Just an Average Day…

by Richard Santi

Hello again! As a Flight Student at Embry-Riddle, I wanted to share with you what my average day looks like. I can honestly say that no two days are the same, and from week to week I am constantly working on a new challenge in flight training or classwork, so it is pretty hard to try and formulate an “average day”. For help, I went back and consulted the calendar on my cell phone where I keep my basic daily schedule. This day is modeled after a random Wednesday this past January.

8:30am-10:00am Flying Eagle Two!

I wake up as I do on most days when I am flying with a bit of extra excitement, though nowadays that happens about five or six days a week. My practice slot for flying Eagle Two starts promptly at 8:30am. As much as I love coffee, it is dehydrating so I will wait for my morning cup until after I’m done flying. I’ll have just water for now. I want to arrive about 20-30 minutes early so that I can look over the weather and see if there is any specific airport notes for the day. Plus I want plenty of time in the aircraft to make sure I can start my preflight aircraft inspection early.

As a member of the Golden Eagles Flight Team, we get a set amount of practice slots flying our specialty Cessna C150s. Part of our competitions are the competitive landings events, where our goal is to land with our wheels touching down as close as possible to the “zero line” (a line of tape on the runway). My personal record is 4 feet off, so I am still looking to my ultimate goal of touching down perfectly on the line. As simple as that sounds, the real trick to the competition is that there is a multitude of different penalties you can get, all related to not flying a perfect pattern. Penalties such as floating, dragging, ballooning, overshooting, undershooting, plus many more, can all be called against a pilot who does not perfectly manage the aircraft’s position and energy. A lot of practice is required to really nail down the technique. As much fun as it is, the practice slot I have this morning will be hard work requiring a lot of focus and attention.

I do my preflight inspection, hop in and start up. I am able to fit in about 12 landings before I have to call for a full stop. Overall, a productive practice slot.

10:00am-11:00am Heading Over to Campus

I finish my slot at about 10 o’clock and head over to campus. I go to Scholar’s Café in the Library to get one of their delicious cappuccinos… finally getting my morning coffee. I know my day will be a busy one, so I head upstairs and sit in one of the big comfy chairs by a window that overlooks campus for the next 30 minutes to relax and enjoy the view of Granite Mountain out the window. I review my Eagle Slot, thinking about what I could do better for next time.

11:00am-2:00pm Class

My first class of the day is AS.408 which is Flight Safety. During the lecture, we review a couple of different topics, but we spend most of the time reviewing a major aviation accident that occurred in the past few decades. We look at the NTSB report, and meticulously dissect what the pilots did that affected the outcome of that accident, either for good or bad. I leave the lecture with a new perspective on airmanship, as well as a lesson that might save my life one day!

I head to my next class which is AS.380, also known as Pilot Career Planning. Given I am a second semester Junior, it is an appropriate time to start thinking about how to plan for my career. Today we talk about proper etiquette and good strategies to have while doing an interview with an airline. Obviously something that will come in handy!

My last class of the day is AS.405, or Aviation Law. My professor is a licensed Aviation Attorney who always has something very interesting to talk about. In today’s class, we play a fun game of Jeopardy! to review for an upcoming test. One of the topics I find most interesting is federal airspace authority, and how different aviation businesses have gone to court when a state government tried to in some way regulate their flight operations, claiming it a violation of the Federal Aviation Act of 1958. I leave class and grab a quick lunch before my next activity!

2:00pm-5:00pm Student Job

I am very lucky to have the opportunity to be a tour guide on campus, working as a Senior Campus Ambassador at our Admissions Office. There are tons of student jobs one can get on campus, from working in one of the academic departments, to one of the business offices, and much more. I have friends who are even dispatchers at the Flight Line! Today I’ll be taking a few families and showing them around our awesome flight department!

5:00pm-7:00pm Homework / Relax

I get off work with a few free hours, so I head on home and grab a snack. Depending on my homework load, I’ll spend the next few hours finishing up some homework assignments and projects, or study for an upcoming exam. However, it has been a long day so I watch a TV show to slow my mind down for a bit first.

7:00pm-8:00pmFlight Team Ground Practice

I had the awesome opportunity to fly Eagle Two this morning, but on the Golden Eagles Flight Team we also compete in ground aviation knowledge, something we are all required to participate in to earn our flying slots. For the next hour, I study some aircraft for our Aircraft Identification event (we also watch a cool airplane video to start each practice). There are roughly 3,000 airplanes in our bank of aircraft we study, so there is a lot of work that goes into keeping them all memorized. There are definitely some interesting facts I’ve learned about certain aircraft that I didn’t know before!

After 8:00pmThe End of the Day

After practice, my roommate Colin (also on the flight team) and I will go home and cook dinner, or we might go out to eat somewhere locally with a couple of friends. After dinner, the rest of the evening’s activities will depend on numerous factors. If I have a busy homework night, that might be what I end up doing, but most of the time I am able to get that done earlier in the day. We’ll usually go over to a friend’s place to hang out and just enjoy the evening. My first class on Thursdays is not until 1:25pm, so normally I might be able to sleep in the next morning. But tomorrow I am going on a training flight with my instructor and we’ll be practicing commercial maneuvers, so I go to bed to make sure I am well rested for the fun day of flying I’ll have tomorrow!

Playing in the Dirt

Stage One of making a fuse bead on the fusion machine – Heating

I rarely paid much attention to the concrete in my everyday life, except to determine whether or not it would be there to catch me if gravity decided to work. I knew that it came from a mixture of what I thought was dirt and water, and that it was used to build things like skyscrapers, bridges, and sidewalks. Little did I know that this “dirt” was actually cement, and that people’s lives depend on how well it was made.

One of the days I was particularly dirty from mixing cement samples for testing.

This summer, I had the incredible opportunity to work for a cement plant as a quality control intern, learning the chemical and physical components that goes into making cement. This internship was designed to further my knowledge in my degree program, forensic biology. Though the two seem unrelated, the education I received in my courses, both in the lab and in the classroom, proved invaluable to learning and utilizing the chemistry used to make cement. In return, working at a cement plant provided important lessons that I can apply for the rest of my life.

My first few weeks at the cement plant consisted of training and obtaining my miner’s certification through MSHA, the Mine Safety and Health Administration. I learned the layout of the plant, safety procedures, and how cement was made. This process has many steps, and each of these steps are tested and adjusted to ensure that the cement will be of good quality, as determined by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).

Stage Two – Mixing

Stage Three – Setting Into Molds

The Final Product

There is physical testing, which requires making and testing concrete made from the cement, and chemical testing, which is done to check the actual composition of the cement. I mainly focused on the chemical testing. I learned how to manipulate various reactions to gather information, something I did in my chemistry courses at ERAU. These results were actually recorded and used, so I learned how important thoroughness and accuracy is in real-world applications.

The materials necessary throughout the cement making process

The heating tower viewed from the cement silo

I learned how to work in a professional environment, and how important it is to be able to critically think and solve problems. It was an experience I enjoyed!

My Internship at the Endophyte Service Lab at Oregon State University

My summer at the Endophyte Service Lab at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon has been an enlightening and very knowledgeable experience. This opportunity has provided me with the experience to greatly increase my knowledge and understanding of skills in the areas of chemistry, toxicology, and teamwork, as well as closely relate to my future aspirations of becoming a forensic biologist.

Working with these professionals as well as other students who have common interests with me in achieving their goals has been extremely knowledgeable and eye-opening as to what my future career entails. I have learned many helpful lab skills and techniques that would relate to an actual forensic analyst’s career as well as how to use machines such as Mass Spectrometry and High-Performance Liquid Chromatography and Fluorescence, as well as extraction techniques and finally how to analyze the data they generate.

My job was to perform extractions of lolitrem B, ergovaline, and ergotamine mycotoxins from various grasses used for feeding livestock. The process for one extraction typically took about 3 hours and involved a lot of micropipetting, centrifugation, and drying of solvents on an N-Vap instrument. Measurements had to be extremely precise to obtain accurate results since it was on a microliter level. One tiny little air bubble could ruin the rest of the process and generate inaccurate results!

If it weren’t for the practice and knowledge I obtained from my courses at Embry-Riddle, such as Foundations of Biology 1 and 2, General Chemistry 1 and 2, Organic Chemistry 1 and 2, Microbiology, and Genetics, I would have never been prepared for the massive amounts of micropipetting I had to perform as well as any of the terminology or basic skills needed to achieve good results at my job. My courses gave me the confidence to be successful at the Endophyte Service Lab, and my experience in the lab gave me the confidence and knowledge to further pursue a forensic biology degree.

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.