Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Welcome Week 2013: T-minus 1 month!

Vanessa & her housemate during Welcome Week 2012.
Vanessa & her housemate sporting Brandon Hall shirts during Welcome Week 2012. 
I remember the excitement I felt around this time last year when I was getting ready for my first Welcome Day and Welcome Week. I was doing my research on McMaster University, asking upper year students a million questions and generally amping myself up for what was soon to be the most epic week ever!

During Welcome Week there are thousands of wildly-spirited representatives in colourful funky suits (coveralls, actually) helping first years 'find their place' at McMaster University. There are reps for the entire school (MSU Maroon Reps), each residence (Residence Orientation Representatives or ‘ROR’s) and of course each faculty/program! Each residence and faculty/program has their own coverall colour.
The sea of red; first year engineering students
gather in the Student Centre.
This year, I am equally (if not more) excited for an entirely different reason; I get a chance to be one of the leaders for the first year students! I will be representing the Faculty of Engineering this year during Welcome Week.  Engineering reps are referred to as ‘Redsuits’ (our coveralls are red!). We are credited with the right amount of goofiness, mixed with the willingness to help students get to know campus and each other. I'm looking forward to connecting with as many new students as possible during Welcome Week.

Here's a fun tip: be sure to go out to all of the events you can during Welcome Week. And I mean
all of them!  I met all my housemates (now some of my closest friends), came out of my shell and had one of the best experiences of my life during my Welcome Week.

Engineering is a program that requires a lot of hard work and focus.  Midterms and assignments start to pile up fast, so make the absolute most out of your Welcome Week.  

Welcome to McMaster's Class of 2017! Can’t wait to see you there!    ~ Vanessa
Aerial shot of Vanessa's graduating year, 2016.
One of the best parts of Welcome Week; the aerial shot of your graduating year! 
This is the photo we took last year during my Welcome Week.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The (My) Dog (Joe) Days of Summer: Discovering My Hamilton

“But isn’t Hamilton like, gross and sketchy?”

I shake my head for what feels like the thousandth time and politely explain that what they are describing is not my Hamilton. I have called Hamilton my home for the past 4 years, and had frequented to the Hamilton Farmers Market and the Hamilton Waterfront Trail since I was a toddler. I will admit I came with some preconceived notions about the city based on my limited experience, but they soon were long since forgotten when I started school here. A picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves...

In my first year at McMaster, I lived in Whidden Hall residence, which backs onto Cootes Paradise. My roommate and I would take study breaks to go for a hike in our own backyard (literally).

Blogger hiking up an incline in Cootes Paradise.View of Cootes Paradise looking through wooded scenery out into the marsh.
The longer I stayed in Hamilton, the more adventurous I became in my exploring! This is me overlooking one of the 126 waterfalls in Hamilton. I believe I have only visited an embarrassing 8 of them.

View of Webster's Falls in Hamilton.

To stay active while I’m in school, in addition to taking advantage of our olympic-sized pool, I also enjoy cycling on the Hamilton-Brantford Rail Trail. I was up particularly early one morning and caught the heavy dew evaporating from down in Dundas Valley. The Rail Trail boasts 32km of opportunities like these.Looking out onto Dundas Valley as the morning dew is evaporating giving a foggy appearance.Hamilton-Brantford Rail Trail marker.
As I write this, I am sitting, enjoying a cup of Fair Trade iced tea in the lovely My Dog Joe coffee shop in Westdale with my fellow blogger Danielle and our friend Larissa (an electrical and biomedical engineering student at McMaster). The Westdale community is the friendly neighbour to the university filled awesome shops including everything from comic book stores to bakeries. It reminds me a lot of one of my other favourite places in Hamilton with a similar atmosphere; Locke Street!
Fellow Blogger Danielle, and friend Larissa reading the local newspaper in the "My Dog Joe" cafe.
Blogger enjoying a good book on a bench in front of the Westdale Village sign.

I came to Hamilton with some biases of my own that may have initially held me back from exploring my city. I hope that having read this, and seen some of what my beautiful city has to offer, you will come with an open mind in the fall and discover your Hamilton.

That’s all for now folks!


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Engineers Without Borders Break Down Barriers at Summer Retreat

Hello out there recent high school graduates! Congratulations and welcome to the world after high school!

One of the cool things about university is all the opportunities that come your way. If you thought you had access to many cool clubs, teams and organizations in high school, wait until you get to Mac!

Daniela and her fellow EWB members at the end of their retreat.
Daniela (bottom left) and her fellow EWBers at the end of their retreat.
Since I started at Mac, I have been involved in the organization Engineers Without Borders (EWB). It’s a national organization with chapters in universities, companies and cities across the country. Some of the work we do in Canada is focused on engaging high school students to think about the impact they have on the world, promoting fair trade, influencing engineering curriculum, and lobbying the government concerning development issues.

With so many ventures and members across the country, summer provides us EWBers with an opportunity to get together and talk about the work different chapters are doing and plan for the coming school year. During the Canada Day long weekend, the Ontario and Atlantic chapters got together in Paris, Ontario and had three days of intense discussion and planning. It’s great to unplug and get thinking with loads of flip chart paper, markers and post-its!

In this session, groups were having a discussion around different 
types of aid: market-based, needs-based and rights-based. 
One of my favourite sessions was the Agricultural Extension FarmVillage activity, where participants learn about some of the challenges that farmers face in rural Ghana, Africa. When I was a Junior Fellow (short-term volunteer) in Ghana with EWB, I was part of the Agricultural Extension team, so this session gave me a chance to share a bit of my experience. (Check out the blog, Let's Go Black Stars!, I wrote while I was in Ghana in 2011.)

Something that is really awesome about EWB is that the co-founder & CEO, George Roter, comes out to these retreats and participates with us! We even have a tradition called "Q&A", where we all gather together and can ask him whatever questions we have about the organization. As students, we play a fundamental role in what EWB does. It’s pretty cool!

If you want to learn more about EWB, shoot me a comment or look me up when you get here in September! We’ll be at Clubs Fest and Eng Fest, events where all campus and engineering clubs have sign-up booths.

Later days,

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Beyond Mac Eng: Working at Sunnybrook Hospital

Trinette being interviewed for the video
Trinette being interviewed for the video.
Trinette has just graduated from McMaster Engineering. She was able to write us a post telling us about her final year and her amazing engineering job. Keep reading to find out more!

After four years of hard work, the thought of graduating with a degree in Electrical & Biomedical Engineering seemed like a dream… That was until I filled out forms for graduation and completed my eight month design project. Then, I couldn't believe it was finally happening!

Applying for full time jobs was overwhelming and time-consuming. After many applications and a few interviews, I was offered a research engineer position at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto. My goal has always been to work in the medical field, so being given this exciting opportunity was truly incredible. I started my new position in May and find that working in a clinical research setting has proved to be very intriguing. Everything becomes more exciting and rewarding when you get to work on projects that have real world applications, like find alternative breast cancer drugs. Working with imaging devices such as CT/SPECT scanners and CT/PET scanners, and learning to operate them during various experiments is unbelievable. It seems as though you never really stop learning after university. Engineering has definitely taught me the problem solving skills required to come up with practical solutions needed for my job.

Trinette and David showing Elaine their design project.
During my final year at McMaster, I was fortunate enough to be involved in the filming of Women in Engineering: Our Global Future. This mini-documentary was created in partnership with the G(irls)20 Summit, produced by Double Barrel Studios, hosted by Elaine Kunda, a McMaster alumna, and features McMaster Engineering professors.  Working with everyone that helped to put the video together was a fantastic experience.  There was a lot of interesting conversations as to why many young women decide not to go into fields that are heavily involved with math and science. It was eye opening to hear about everyone’s personal experiences and difficulties in terms of their successes within engineering.

My own experience in engineering has been a mix of ups and downs, but a real passion for it began after my mother was in a bad accident. She was in a wheel chair for over six months, which inspired me to use engineering to improve people’s lives when they don’t have the full range of mobility we so commonly take for granted. I have found engineering to be a very exciting and an interesting field of study. It is also very rewarding because you are constantly building and making things, and you can always look back and say “Look, it works! And I built it!” In short, there is always something to feel proud about. I believe that the world needs more women in engineering and I hope this video inspires some young women to pursue engineering programs. If you have not seen the Women in Engineering: Our Global Future, then I would definitely check it out!

~ Trinette