Dreams Can Come True!

Everyone has that childhood dream that if it actually happened it would make their life, right? James has one too – and last weekend, he experienced his childhood dream. Read his blog about the excitement!

Posted by James

May 28th, 2011. The day of the famed Champions League Final between FC Barcelona and Manchester United FC. I remember talking to my friends at school, “Rooney is going to score 2 goals, Messi will get one back but it will be too late in the end. I got Manchester United (United) winning it all!”

“Really?” My friend Mark wasn’t convinced. He thought Barcelona (Barca) would prevail and sadly they did winning 3-1. Long before this UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) final I was a huge fan of Manchester United. It is often considered one of, if not the biggest clubs in the world. Many people who side with United are considered “band-wagon” fans, just picking the winning team for a change. Not me! I fell in love with United because of Wayne Rooney, the prolific goal scoring machine and arguably England’s best player for the last decade.

As a kid, we didn’t have access to the fancy “European” sports channels, so I grew familiar with his work by the likes of YouTube and other internet sources. I remember watching him play, always so intelligent, decisive, powerful: the complete Striker. Rooney was my idol, I would always try to emulate his playing style whenever I played soccer. His style was my ideal way of playing so naturally I gravitated to him. And that sad day in late May as I cheered for United’s equalizer and then cried as moments later as Messi and Barca stole the cup marked an important moment for me.

Following this day, the US began investing massive amounts of money into the English Premier League. So for the next 5.5 years I would began seeing more of my favorite team and favorite player. Waking up early mornings and annoying my parents as I cheered for goals year after year. Yet despite the increased coverage I always felt like something was missing. To cement yourself as a real United fan one must make the famed pilgrimage to Old Trafford -their mighty home stadium. So when I decided I would be studying abroad this semester, this was one of my first concerns and largest trip budgets.
And this last weekend, my dream of seeing the Red Devils live at home finally came true. As the week progressed I remember feeling more and more nervous that something might go wrong, I’d miss the bus, or plane, the tickets might not arrive, something felt off. And then it hit, it just felt too good to be true. Something I’ve dreamt of for years was finally coming true.

A shot of the field of Old Trafford, “The Theatre of Dreams.”

Friday, September 9th
“Chirp, Chirp, Chirp, CHIRP, CHIRP!” My alarm sounds. I snooze knowing its 4 am. A couple minutes later I drag my corpse-like body out of my bed and begin getting ready. Today my dream is coming true!! Yet right now all I can think about is sleep. After only a few hours of sleep, I begrudgingly pack my bag and run through my checklist. As I come out of the bathroom I look at my watch. 5:10?? The bus! I grab my passport and tickets and burst out the door of Lafayette. As I board the 1st, then 2nd bus, then the train to Paris something begins to change in me. With each step of my journey completed the dream starts to become reality. Finally, I make it to the airport and walk on to my plane all smiles.

Football fans entering the stadium under huge advertisements for the football players.

As I exit my cab and walk into the best hostel I’ve ever seen, I suddenly tense up: now the moment of truth. Did my tickets arrive? I walk up to the receptionist and begin checking-in. I “casually” mention that I bought tickets to the Manchester Derby and that they should have arrived. She notices my conflicting emotions of joy and anxiety. Finally she returns from the stockroom with an envelope in her hand, and my heart legitimately skips a beat. I began thanking her, probably too much, as I open up my package, once again all smiles.

Saturday, September 10th: The Manchester Derby
I wake casually around 10, shaking the night before. Late into the day, the true ability of football was witnessed as I became good “mates” with someone from my

James in front of “The United Trinity” statue in front of Old Trafford.

hostel. His name was Sam, and he had flown 31 hours all the way from Sydney, Australia for this game. We both grab some traditional English breakfast and start making our way down to the game. The first timers and foreigners become interspersed among the locals in the massive crowds as we approach the stadium. As we near, we hear the singing and chants of the local United fans, all “preparing” for the game.

As Sam and I round the corner we see it! Old Trafford, instantly we both become children jumping up and down and shoving each other with excitement. “Oh my god, will you look at this Sam!” My heart is racing, blood pumping we begin a fast sprint to the stadium. As we find our separate gates and wish each other a good match, time stops. I scan my ticket and walk through the gate.

The security guard says, “Welcome to Old Trafford, and thank you.” As I move through the gate I almost yell, “No THANK YOU SIR!” And what happens next no words can truly describe, seeing that stadium gradually fill with fans, then eventually the players can’t be put into words, certainly not by mine. And while we did not win the match, much like back in 2011, it was a life changing moment. I can still hear the iconic roar and chants of fans throughout the game. One moment that will always stay with is linked below, click to experience a little of the Red Devils at Old Trafford.

Meet Your Wardens: Angel Sanchez

In the second edition of “Meet Your Wardens,” Angel explains why he chose to be an RA and what he’s hoping to give and get this semester!

Posted by James.

One of GTL’s fabulous RA’s, Angel!

And the EE’s have it! It appears that more than half of our RA staff is comprised of electrical engineers. I’m not sure what the qualities of this major have to do with being helpful, speaking foreign languages and wanting to be an RA; however, we won’t ask questions. Our second edition of this issue is Angel Sanchez a 3rd year electrical engineer.
Like Lara, Angel also speaks another language besides English. He doesn’t quite speak six languages, just the one – Spanish. However, Angel is fluent in Spanish because he was born in Cali, Colombia. As the son of two immigrants, I have firsthand experienced that your life isn’t the same as an average American. Angel’s experience is an even greater amplification of this statement. He moved to Georgia at the age of five. When asking Angel about his childhood he responded by saying, “Being from Colombia has really affected my life. I grew shy in part because of the language barrier.” Angel struggled with English up until middle school. At this point in his life, Angel became more outgoing and is continuing to better this aspect of himself. This brings him to GTL.
A common theme I am picking up on from our RA’s is a sense of community. Each has their own aspirations of building a better living, learning, friendship environment here at GTL. Angel is no different. What drew him to being one of our Resident Advisors was the ability to resolve conflict. He states “being an RA gives me the opportunity to resolve conflict and therefore build a better community. This aspect could once again stem from his birth, as Colombia has been dealing with conflict issues for several decades and perhaps Angel wishes to hone his skills to one day help his homeland.

Angel is looking to host social events throughout the semester for both the students and faculty of GTL in an effort to create new friendships and once again, a better community. This sense of “closeness” was one of the many things I looked forward to this semester. Angel understands this the same, being such a small group of students of only 150 or so compared our normal fifteen thousand plus back in Atlanta is a great opportunity to make lifelong friendships. (The friendships that are formed by taking 3am trains together to Amsterdam for instance.) It seems that this sense of community is a core moral of Angel’s, even contributing to his choice of major.
Like Lara once again, Angel originally became interested in Electrical Engineering due to its vast impact in the real world. “I like how electricity is involved in almost everybody’s life.” However, unlike Lara, Angel seems to be driven by this sense of community in terms of his future goals. Angel loves the challenge of such a hard major and strives to create a better world using his knowledge, as he’d be “improving the technology most people use.” He would like to get a job that focuses on semiconductors and/or computers.
In closing, I’ll leave you with some wise words from Angel. In our efforts to understand foreign culture and its people understand the differences and appreciate them. “Being Colombian has also taught me to be more thankful for the things I have. I get reminded every time I go visit Colombia and see the poverty so many people struggling financially!” Be proud of where you come from and the roots that hold you, but also extend olive branches to others and perhaps they will do the same for you.

One 48-hour Day

Experience Amsterdam through James’ eyes: all of the sights, emotions, and stories on the trains!

Posted by James

I never know how to start these things when I go on a great trip or weekend excursion. How do you begin? What really signifies the beginning of those moments? Travelling somewhere is half the battle, and therefore half the story.

Thursday, 9/1
“Yeah, we’ll be heading downtown in probably 35 minutes, maybe grab some food before the train. You’re welcome to join us since you’re not going out this weekend.”
“Great. I’ll hang out with you guys before the train.”
It’s 5pm on Thursday in Metz. Class has just finished and our first true study abroad weekend is calling our names. Since we’re taking an overnight to Amsterdam with a few stops along the way, we head downtown to say goodbye to Metz for the weekend. We head directly to a nice corner of town we have been discovering over the past few days, and we are quite ready for the weekend to start.

Friday, 9/2 (7 hours later)
“Uhhh, when is this train gonna get here? I can’t deal with this guy anymore!”
“It’ll be here at three, calm down.”
I’ve been sitting on this bench for what feels like two days. My legs are pounding, I haven’t felt circulation in them for a while. It’s 1:30 am somewhere in Germany. After three train switches and one very close call we’ve made it to our last train, for Amsterdam Central. A bum keeps circling us scrounging for paper in trashcans to light the cigarettes slowly killing him. Every so often he asks my friend for a light. Each time coughing up half his will to live.
“Caugh, chhhhk, sigh!” The train eventually comes to our savior whisking us deep into the night.
This is our train to get sleep on. 7 hours and many short naps later we’re in Amsterdam, or The Old New York, as I’ll think about it from now on. Its 9:40am on the first Friday of September for this city. We step out of our train met with a barrage of dynamic and energetic movement. From every angle the city begins to pour its aura into us. We start to wake up and by the time we leave the train station, were pumped.

We still have a few hours till check-in, so we begin roaming. 20160902_112234With people everywhere, the New York taxi is replaced with the original fast travel-bicycle. The city is home to hundreds, if not thousands of bicyclists. Walking only a few blocks it is clear to see and feel, that the lights and tempo of this city run on the bikes’ hearts. Huge crowds of people are everywhere, no matter where we turn we are met with accents from all groups, English, French, German, Dutch, Spanish, American, etc. You can almost instantly tell the tourists from the locals. The locals are always in a hurry and used to the constant crowds and seem quite annoyed by it all.

The average tourist, we are taken aback. The city is so beautiful!
A mixture of ancient architecture and culture with the most modern thinking and progressiveness. Walking the city, you see its influence on teens and adults alike. Sitting on the edges of canals is often a giveaway. Here the stereotypical circle can be seen, and they all seem to be at peace, enjoying the moment and the feeling of the city.
20160903_005420After taking a quick tour, we meet our friend’s friend Bo in the outskirts of the city. He takes us to Local Park to play Frisbee and relax. The day seems to fade away as we go deeper into the city. Along the way he reveals the ways of his culture and people to us slowly. “This is so foreign to me, this military before drinking…” We’ll go on to try and defend our American laws, but by the end Bo has us convinced: that not all systems are flawless, and it is good to experiment.

Saturday, 9/3
I hear the clamor of people in the streets below us. Opening my eyes I see that were in the hostel. The rest of last night starts to make it back to me, the park and walking all the way across town at 1 am. I look at my watch, 12 pm. Its noon! Already? I wake up my mates and we funnel out of our tower that is a hostel. Stepping onto the street you cannot help but feel a little crowded. The cramped staircase makes you forget where you are.
“Whacha wanna do today guys? Rembrandt -Rijks Museum?”
We start for the Rijk’s museum after breakfast. The city seems angrier today. People move past us in a blur. We fight through the crowds for a good long struggle.
Eventually finding our way at the foot of a huge building. We enter with only a few hours left till closing. While my friends stay behind looking at smaller paintings I scurry towards the Dutch masters. I finally run into a room and 20160903_164611see, REMBRANDT in gold letters above me. As I make eye contact with his work I’m transported. I feel the city: its people, accents, energy, all of it weigh on my shoulders. Here in this moment I see the painted scene before me unraveling. Each work I look at connects with me this way, a war between two naval armadas, I see the before and after of the painted moment. Likewise with military portraits, all the men clamoring to get in place and look manly as the artist aggressively attacks the canvas wanting to get this over with. I find my way to Van Gogh’s self-portrait. I see him looking through me, not at me. He looks at the mirror as he paints himself. Always in good view to himself, understanding who he is and where he comes from. Amsterdam much like that moment gave me more than just a good weekend, it gave me a new layer that has for a while been hidden.

Meet Your “Warden,” featuring Lara

RA’s are there to help you with roommate problems, housing maintenance, and… travel plans? French?! Meet your Fall 2016 resident advisor – and prepare to be amazed.

Posted by James

Lara OrlandicPerhaps the most qualified RA I’ve ever met! On first impression that’s a good way to describe Lara Orlandic. Very energetic and always one to crack a quick smile, Lara became an RA mainly to help others. Lara attributes her language skills to her parents, much like mine. However, since her parents are from the Balkans, or Southeastern Europe, Lara has come away with quite a few languages from birth. Her father from Montenegro and mother from northern Croatia combine to give Lara a total of 4 languages up front: Croatian, Serbian, Montenegrin, and Bosnian. Lara then went on to learn English obviously, and studied French for 9 years, becoming fluent. In total, Lara can help speak 6 languages and help you traverse plenty of European soil. To add to all this Lara has traveled throughout Europe extensively and knows the ins and outs. And so, this is in fact why she became an RA, to help people.

“It can be difficult to adjust to different cultures,” according to Lara. She wants to help people assimilate to the culture in France and Europe. Lara was keen on expressing that “the cultures are not the same, and it is important for people to see the differences and understand them. Don’t assume the American way is the only way to do things.” Lara advises “the best way to know a culture is to speak to the people that live there.” She encourages anyone to come talk to her about France, French words, etc; she is always happy to help.
Listening to Lara describe her childhood it was quite clear to see why she enjoys traveling and being so international. In the span of a few years Lara moved several times. Born in Boston, within in year Lara moved to a suburb of Chicago where she lived until third grade. She later moved Champagne, Illinois, and her high school was on the University of Illinois campus. This is where she begin formulating her career options and true interests in life. Being on the U of I campus gave Lara a lot of exposure to many forms of engineering, labs, etc. Often talks were given at her school to encourage entry into engineering fields. Eventually she decided on electrical engineering. According to Lara, electrical engineering has applications everywhere. “I can go anywhere and do anything. Everything we use has some kind of micro controller, chip, or plugs in a wall.”
As I’ve learned, to most people from Illinois, Tech is a rather attractive option when it comes to school. Often the out of state tuition matches Illinois In-State Tuitions for many schools. Lara applied to mostly Big-Ten schools but somehow Tech came out to be the cheapest. Lara was accepted in the Grand Challenges Living Learning Community Leadership program her freshman year. The program focuses on examining problems, researching solutions, and applying knowledge and skills in the real world. During her second semester freshman year she also began doing Research with Dr. Omer Inan in physiological sensing processes. The lab focused on approving low cost improvements for heart failures. Lara still does research with Dr. Inan and ultimately, “wants to do something that benefits humanity in some way.”
As you can tell, Georgia Tech Lorraine is in good hands with RA Lara Orlandic. Stay tuned and read along next week as I get to know the rest of our Resident Advisors.

Behind the Scenes: Meet Dr. Nisbett

Professor Nisbett is working on his PhD and teaching two classes at GTL this semester. He’s got big dreams – and some great advice for all students!

Behind every great man is a great woman. This saying grew in popularity due to its honest truth. Not coincidentally, behind most great things there is something just as great if not better. Colleges and universities are no exception. Often overlooked at some great universities are the great faculty that build the programs and curriculum. Well, not at Georgia Tech or GTL. Faculty are a huge part of our community on and off campus, bringing next level research and teaching skills to aspiring engineers. Georgia Tech frequently rotates faculty from the Atlanta campus, and this is how we were lucky enough to receive the talents of Adam Nisbett.

Dr. Nisbett is currently not a doctor – not yet anyway. He is working on his final year of his PhD and his dissertation with a discipline in Tensegrity Robotics this semester. Born and raised in Missouri, Professor Nisbett was home-schooled up until high school. The second oldest of 9 siblings, Professor Nisbett was strongly influenced by his family and Christian faith as a child. His first involvement in robotics was also influenced by his family. His father, a Mechanical Engineering professor at Missouri University of Science and Technology was asked to judge in the 1st Lego League Robotics competition. This piqued his curiosity, and Professor Nisbett became involved with the local team and the rest is history.

He went onto study mechanical engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology, earning his Bachelor’s degree. There he also earned his Master’s Degree in electrical engineering computational intelligence. Hearing about Georgia Tech’s unique robotics program, Professor Nisbett came to Atlanta and furthered his childhood passion for robotics. Georgia Tech’s program allows integration of robotics applications from multiple areas of engineering, such as mechanical engineering (ME), electrical engineering (EE), aerospace engineering (AE), etc. It is here that Professor Nisbett’s dissertation gains traction.
As mentioned before he is working on Tensegrity, or to the common man,

A tensegrity structure.

Tension and Integrity applications. Pictured to the left is a tensegrity structure called a rollover, for its ability to be compressed and roll. Each beam is held together by strings that are tensioned perfectly to maintain the structural integrity. However, with a simple hand motion the whole structure can be almost flat and compressed. Professor Nisbett is currently working on control schemes for robotic compression of the strings and structure. The current scope of such technology is being considered for future NASA missions. The idea is to use the structure for the model of a rover or planetary lander. (He was quick to point out that the basics of this structure are all things we will be covering in our Statics class this semester.)

He is a very bright individual who is clearly focused on the future, not just his own but of mankind’s. Wrapping up the interview I asked, “Do you have any advice for GTL students or students in general?” Immediately a grin appeared on his face as he said, “Learn to enjoy learning!” In that, see what you’re learning as something interesting and applicable to you own life. He went on to say, “A lot of people treat schooling as something you have to get through. Don’t look for the drudgery in it, look for the targets, and find ways to motivate yourself with something interesting rather than thinking it’s something that you have to do.” From an approach such as this it is easy to see success in your life.

While only his first time at GTL, Professor Nisbett is already planning to supersede his great accomplishments. His design for a previous robotics work is featured on the cover of the GT ME 3180 Machine Design textbook which also happens to be co-authored by his father. However, Professor Nisbett is also aspiring to have a teaching career. This semester he is teaching COE 2001-Statics and COE 3001-Deformable Bodies. This is the first step in hopefully a long and successful teaching.

One Down, Sixteen To Go

Going abroad is all about experiencing new things, and the first week is a wild ride of emotions and new experiences. Read James’ account of his first week – from waking up the morning of his flight to meeting new friends and visiting local festivities!

Posted by James

It’s been quite an eventful first week here in Metz. Seven days and nights and I’ve already had a number of firsts. First time in Luxembourg, first European soccer game, first time using a train all by myself, first European festival, etc. However, before any of these could happen I had to travel over 4000 miles, board two planes, and go through two countries before even stepping foot in France.

Metz Cathedral
The centerpiece of Metz: its towering cathedral, nicknamed “The Lantern of God,” because it is the most luminous cathedral of France.

Saturday, August 20th

My alarm clock sounds: beep, beep, beep… As I look over to snooze, I read 6:00 A.M. and instantly jump out of bed both scared and excited. It hits me that today I’m going to France. All summer I’ve been bragging to my friends in Michigan about this, but at this moment it’s not pride I feel – it’s fear. I NEED TO PACK! This week I had to concentrate all my efforts on a physics final and wrapping up things at my internship. My plane leaves in 8 hours, and I have to take everything I need to live for four months to Europe. I feel my heart pounding, and I start sweating as I run downstairs and grab my suitcase. So begins the most frantic packing of my life. 3 hours later I sit down on my bed with a sigh, “I’m ready.” All I can recall about checking in and boarding the plane is a feeling of numbness. As I took off my shoes, and took out my computer for security I kept looking at my family, my mom and dad, and my brother, all just standing there smiling. As I collected my things and took one final look, time froze. I would not see them for over 4 months. I turned and slowly made my way to my gate.

Sunday, August 21st

As I stumble through Frankfurt International Airport and find my gate, the first onset of jetlag starts to set in. In a few hours I land in Luxembourg and await another GTL member’s flight. An hour later we are downtown in the middle of a summer festival. As we walk around and the sounds of French and German from outside conversations interrupt ours, I start to grasp the essence of GTL’s message. Immersion in a separate country does far more than allow you to experience culture. Five days later I finally understand!

Friday, August 26th

“Hey Clyde, what time are we going downtown?”

“The Last bus leaves at 9:40, I think?”

It’s been an odd first week filled with orientations and runs to CORA, the huge supermarket in Metz. A few friends and I are looking to blow off some steam, and experience some true French culture. As we’re waiting for the final bus, we receive a friendly surprise. A GTL grad student comes and sits down on the stop’s bench. Within minutes we’re deep in conversation as the bus arrives. His name is Peter, and he’s a nuclear engineer who has been living in Metz for the last 8 years. This is his last semester in France and he is heading downtown to meet some friends who also work at GTL.

We tag along and spend all evening with him. The night begins with the Mirabelle festival, an amazing display of local pride in Metz’s rare prune. A beautiful exhibit is held in the center of the city, next to the famous Metz Cathedral. A jazz band hovering above the ground provide the baseline to a group of acrobats and a singer who are tangling over the crowd by way of a crane.

The amazing performance in downtown Metz!

Throughout the night we talked to Peter and his friends about many things. Peter was able to describe a lot of distinct differences between the French and outsiders, not just Americans. For instance, a local cultural conflict between French of North African descent not assimilating into French culture. However, the largest takeaway from the night was a truly unique experience. The next morning we all agreed that had we not met Peter, or his friends Jeremy and Jacques, we never would have done anything similar. We experienced local music, food, conversation, etc. All while learning more about Metz and France.