10-Time NIFA National Champs!

The TeamRecently, the NIFA (National Intercollegiate Flying Association) National SAFECON Competition took place May 6th-14th. Twenty-five collegiate flight teams from all over the nation gathered at Ohio State University in Columbus to compete against one another in several ground and flying events. The events included Precision Power-on and Power-off landings, Navigation, Computer Accuracy (E6B), Simulated Comprehensive Aircraft Navigation (SCAN), and Ground Trainer (Sim). As a member of the Golden Eagles Flight Team, I had the honor of representing Embry-Riddle Prescott and competing at this year’s nationals; and helping us bring home our tenth win since 1993!

Photo credit: NIFA

The week started out with the general contestant briefing on Monday at OSU’s Fawcett Center. Here, all competitors and coaches were briefed on safety procedures, rules, event locations, and everything else that related to the competition. “Roll Call” also happens at the briefing, where each school is called upon and some schools (including us) perform short skits or even dances just for the fun of it!

CA, SCAN, ACID eventsAs soon as the briefing was over, the competition officially began with the three core ground events: Computer Accuracy (CA), Simulated Comprehensive Aircraft Navigation (SCAN), and Aircraft Identification (ACID). Each event consists of a 60-minute test relating to various aviation-based knowledge areas. Each team typically has five competitors for each event, and one alternate. First up was CA, which is a math-based event done with an E6B or CR flight computer. Next was ACID, in which contestants are given three seconds to identify an aircraft’s manufacturer, identification number, and common name. Last but not least was SCAN, which requires contestants to plan a flight of three or more legs and answer various regulations, weight and balance, and performance questions pertaining to that flight. I was the alternate competitor for SCAN.

Our SCAN contestants (Left to right): Maddy Mearsch, Chin-An “Johnason” Lin, Rachel Hutzell, Bella Batbileg, Ian McLellan, and RJ Williams

Our SCAN contestants (Left to right): Maddy Mearsch, Chin-An “Johnason” Lin, Rachel Hutzell, Bella Batbileg, Ian McLellan, and RJ Williams

Our ACID crew: Matt Hallock, Stephen Anderson, Ian McLellan, Victor Griffin, Nick Moore, and Connor McNicholas

Our ACID crew: Matt Hallock, Stephen Anderson, Ian McLellan, Victor Griffin, Nick Moore, and Connor McNicholas

Our CA competitors: Kevin Fickenscher, Sam Morris, Jake Cobian, Bella Batbileg, and Colin Kennedy

Our CA competitors: Kevin Fickenscher, Sam Morris, Jake Cobian, Bella Batbileg, and Colin Kennedy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day two consisted of power-off landings, or OFFS as we like to call them. Despite some bad weather that temporarily put us on hold, we were able to complete all five rounds of OFFS. The main objective with OFFS is to touch the main gear down as close as possible to a white chalk line that’s drawn across the runway, called the “zero line”. The closer you are to the zero line, the better your score will be. There are several penalties that a competitor can get such as adding power or improper crosswind inputs. We had five total competitors represent us for OFFS, in which four placed in the top 20 out of over 100 other competitors!

RJ Williams in the “hot box”, ready to fly his OFFS

RJ Williams in the “hot box”, ready to fly his OFFS

Victor Griffin waiting out some bad weather. He got to fly shortly after!

Victor Griffin waiting out some bad weather. He got to fly shortly after!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the third day, some low ceilings put the competition on hold for most of the morning. However, the ceilings eventually lifted and allowed us to carry on with power-on landings! ONS are very similar to OFFS, with the only difference being that the competitor is now allowed to adjust power on each approach (this isn’t allowed in OFFS). The judges sure had their work cut out for them, but luckily we were able to finish almost all five rounds of ONS. In addition to ONS, I had the pleasure of competing in the ground trainer event with my fellow teammate Nick Moore. We each flew an eight minute instrument pattern on a FRASCA simulator, and we both ended up placing in the top five!

Ian McLellan, ready to hit that zero!

Ian McLellan, ready to hit that zero!

A judge watches the zero line closely Photo Credit: NIFA; Jason Kadah

A judge watches the zero line closely Photo Credit: NIFA; Jason Kadah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pilot Ian McLellan and drop master Kevin Fickenscher about to compete in message drop!

Pilot Ian McLellan and drop master Kevin Fickenscher about to compete in message drop!

On the fourth day of nationals, we competed in message drop. Possibly NIFA’s most fun event, message drop involves teams of two: a pilot and a drop master. The pilot flies the plane 200 feet above the runway, while the drop master drops a container out of the window so that it lands as close as possible to a barrel on the ground.

On the fifth and final day of competition, we competed in Navigation (Nav). Nav was originally supposed to happen earlier in the week, but some bad weather forced the judges to delay it until Friday. For Nav, teams of two (a pilot and a planner) fly an assigned route, using exact coordinates to fly to and pictures on the ground that the teams must find. Grading is strict, with time and fuel graded down to the second and tenth of a gallon!

 

Pilot Johnason Lin watches planner Rachel Hutzell refuel after flying their route. Photo credit: NIFA

Pilot Johnason Lin watches planner Rachel Hutzell refuel after flying their route. Photo credit: NIFA

All nav routes flown during competition, shown on Google Earth! Photo credit: NIFA

All nav routes flown during competition, shown on Google Earth! Photo credit: NIFA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had a long, eventful week of competition, and we were all very happy with our performance. After all events were complete, all that remained was the awards banquet!

NIFA team

Photo credit: Jason Kadah

Photo credit: Jason Kadah

We won!Saturday was the big day. We couldn’t wait to find out how we did, and if all the hard work we put in this past year payed off. The awards banquet was held at St. Charles Preparatory School in Columbus, in a huge ballroom. After dinner, it was time to announce the results. After much suspense, it was finally time to find out which school would go home national champions. The head judge announced this year’s champions: The Golden Eagles Flight Team!! We all stood in disbelief for a few seconds, waiting for the announcement to sink in. All those late night practices, and all those early morning, all-day Saturday practices had paid off. Almost all our team competitors placed in the top twenty or the top ten in each event, and we were also privileged to win the judges trophy! In addition, we took home first place in overall ground events and third place in overall flight events. As we all hugged each other and as congratulations were said, we felt absolutely overjoyed to take home GEFT’s tenth national championship. Not only did we return national champions, we returned as the most “winningest” collegiate flight team in history. Here’s to this year’s NIFA National SAFECON, and here’s to bringing home number eleven next year!

For more about NIFA, check out: www.nifa.aero

For a full list of results, check out: https://nifa.aero/wp-content/uploads/SAFECON-2016-Results.html

And be sure to “like” our Facebook page!

NIFA

Confessions of a Sophomore & Getting Married

This is the tale of my Sophomore year; surviving the gauntlet, working off-campus, and… getting married! In this vlog, I (Colton Campbell) take you through the lessons I learned my sophomore year and share some of the footage I captured during Fall of 2015 and Spring of 2016. Enjoy, and as always feel free to leave comments and suggestions!

 

And here is a few pics of my beautiful bride, Madeline (: We don’t have the photographer’s photos yet but Maddie’s sister snapped these during the wedding.

Photo May 21, 11 59 10 PM Photo May 22, 12 09 30 AM

Stay tuned this summer for more video blogs! If you’d also like to see more photo blogs, let me know in the comments below!

I’m in Ireland Right Now on Study Abroad!

I love this University, the people in it, and the things I get to do which right now includes the travel portion of my semester-long Ireland course through the College of Security and Intelligence. Follow my Facebook posts below to see what we’ve been doing…and just remember, as a student at ERAU you can do this too!

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Great Opportunity – the NASA Intern Program

Hey everybody I just got back from an awesome NASA Symposium in Tucson where my research partner and I presented on the topic we have been investigated this past year. The conference was a lot of fun and it was cool to see tons of other projects that interns from all over the state have been working on.

My Research Partner and I at the Symposium

My Research Partner and I at the Symposium

Our research looked into annular wings and devices which can be used to control the aerodynamic forces acting on them. The experience working with NASA’s intern program was super cool and I highly recommend that any ERAU student interested in doing research to get involved with the program. Here’s where you can find out more.

After the symposium ended we got to check out one of the largest mineral collections in the world which was housed on ASU’s campus. The exhibit is incredible and it was so interesting to see so many rare specimens.

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We then headed off to the Pima Air Museum and checked out the hundreds of aircraft stored there. It was breath taking to see so many aircraft all in one place, all perfectly restored to their original condition.

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If you ever have a chance to stop in Tuscon there are tons of awesome things to see and do. The best time to check them out is at a research symposium so get involved here during your time at Embry-Riddle. If you have any questions about our research on annular wings or on the fun stuff we were able to see and do please feel free to ask!

Get Involved in the Community

by student and guest blogger Tessa Frederick, senior in GSIS, Chinese Track and Honors Student Association

Being an Embry-Riddle student means more than just being a regular attendee in your classes each day. As a student at the Prescott campus, you play a vital role in the on-campus and greater off-campus communities that you are a part of.

Getting involved on campus has provided me an unparalleled opportunity to participate in the Embry-Riddle and Prescott communities, particularly as a member of the Honors Student Association on campus. From blanket making, to thrift store sorting, to outdoor trail maintenance, it certainly feels like we’ve done it all! We regularly work with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and The Spot (a local science museum for children) to help them meet their organizational needs.

Forensics Night at the Spot Museum

Forensics Night at the Spot Museum

The best parts of serving in the Prescott community include having the opportunity to make new connections, and being able to positively represent Embry-Riddle. The understanding of the community that actively participating in service provides is incredibly valuable, and truly contributes to the university experience.

Although we love to help out in the Prescott community, participating in service on campus is just as valuable and rewarding. Embry-Riddle’s Prescott campus may be small, but we definitely have a strong sense of community! Lately, the Honors Student Association has been pushing to participate in more campus events. Embry-Riddle students put on amazing events every week, and the opportunities to serve the on campus community through these events are endless. We’ve helped organizations across the board, ranging from the Society of Women Engineers to the TEDx task force. When you visit events such as Preview Day, chances are that you’ve interacted with students serving their Embry-Riddle community.

Project Linus Service Meeting

Project Linus s

Once you’re at Embry-Riddle, your sense of community and service permanently changes. There are so many ways to give back to your communities, and all it takes is a service mindset and the willingness to get involved. If you’re interested in some of the events I’ve mentioned, check out Embry-Riddle’s Control Tower website to get a feel for what service events are going on now. If you don’t see anything you want to participate in, don’t hesitate to reach out and take charge of service in your own way. Whatever your choice is, remember that being a part of the Embry-Riddle community is an incredible experience. Take the chance to give back!

Girls in Tech Catalyst Conference – First Impressions and Lessons

by student and guest blogger Sophia Schwalbe, Space Physics

It’s day two of the Girls in Tech conference in Phoenix, AZ, an all – or mostly all – female conference for women in the technology field. It is heavily populated by women from Silicon Valley and low-down start-ups trying to make it big. It’s awesome to see so many women in the workforce that are trying to start a business or become a part of a business that is mostly dominated by men. But as I say that, it is interesting to note how the emphasis at the beginning of the conference was on standing up for oneself and on gender bias. I say interesting because I know I have encountered it, but I have never been outright hindered by it like many of our speakers have. GIT SophiaThat being said, that is not the only topic; there are a lot of talks that are trying to give inspiration to women. One that particularly spoke to me was by one of the top lawyers in the U.S. who is actually the President of one of the largest law firms in San Francisco. She began by talking about being the good girl, always striving to reach those “As” until she made partner, and then she hit a wall, because she had gotten that last “A” as a lawyer and now she did not know what to do. So she had to ask herself what she wanted in life. And that really spoke to me: anyone that knows me knows I am a good girl, doing what I am supposed to, not pushing boundaries or standing up for my own wants and desires. It was a relief to know that I am not alone, and that it is possible – nigh, encouraged – for me to ask for what I want in life and not have to settle or strive for what is expected of me. This also ties in to a talk given this morning by a VP at Intel: finding the sweet spot.  The sweet spot is where your skills, interests, and organization’s needs all overlap. The speaker said that everyone should find their sweet spot, or where they are to find that sweet spot. Thus, we need to analyze where our skill set is and how our interests correspond, and then find where in the world they fit. I always instinctively knew this, knew both of these things, but I had never heard them articulated. And suddenly it clicked — what I wanted was to find that sweet spot and enjoy my work, wherever I am and whatever I am doing.

We Brought Home Hardware from the Phi Beta Lambda Business Competition

PBL 2Phi Beta Lambda (PBL), the business club of Embry-Riddle had outstanding participation in the 2016 PBL Arizona Leadership Competition. This is my first year competing and it was a great experience! PBL Arizona is a business competition that has many different areas to compete in. I competed in three areas which were: accounting principles (individual), forensic accounting (team), and accounting and decision making (team), but there were so many more areas. I could see that by far, Embry-Riddle had many more students than the other colleges, which was so cool.

Embry-Riddle and faculty provided transportation and hotels for every one attending. Our first day of competition was Friday 8th and afterwards we went to Buffalo Wild Wings to hang out for the evening. Everyone was dressed so cool. The first day was business casual. The second day the dress code was totally business formal — suit, tie, formal shoes and dresses were the minimum for the second day.

At the end of the second day all the participants gathered in a salon where we had a great buffet and afterwards we received the trophies and medals. When the event was totally over, we stayed a little bit longer just to chat socialize with the other teams.

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Before this tournament I knew a few people in my major, but now I feel that I have build so many more friendships. This was a great experience and I am certainly doing it again next year!

 

 

AVNET Tech Games

by student and guest blogger Mariah Sampson

AVNET 5This semester I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to participate in the AVNET tech games hosted at the University of Advancing Technology (UAT) in Tempe, AZ. Early this semester, Dr. Gentilini asked the students in the Robotics Lab if we were interested in competing in the Tech Games. Six students, two teams, volunteered. I volunteered because it sounded like a great opportunity and a hands-on way to implement multiple concepts learned in the Robotics Lab at once. The event required each team to build and program a robot to complete two challenges using the Lego Mindstorm kit along with the EV3 software.

AVNET 2The first challenge was to successfully follow a line that became progressively more difficult to follow. The second challenge was to solve a virtual maze by following colored blocks and completing the three optional challenge tasks within the maze. Unfortunately, neither team was successful in placing. However, we did learn some valuable lessons. It is important to have a contingency plan and have multiple programs to run in case one does not work. Another lesson learned was the environment may change drastically, so it is important to try and create as controlled of an environment as possible when utilizing sensors in case factors, such as a change in lighting, may affect the function of different sensors. AVNET 6

I enjoyed participating in the competition and working with some of the people that I may be partnered with in my Preliminary Design group next semester. It was also a great opportunity to spend time with Dr. Gentilini and Jim Weber, the faculty members that are crucial in enabling us to be able to participate in events such as the AVNET Tech Games in addition to completing the standard course work.

AVNET 1Dr. Gentilini and I were even featured in a promo video. Check it out here!

 

Q&A Study Abroad in Germany

by guest blogger and student John Marbut

Going to Europe for an extended stay can be a bit intimidating at first, there are a lot of things to take care of. Hopefully this will answer some of your questions and get everything set up.

Kloster Andechs

Kloster Andechs

Study Abroad Scholarships:
Well there are several options for scholarships to Germany, these include CBYX, UAS7 (they offer a one semester and two semester trip), and fulbright.de. There are also program specific offers from various universities. I went to Germany on the UAS7 SIP program for two semesters, one semester studying in Munich and one semester working on a project in Bremen.

How much does it cost?
For a year a safe bet would be around $13-14k and would give you cash for traveling around Europe. There is no tuition at German universities, but there is a small semester fee that covers the local transport ticket. If you are staying in Munich and aren’t able to get into the Studentenwerk you will have to plan to spend more on rent.

Munich Olympic Park

Munich Olympic Park

What about housing?
If possible try to get in with the school’s studentenwerk, they usually offer a dorm style setup with a private bedroom. There are also cheap bars built into the student housing, these tend to be great places to hang out or party with your friends. The rent is very reasonable and you won’t have to worry about supplying a lot of things. If you aren’t able to get a room with the studentenwerk I would recommend checking http://www.wg-gesucht.de/en/ it is the most popular rental listing site in Germany. Please do be aware that there are scam artists that use the site and you should never agree to mail a deposit and wait for a key. Also the housing market moves very quickly in Germany, listings generally last less than a week if it is a good deal.

Do I need any special paperwork?
I would strongly recommend carrying your acceptance paperwork on you when you arrive in the country, this will make getting through customs easier. Also after arriving at your residence you are required by law to go to the Burgerburo or Burgerservicecenter to register your address within two weeks of moving. Additionally within 90 days of arriving in Germany you will need to get a residence permit, the somewhat tricky part is proving that you have funding. The German legal system expects you to be able to show that you have about €750 for every month you plan on living in Germany to cover the cost of living. You will also need your university paperwork that has your immatrikulationnummer on it and proof of health insurance. The permit costs around €60.

Marienplatz in MUnich

Marienplatz in MUnich

Health insurance?
Everyone in the EU is required to have health insurance, Germany has state run health insurance companies that offer full coverage for about €80 per month. If you have health insurance in the US you may be able to waive the requirement by providing documentation on your coverage. The health insurance is required for your enrollment in the university and they usually have some one from the insurance companies at the enrollment.

What are the classes like?
German courses are structured very differently than US courses, in Germany the lectures can be optional. Most classes give you a “script” which is a compilation of notes for the class, this can include worked problems. A textbook will probably cost you €10-50, but there will probably be a copyright notice stating that it can’t be imported to the US. Additionally there are no homework assignments or midterms, the entire course grade rests on the final exam. Don’t forget to register for your final, otherwise you won’t be given a grade. There is usually another form that you need to fill out to send your report card to Embry-Riddle.

Munich Olympic Park

Munich Olympic Park

How easy is it to get around?

It’s incredibly easy, Germany and most of Europe have a very well developed system of public transportation. In Munich there are buses, trams, and subways that will take you to just about any part of the city. There is also uber if you are out and the buses/trams/trains stop running. I would suggest that you bring leather shoes though as you will probably be doing a lot of walking and its cheaper to resole a leather shoe than to buy a new pair of shoes every 5-6 months. I would also recommend that you carry a messenger bag with a bottle of water, shopping tote, and an umbrella. It makes wandering around much more simple and most fast food/smaller restaurants are ok with you bringing your own drink, especially since they won’t serve you tap water.
Any hints?
The big one is to check with your bank on their international fees. The last thing you want is to be stuck Germany paying $5 + 5% of the withdrawal + 1% Visa fee every time you take out cash. Germany, and much of Europe, is cash based so expect to take out cash regularly.

Stick to prepaid sim cards, the standard contract is 2 years and in order to break it you have to submit a handful of paperwork and a letter explaining why you are breaking the contract. Prepaid plans are about €10 a month and can be adjusted to include data for foreign countries relatively easily, which is great for traveling.

Buy a universal powerstrip! They use a different type of outlet here and that is the best way to keep from having to buy a bunch of converters.

Marienplatz in Munich

Marienplatz in Munich

Check your electronics, here they use 220 volts at 50 hz instead of the 110 volts at 60 hz that is used in the US. If your charger or device has 110-220 50-60 on the power supply then you should be in good shape.

Consider bringing a wireless router. Not all rentals offer wifi, and it beats using a cable.

Before you leave install the textfree app, it gives you a US number and lets you place calls and text from a US number. Since it uses wifi its a good cheap option to stay in contact.

Learn your German numbers, it makes checking out a lot easier.

When you go shopping, don’t forget your bags. You have to bag your own things, and you will have to buy bags if you forget yours.

If you like to travel get a Bahn card, you can get 25-100% off of train fares through the Deutsche Bahn. They also have regional specials that let you travel for reduced prices.

Keep your options open when you travel, there are a lot of options flixbus, megabus, Deutsche Bahn, Ryanair, and eurorails are all good ways to get around.

-John Marbut

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Neueschwanstein

Neueschwanstein

Neueschwanstein

Neueschwanstein

Neueschwanstein

New Excitement and New People- Preview Day

Our campus of two thousand students was filled with over one thousand prospective students plus their parents! It was an exciting time. Being a student that has been here all year I have to say that Preview Day is now one of my favorite events. There is an exciting buzz around campus that shows the hope and the energy of new blood ready to come and start the next chapter of their life, it makes me smile.Admissions Staff

The day started early with welcoming students and ended with the activity fair. Some prospective students registered for classes, others toured campus, while some took some time to seriously evaluate if this school would be their home for the next four years. Clubs had booths at the activity fair to show how to get involved, the dining hall provided a great meal to give a taste of next year, and there were current students all over campus to answer questions.

Ernie at Activity Fair

Personally being able to walk campus, host a booth, and help in the dining hall was a rewarding experience. I loved answering parents and prospective student’s questions about classes, campus, and what it is really like to be a freshman at the school.

Light It Up Blue

To prospective students, choose your University wisely. Whether ERAU or another school, I hope that you take time to deliberate your decision on which to attend. The decision you make will affect the next four years of your life. If you have any questions about college ask someone, your older sibling, distant cousin, or a random blogger who goes to the school you want to attend. Good luck on your decision, it was great to meet so many of you at Preview day this past weekend, and I hope to see some of you as Eagles next year!