My journey to being an Olin senior is uncanny to say the least. Growing up in India, where engineering education is limited and constrained to hard science, my views on engineering were skewed. Knowing that something was missing, I searched for a better place to have a higher education than the traditional Indian engineering institutions. My search led me to take a plethora of college courses over the summer at many American universities including Stanford, Harvard, Johns Hopkins to name a few. As my knowledge of american education and culture grew, a little birdie mentioned Olin to me. I looked at the website and some videos on youtube and got a bit excited. To my disdain, I never had a chance to visit it. Then began the application process for colleges and I applied to many places in the states, including Olin. I was waitlisted for Candidates weekend. I didn't really know much about Olin at the time to take it as a serious option, and ended up going to University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).
UIUC and Olin have been partners for quite some time. When I was accepted there as a freshman, I got involved into this program called the Illinois Foundry for Innovation in Engineering Education (iFoundry). It was charged with an olinesque mission to reform the century old engineering curriculum. I was stoked to be a part of this mission and agreed to become the first set of student guinea pigs. I learnt more about engineering education and participated in making UIUC more olin like. We offered Olin courses at UIUC to see how they would/could work. Olin's pride and joy, User Oriented Collaborative Design, which is a heavy design course taken during sophomore year at Olin, caught iFoundry's attention. UOCD approaches solving problems from a user's perspective. It completely flips the way engineering education is approached at UIUC where users are never in question while building something. We literally copy pasted the course, skyped in with Olin faculty during every class session and conducted a remote UOCD experience at UIUC. Me along with 3 other brave souls were along for the ride. This planted a seed in me and I finally fell in love with Olin.
Since the day I took UOCD, I knew I needed to come to Olin. iFoundry was already planning with Olin to create a student exchange program and I was super excited to be a part of it. I came to Olin in 2011 and ended up staying for a year. I knew I needed to stay longer and thanks to Olin's awesome faculty and staff I was able to do so. And now, 2 years later, I'm finally and Olin senior.
During my exchange year at Olin, I instantly noticed a drastic change in me. I was working on projects not just problem sets. I was creating things of value not just talking theory. I was hustling and get stuff done and not just planning and talking about stuff. I was working harder and loved every second of it. I soon realized what excited me about engineering. Why I had no problems staying till 4 am working on a project? It was because in the midst of frustration when everything is against you, when you can barely think straight and the light at the end of the tunnel is completely dim, when you have tried and failed and tried again and failed and tried again and failed again, when your fingers hurt from typing so much code or your pants are completely worn out for the wood debris, when your team has lost all motivation, it suddenly all comes together and works. This is why I'm an engineer. This moment occurrence once and only once in my 2 years at UIUC. I came to Olin to chase this moment almost like an addict. During my year at Olin as an exchange student, I had such a moment every 2 weeks if not more often. By the end of my fall semester at Olin, I knew I wanted more and stayed for the Spring, and by end of spring, I knew this was it and I had to transfer.
I chose Olin because it made me happy. I chose Olin to chase the joy of learning.