College, Housing, & Expenses

About Me: I am a freshman at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign(UIUC) majoring in system engineering and design. I'm a life long learner and have a curious personality. Throughout my childhood, I always enjoyed creating projects. I loved taking apart technology and seeing how everything was made to fit perfectly. I would look on the side of the road on Monday mornings for any garbage I could take apart or use in my next idea. I never liked throwing away the excess materials my father brought home because that unused 4' piece of PVC piping looked like a potential blowdart gun, and that aluminum can looked like an ingot that never got melted. Since my father was a carpenter and an auto mechanic that meant I always had a good supply of power tools to help me with my projects and allowed me to work on my hands-on skills. As I got older I realized how much I enjoyed engineering my projects and they began to get more complicated. To me, being an engineer is a way to learn how the world works and solve the problems we'll be facing in the future.

My Projects:
52169558_160378774249507_r.jpegI repurposed a microwave transformer and drenched this board in a baking soda solution to make it conductive enough to produce Lichtenberg figures; the lightning pattern singed into the board.

52169558_1603787776985155_r.jpegThis a 3D printed prototype steam engine I created that is powered by compressed air. I would love to make this out of more premium materials like brass one day.

52169558_1603787793605543_r.jpegThis was a robot I designed in high school with my team. I was almost solely responsible for designing the shape and dimensions of the bot with software and also had a hand in the physical creation.

52169558_1603787807266243_r.jpegThis aluminum casting was originally made of styrofoam layers. I had melted down aluminum railing and cans in a crucible made out of a broken fire extinguisher I cut in half. I then placed the foam casing in some sand and poured the molten aluminum down into it. The foam quickly burnt away and the aluminum took its place before the sand had time to cave in, after the aluminum cooled off the casting was complete.

52169558_160378782310163_r.jpegThis is the forge I use to harden the steel in my knives. 

52169558_1603787844402081_r.jpegThis was the first hardened blade I created.

52169558_160378786973904_r.jpegThis safe was made out of 3/8" steel angle iron and commercial grade door hinges. I welded together the sides and hinges and designed it to be locked with many standard and premium padlocks.

52169558_1603787892847803_r.jpegThis table was the first project that I sold to a friend of mine. The profit almost covered one of the website subscriptions I needed for school.

Education: I Chose UIUC because it has one of the best system engineering programs in the country(#6 U.S. News) and it was in my price range when first applying. I knew that college wasn't cheap and that it's worth the investment but there were a lot of fees and expenses that I didn't expect to be paying especially during these trying times. All of my classes happen to be online but I'm still expected to buy books, materials, and website subscriptions not to mention have a super-computer to run it all. Just one of the three websites for my math class cost $180 and it's only used to turn in a portion of my homework. The full cost of attending  UIUC is almost enough to buy two brand new cars and they still expect us to purchase all these necessary items.

Online Learning: I was never good with online resources in high school and always preferred the paper copies over any online version. The bright screens can only show one page at a time and often malfunction or are incompatible with different types of files at times. With paper, I'm able to sit down, flip between the pages I need, and have my notebook on the other side of my desk. From starting this semester I've counted 19 new websites that I needed to bookmark on my computer because of online learning. My school has had months to prepare for online schooling and it didn't occur to anyone that they should have one website that tells us where we can find all our zoom calls or ask for help. Instead, each teacher has their own website which we have to learn and navigate through to find the information that is crucial to our learning. 

Housing: I decided to switch my schedule to fully online when covid started becoming more serious on campus, and even though I live at home they still require me to pay over $13,000 in housing costs for the year. I feel like I've made such a huge mistake by coming to campus this year when I could've saved it and used that money towards future years or possibly graduate school.

Financing: This is by far my hardest year academically and financially. I just want to stop having my finances cause me more stress on top of my classes. The majority of these proceedings will either go towards a newer computer or housing for next year. Any amount you can spare will be extraordinarily helpful to my financial situation not to mention my mental health. Thank you.
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