work.
- Presentations to my research group: Every so often, I give presentations to my reserach group about the work I have been doing and where I am going next, both to keep them informed and get feedback and any questions answered. It keeps me in practice making clear PowerPoints and delivering my work.
- FIRST Robotics: I have make many presentations over the years to people about starting FIRST Lego League middle school robotics teams. This includes parents, teachers, and even a diocesan meeting of school principals of all 30 or so Catholic elementary schools in the Sacramento area. As part of my own team, I made many presentations to sponsors and did many demonstrations at events, including the California State Fair. I was also the team media spokesperson, constantly being interiewed by reports for TV, newspaper, and radio. I also served as an ambassador for FIRST at one competition, giving tours to the VIPs in attendance.
The broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global and societal context.
- PWR1: Rhetoric in the Global Context: This writing class changed my perspective on everything being global; things that happen in one place impact the rest of the world too, whether we are paying attention to it or not. It definitely made me think about how USA-centric we tend to be, and taught me to consider the global aspect of things.
- Chemical Engineering 35N: Renewable Energy for a Sustainable World: This freshman introductory seminar taught me about different renewable energy technologies and how they are being reserached and implemented around the world. I reserached tidal energy and how companies in different parts of the world are attempting to capture this energy, all while not harming the environment- renewable energy is a great thing, but should not come at the cost of destroying ocean ecosystems.
- Global Climate and Energy Project conference: As part of ChemE35N, we had a chance to attend the GCEP annual conference. I have continued to go back every year to learn more about the innovations and ongoing work in renewable energy.
A recognition of the need for and an ability to engage in life-long learning.
I have always recognized the need for life-long learning. My parents were a strong influence. My mom, a mechanical engineer, went back to school to earn a master's in psychology when I was a kid just because she was interested in it. My dad generally only let us watch educational TV shows growing up, mostly because that was what he wanted to watch, and he would emphasize that he was constantly learning new things. I love to learn, and I know that I will never stop, because there are so many things I am interested in. I am also very aware of how rapidly technology changes, and thus we need to keep learning in order to have current information. My favorite example is a college astronomy textbook that my dad used when he was an undergrad in the early 80s. I found it when I was about 12, and I was astounded at the innacurate information in the book, and my dad had to explain how science has changed our view of the universe since he took that class. I did not fully understand this until I took advanced astrophysics classes and tried to explain what happened in the first second of the universe to my dad. Our picture of the universe now is completely different than the one my dad learned about, and that someone who never bothered to keep up learning about what was going on in the field would be completely wrong now.
A knowledge of contemporary issues.
- Global Human Geography-Asia and Africa: This class explained some of the contemporary issues in Asia and Africa through a recent historical lens, providing insight into the roots of the issues and why some solutions have failed or not been implemented. These are the parts of the world we traditionally do not learn enough about, so it was eye-opening and interesting to understand some of the current events going on there.
- IHUM: The Making of the Modern World: This two-quarter sequence was about the history of Latin America and how it got to the point it is now.
- Travelling: When I was in 8th grade, I went to Ecuacor. My dad and his whole side of the family are from Ecuador, and I still have a lot of relatives who live there. However, this was an eye-opening experience for me, learning about all the issues the country has and how privileged my life is.
- My Friends: One of the most amazing parts of my Stanford experience has been making friends from all over the world who care about all kinds of different issues. I have learned so much from them, and in a way very different from any class. I have learned about the Yugoslav/Balkan Wars from two friends whose families were on opposite sides of the war, one whose family moved to the US as refugees from the war. I have learned about Israel and the conflicts there from my Jewish friends, and their perspective is very different from the one I got from my high school world religions teacher. I have learned about Zimbabwe and some of the policital struggles there from a friend whose goal in life is to become an engineer to go back and help his country. Another friend from Colombia has helped me understand the conflicts between Ecuador and Colombia, something I remember from my trip to Ecuador when we were driving and had to turn around out of fear of getting too close to the Colombian border. Still other friends are interested in issues like health care and education, and I have learned an immense amount about these issues from them. I would certainly not be the same person if I had not become friends with such a diverse group of people.
An ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice.
- SolidWorks - I learned how to use it from my high school FIRST Robotics team and robotics camps, as well as ME103D, a class I took in conjunction with the machine shop class.
- Matlab - I learned different uses for Matlab in fluid mechanics classes (ME70 and ME131B) and math classes (Math51M and CME106).
- SPSS - I learned how to use the statistical analysis software through my undergraduate summer research work.
- Machining Techniques - I learned how to use basic tools like a drill press and bandsaw, as well as TIG welding, while building robots on my high school FIRST robotics team. ME203, the machine shop class, taught me how to use tools like mills, lathes, and laser cutters, as well as oxyacetylene welding and sandcasting. It also taught me to think about manufacturability while designing.
The ability to apply advanced mathematics through multivariate calculus and differential equations.
- Math 52 and 53 are where I learned multivariable calculus and differential equations.
- ME131A and 131B: Heat Transfer and advanced Fluid Mechanics taught me some engineering applications for multivariable calculus and especially differential equations.
- Physics 160 and 161: Stellar Astrophysics and Extragalactic Astrophysics and Cosmology taught me astrophysics aplications for these advanced math techniques, which are considerably different than engineering applications.
The ability to work professionally in both thermal and mechanical systems areas including the design and realization of such systems.
- FIRST Robotics: I was on the design and build subteam for all four years of high school, working with professional engineers as mentors, where I learned how to take a challenge, brainstorm solutions, design an optimal one, fabricate the parts, and assemble mechanical systems into a functioning robot. I learned about drive trains, pneumatics, gears and motors, arms and elevating systems, and manipulating objects.
- NASA Ames Robotics Academy Internship: While working on a lunar micro rover, I investigated power systems (battery and solar power technologies) and learned about thermal considerations when dealing with radiation and internal heat transfer.