Friday, April 22, 2011

Interview: Tara on the McMaster Solar Car!

Hi everyone, sorry the last posting was delayed because of exams. I know I talk about school a lot in these posts – it’s kind of why I’m here at Mac! – but there is a lot that goes on outside of classes, too. My friend Tara (a graduating Engineering Physics student, on the right in the picture shown), for example, is really involved with the McMaster Solar Car Project – a team that works together to design and build cars powered only by solar energy, and race against other vehicles from around the world. She answers some questions about her work with them below:

1) When and how did you first get involved with the McMaster Solar Car team?
In mid-March of 2009, I became acquainted with some of the members of the Solar Car team through casual conversation. A few weeks later they mentioned that they planned on doing their theses on the electrical/electro-mechanical sections of the solar car. I found this topic very interesting, and accepted an offer to complete my thesis on this work. I enjoyed the experience of working on the car so much that I have never left the team since.

2) What is your role within the team, and why?
In May 2010 I became one of the managers of the electrical team, co-managing along with another member. I was selected for this role because of my experience with the team through my thesis, active participation throughout the following year, and my ability to direct and delegate. In the meanwhile, one of the projects I took on was initiating an encapsulation process for solar cells. We have a small scale process completed right not and plan to have the full scale process running before the end of this summer.

3) What is the most challenging part of your involvement?
As a manager, the most challenging aspect has been motivating super-busy volunteers to meet a set of deadlines while struggling with funding for projects.

4) How do you balance work on the car with coursework?
Ever since I joined the McMaster Solar Car project, I have found that I have gained more enthusiasm towards my course work and have become stronger at time management. Despite the Solar Car team consuming much of my time, it has made it easier for me to organize myself – perhaps because I have gained a different appreciation for time. The motivation comes from seeing direct application of subjects we have learned about in school, as well as working alongside a strong group of motivated students who are team players and willing to share their knowledge and experience.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Iron ring! And summer plans

I promise - here on this blog - to update at least once a week for the rest of April! But wow, this last month has been crazy. The final race day for the robots; finishing my multiculturalism inquiry; the Kipling pranks (make sure to spot the Eng Phys ones - we rocked this year's Kipling), ceremony, and formal; and the piles and piles of paperwork for final reports. But it's finished now - hard to believe! - and I've just got a few short weeks to write some exams, make plans for the summer, pack up my stuff, and move out of my home of four years. But I like exams, because my time is my own and I can schedule it how I please. And there's a lot of social stuff organized, spending time with friends before we disperse and it gets much more difficult to meet up.

I also have travel plans for the summer, which are exciting! After running away for the past few summers to work overseas, I feel like I've missed out on learning more about my own country. This was part of the reason I chose to do my inquiry on multiculturalism, and Canada. So throughout May and June, I'm going to do a week-long roadtrip with Liz, Adri, and another housemate; visit a friend in Ottawa; and then head off to northern Quebec for five weeks to practice my french with the Explore program - at Alma, where there is a school with a music focus. Music and French were the two skills/interests I worried most about losing when I chose engineering, so it's kind of a perfect way to cap everything off. :)