Aysha Rahman

Electronnies with Gianni

Oct
23

This post mentions MLOs and SLOs, which are described here

As an astrophysics major, I have taken upon myself the goal of trying to take every physics class offered at Agnes Scott College during my time. So, in my junior year, when physics professor Dr. Nicole Ackerman announced that she would be teaching an electronics course in the fall, I rushed to sign up for it. I didn’t think too much of it; I figured it would be nice to have some knowledge of how electronics work, and perhaps might find that knowledge useful in the distant future, when I was no longer doing astrophysics and had moved onto something else. We did labs and projects, one of them being an Arduino project. During the course of the semester, however, our professor told us that a recent physics alum, who I had taken physics classes with the year prior and who was doing a fellowship at the school’s Center for Sustainability, wanted to do an electronics-related project with some students. I jumped at the opportunity to connect what I learned in class with something hands-on and relevant to my actual life, and so did a few other students. Thus began what we informally called “Electronnies with Gianni”, named after the alum we were working with, Gianni Rodriguez [SLO 7, SLO 12].

The project was this: the solar panels at school were not receiving an optimal amount of sunlight each day due to their placement and angle, so Gianni wanted to build an actuator, programmed using Arduino software that we were learning in class, to move the solar panels throughout the day to achieve as much sunlight as possible [MLO 3, SLO 10]. This class was one she had taken a couple of years prior, so she knew what we were learning in that class and which skills were transferable to the project. It was a challenge working with as many people with varying schedules as we were, and we weren’t able to meet often, so by the end of the semester we didn’t get to build the actuator itself. We were, however, able to build a prototype using photoresistors and motors to follow the direction of sunlight. This project was an exercise in applying lab skills to a hands-on, real-life project, and helped me to see more clearly the value of what I was learning in my classes.

At the time, I thought this was a cool project I could do with people I enjoyed spending time with, but I didn’t realize how far it would take me. It turned out that Electronnies with Gianni sparked my interest in energy, which eventually lead to my Senior Seminar project and an internship at an energy company. Perhaps the title of this project is not the most professional-sounding, but it gave me the opportunity to explore an option in my professional life I never would have thought to seek otherwise. 

Reflections from the Driver’s Seat

Oct
23

This post mentions SLOs, which are described here

At a small, primarily residential campus, it is easy for students who live elsewhere to feel forgotten. Agnes Scott College, like many schools, is a school that emphasizes living on campus, especially to prospective students, as a crucial part of “the college experience.” While it is certainly a good experience for many students, I personally tend to disagree that it is crucial. Commuting to college is a quite normal thing to do, and there are plenty of commuting students who are active and involved in campus life. However, because the college is primarily residential, and because it is true that residential students have greater opportunities for getting involved by virtue of being physically present at all times, it can be difficult for many commuter students to be involved and to feel that they are acknowledged, whether it be in the scheduling process of event programming or even our general day-to-day campus needs as people who do not have a place of our own nearby. That is where the Commuter Student Organization (CSO) comes in. From my sophomore year, I have been the treasurer of the CSO, and I have been involved in the organization from my very first semester. We are a student organization created to advocate for the needs of commuter students, be it negotiating event programming schedules to be accessible to commuters or managing the few commuter-exclusive spaces on campus, or really anything else commuter students voice concerns about. We put on events as well, mostly to raise awareness of issues affecting the greater Atlanta community (since we are all local, after all), and often just to bring students together and foster a sense of community.

Being a part of the CSO has been the most important non-academic part of my college experience. It has taught me a lot about community building, leadership, and, of course, Excel spreadsheets. I’ve even been able to pick up on some SUMMIT learning outcomes: identifying my values, interests, and abilities (8); learning how to recognize, analyze, and employ effective teamwork (7); cultivating and maintaining interpersonal relationships and networks (with other commuter students, alums, and the administration) (12); and identifying, evaluating and strategically utilizing campus and community resources (15).

I had not expected many of the difficulties my peers and I faced being commuters at a school like this, but I was always grateful that a student organization existed to address those issues. As a first year student, I looked up to upperclassmen who were on the executive board of the organization, and quickly found myself trying to get involved and do for others what they had done for me. Through events, communication  and negotiation with administration, and a commitment to the students we want to serve, the CSO has been able to build a community of commuter students who may not live here but can still call Agnes Scott College a home away from home. 

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