This is just getting ridiculous. Some of the snow piles around Olin are even taller than I am. But that's not the only thing that's ridiculous. In fact, that's not the only thing that's piling up either! As you may have read from previous posts, a lot of great stuff is coming. Classes will soon be entering full tilt mode as problem sets get harder to solve and projects begin, Candidates and their parents are nearly doubling Olin's population for three consecutive weekends, and so many events are happening just this weekend that I'm not sure what to do with myself. Yep, Candidate's Weekend 2, MakeMIT, a SWE (society for Women Engineers) Conference, and ICCAs (the International Competition for Collegiate A Cappella) are all popping up this Saturday. As a member of PowerChords, Olin's oldest a Cappella group, I need to be at ICCAs to perform. But that shouldn't detract from my point. There are so many things that Olin students do just because they want to, just because they think it will be fun. Someone, sometime, must have thought "you know what would be really cool? If I did this awesome thing, and got all my friends to help me out. And next year, we can do the same thing, and it will be even more awesome." This is the culture that Olin strives to create.
Every year since I've come to Olin, a bunch of students have gotten together and attempted to build an igloo. Usually, the entire Olin community ends up pitching in at some point, because building an igloo can be pretty fun, and the snow, like lots of other things at Olin, motivates students to have fun with their creativity. Every year, the igloo has gotten to about head height, and either we run out of snow, or because of the geometry of the igloo, nobody can figure out how to close off the top. This year, that finally changed. The igloo has been completed. It has even been slept in.
I don't know why I'm so fascinated that the igloo has been finished this year, I mean, we've been getting so much snow that you could probably make an igloo just by tunneling under the snow of the great lawn (which also has been done). To me, the chain of igloos that I have helped build represents both the excitement that Oliners tend to have for completing particularly daunting tasks, and the natural evolution that comes from spiral learning. Every time a problem is solved, there are always ways to make it better, to increase its potential, to think about it differently. With each snowfall, each time we have the resources to create a new form of an old prototype, we iterate and improve. All that being an engineer means is figuring out how to do this on the go, so that even while we are designing mechanisms or software or igloos, we can improve our ideas.
Over the past few years here, I am not really sure how I have developed as an engineer from year to year. I know that I've taken more classes, but on the surface I don't feel much further than I have started. However, I've figured out a way to measure my experience, and that is just by comparing my thought process from year to year. Every year, as I learn new things, I learn how to incorporate them into my thinking toolbox, and as a result, I can think about old ideas differently. Being an engineer means being able to rethink problems that have supposedly already been solved. That's the exciting part, that's what gets me motivated. So lets get moving, lets iterate, and lets do something exciting!