Author Archives: Claire Stark

It’s a Small World After All – Science Without Borders

Last weekend I was lucky enough to travel to Budapest and even more lucky to meet two lovely Brazilians staying at the same place. Turns out one of them had a cousin in the city studying at Budapest University. (This story is going somewhere I promise). Well, he is a mechanical engineer who came over in the summer to learn English for his classes in the fall on engineering.

What is so interesting about all of this? The program he is traveling under is called Science Without Borders, the same program that sends dozens of wonderful people to Rose-Hulman last year and will again this year.

Science without Borders was started in 2011 by the Brazilian as a joint project between the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Science. Although it is in its infancy, this programs will send one hundred thousand Brazilian students abroad to learn not only about science but also about the cultures of various other communities. The scholarship covers almost everything for the students for a year.

As someone who is doing the same thing in the private sector, the value of this program is extremely high. I have learned not only so much about engineering and work but values of other people and a language as well. Yet even more important, it shows that science has no borders and the largest problems need to be thought on and worked on in global setting.
This massive incentive will shape a new generation of engineers. It does not only affect the students who are traveling but the people who interact with them in class, the dorms, and on the street. These different views meeting can only bring about a better understanding of each other and a stronger world community.

Being dropped into a new culture to learn is an exciting yet scary event. On one level there is so much to learn and experience; everything is a new thing. Yet on the other hand, everything is a new thing, “how does the subway work?” and “I cant read this menu/products in the grocery store/general store sign…rats” (this led to the most interesting tasting coffee of my life). This song is a reminder that a mixture of butterflies in the stomach is so amazing yet a little scary.

So you want to be an Engineer (or Scientist or Mathematician)?

Currently among the TEDxRoseHulman group we have people on three different continents all doing different work. I am personally doing cryogenics in Slovakia; Donnita is working on drugs in Indianapolis, IN; and Nate is doing orthopedic research in Terre Haute, IN. Marcel is doing mechanical design in California, and Ranjana is doing amazing work in India.

It’s true that engineering will take you amazing places, but to where?

“Where” doesn’t have to be a new land across the sea or even a different state, but a new field of work. Engineering varies from transportation, energy, food, medicine, production and even fields that don’t exist yet. Almost anything can be improved by engineering. An Engineer can go to any field anywhere.

Engineer comes from the Latin word “cleverness”. But it is more than just being clever. It is thinking in a new way, not outside the box but by finding a new box. 33% of CEOs have majors in engineering. Both of these facts are interesting but point out a something that’s even bigger. Engineering solves problems in the best way possible and becomes successful because of it.

So you want to be an Engineer? Be willing to take the risk with the new idea. Try to solve a problem more than one way. Take it apart and put it back together even better. You can do it bigger, better, faster, stronger.

If Say Anything says it right: Just “Do Better”.


Why Should We Care? – A Young Person’s Need for Inspiration

Often times people ask me when I talk about a TEDx event, “Claire, that seems cool but why should I care? I still have 2 years left of college.”

When it comes to my generation there seems to be a juxtaposition of what is expected and how to perform. Every day you hear of new tech companies started by young individuals making millions if not billions of dollars. (Do Google, Facebook, Instragram, Twitter, and Reddit ring a bell?) Yet at the same time various young people are feeling pressure at to the point of suicide such as Aaron Swartz. Mental health in general has suffered, as 5% or more of students say that they have had depression.

These advancements in technology are creating a whole new world both digitally and physically. The internet is constantly being redesigned with new designs and advancements as processing power improves as do graphics. The “real” world is being changed with the Arab spring and events in Turkey, both would have been harder if not impossible without social media. Social media is trying to become “the media” as Buzzfed starts covering congress and TechCrunch does more in-depth reporting on tech companies’ balance sheets.

This meshing of the abstract and reality makes the world smaller and bigger, a new playground where engineers, artists, politicians, and everyone else has a bigger louder voice. The rules are being rewritten and knowledge outside of the book is becoming more important as is the need to make creative changes.

People my age have a whole new view of the world. I have always grown up with a computer and am constantly online trying to see what new science improvements I can use to help others. This connectivity is a gift that needs to proliferate beyond the digital space into real conversions at the coffee shop to the office. It needs to spread to old school businesses that have a tighter control structure but see they need to adapt. M&M, GE, Dr. Pepper, Adidas, and Logitech website redesign helped bring them back into touch unlike Midas, Circuit City, Blockbuster, Borders and Hostess (all of which have collapsed).

This is the world I and people my age will soon be changing with greater force. Every day there is more news of unstable governments, financial crisis, terrorist attacks and raising debt of students, yet also hope of new technical advancements and people standing for beliefs.

This is why we should care. This is our world, and it is a brave new one.

This song is a little old, but it helps me remember not only what can go wrong, but what I can do to get things right.

Hello, Everyone!

Hello, everyone!

I can’t believe how excited I am that a TEDx event is coming to Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology! As one of the student organizers, I am so grateful to all the university support to bring this great event to Rose-Hulman.

As an engineering student, I spend a lot of time studying, sometimes so much so that I forget why I want to become an engineer in the first place. I want to change people’s lives for the better. The entire TEDx experience exists to remind people that everyone can do something great. Personally I can’t think of a better base than an engineer to get things going!

Our theme is “Step 2: Inspire”. I am personally inspired by the constant mixing of engineering and art, music and culture, math and English, the creation of something new. My personal inspiration currently is the song “Ghost” by Skip the Use. What inspires you?