This is Harrison Young here to report on my gap year experience. When I was waitlisted at Olin I was unsure of whether I wanted to take a gap year or go somewhere else. Clearly, I chose the gap year. Two things influenced my decision. The first was obvious to me: I really, really, really wanted to go to Olin. The second was more obscure and took me a while to fully appreciate; my gap year would be the only time in my life that I would be free to do exactly as I wanted, without the worrying about responsibilities such as putting a roof over my head, or making car payments. I quickly realized that this was an opportunity to spend a whole year improving myself as a person and an engineer without the distracting obligations attributed to "real life." So I set out on my gap year. My mission: to ensure that Harrison Young, Class of 2020 is an upgrade to whatever Harrison Young, Class of 2019 would have been.
Now it is November and I feel I am well on my way. For the past three months I interned at a drone-based advertising startup called DroneCast. My internship was supposed to focus on mechanical engineering, however, in reality I performed whatever duties the company required, mechanical or not. This led to a number of amazing experiences, my favorites being the opportunity to spearhead numerous projects designing attachments to increase the versatility of the company's drones (one such attachment is now included as part of the company's standard package) and to act as the electrical engineer on team developing a prototype for a prospective business venture. No one noticed, nor cared, that I had only just graduated high school.
Based on this experience I have essentially decided that I want to work for (or possibly found) a startup after graduation. I loved the sense of fulfillment that comes with both being a part of something new and knowing I made a significant contribution.
When I’m not working, I have been exploring the exciting field of soft robotics. These are robots that have very few or are completely devoid of hard parts. So far my experimentation has been limited to examples found online but I plan to start original projects in the next few weeks. With luck one of them will be featured in my next blog.
The largest difference between gap year life and life during school is my perception of time. In high school between academics and extracurricular activities there was always something that needed to be done right now. During my gap year the only thing driving my schedule is work, so comparatively, life seems a lot slower because there are fewer "due dates" to worry about. As a result, the year is flying by.
But not so fast. I still have a lot to do. Next week I start an internship at another tech company. However, this one is not a startup so I am unsure what to expect. I am looking forward to experiencing and comparing multiple work environments so that I can make an informed decision on where I want to work later on. I am also acting as a mentor for my high school robotics team, FRC2590 NEMESIS. I feel that it is a great way for me to give back to the organization that offered me so many opportunities over the past 4 years. Lastly, I am searching for a “just because” hobby unrelated to engineering to provide balance to my life. I am currently experimenting with drawing, unicycling, playing chess, playing piano, cooking and coding.
Mission HYCO2020 is well underway.