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I remember as a student the day I first stepped on the Virginia Tech campus and became a part of the school and community in Blacksburg, Virginia. It was one of the best times in my life. We all want to learn and develop as individuals and when we attend college we hope we find the school that will help to challenge us and bring out our very best. I remember deciding on many schools in the process before I made my selection and I also attended a two year college initially where I was closer to home and was able to take a similar curriculum that would be considered for transfer.
I studied my first two years at Nassau Community College where I majored in Engineering Science which was designed to represent the first two year’s of studies towards an Engineering degree. In the first two years I took the typical math, science and engineering requirements consisting of the following:
Math – Calculus I, Calculus II, Multivariable Calculus (III), Linear Algebra and Differential Equations
Physics – Phy 122 Waves, Fluids, Heat; Phy 222 Electricity & Magnetism
Chemistry – Inorganic Chemistry I, Inorganic Chemistry II
Engineering Science – Statics (I), Dynamics (II), Circuit Analysis (III)
Business – Accounting I, Accounting II
Liberal Arts – Economics, Composition I & II, French I & II, Gym
I was all excited upon completing the first two years’ requirements and was now preparing for transfer to a 4 year college with a challenging engineering program. I remember looking at several schools within NY and outside of NY. I attended school campuses at Stony Brook, NY-SUNY Stony Brook; Hempstead NY-Hofstra University; Potsdam, NY -Clarkson University; Buffalo, NY-SUNY Buffalo; Troy, NY-RPI. I also attended campuses in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia and I found the process of choosing one school difficult because I liked all the schools I visited and I was impressed by the faculty and the students at each campus. I even had the opportunity of talking with some of the engineering students which was very helpful.
I knew I would receive a fine education at any of the schools I had to choose from and since I really fell in love with Virginia Tech and the Blacksburg community I decided on attending there. I also had an uncle who studied Electrical Engineering there and worked for Grumman and IBM before going on to become an attorney. I remember the first time I visited the campus with my parents after the 8 hour drive how beautiful and hugh it was. I was very impressed with the school, the campus, the community, the students and the faculty. I knew I would be challenged and I would learn and obtain a fine education.
As an engineering student there are many options and areas of study to choose from and I was interested in learning and being challenged. I remember as a young student always wanting to understand how things worked and being able to physically experience it. I learned a lot from my dad who was an ironworker and an artist. He loved his work as an ironworker so much that he would create small scale models out of cardboard, tooth picks, shoe boxes and balsa wood of what fascinated him. He was so very talented and I found he really brought to life the things he saw each and every day on the job sites. He built bridges, tower cranes, skyscrapers and airplanes all from images in his mind that he translated onto canvas as a drawing and then into 3 dimensional models all from simple things.
He was so very creative and talented and I just loved to sit with him and watch him work in recreating these items to such detail. This was my early boyhood memories that sparked my interest in wanting to understand how things are constructed, how they work and how wonderful it is to take a concept, draw it and design it and see it come to life. My dad was a big influence in sparking my interest in engineering and my mother was a big influence in sparking my interest in mathematics and numbers. I took a little bit of both from my mom and dad.
My parents were so proud when I chose to study Engineering and decided on Virginia Tech. I chose the Mechanical Engineering program and I knew I would learn all that I had hoped and would document things in a lab setting. I realized I was now becoming a young man and I was learning from some of the top minds who were educated in prestigious institutions. I was so impressed with the faculty and the schools they attended. Most of them had masters degrees and PhDs and they were from many different countries.
In studying I realized I was at the library most every day and I was constantly studying as I expected. In my first year of studies I took the typical 3rd year courses expected of a mechanical engineering student. In Virginia Tech instead of semesters we had 3 quarters and summer school.
I remember my favorite courses were Thermodynamics and Heat transfer. I was strong in the applications of calculus and realized that all the engineering and physics classes I took all were based on the foundations of calculus. As you learn the principles of engineering concepts you start to realize how great it is to actually understand how processes work and properly document them in the lab and in your reports. As you start to advance to the next course you see how things build upon themselves and how you need to always retain what you learn in each class as the education is progressive.
Life at Virginia Tech was not all about studying. I also enjoyed the college experience there and the sporting events. Going to a recognized NCAA college you get to see and experience some exciting football games. I remember seeing my first football game at Lane Stadium where Virginia Tech took on Wake Forest and it was a nationally televised event. It was exciting and the atmosphere was indescribable. I remember seeing in the crowd the college colors of Maroon and Orange, of which I also was a part of with my Virginia Tech shirt.
I remember the shouts of Hokie pride and the enthusiasm of being caught up in the excitement. I also attended Virginia Tech basketball games at Cassel Coliseum which kept me at the edge of my seat. It was always fun seeing our team win whether it was football, basketball, baseball or cross country running.
In experiencing college it is important to have all these types of experiences as they really help shape you and give you a complete picture of the school and its history. I made some friends in school and welcomed the opportunity of studying together, eating together and attending sporting events together. We also had movie nights where we would see current release movies and also attended some rock concerts. I even had a chance to go skiing in the mountains of Virginia with some of my fellow engineering classmates. It was a time I consider very special and as I look back I realize how fast it goes by. It seems we all hope to learn and grow and become a better person and we realize that education is very important in our lives.
I also have fond memories of looking on the professor’s bulletin board for our posted grades before leaving to go home after a school quarter. I frequented the bulletin boards for many things such as apartment listings, employment opportunities on campus and rides home. I was fortunate to always find a ride home as I did not yet have a car on campus. I always looked forward to the trips home to see my family during the holidays. I did miss my parents and family when I was away at school but I grew to get used to it.
I was well taken care of at Virginia Tech and I had made some really good friends there. I do remember on occasion having to go to the infirmary for a night or two upon feeling sick and the nurses were great in helping me get back to feeling better and to my classes once again. It is very hard to miss a class and you really don’t want to unless you are very sick. Luckily I only had two experiences of being that sick which was at most a day or two.
I also remember my favorite treat outside of the school dining program was going to a favorite hangout to get the best tasting chili dogs. I actually looked forward to those outings and it was a good break in between my engineering studies. As I look back on my time at Virginia Tech I can honestly say it was a great experience for me and it prepared me for adulthood and I truly was challenged and I have fond memories of the school, the campus, the faculty and the experience.
The hardest thing I had to come to terms with at Virginia Tech which was way after my time there was learning of the campus shooting tragedy that occurred there on April 16, 2007. I would never in my life have ever expected something as tragic as this occurring at such a wonderful school. I cried when I saw the reports and learned the facts. I don’t understand why these things happen and I feel very sad for the families who lost a loved one. It seemed like just an ordinary day but fate and history would tell a very different story. I pray for all those who perished that fateful day and for their families.
I believe Virginia Tech is one of the greatest and most dynamic schools in the country and it should be known for its impressive programs of study and not marred by the senseless tragedy. If you are considering Engineering or a great school that offers many fine academic, engineering and agricultural programs then you should consider Virginia Tech. The engineering department has been in the news many times for their fine accomplishments and recently for their program in designing a car that is made for the blind to drive. It is one of many great things that is happening at Virginia Tech.
To this day I still enjoy visiting at the campus, walking around there with my family and taking in a football game. The landscape is pretty much the same but there are some subtle changes. Now the hangouts there that are popular with the college crowd are Starbuck’s which were not there when I attended. The memorial is profound and very touching and out of respect for those who perished we also visited the campus memorial for the students and professors lost that fateful day. I talk to my son about my experiences at Virginia Tech and I find no matter how many years go by I still remember them as if they happened only yesterday. I also enjoy watching the NCAA football games and watching the Hokies play and cheering them on wih my son by my side!
Go Hokies! Go Virginia Tech!!