Hello everybody! It’s Jake again, just as a refresher as to who I am and what I’m doing here. I’m a junior in Aerospace Engineering from Des Moines, IA and an active member of the Iowa State University Honors Program. Last week was the middle of our academic term, creatively known as “midterms”. To dispel some quick myths about midterms I will say the following:
1. Not every class has “midterm” exams
- For example: I didn’t have a single exam during midterm week
- All of my classes held their first exams in the few weeks prior to midterm week
- In that sense, midterm week isn’t anything like finals week . . . finals is worse
2. “Midterm” actually doesn’t mean you have an exam
- To say you have a midterm, at Iowa State, typically that is interpreted as: at the eighth week in the semester you have a C- or lower in a class
- If you tell me that you have a ”midterm”, I would kindly point you in the direction of the library, where you should go study
3. You can skip classes during “midterm” week and still be in the Honors program
- “Skip” is a relative term of course; you can be absent from your courses if and only if you have a valid reason for doing so
- I would recommend telling your professors the days that you will be “skipping” and getting ahead on homework and projects
The latter myth about midterms is something that I only recently discovered. Last week, I was fortunate enough to be invited, as part of my research group, to attend a project review meeting with NASA in Washington D.C. As exciting as that sounds, do recall that the government only reopened last Wednesday night. Our meeting, to be held on Thursday, required that the government be open 24 hours in advance. It’s not hard to do the math and see that our meeting was officially cancelled…but we were already in D.C. So instead we had an “unofficial meeting” that still entailed meeting with one of the science officials and presenting to a company that reviews Department of Defense contracts. I assure you the trip was not a waste. We received valuable feedback as a group and we received valuable presentation experience and advice.
For me, as a lowly undergraduate college student, I certainly have never been to a research project review meeting, and, for that matter, I have never in my life been to the nation’s capital. It was a win-win in my book. After our unofficial meeting on Thursday, I took off my proverbial research hat and put on my hat as a tourist. Thursday night I went out and visited all of the traditional D.C. monuments. I was able to go to the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Memorial (under construction from an earthquake), the Vietnam Memorial, the WWII Memorial, the FDR Memorial, and finished with the Jefferson Memorial all in one night. My flight was to leave Friday afternoon, but I was bound and determined to go see a few of the recently reopened Smithsonian Museums. Friday morning I went to the museums, which are all FREE, and had myself a grand old time. I went to the Smithsonian Air and Space, Natural History and National Gallery of Art museums. And I still had time to stop by the White House before going back to the airport.
I would say that I pretty much covered all that I would have wanted to in our nation’s capital. A little bit of research and a little bit of sight seeing. It was an all-around great experience; I would highly recommend it to anyone given the opportunity. The image below is of me standing next to a stoic Thomas Jefferson at the Jefferson Memorial and the image above is of the Apollo 11 moon landing at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.