Junior year has been, without a doubt, the hardest year I’ve had. It’s not as crippling as people say it is however. I have been able to devote my full time to classes (and get okay grades!), but also take the time to work on my business plan for Farnsworth Nuclear (more on that below), tinker on the molten salt testbed, develop relationships, tinker with prototypes, and sleep!
It’s no walk in the park and it gets really discouraging at times, but I’d have to say that junior year is my favorite year. I wish I had more to write on some subjects. Maybe it’ll be a post on transmission lines. Maybe I’ll write another post on my faith!
Here’s a blog post/public to-do list for pages I need to write on. I’ll hyperlink the appropriate section headers as they become available!
USGS Data logger
Some guys at the USGS came to me and wanted a cheap data logger for permafrost temperature measurements. I said okay. It was kind of a tough project given that they wanted it cheap enough for people in mongolia to buy.
I posted about this below…but I really need to make a page for it. Apparently it’s important or something. I managed to win 1st place at the Mines Research Symposium so I got that going for me!
I can’t talk about what I do now that I have clients but I can show you! It’s a really fun hobby and I get paid to do it. How neat is that?!
The Western Nuclear Research Consortium
Since I got to SDSM&T I never made time to work on the fusor (because I was too busy winning, DUH!). That last bit was sarcasm. Now that I’m right up against the wire for graduation, I decided to form the Western Nuclear Research Consortium. It consists of the brightest minds at Mines and we’re building on the beam lab!
I broke up with Siouxsie on October 4th. It was mutual. We had an amazing run together giving TEDx talks and winning money and whatnot but we are two different people. Or maybe we broke up because we’re two of the same people?
Anyway in hindsight I learned four big things about relationships:
- Don’t date because everybody thinks you’re cute as a couple
- Establish a good foundation as friends before you date*
- Women naturally are crazy. Find a crazy you can embrace.
- Look at their mother if you want a glimpse of the future.
*I put big emphasis on this one before we did end up dating. But I would recommend way more than 9 months especially if there is any trace of doubt inside of your head.
This one was tough because we were able to run the company for so long after the breakup and had so much invested into it. I think it was for the best. In the end I lost my 3D printer but got to keep the IP and my copy of Solidworks.
In the end I was able to write everyone a check for $100. Who says it was a wash?
Colorado Ski Trip
Immediately following the dissolution I was invited to go skiing with an old friend. We met at nuclear astrophysics camp. She’s played a very important role in my life since we first met and I was super excited to spend some time unwinding with her and her family over Christmas break. I totally needed that so thank you Miller family!!
I had to do something with my intellectual property. I was going to take a second stab at the Governor’s giant vision. As you can tell by the section header labeled “Rejection” down below, it didn’t work out too well.
Two Nuclear Reactors, Cannolis, and Fr. Sparks
I decided to fly out east for spring break and go see some friends. It was an amazing time. I took nothing but my backpack and an open mind.
Thank you Jake for letting me crash at your place!
Michelle made me sleep on the floor…but thanks for letting me crash at Brown!
I had a few beers and got to lay down at Jared’s pad! Thank you so much! I’m sorry I stole your keys 🙁
At 2 AM I left to take a trip down to UMD!
Timothy Koeth took the entire day off to show me around the facilities at UMD. I also got to meet up with Frank and Heidi!
I left the DC area at around 10pm and began my trip north back towards Boston to see Fr. Sparks. Super big thank you to Dane for getting us a tour of the MIT reactor!
After the reactor tours Fr. Sparks arranged for me to stay the night in the “soviet sector” of Boston College High School where the other jesuits stayed. It was such a nice end to my trip waking up for mass at 6, eating a quiet breakfast, and then heading out.
All of the places that I applied to for an internship had declined me. This part was sad. Especially after I turned down a really lucrative coop offer from Kimberly Clark. The Governor’s Giant Vision competition had black balled me and my plan (it was probably the bunny ears), and I was leaning on the hopes that we would receive funding from NASA for a grant a couple of us friends typed up. At this point on my life I was just planning on taking my motorcycle and being a beach bum on the MexiCali border.
Why It’s Okay to be Sad
The feelings of rejection were very real. When you start your own company, give two TEDx talks, build a nuclear reactor, and are working on a second, and you get a rejection letter from a company it really hurts your self confidence. It got worse when my backup plans suddenly started falling through.
This sadness you experience is an integral part of your life experience. Embrace it, but don’t wallow in self pity because of it. Use it as drive to forge ahead.
It gets better, but it’s up to you to make it better
There’s this movie called Flight of the Phoenix (2004), and it’s got a scene in it that really stuck with me throughout my life it goes as follows:
“Let me tell you a story. A rabbi and a priest attend a boxing match. They watch as the boxers come into the ring. The rabbi sees one of the boxers cross himself. So the rabbi turns to the priest and asks, ‘What does that mean?’ The priest says, ‘Not a damn thing if the man can’t fight.'”
God has a plan for each of us, and I’m sure most of you subscribe to this idea. This doesn’t mean we can sit around and eat bonbons while He does all of the heavy lifting. That wouldn’t make sense. It’s up to you to pull yourself out of the mud sometimes. He’ll take care of the rest.
I have the wonderful opportunity to sponsor a candidate through the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults). Jason got his bachelors in apologetics, so basically every time we would meet, he would teach me something. He is a great guy who really found Christ and His church. For this I am grateful. I got an amazing friend out of the deal too!
I don’t like cats. But our lab got a new mill so I decided to go crazy.
Dogs are cool.
The NASA grant
This story is funny. Dr. Tolle basically came up to Adrian and I and asked if we wanted to write a NASA grant for the multispectral imager I built. We said yes on a whim. A small team was formed of Jorree, Adrian, and Myself to type up the grant.
I decided to follow in the steps of Hemingway and write drunk, and let Joree and Adrian edit while I was sobering up. That’s how it goes right?
We submitted a nice 50 page proposal on time. NASA was supposed to get back to us by January but formally delayed to February. They took the entirety of February to tell us that they were formally delaying to April. This made Joree and I very nervous as we were dependent on this grant for summer funding.
April 6th we finally learned that we were selected for the grant!! WAHOO!
Remember how I said it was up to you to pull yourself out of your ruts? After all of that rejection and being down to a grant that might not be awarded, I decided to branch out hardcore and rely on some friends with connections to hook me up.
It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
And…..after several weeks of hard work and very kind introduction emails with big officials at various national labs, I decided to apply to a completely unrelated opportunity at Los Alamos National Lab.
Guess which one pulled through?
It’s not even who you know sometimes. Just trust in God when you get to that point.
I formally accepted a position at LANL for the summer. This happened Monday. I learned about receiving the NASA grant Wednesday. It’s going to be a VERY busy summer indeed.
I need to say that I am SUPER grateful for those of you who did reach out and bend over backwards for me. I know the amount of effort it takes to do these things and am deeply indebted to you.
Grad School and Beyond
I’m basically sold on University of Maryland. They have a nuclear reactor which is what I really like. Tim Koeth is an awesome person who really was supportive of me and my endeavours over the years. Provided I get admitted I’m certain that’s where I’d like to go for grad work on accelerators.
Who knows? Man plans, God laughs.
How do I do it?
I’ve pulled about six all nighters, had two mental breakdowns, and got really not all that much to show for it except for an increased risk of cancer. But here are some tips for those of you trying to do literally everything.
If you don’t have the self control to keep your nicotine sensitivity up then I would not recommend it.
Talk to your friends. Spend time with your friends. Your projects will always be there, but if you don’t grow relationships you’re missing out on the half of life.