Dear Family and Friends,
I hope that your Christmas season was wonderful and that your 2012 has gotten off to a roaring start! I’d love to hear what is new and exciting in your lives, so please feel free to write me a note at any time. My schedule has finally slowed down, giving me time to send you my yearly update. Highlights include research, graduating, job hunting, and a boyfriend!
The majority of my time this past year was occupied with doing propulsion research at Purdue. I was doing an experimental study of the flame structure in combusting droplets of monomethyl hydrazine (a rocket fuel), so I got to make fire and film it with a high-speed movie camera, like Mythbusters. The Mythbusters don’t have to write a Master’s thesis, though. I started writing mine in March, intending to graduate in August. However, it soon became clear that a good thesis would require that my defense date be pushed back to October.
I also wrote a paper for the AIAA Joint Propulsion Conference in San Diego. I flew out there with the rest of my lab at the end of July. Besides presenting my paper, doing some networking, and going to a party on an aircraft carrier (the U.S.S. Midway), I got to visit SpaceX and see some friends and my aunt’s family! The academic side of my life concluded with my defense in mid-October, a frantic all-nighter making the corrections that my committee wanted, and finally the depositing of my thesis.
A quick glance at my non-academic activities at Purdue: February’s much-anticipated Snowpocalyse didn’t really materialize, but did dump enough snow in Indiana to go sledding and birth The Rocket Sled, which produced some great stories. Ask me about it, or see my photo album on Facebook. For spring break in March, I organized a backpacking trip with a few friends in the Appalachian foothills of southern Ohio. It was cold. And awesome.
My sister graduated from the Rice University astrophysics program in May, so I had a wonderful weekend down in Houston catching up with old friends. Also, by Easter, I had been on 1.5 dates with a friend from the Mechanical Engineering department, Andy. He came down to Texas with me in July to meet my parents. We also visited Houston; I gave him the VIP tour of Rice and downtown. Just recently, we took a ski trip. It was an amazing time – I’d never been skiing before, though, so I had a lot of “oh-no-I’m-going-to-die” moments.
Every year, my church in Indiana hosts a Vacation Bible School for elementary-aged children. I got to help on the drama team this year. Singing and jumping up and down for ten minutes straight are both super fun and exhausting! The Intervarsity Christian Fellowship Graduate chapter was again a big part of my life this year; we were praying that God would help us develop a real sense of community, and it’s been wonderful to see how the group has grown both larger and closer.
From mid-November to mid-December, I headed southeast to Wycliffe Bible Translator’s JAARS center near Charlotte, North Carolina. Searching for a job includes a lot of waiting, so I figured that I might as well do something useful in that time. I applied for jobs in the evenings, and volunteered during day. The JAARS center supports, among other things, mission aviation. Light aircraft and helicopters are used to deliver supplies and support Bible translators in extremely remote areas, such as the mountains of Indonesia. I divided my time between programming modifications to a pilot recruiting database and doing high-level concept work on things such as autonomously controlled parachutes.
Currently, I’m still looking for a job. I’ve had a few site interviews, one of which allowed me to see my uncle and his family in December. Shameless plug: If you know of anybody that needs an aerospace engineer/rocket scientist, send them my way!
I wish you the very best in the coming year. Let me know what is new in your lives! As always, if you’d like to glance at what I’m doing, my blog is at http://aglassdarkly.wordpress.com
Stay in touch!