Pain is temporary, GPA is forever - Goodbye University

I like to compare Engineering school to riding a bike. Except the bike is on fire, you're on fire, and everything is on fire........

 Having just graduated, I feel it is a good time to look back at the painful wonderful memories of the past three years I spent at University.

My actual high school yearbook

Florida International University. A young, bustling university in the heart of Miami, Florida. Full of life and innovation. Most people haven't heard of FIU but it's quickly growing in reputation. FIU has history in my family. My own father earned his degree from FIU about 15 years before I would. Then there is my brother Henry, who majored in Electrical Engineering just like I would a year later.

Meet Henry,
Henry is one year older than I am and also studied Electrical Engineering at FIU. Henry and I took the same classes Physics, Calculus, Fields and Waves, Differential Equations, etc. We worked together on projects, hackathons, and homework. We pulled all-nighters together and taught each other what we needed in order to survive. But, we'll get into that soon.

Stay humble Henry
Why FIU? Well I chose FIU because of their merit scholarships. FIU offered me a full ride because of my high SAT scores (If it's free, it's for me). The scholarship stipulations were that I could not fail any classes or attend less than full time. 

My first year in university was filled with discovery. First year courses were mainly pre-requisite type classes that were very standardized and cookie cutter. This year was not too difficult and I enjoyed being involved with the school. This year is when my GPA was the highest.

My graduation cap. Thank you Dr. Pons

FIU's library is where I spent many days. The 7 floor library always had a quiet spot to overlook the campus. If you came at night and sat on the 5th floor you could watch the busy campus scramble about. I taught myself Calculus 2, Differential Equations, and Multi variable calculus on that 5th floor. By far the best study spot on campus.

First Year

The first year is the weed-out year. This is the make it or break it. If you can survive the math classes on the first year you'll make it.

Some highlights from the first year are.

Building this Autonomous Robot for my Engineering Orientation class

And filming this breaking bad parody as extra credit for Chem 1 😄

Then on my second year, things really picked up. 

I discovered the Hackathon scene. By this point I had some skills and could actually build things. 

Headphones that convert music to vibrations - HackFSU

StartupFIU StartupWeekend

Henry sleeping under a table - HackGT
Hackathons are by far the greatest way to learn and develop skills as a university student. Hackathons are usually sponsored by a university or company and feature free transportation and food! Can't go wrong there. Even if you don't win anything you can learn tools and skills that others use and apply that to your future projects. Generally people stay up all night working on an idea and present at the end of a weekend. The competitions are addictive and it isn't uncommon for winners to get job offers or large cash prizes. I attended at least 8 during my university, my best being Startup Weekend Miami.

I ran a triathlon, and survived...

FIU triathlon

And I got a few cool jobs on campus

Wall of Wind 600hp turbine

The second year you begin taking real engineering classes. Things start getting fun. My favorite class from this year was ethical hacking. Ethical Hacking is a course dedicated to learn hacking for the sake of security. Mid lecture I discovered a way to browse every camera at FIU....

Watching a professor administer an exam
Then my senior year began. This is the pinnacle of everything I had learned. 

Third Year
Senior projects and job hunting consumed all of my time. Henry and I buckled down and spent many late nights cramming for our exams.

My advice for others just starting engineering university?

Don't feel intimidated. Nobody else understands what the professor is saying. After the lecture, open the textbook and teach yourself. Find your quiet spot on campus and learn how to learn.
This is how you will feel after every lecture
Get involved with Major League Hacking and win some hackathons. Apply to jobs on campus. Start a club or become president of one.

Don't forget the end goal and take my word, it's worth it.