Spring ’17

welcome to another season of Lehigh ECEs. The first episode (first few weeks) is of course as confusing as usual. actors(students) try to get used to their roles in the play and master their lines among other responsibilities. In this ending episode, I mistakenly featured in a wrong scene. Confused, I stepped of the scene feeling stupid and ashamed. It always happens, when you have five or more classes, the chances that you will end up in the wrong class in the first week is high.  Interestingly, by the second/third week, you no longer need to refer to your schedule.

As a sophomore, my first semester was surprisingly hard and frustrating. A lot of 4 credit classes, and as you know, you don’t want to mess with those. Anyway, to another fresh semester, I welcome you back to ride through smoothly. Do not procrastinate. As it is said, it is never too early to start.

My favorite class this semester is…I don’t know yet. Here is to all ECE 123 people, that lab will kill you if you don’t prepare before hand. photo 2.jpg

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Clean is our future

Enough and a lot has been said about the need to replace the current energy systems with clean energy. The effects of non-renewable sources of energy are way too expensive to our environment and someone must step up and make sure that the trend changes. We are  the future, and yes we can change things! Let me give you a little snap short of how much potential of clean energy we have.

“According to International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates, generation of electricity by renewables including large hydro made up just 19.5 percent of the world total in 2004. The IEA’s baseline figures see electricity generation by renewables, excluding hydro, expanding by 9.3 percent a year between 2004 and 2015. Current investment trends would seem to indicate that this projection underestimates sector growth.

The sharpest increases in investment flows into clean energy have come via venture capital and private equity, and through investment in public capital markets. NEF estimates are that venture capital and private equity investment in 2006 totalled USD 7.1 billion worldwide, an increase of 163 percent over 2005 levels. Investment via public markets increased almost as quickly, by 140 percent, to USD 10.3 billion, with the flow of initial public offerings of renewable energy companies particularly strong in the second quarter of 2006. Other categories of investment have also seen decent growth in 2006. Government and corporate research and development increased by 25 percent to USD 16.3 billion. The financing of clean energy infrastructure projects – termed asset financing – rose by 23 percent to USD 27.9 billion. Small scale projects increased from an estimated USD 7 billion in 2005 to USD 9.3 billion in 2006.

The ability of the markets to mobilise capital quickly behind new innovators is providing a counter-balance, or at least a forewarning, to the obstinacy of energy sector incumbents. For instance, the solar photovoltaic market has seen the emergence of a new breed of pure-play technology leaders such as REC in Norway and Q-Cells in Germany3. The fact that today’s market leaders mostly didn’t exist a few years ago and that a healthy pipeline of new Initial Public Offerings is getting ready to follow on their heels is indicative of the rapidly changing dynamics of the whole clean energy sector. In line with solar, the European biofuels market is also gaining momentum after the strong take-off in the US, however market and project complexity is a barrier to faster uptake. Investor attention to wave and tidal energy is also growing faster than expected. The investor landscape is becoming more crowded, but more professional.

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One impact of competition is that investor interest is internationalising rapidly to places like China and India.” source:https://renewable energy.com

As the article highlights, we have adequate potential and a few barriers to beat before we go clean!

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Packard lab

Popularly abbreviated as PA, Packard lab is one of the oldest and yet most attractive gothic building on campus. It is the home to electrical,computer, mechanical engineers. The six story building will definitely be your home if your are in the ECE department.

Packard has plenty of study space, whenever you are bored with the library or just to get an alternate study area, Packard is definitely the option. Packard is also the place to relax. There so may displays, a collection of items from our founders and outstanding alumni,  that will motivate you in time of despair or work overload.

Packard is the place to go when you need help with homework, understanding some concepts, or just looking for advice. This is where all ECE teaching assistants, professors, and other faculty offices are located. Packard is also the place to be for social functions. PA 101 is one of the largest auditorium in campus and most organizations do their events.

I hope you are already in love with PA.

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After Pacing break

Pacing break came at the right time of the semester when everyone was getting wary of school life, a lot of workload. I was personally excited because I really needed a break. It was just a snapshot and now we are back, as an electrical engineer, things do not get easy, you have to get used to it, you have to be tough.

Most second year classes start ten minutes past ten, not bad! I remember my first year had two classes at 7:55am, and it was really hard. As I always say, I would rather stay awake till 6 in the morning than wake up at the same time.

So its after pacing break and everything is smooth, a lot of homework, quizzes, projects..name them. For me, the trickiest assignments are ECE033 programming assignments; I remember the last assignment, i dint start working on it until the night that it was due. It was really frustrating. It took me and my friend straight 7 hours trying to figure it out, and fortunately, a few minutes before due time, we were able to finalize our program. You don’t want this to happen to. Stay on top of your assignment.

 

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First round of midterms

“Open book, open notes, EXAM!” Is the term they use for ECE introductory courses exam. Do not be fooled by this though, I am a living testimony to the fact that depending on the idea that you will have the text book or notes with you in the exam is the worst attitude.

I had my ECE081 midterm a few days ago. I went into the exam room well prepared with my notes and when the exam was passed for us to begin, I dint even think for once to look at my notes. I realized that I had four complex questions to solve in 50 minutes. I had no time flip back and forth through my notes. Take my advice, don’t go into such exams expecting to read through your notes. Make an equation sheet that will act as quick reference but have most of the stuff in your brain. Study for such exams as if you will not have access to your notes!

All in all, ECE is a fun class. The professor is enthusiastic and makes the class enjoyable.

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Middle

Too far from the finish line, yet too late to turn back.

Amid the chaos of closing assignments and preparations for final exams that comes with the last week of classes, I have not had time to digest the fact that I will be halfway through my college career. No matter how cliché it sounds, I truly cannot believe the differences from where I was two years ago to where I am today.

Surprisingly, I do remember the first day I arrived on Lehigh’s campus as a timid freshman. It’s pretty sweet and funny to recall how long it took me to find my way back to my room after saying goodbye to my parents outside the freshmen dorm. The buildings were so big, scary and complicated to navigate. As a freshman, I discovered my major, found my squad, became immersed in awesome organizations, and learned the ins and outs of Lehigh. I made a couple of mistakes along the way (like skipping one too many classes or falling up the Dravo stairs), but I also achieved a lot as well. The first year of college will always be a time of growth and fun for students.

The second year of college is a time of growth as well, but not in the momentous spurts that occurred in freshman year. The buildings aren’t so scary anymore, and Lehigh is no longer an unknown world. My squad remains, and that group still makes up my closest friends, but our circle has certainly expanded – for the better. With sophomore year comes the challenge of maturing professionally by seeking internships, diving into more challenging classes, and deciding what your career will look like. For me, sophomore year was the first couple of steps on my journey to planning life after college.

Being in the middle of college is weird.

It’s a place in your life where you feel like you’ve developed so much that you’re not sure how much more you can grow; however, you know there’s a lot more to come in the near future – you just don’t know how much. Am I almost done, or am I just getting started? I can see it two ways: “Wow, I’m halfway through college. Where did the time go?”, or “A lot happened in the past two years. I have two years ahead of me. I still have a long ways to go.”

A couple of weeks ago, I had a conversation with a departing senior. A lot of his friends were staying at Lehigh to get their master’s degrees, but he was one of the few that was actually leaving in order to attend med school. I was talking to him about my conflicting thoughts of being almost done or still having a lot ahead of me. His reply was, “I definitely get that two years sounds like a long time, but, honestly, it really does go by so fast. So enjoy it.”

So during the moment of being in the middle, I guess I’ll take his advice and treasure the memories that have been made and the memories yet to be created.

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5 Stages of a Hackathon

Two weeks ago – April 1, 2016. It’s about 9:00pm on a Friday night, and I am already fast asleep. I have a perfectly reasonable explanation for this. I participated in my first hackathon! So let’s rewind to about 30 hours ago and look at all the ups and downs of this 26 hour event.

1. Must be something in the atmosphere

March 31 – 3:00pm. Seriously, click on the link to see a quick walk-around of Lehigh’s first Hackathon.

(pic.twitter.com/Ar1rppKUuG)

The energy of the environment is very unique in the fact that you can almost feel the creativity and innovation flowing through the air. As you walk through the large, open room you can see all the teams working furiously at their desks and whiteboards. Stepping into this atmosphere was an exciting start to the event.

(Above: LehighHacks prior to the start of the event.)

2. Let’s Get Down to Business

March 31 – 4:00 to 12:00am. After the introductions and presentations from our awesome sponsors (like IBM, Wells Fargo, Lutron, Microsoft, and more),the students got into their teams and decided their projects. Sponsors had optional challenges for teams to solve and earn great prizes, or students could work on their own inventions. The real work begins.

There’s a lot of confusion about what goes on at hackathons. Many people think it’s creating code to break into these complex, hypothetical systems. However, hackathons are really events where you can come up with an idea (one that you’ve thought about before or one you’ve just created at the event), and you have the opportunity to crank out the work on this project with the benefit of equipment provided and available assistance from top-notch professionals.

Hackathon - work hard

(Above: Team 18 created a fort to serve as their workspace. They’re just getting started.)

3. Death

April 1 – 12:00am to 6:00am. It’s that time of the hackathon where you’ve been working on your project for hours and all of a sudden you’re faced with this problem that is impossible or you are unable to finish it before the hackathon ends. You’re extremely tired, and you can’t seem to figure this problem out. At this point, all your efforts seem hopeless, and you’re wondering whether or not to abort your mission entirely.

Hackathon - death

(Above: Students take a nap during the late hours of LehighHacks.)

4.The Hack

April 1 – 6:00am to 12:00pm. As you face this huge problem, you realize that there’s a way around it. Your idea is not what you originally planned, but it’s a fast and easy way to get the job done in time for judging. Therefore, you hack your way around the problem. This is why it is called a hackathon. This is the time where you push yourself towards the finish line.

Hackathon - need energy

(Above: Professor Spear and students do push ups for some much-needed energy.)

5. Final Product Presentations and Awards

April 1 – 4:00pm. T-minus 2 hours until you can go home and sleep. But before you look ahead to your hibernation from the world, look back at the past 24 hours and see all that you’ve accomplished. You’ve had your idea, you hit the ground running with your original plan, and you found a clever way around your problems. Now you have your final product which you will present to the judges.

One of the things I appreciated the most about the hackathon was the great, easy networking opportunities. Because you have a project to present, you avoid all the awkward middle conversations. I’m very grateful to have met some impressive representatives of prestigious companies.

 

Would I do it again?

Without a doubt, yes. Despite my fatigue and the stress that happens during the 12th hour of the event, my first hackathon was extremely rewarding. Not only did I get to collaborate with individuals on a cool project (a resume-worthy experience, by the way), meet professionals within my field, and see some other awesome projects, but I also got to do all of this for free! A hackathon is an awesome event that greatly increases your experience in computer science.

Hackathon - Summary

Photos from http://lehighu.tumblr.com/post/142075466509/these-lehigh-university-students-are-entering-the
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