Drat! I missed my Thursday posting date. Sigh. Well, that means this entry has to be awesome. Please be sure to read Meena's (below mine), which is the one that is supposed to and did go up on Sunday.
So Olin's a pretty cool place (I'm assuming you agree, or else you wouldn't be reading this). One of my favorite aspects of going here is being a part of something bigger than myself: "Revolutionizing engineering education in America." It's pretty amazing. I personally do this through involvement in student government and an informal monthly "Olin improvement" meeting with my friends. Everyone here contributes in their own way, and the confluence of amazing students and amazing faculty really cannot fail.
But here's the catch: I will be the fifth class to graduate from Olin. Everyone who got here before me took huge risks like accepting before there were buildings and accepting before we had a full school. I am the last class to accept before we were accredited (which my parents still weren't entirely thrilled about). My predecessors were all so dedicated to this idea of improving engineering education that they even, literally, built their own college. In fact, according to my EDS NINJA (EDS=Engineering of Distributed Systems, NINJA=Course assistant type who helps you review for labs and quizzes), the unofficial song of the Class of 2006 was "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" (found here). It's perfect! Note the call to action, the dedication to improvement, and the Ninjas. In short, I lament that I was born five years too late.
Thankfully, there is one thing that keeps me from crying myself to sleep; namely, that Olin is not like other colleges. All major institutions of higher learning had to go through this risky phase at one time (though Olin is the first one to do so in the last fifty years, with Harvey Mudd being the next), but they don't care to stay there. Olin does. We don't want our students to think of Olin as a "safe bet." When you apply and accept, you don't know what you're going to get. We are constantly changing things, and four years is a long time. We require that you take charge of your education, and help determine what it will be for future generations. Sometimes I try to talk about a course with a current junior and they'll stop me and say "Whoa, they're not doing that any more? Good." or "Wow, that's different. In my day..." It's amazing.
So just because the college is "built" doesn't mean that I'm not still building a college from the ground up. The fifth class is just as important as the fourth class, and so will be the sixth and seventh. Yet, it still would have been really cool to have been number one...