Howdy. First-year Charlie here. Some stuff about me. I'm from Houston, TX, coming out of a private Catholic high school. I am big into basketball and Ultimate and did three years on a FIRST robotics team, Spectrum 3847. I heard about Olin through my counselor and really found the hands-on curriculum and extremely small community as things that I can thrive around.
Okay, enough with the intros, I am here to talk about Olin. We are close to three weeks on campus, and reality is starting to set in. I am currently sitting in on some alumni who are now working at Microsoft. They are saying some really cool things, but they just mentioned the fact that Olin teaches to have fun, even when you have a ton of work to do. I can definitely testify to that, even though I have only been here for three weeks. I am already mastering the art of multitasking. I'm listening to them talk while working on this post. It is often said around campus that most Olin interactions occur over a laptop. This is essentially necessary to stay caught up with everything that needs doing here at Olin.
So first, I'll give you an idea of how generally busy we are so far. All first-years are enrolled in Modeling and Simulation (essentially a MATLAB class at this point), Design Nature (engineering process and solidworks), Modeling and control (electrical and robotic basics),Olin Introductory Experience (OIE, basically an extended orientation), and an AHS (arts, humanities, and social sciences class) course. You should hear a lot about these classes from a lot of the other first-year's posts, so I won't go into crazy detail on them. My AHS (pronounced 'oz') class is The Digital Eye: Photography, Vision, and Visual Communication. We are also allowed to enroll in a variety of co-curriculars, extraneous courses that take up a small amount of time but do end up on your transcript. I only enrolled for the Couch to 5k this semester.
So, all of that wordy stuff adds up to 16 credits this semester. Once you start thinking about all the homework that we get from these various classes, it becomes very apparent that the idea of being "done with all my work" does not exist on this campus. So far, Olin has literally been moving from one deadline to the next, with little time to think about what fun things I can do with free time. The term "study break" is used very often on campus. This is the time set aside for non-academic activities. There is no notion that you have nothing that you need to be working on. It is more of a "I just finished some work and I am just about to start more work, but I can squeeze in some time to go throw the disc around on the Great lawn" kind of idea. In reflection, it is kind of funny how quickly us first-years have adopted this Olin vocab. It is probably the only sensible way to stay sane on campus.
To give you an idea of what I am talking about, below is a picture of my google calendar for the last week (open it in a new tab to make it all readable and stuff):
I don't usually put my class schedule into my google calendar (I use an awesome app called timetable. It even silences my phone during class!), but I figured it would give you more of an idea of what my weekly schedule might look like. A lot of people use their Outlook calendar to organize things (that is the way they give us to process emails), but I decided to forward my emails to my gmail and do everything from there, which has been working fairly well for me. I am sure you have heard about the volume of emails that you get here, and honestly, it was a large source of stress for me during the first week or two, but I have gotten a pretty good handle on it now.
Non-sequitur. Olin is absolutely full of FIRST robotics nerds. FRC is something that I was very passionate about in high school, and I cannot describe what it has been like to come to a small school like this where every other person did FIRST at some point. I have had some great conversations with Nagy, another first-year, about his time on team 254, The Cheesy Poofs. His team was kind of iconic for me, so to have some great robotics conversations with their 2013 President is pretty freaking awesome. I'll end this random rant here, because I could ramble on and on and I am sure neither of us would really appreciate that.
I'll finish up talking about my friends and my AHS class. I have met so many amazing people here already. The atmosphere is so chill. The people are naturally looking out for each other and everyone is just great to talk to. I have already found people that I could easily sit down and talk to for hours on end, or do any task together and have fun while doing it. That is my study group. We hang out by doing homework in the same room together, but that is still better than doing homework by ourself? That is basically my attempt at being social.
So my AHS class. There are twelve(?) of us and the first thing we did during the first day of class is get our equipment. We got one awesome Canon 60D DSLR camera with an 18 to 138 lense along with a heavy duty tripod. As someone who had never held a DSLR camera before, this was crazy to suddenly have a very high end camera to work with. I have thoroughly enjoyed playing around with the camera, and making what was a mini-hobby of photography to something that I enjoy doing and am actually kind of good at! Below is a picture I took with some friends (I am on the left in the Texas Torque shirt, I am not from Texas Torque), along with a link to a photo blog I have started up to give me a place to put non-class related pictures that I have taken and sometimes edited with my equipment.
My blog can be found at charlieslens.blogspot.com!
Thanks for reading! Hope this was informational/entertaining.
Best of luck to you in your future endeavors,
Charlie Mouton '17