What is senior year for an engineer like? Well, it is a combination of things.
First, seniors are faced with their capstone design courses. This course is specific to the senior’s degree and challenges them to use all of the skills they have learned throughout their four years of college, and then some. Many times the topics covered in the senior design courses haven’t been covered in previous courses and require a great deal of research. The capstone design courses are designed to simulate a project that you would face in industry, giving a student a taste of each of the phases of a design from research through completing team-determined integration and test plans.
Second, seniors prepare for their graduation. For some students, graduating from their undergraduate degree program only means moving on to start the next phase of their education in graduate school. For other students, graduating means entering industry, putting everything that they have learned to the test, and, best of all, getting that paycheck that they’ve spent the last four years working towards. Whichever course students take, senior year means filling out lots of applications, collecting references, fine tuning resumes, and waiting. Waiting is the hardest part. Waiting to hear if you’ve gotten your dream job. Waiting to hear if you’ve been accepted to the graduate school of your choice.
Third, senior year means keeping very busy between classes, extracurriculars, and the occasional trip to attend a conference, career fair, or on-site interview. I bought a suit the summer before my senior year and I’ve had six occasions to wear to it so far this academic year.
As far as finishing senior year, there are mixed reactions. Embry-Riddle isn’t one of those schools where you will spend more time partying than studying. Students who attend Embry-Riddle are very focused on their futures and work very hard for their diplomas. That doesn’t mean you don’t have time to make friends, though – strong friendships are built throughout the four years. It’s not hard to make friends in an environment where everyone is very focused and shares common interests in aviation and aerospace.
Graduation is both exciting and a little sad. On the one hand, you are continuing to pursue your dreams, you look forward to having a paycheck and free time. On the other hand, your friends are moving all over the world to continue pursuing their dreams, and although you may never lose touch with them, your lives will diverge after graduation. For me, the most overwhelming emotion is excitement about moving on to the next stage and making a difference in the world through my work.