Leadership Retreat in Memphis
As my last semester at UAHuntsville finally rolled in, I spent my first weekend at a SGA Retreat focusing on leadership. Before classes could become overwhelming with doubled responsibilities, we went on the two day SGA Spring Retreat (I know, it was cold and January but it us the Spring semester hence the name “Spring Retreat!”). This semester we went to Memphis, Tennessee and stayed on the University of Memphis’ campus. We met with their SGA representatives for a discussion on how we run our programs and then we toured their relatively new student center, one that UAHuntsville looked to for inspiration for our own Charger Union building which is still under construction.
The rest of our time was spent on various leadership development exercises, but we did make time to visit the National Civil Rights Museum! For lunch, we even had the chance to eat local BBQ at the famous Central BBQ, which has been featured multiple times on the Travel Channel and which everyone loved! As for just vising the city, it was an official trip with a tight agenda so tourism wasn’t the focus. I did have the opportunity to see downtown Memphis with some friends; Beale Street which the city’s famous for and Main Street, which was my personal favorite.
Salome Tours Nucor Factory
The steel factory tour is vying to be the highlight of my past few weeks. The race is very close. When my professor told us that we could tour one of the largest steel company’s factory 30 minutes away, Nucor factory, I almost blurted out “would we get extra credit?”. I barely held it in. After the initial ulterior points motive, I was actually interested in going since I’ve learned that it’s usually a good idea to say yes to opportunities; they rarely turn out badly. So I rearranged my plans and barely made it by the meeting time to drive down with the group.
When we walked in, we received a helmet, safety goggles and fire retardant jacket which weren’t flattering but definitely official! The factory is big. The machinery is just massive. Until you get to quality controls and actually molding the steel, the processes that melt and transport steel is straight out of a post-apocalyptic world and technology fairly basic. This mean that huge machine parts move slowly but do good bit of damage. First image is the huge cauldrons waiting for the melted steel, there is a flame above them to always keep them hot. The huge trucks roll in, filled with scrap metal to dump in a container, since Nucor is the largest recycling steel company in the US. We waited 30 minutes to see the steel being poured and transported and I decided that I would ask as many questions as I needed to basically open up my own factory. Close enough. The tour took almost two hours and we went through the whole process, including the statistic side which was the main goal of us being there; to see how statistics was used to control performance. It was very cool and class seemed more relevant but the lava-like steel being transformed to sheets of steel is definitely the highlight.
Another Symposium Anyone?
To start off, I didn’t win the poster competition. But inside sources did mention that I had a high score! But to rewind, since I had written a paper for the IAC (check out my other blog “Stepping Out for Italy”), I also made a poster on the same topic to submit in the 5th Annual Von Braun Symposium Poster Competition. As a side note, I think it’s almost mandatory to have long titles for anything professional, followed by acronyms, to have it be successful… just a thought. The symposium was an update on US space developments like NASA’s future plans, commercialization of space, meeting the industry (or non-government companies), etc… And in the middle of the week, they had a nice evening at Burritt on the Mountain on Monte Sano for the Poster Competition, in a brand new hall they had completed just weeks earlier! Now considering that this is my senior year, I’ve been in Huntsville for fairly long and I had never heard of the Burritt on the Mountain or that apparently, it has one of the nicest views of Huntsville and the rocket in the city! The whole evening was professional but very relaxed. We had a very fancy refreshment display and an open bar, for those who’re able… Also, a chance to see everyone else’s posters, to meet everyone who had come to participate in the Symposium and network. I met many NASA people as well as two German Space Agency representatives so my contact list received a boost! So even though I didn’t win the Kindle, it was a fun Symposium that will definitely be showing up on my resume.
Stepping Out For Italy
I recently got a chance to go to Naples, Italy. Yes, it was pretty cool, I had fun, but I was not a tourist. Actually, I had been working for the trip since the past February! That was when I had decided to submit an abstract for the 63rd International Astronautical Congress in Naples, Italy. That was a commitment. I am a business major and love my Business Administration Building so just going to the interest meeting for the conference was an adventure, because I got lost looking for the building and then – finding the right room. I couldn’t write a professional research manuscript alone, in a field I wasn’t familiar with, about the space industry. After knocking on few doors, I was introduced to two business professors who were already looking at a NASA collaborative project which I could work on!
The work I did in the next few months was completely new to me and challenging but after I finished it, I couldn’t wait to present it a the largest international space conference in the world! The flight was long to Naples but there was no time to be tired since we only had a day and a half to accommodate and look around, before the conference started. I met the head of DLR (yes, I know all the space agency acronyms now; that is the German) and their many representatives, had dinners with the initial CEO of a company which would become the Swiss Space Agency, ESA representatives and so many more. I found out how I can work in companies around the world or their USA branches, while staying within my field. I presented my paper and listened to countless other presentations in every field and became an expert on all the different places to eat between our hotel and the conference center. I boarded the flight back to Huntsville with a year’s worth of experiences in one short week, but remembering that UAHuntsville had more to offer.