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!

 

Behind the Scenes of Preview Day as a Campus Ambassador

A loud obnoxious noise threw me unapologetically out of a completely sound sleep at 5:30 am PST on Saturday morning April 2, 2016. Now this isn’t normal. I don’t even wake up this early for class during the week. However, today is special. Today is one of the biggest days for the Admissions Office and for our entire campus. A mandatory workday is hard for every student employee but Preview Day is the most rewarding and most enjoyable event we have the pleasure of working once a year.

This year brought with it a staggering record number of over 370 students and their families. That’s an astonishing number that I am incredibly proud of. Seeing just how much our campus has expanded and grown and is continuing to grow in just the 4 years I have been here is the most rewarding feeling a student of this campus could feel. People are starting to discover our secret – a secret that we have hidden a mile high in the most exquisite state anyone could have the pleasure of being able to study in.

Campus Ambassadors

Campus Ambassadors

Preview Day always reminds me of the reason I ultimately decided to become a Campus Ambassador for the Prescott, AZ campus. As a student employee at Preview Day we provide customer service to our visitors. We transport them to designated locations on campus, provide requested information, represent the face of Embry-Riddle, and ensure that our visitors are given the ultimate initiation into the Eagle family.

Before the Welcome

Before the Welcome

Each one of our Student Ambassadors prides themselves on ensuring that every one of our visitors feel as if Embry-Riddle is their second home because, lets be honest, now that your child has been accepted into our University you have officially become family. Welcome! You have truly found your second home. The city of Prescott’s motto explains it perfectly, “Prescott Everybody’s Hometown.” Being the first impression of campus and helping a student figure out the first step in launching their careers is an invaluable feeling that I don’t take for a granted, even for a second.

PVD groupThis year I was given the role of administering flight line tours to families that were interested in touring the state of the art equipment that we have available for our flight students that propels them into their respected career. Showing students and their families around the flight line, accompanied by the best co-workers a student employee could possibly ask for, made Preview Day 2016 that much more of a phenomenal experience. We had the great pleasure of ensuring that every single one of the new additions to our Embry-Riddle family had a grand welcome.

 

As a senior, I am beyond pleased to see that the future of our Embry-Riddle community will not only continue to live out the goal of our campus, but will also surpass and rewrite the history of this campus helping to propel the Prescott, AZ campus into a bright future. I am so eager to come back to visit as an Alumni.

 

Ernie the Eagle!

PVD fun

Springtime at ERAU!

Spring is in full bloom here at Embry-Riddle Prescott! Even though we’re still seeing a little bit of rain, overcast skies, and even some sleet, springtime is definitely here. With Preview Day just passed and Parent’s Weekend right around the corner, vibrant colors and (mostly) sunny days couldn’t have come at a better time! Here’s an inside look at our campus in full motion during the start of spring.

 

 

Earhart’s Dining Hall

 

 

Hall 5 of the Mingus Complex, and our dining hall (a bit blocked behind the tree)

 

Waiting for the annual Easter egg hunt to begin! (Outside of the Student Union, in the quad)

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Walking out of the dining hall, with a slight view of the AXFAB, or Aerospace Experimentation and Fabrication Building (our central engineering building on campus)

spring 6 The Entrance to our AXFAB engineering building

 

 

 

 

 

 

spring 7

Some sidewalk art our sororities and fraternities created outside of the Student Union!

And lastly, the Hazy Library and student quad…

spring 8 Spring 9

 

 

 

 

 

spring 10

spring 11

LIGO Proved Gravitational Waves Exist and I Helped!

Sophia interferometers (002)Well the cat’s out of the bag: the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory Collaboration, or the LIGO Collaboration, has detected and confirmed the existence of gravitational waves.  Finally, I don’t have to giggle to myself as my friends ask why I am doing research on a project that had such a small chance of success.  Finally, I don’t have to keep secret about one of the biggest discoveries in the modern science, something I have known about since September when it was detected.  It is an exciting time, not just to see the amazing results of a project that I am a small, insignificant part of, but also because that means that a completely new field of research has just opened up, gravitational wave astronomy.

Gravitational wave

Gravitational wave

First, let me explain a bit about gravitational waves, if you haven’t already seen the countless videos.  Gravitational waves were first predicted by Einstein in 1916 when he formulated the idea of general relativity.

Blackhole

Blackhole

Collision

Collision

In essence, they are the perturbations, or ripples, in the fabric of space and time.  They are emitted from massive systems, like coalescing two black holes converging and merging into one, which is actually what LIGO detected, or giant cataclysms like supernovae.  They are a confirmation of a theory we have been using for a century, but they are also a new tool we can use to probe the universe.  As the comparison goes, “As Galileo’s telescope opened our eyes to the universe, gravitational waves have opened our ears.”

The best part is that I can be a part of the research during this era of discovery, even though I am only an undergraduate student.  Embry-Riddle is a host to many esteemed faculty that do research and encourage their students to do research, and there is an entire department dedicated to student research in the form of the Undergraduate Research Institute run by Dr. Anne Boettcher.  In fact, three professors in the physics department – Dr. Michele Zanolin, Dr. Brennan Hughey, and Dr. Andri Gretarsson – are involved in the LIGO experiment, and actually are the only scientists in the whole Four Corners area (Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado) that are pursuing this research.

Research for undergraduate students is incredibly important, but also highly demanding.  I work ten hours a week, reading papers on high-level statistics, writing proofs, learning to code, and analyzing data.  It requires a lot of concentration and persistence, especially since I have had to learn a completely new set of skills and knowledge.  And it means that as a student, I have to take initiative and follow through on something I am not receiving a grade for.  But in the end, I don’t regret it, since I was able to sit in the conference room at 8:30 am and watch the live press release of something amazing.  Since I was able to be a part of something bigger than I was.  Since I have learned so much about something so fascinating that otherwise I would have known nothing about.  And in the end, we discovered gravitational waves!Sophia

Sophia Schwalbe is a Junior in Space Physics, in Air Force ROTC and the Honors Program, and has participated in research with LIGO.

6 Steps to Surviving & Succeeding in Pilot Training

Attention all future pilots!

So you want to become a pilot. Like myself, most of you probably want to become a professional pilot. Or maybe you just want to fly for fun. Whatever your story is, the road to becoming a pilot of any kind is long and winding, yet exciting and unforgettable. You will be challenged like never before, and your motivation will be put to the test. Despite this, I can guarantee you will have an amazing time throughout your training process. You will see things you’ve never seen before, try things you’ve never tried before, and feel things you’ve never felt before. I can say that my flight training journey has been an utterly unforgettable experience so far, and as I wrap up my commercial single-engine training and transition into multi-engine, I am more than excited to see what the next chapter of my story will include.

If you’re ready to embark on your flight training journey, there are a few things you should be familiar with in order to be successful as a student pilot. Here are six important things you must know in order to survive becoming an aviator:

#1: Find the Right Instructor

The most important person that you’ll work with throughout your training is, of course, your instructor! It is crucial that you find an instructor you know you’ll work

The Flight Department

The Flight Department

well with both on the ground and in the airplane. Ideally, your personalities should mix well and you should feel comfortable with your instructor’s teaching methods. A good instructor is a person who doesn’t intimidate you or make you feel stupid. If you are assigned to an instructor who clashes with your personality or your learning style, your training process will be slower and less enjoyable. If you don’t enjoy spending time with your instructor for any reason, don’t be afraid to switch to another instructor who will work better with you! You will find that working with the right instructor will make your training so much more productive and exciting.

#2: Communicate with your Instructor

If you don’t completely understand something for whatever reason, make sure you let your instructor know! He/she will gladly re-explain the topic to help you fully understand.Pilot humor

#3: Study Outside of Oral Lessons/Ground School

Perhaps just as important as finding the right instructor is making sure you study outside of your one-on-one ground lessons with your instructor. It may seem like a lot of work, but studying on your own will make training easier and faster. Simply taking notes while your instructor teaches a new topic just won’t “fly”. You must go home and review those notes you took, or get together with some friends and have a group study session in order to make that brand new information really stick. In addition, at the end of a lesson most instructors will give a preview into what you’ll be learning about next time. Use the time in between lessons to study up on the next topic. That way, once you meet with your instructor again, you’ll impress him/her with your newfound knowledge (not to mention it will make his/her job easier!) Studying outside of lessons will also decrease the money you spend for your training. The more you study, the less time you’ll have to listen to your instructor re-teach things you’ve already learned, and the less money you’ll have to pay!

#4: Use ALL Available Resources to your Advantage

Throughout your career as a student pilot, you will have countless resources at your fingertips to help you master whatever it is you’re currently studying for. Take advantage of them! All ERAU computers have the entire Gleim FAA Test Prep software to help you study for your FAA Knowledge Test. Over at the flight line, there are 3 Cessna 172 CPTs (Cockpit Procedure Trainers) to help you master those checklists, and multiple simulators that students can check out whenever they feel the need to get some practice without paying for the actual airplane. Not to mention your instructor will always be happy to answer any questions you might have!

#5: Fly as Much as You Can!

Make sure you keep your availability as open as possible so you can fly multiple times a week. The more frequent you fly, the better you’ll retain the skills you learn and the less you’ll have to repeat the lesson you’re on. Besides, who doesn’t want to fly several times a week?

#6: Don’t Forget What First Brought you to Flying

You’re training will get tough at times. You may even feel like giving up (I’ve sure been there). But it’s during these challenging times that you must remind Pilotyourself why you decided to become a pilot in the first place. We were all bitten by the flying “bug” at some point, and as your training progresses, it gets pretty easy to forget why you were drawn in to the world of aviation. Think back to that first discovery flight you took, or the first time you saw an airplane up close. John Glenn once said, “I was sold on flying as soon as I had a taste for it.” What sold you on flying? Make sure you never lose sight of it

 

Go Hard or Go Home — My Arrival Story

I would like to share a piece of advice to anyone reading this blog. I know I am not your friend (I can be though if you leave a comment!) or your parent but if I can help or motive somebody out there it will make me happy.

I was just a kid of 18 years old when I decided to come to some wrestling tournaments in Arizona (remember, I’m from Mexico). The infrastructure behind the tournaments was impressive and right away I really wanted to stay and compete here in U.S. I only could participate in one tournament because they were so expensive. But I won! I won the only tournament that I could afford (thank you to my parents!). In that tournament I caught one coach’s attention (Fernando).

 

I noticed he was always around to see my matches, so I introduced myself and we exchanged e-mails to keep in touch. “He is a great guy” I thought. After some months of emailing each other, Fernando put in front of me the opportunity that was going to change my life. He asked if I would like to come to U.S. to finish high school and learn English. There are not words enough to describe the feelings that came over me. I said yes right away! The only problem I could foresee was that I did not have any prior or even basic knowledge of the English language. The only two words I knew were “bathroom” and “food” and I think I could not pronounce them correct!

One of the hardest days in my life was leaving my home country. I had to give up friends, family, culture, food, my living style, basically everything I had and I knew for this one single shot of success. It was going to be way more difficult than just trying to “learn a little English and finish high school” as Fernando inferred.

carlos family

I was under a lot of pressure. In one year I had to get a scholarship, finish high school, and learn more than basic English or I would have to go back to Mexico and leave my wrestling team. Fernando helped me do all the paper work required to get in high school. He had faith in me.

Everyone in the school told me that to graduate from high school, for someone in zero level English, was going to take a minimum of 2 years of special classes. Even my consul said to me, “Carlos, I am sorry to tell you this but finishing high school in one year is not something achievable.” The only thought that came to my mind after everybody told me that what I wanted was impossible was, “No body will tell me what I can or I can’t do, I am graduating!!”

I still remember the first day of classes; it was cloudy, wet and very cold. The school placed me in an English program for level zero English students. I can think of nothing that has challenged me more than the first two months of high school. I could not understand anything in classes or in regular basic situations. I used to get very frustrated in the two regular classes I was taking – Pre-calculus and U.S. History – classes that even for English speakers are complicated. I pushed my self every single day for the next six months. Then suddenly I could understand 60 percent of the whole class. For me that was what I needed to push myself even farther. The next week I went to the principle to tell her that I was dropping the special classes to become a regular student. Regular classes were awful and hard and I wasn’t able to communicate with any professor yet. But finally, when those 12 months were over, somehow, I overcame every single obstacle. I passed all the classes; I passed the state test; I finished the 3 credits I was behind; I got a scholarship; and I graduated. It was one of my happiest days in my life.

This is just a short part of what I have been through. I’m writing this because I would like to reach as many students as I can to tell them that any obstacle, any hard class, any problem can be solved if you want it bad enough. I know Embry-Riddle is not an easy college but it is one of the best. I encourage you to try as hard as you can and eventually you will overcome what is stopping you. If I could graduate from high school without any English knowledge, you can get done whatever you want.

—As my old coach from Mexico always told me ” Go hard or go home.”  That’s the best I can translate it.

Have an awesome semester!

carlos family

5 Tools to Survive Winter in Prescott (especially if you are from Mexico)

The last month was one of the coldest months in Prescott. The place I came from is nothing like Prescott. I’m from Mexico – warm weather and beaches. The weather back in my town is never lower than 50 F. Now you can imagine how hard and rough winter has been for me! (Don’t laugh)

I did research about the human body’s spots that lose the heat fastest. I found out that those spots are: hands, head, toes, and the neck. Based on that, the following 5 items are the basic winter equipment everyone should have to survive in Prescott.

1. Waterproof jacket — There are times when Prescott becomes a massive waterfall. A waterproof jacket is necessary.

2. Waterproof boots — Prescott is not known for having a lot of snow but sometimes it dumps (like this year). Waterproof boots will help you to keep your toes dry and warm. I can say that I really needed them!

3. Gloves — Cold hands are not funny, they hurt and the feeling of not feeling them is awful. Get good gloves. They are essential.carlos gloves

4. Warm hat — The research shows that the head is the spot that loses heat fastest. A good hat is very important.

5. Car cover (if you don’t have a garage) — Even with a waterproof jacket, waterproof boots, gloves and a warm hat, you still won’t want to get up early to scrape your car. Get a car cover.

carlos car cover

 

With this basic winter equipment you will survive.

Calros snow

Beautiful snow in Prescott

Yes I was there – the 2015 Dubai International Aviation Festival

by John Sami, Senior

john 2At Embry-Riddle, doors open to those who grab the handle and turn it. I’m a Senior in Aeronautics with a triple minor in Business Administration, Aviation Safety, and Security graduating magna cum laude this December. Over the years I’ve had some pretty awesome experiences but this past week topped it all. I attended the 2015 Dubai Aviation Festival with CEOs and corporate Executives of Airlines and aviation businesses from around the world.

I was interested in attending the 2015 Dubai Aviation Festival because it’s the foremost conference for aviation in the Middle East. Over 80 airlines and airport representatives attended from Saudi Arabia, India, North Africa, Central Asia and more. Yes it was amazing! It was my first time in Dubai too! What a stunning city with such nice people.

john 7At the conference I was able to participate in speed networking sessions and meet and greets with executives and sales professionals in the global aviation industry. The presentations gave me a unique perspective into the current state of aviation in these markets. I found it especially interesting to know that social media is really where many of these airlines will be focusing their future branding.

A major aspect of my attending was as an ambassador for ERAU’s 3rd annual AirCon which will be taking place in Chandler, AZ. I met with and invited 10 new international airlines and 20 aviation technology companies to attend and present research at the upcoming January event. AirCon is the world’s leading aviation research conference. It only makes sense that these professionals could benefit from the research-sharing at our AirCon and likewise we could benefit from their knowledge.aircon

I’m also hoping my experience will help our current students. I brought company contacts for our international students to be able to obtain internships and full-time positions back home.

It’s opportunities like this that have shaped my academic time here at Embry-Riddle. I’m very grateful to have had the academic support of some great faculty like Dr. Brent Bowen and Robin Sobotta in the Aviation and Business programs.

*Note – The first photo of the space shuttle was taken on my layover in Virginia when I visited the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center National Air and Space Museum. This is the same gentleman who donated the ERAU Prescott Hazy Library!

John 5

John 3 John 4

john 8
john 9 john 10

 

 

 

Forensic Biology Internship: My Summer of Corpses at a Coroner’s Office

Guest Blog by Rebecca Long and Danica Murphy, Juniors in Forensic Biology

IMG_6764 small“This morning we are going to examine a homicide victim,” Dr. Kurtzman said.  The victim had been dead four days; there was skin slippage, dried blood, a mutilated face, and forty-six stab wounds. This was the beginning of the second day of our internship. Yikes, how were we going to handle this? As forensic biology majors, we were encouraged to explore the different fields of forensics and we decided we both wanted to be forensic pathologists. This isn’t the type of profession that can be experienced through movies or textbooks. We needed to experience the sights, smells, and sounds of the dead. Much to our surprise, we both fell in love with the profession and this summer internship changed our lives in only six amazing weeks.

IMG_6581 As an undergraduate student having the opportunity to work in a coroner’s office is unheard of. As we started to explore our options for an internship we experienced several email responses that were polite, but very disappointing. Most of the responses simply said, “Sorry, we cannot accommodate undergraduate students because we have contracts with medical schools. Best of luck!” We went to Security and Intelligence Studies professor Dr. Bozeman discouraged by the responses. Dr. Bozeman said he would try and contact some of his old colleagues and see what he could find. He is a retired homicide detective and mentor for the ERAU AISOCC (American Investigative Society of Cold Cases) student chapter. Within a few weeks Dr. Bozeman had secured an opportunity of a life-time for the two of us!

 

Over the summer, we worked under the direction of Dr. Kurtzman at the Grand Junction, CO coroner’s office. In the six weeks we were there, We observed twenty-one autopsies that included natural deaths, accidental deaths, suicides and homicides. Our patients ranged in age from babies to elderly. The sights, sounds, and smells were like nothing we could ever describe or forget. The smell of gases inside a decaying body is worse than any form of rotten meat or milk we have ever experienced. The sounds a body makes post mortem are eerie and disturbing, and the actual process of the autopsy is much more bloody and unsettling than anything they show you on the television shows.

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Becca: I had worked as a volunteer in a hospital the summer before and during that experience I had the opportunity to observe a circumcision on a newborn baby.  I had no idea what to expect and from the combination of the blood, the scalpel and the baby screaming it really bothered me and I passed out. Super embarrassing!  However, with my autopsy experience I didn’t have any problems I’m happy to report.  I was concerned about it, but the dead never cry, complain, or respond to pain which is what I found difficult with the baby during the procedure.

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Danica: I had never seen a dead body before and was nervous for how I would react.  The first body was the toughest because all I could think about was how a person was lying there which ate me up inside. I had to learn to treat each body as a case and look for the reason why they passed away. Finding the cause of death would help doctors find what the major contributing factors to death are in different communities as well as provide answers to grieving families.

 

IMG_6638 smallAfter the six weeks of working at the morgue and falling in love with the field of forensic pathology, we were thankful for the classes we had taken to prepare us for the internship. These courses included anatomy & physiology, microbiology, and forensic investigation and techniques. Without these courses we would have been lost and confused during our work. The doctor spoke in a language unique to the field of medicine and the concepts we discussed were specific to information I had learned in these classes.

This internship provided us with so much more knowledge for the field of pathology and allowed us to find out if we were on the right career path. Dr. Kurtzman said on our first day with him that if he did his job correctly, we would both end up wanting to become forensic pathologists. After completing our internship, we can both agree he was right! We made so many memories in our short time in Grand Junction and we want everyone to be able to experience their dream career like we were able to do!

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Our Own Private Air Show!

Hi all! The first weekend of October was certainly an eventful one. It was time for OctoberWest once again! Each year, our Prescott campus has a celebration of the anniversary of Embry-Riddle’s founding. We call this “homecoming” week OctoberWest, and this year we celebrated 90 years of Embry-Riddle legacy!

One of the main events of OctoberWest is the Wings Out West Airshow, held on Saturday Oct. 3rd at our own flight line. Each year from 10am to 12pm, the Prescott airport is shut down and reserved for the airshow, a private show for Embry-Riddle students, faculty and their families (just another benefit of being an Eagle!).

This year the airshow was kicked off by a parachute jump executed by Rex Pemberton, a very well-known and young parachutist with hundreds of successful jumps under his belt. As he descended back down to the surface, Melissa Pemberton, a champion aerobatic pilot, circled around him in her Edge 540

Matt Chapman   performs at the Wings Out West airshow this past Sat.

Matt Chapman performs at the Wings Out West airshow this past Sat.

aerobatic airplane as the National Anthem played. After both were back on the ground, Patty Wagstaff, veteran member of the U.S. Aerobatic Team and three time U.S. National Aerobatic Champion, performed a breathtaking aerobatic routine that had all eyes turned skyward. Also performing amazing aerobatic routines were award-winning aerobatic and airline pilot Matt Chapman, as well as seasoned aerobatic pilot Bill Stein. Melissa Pemberton also performed and awe-inducing routine that included cutting a ribbon strung above runway 21L while inverted!

As part of the Flight Team, my teammates and I helped out with crowd control throughout the event. Victor and Ian (our Captain and Chief Pilot) also performed in the airshow in one of our 1965 Cessna 150s. They demonstrated two of our flying events: message drop and a power-on landing. Spread out on the Riddle ramp were several general aviation airplanes, helicopters, and even an Embraer ERJ-175 commercial airliner flown in by Skywest Airlines! These aircraft were on display throughout the airshow, each one unique in its own way.

This year’s OctoberWest was without a doubt very entertaining and action-packed. I had a great time, and I can’t wait to see what next year’s OctoberWest/Wings Out West Airshow will bring!

My friend/teammate Lorenzo and I in                                                                                   front of Embry-Riddle’s custom biplane

My friend/teammate Lorenzo and I in front of Embry-Riddle’s custom Waco bi-plane