franz

1st year MEng Biomedical Engineering

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franz

1st year MEng Biomedical Engineering

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Own your first year at Imperial

Are you starting university/college soon? Here's 11 pieces of personal advice for you.

“Hi, I’m Franz. What’s your name?”
29/09/15

“Which lecture room do we have today?”
12/10/15

“Here’s your first summative assignment.”
03/11/15

“1st term’s over! Merry Christmas and a happy new year!”
18/12/15

“Welcome back. How were your holidays?”
11/01/16

“This term’s tough. More assignments and labs!”
15/02/16

“Yeah, I’m going home for Easter.”
23/03/16

“How are exam preparations coming along?”
25/04/16

“The first exam actually went pretty well.”
29/04/16

“I’m really glad they’re over.”
01/06/16

“Congratulations on passing the year. See you in the 2nd.”
19/07/16


I finished my 1st year at Imperial several months ago, and it truly went by too fast. Maybe it’s because as I’m getting older, every other year is a lesser fraction of my life, but who knows in fact.

Besides that, I tried to make the most of it, and in some aspects, I did. That makes me really happy, but there are other things that I wanted to try out or accomplish (like rock-climbing or a more regular club attendance), but did not in the end.

Of my first year at least.

So, from all my highs and lows over this past, eventful and simply wonderful year at Imperial, here are 11 tips for you to own your 1st year.

1.Be the one to say “hi” first

At Imperial, you will come to meet lots of new people from many different places, and make some pretty good friends. I say, be the one to muster up the courage to walk up to the cool guy or pretty girl you have your eyes on, and simply introduce yourself without expecting anything in return.

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Be as glamorous as you need to be.

You may end up as friends, or you may not click with that person. Anyway, you will come to develop your courage and conversational skills. Soon enough, you’ll learn how to approach different people and how to start and lead a conversation.

2.Try as many new things as humanly possible

If you’re moving to a large city like I did, then there will probably be many more activities or opportunities available to you as a university student. This may include activities like calligraphy, pole-dancing, kendo, photography, skydiving, or even archery.

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Your No. 1 mission is to go to ALL the stalls at the Freshers Fair on October 4th.

In a bigger city, there are also many charitable causes to volunteer for, and many opportunities for a part time job, like bartending or tutoring.

The point of trying lots of new things is to genuinely learn what you’re into and not, rather than saying “I don’t think I’ll like it.”

3.Learn how to learn

The lecture starts, and you pull out your paper and pen, but you see your classmate across the room with a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 with his stylus ready to jot notes down on MS Word.

We all have our learning styles – these are whichever helps us learn more effectively. See what things you have available to aid your learning, apply them and evaluate how helpful they are, in order to find out your most effective learning method.

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And I mean whichever method aids your learning. (Taken during our Halloween dress-up)

Personally, writing things down helps my learning a lot. I vary from using pen and paper to a laptop depending on the pace at which the lecturer speaks. If lecture notes are already provided, then I would print them or work on an iPad or other device to edit the .pdf file.

4.Not everything is a competition

If you’re sportive, you may understand the competitiveness of a race – from start to finish, your efforts are invested into the steps you need to take in order to win. But at university, I don’t believe there should be competition where your academic performance is to be compared to those of your classmates. Sure, you may want to get good/great grades, but don’t seek to get the best grades.

When I started my 1st year, I felt I had get (one of) the highest grades in my year group. I did for our first summative (graded) assignment. Afterwards, however, I felt unnecessarily stressed in trying to maintain that standard. Instead, I felt I was not performing as well as I knew I could. Took me a while to realize and accept this as I am within a group of students who normally perform academically excellent.

5.Figure out what you want out of your time at uni

You may be starting your studies at university because you want to become a doctor and open up a hospital, or you want to contribute to the development of bionic prosthetic devices (this one’s mine). If your goals are crystal clear to you, and advancing your education at university is the next step, then figure out the following steps you need to take to get to your goal at whatever pace you want.

However, you may not be 100% sure about what you want. And that’s fine. Your first step is not to worry too much about it. Then spend some time exploring the many opportunities available to you. One of them must resonate at your frequency. When you’ve got it, take massive action on those first steps and accelerate towards your goal.

6.Keep a budget and track your expenses

As you’re moving out of your home, leaving your parent(s) or guardian(s), you will need to be on top of your finances if you want to survive.

Just kidding, you will definitely survive! However, knowing exactly where you’re spending your money allows you to cut back on the unnecessary costs and save up for what really matters to you.

Want to purchase a new computer/camera? Then start saving up a couple pounds a day by, for example, making your own food rather than buying food at the cafeteria.

7.Don’t be afraid of disappointing anyone

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Give it your honest, best shot. You’ll realize you’re more capable than you think.

In your years ahead at university, you will come to face great challenges that will test your will. These may be mostly academic, but they may also involve another person, group, business/company, etc. Whatever the case, lose the fear of what anyone will think about you if you don’t get that job, or fail the test, or not end up as the top student, or simply lose.

Honestly, it’s a toxic feeling that will eventually break your will, no matter how try you hard to fight it. I experienced it during my exams. As I was afraid of disappointing one particular person, I did not perform as well as I really could on two exams. I’m glad I still passed both, but I learned my lesson the hard way.

But I didn’t lose. No. Battles are only lost if you learn nothing from them. But I definitely did.

You may be asking yourself how. I asked myself that so many times. It all boils down to accepting yourself as you are at any moment, and simply focusing on the task at hand and nothing else. Sounds easier said that done; it is, but it also becomes easier with practice.

8.Be encouraged, rather than discouraged

Here at Imperial, you will come to meet people who have a deep passion about what they do – whether that is their degree course, a sport, or even an art – and they’re really good at it.

But instead of “comparing your chapter 1 to someone else’s chapter 20” (Yahya Bakkar) and feeling discouraged, talk to that person about their passion and learn from them. Ask them what makes them passionate, and how they’ve been able to keep at it for however long.

So if you share an activity as a mutual interest with someone else, learn from that person instead of distancing yourself from the activity altogether. Trust me, I understand that it could be quite scary being honest, but if you truly want to grow in that area, then have faith it will all be alright, because it will.

9.Cherish your time at university

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Make friends and spend valuable time with them.

I was once hiking through the Seven Sisters Country Park toward Eastbourne, and I came to meet a UCL graduate. Curious to know what advice she had for a fresher like me, she told me this: Cherish your time at university.

She helped me to remember the position I am in, that after 3 years I may start working for a company and may no longer get to experience the spontaneity and liveliness of a university campus. I have come to know that I greatly enjoy it, and I will dearly miss it.

So I give you the same advice as you’re about to start uni. From start to finish, spend every second doing something significant to you, be happy and appreciate what you’ve got.

10. Do more than the expected minimum

While being around London, I once met an Imperial alumnus who studied Physics and later on went to do a PhD at Oxford in Physics as well. At such encounters, I always try to ask for advice a new student like me could use. He told me that though I receive a minimum amount of work in my course, which is expected of me to complete/do, to go beyond that and seek further knowledge.

This means that, for example, though your lecturers will assign problem sheets for the next session, do not only complete those, but also seek extra problems from the list of supplementary books. And more! Your lectures will probably be a collection of specific details from different sources, like mines were, but do search for those reading materials and read up on extra details, which may help you understand the whole subject!

Remember to never do less, but more.

11.Love and develop yourself

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I am beautiful no matter what I wear, do or have.

You are a body, mind and soul, and you can develop all of these three with appropriate training.

Body: As a university student, gym memberships are normally cheaper, so set up a routine, go with a more-experienced friend, or whatever else may work out for you and build the beautiful temple that is your physical body.

Mind: Here you will come to learn new things that will challenge all that you’ve learned previously, which you also may find truly interesting. If so, invest the necessary amount of time to expand your knowledge and understanding of your degree course or anything else that may interest you.

Soul: As for your soul, happiness is key. Carefully pick the activities you take part in, the people you spend time with, the places you visit, and how you spend your time in general. Make sure that whatever you’re doing, you are genuinely happy or know that you will be happy after having finished/overcome something.

Note that I am not an expert in any of the three. I am still learning of ways to develop myself in these aspects, and I’ve come to realize that there is also no deadline. Anyway, for further inspiration I would suggest meeting those that are experienced in person, or following them online.


As I post this, it’s September 30th and the final batch of freshers arrive at the halls tomorrow. For my 2nd year at Imperial, I chose to be a hall senior and have worked with the other hall seniors, sub-wardens and wardens of the Woodward Buildings (and the Costume Store this year!) to organize a fortnight of daily events that we’re sure our freshers will enjoy.

This year, I aim to be much more consistent with my studies and extracurricular activities, which also includes blogging. Though my 1-year term as an Imperial blogger is coming to and end, and I am uncertain that I will get the opportunity to continue. Though for the length that this blog is up, I’ll try to promote it as much as I can. If I could help to spread some advice to at least 1 fresher, I’ll be more than happy! 😀

If you have found any of these tips useful in any way, please let me know in the comments! I like comments. 😀 It lets me know people actually read this stuff (because I have no way to track views) and appreciate it enough to say it or ask a question.

Have you commented yet? 🙂

(The featured image was taken by the Imperial College Bioengineering Society. Check them out for more photos of awesome times!)

In the blink of an eye, spring term was over

It's now Easter break, and I decided to take some time to reflect on the term that just passed. It all went by too quickly.

The Spring Term lasted from the 11th of January to the 23rd of March, which fell on a Wednesday. This was a bit odd, as I would have expected the term to end on Friday, but apparently Easter came early this year.

On that note, happy belated Easter! I hope you spent some quality time with your family and loved ones, and that your celebrations for the resurrection of Jesus Christ were lovely.

As for me, I spent Easter with my family. I am very glad to have come back home after 6 months. If you don’t know, my home is Sint Maarten, a beautiful, tiny island in the Caribbean. Having arrived back made me realize that while I study in one of the best cities in the world, I live in paradise.

Anyway, to the topic of this blog post: Spring Term. As the term progressed, I gained more knowledge about my different modules and the Bioengineering field, and I got to work on an electrical engineering project that I am very proud of. Because a lot has occurred, in this post I will only cover what impacted me most:

1 – Electronic Stethoscope

Stethoscope

Prototype

As part of our Electrical Engineering Labs module, we got to the opportunity to design and implement a device that is meant to amplify the sound of the human heartbeat – all with simple resistors, capacitors and operational amplifiers (op-amps)! We didn’t jump on to work on the stethoscope at once, however. We began by designing and simulating different circuits based on op-amps on LT spice IV, a software that facilitated the process.

After getting some experience using the software and truly understanding how the op-amp-based circuits operated, we moved on to design the stethoscope. The module was then moved from the computer to the laboratory, in which groups of students started off by building the simple circuits we designed at first (to get a grasp of the building units) and finally our stethoscope design. I worked in a pair, as most of us did, so my lab partner and I divided tasks to make things easier. At the end of the project, we managed to get the whole circuit to work!

2 – Programming language C

Coming to Imperial, I had basic programming knowledge – input/output, loops, if-statements, arrays. But through the Programming 1 module, I expanded my knowledge of programming and learned a completely new language (C), with more interesting codes to use in my programs! The module included the aforementioned topics, but also using different datatypes, casting data, errors such as truncation and overflow, selection statements (if-else & switch), iteration statements (for, while, & do-while), using functions to return one or more results, arrays, memory allocation, pointers, and using streams to read data from a .txt file and create another with the results.

The module was assessed in two ways. The first were 20 questions asking about what programming achieves and how. The next involved correcting or writing 8 short programs with the different codes that we had learned in the term. It lasted 2 hours long and one of the programs was quite challenging to write! I am currently awaiting my grade, but I believe I did well.

3 – Fourier Series and Transforms

You may know about Taylor and Maclaurin series, which can represent any function by the sum of an infinite number of polynomials. But Fourier series are more interesting. This was one of the new things I learned in our Mathematics 1 module, and the concept is slightly different, as functions are represented by the sum of sinusoidal terms instead. This type of series can be further applied in the Fourier transforms, which are used to turn a function from one domain (say time, measured in seconds s) to its inverse domain (frequency, measured in hertz, Hz). This can be applied to investigate signals and differentiate the significant ones from the noise.

For example, as we were dealing with electronic signals – generated by a microphone picking up the heartbeat sound – in our stethoscope project, Fourier transforms could be used to figure out the frequencies of the subject’s heartbeat sounds. Knowing this, the filters can be designed such that more noise is attenuated, while amplifying the significant signal.

4 – Wet Labs

Back in high school, I really liked working in the laboratory. I appreciated the environment, its formalities and working with the apparatus in different experiments. Back then, I remember wanting to work in a university laboratory. I wondered what else would be available, if the formalities were similar or different, and most of all, what bacteria I could play with.

And I got to play with some bacteria alright.

Ok, not necessarily play with, but worked with and investigated under a microscope after testing if they were gram positive or negative.

Another one of our modules this term was Wet Labs Skills, in which we got the opportunity to access two labs that belonged to the Life Sciences and Chemistry departments.

What’s a good college if the departments don’t share labs, right? That makes Imperial a great college!

We had two lab sessions, and in the first one we used a Gilson pipette to transfer 0.000025 L of liquid, which is so insanely small! Our first experiment involved transferring small amounts of liquid from vial to vial for a suspenseful result. In our second experiment, we dealt with several bacteria colonies, and we had to determine if they were gram positive (indication of having a thick cell wall made of peptidoglycan) or gram negative (the opposite and having an additional lipid membrane). For this experiment, we also used a microscope, and had to identify the strain of bacteria with a dichotomous key. Honestly, it was very exciting, especially working with a lab partner to divide tasks with.

Gram

This was taken from our lab sheet. Credits to the one who prepared it: Dr David Hartley, Dept. of Life Sciences.

Other modules that we had this term were: Electromagnetics 1,  Heat and Mass Transport 1, Molecules Cells and Processes and Mechanics 1. They each enlightened me with new and interesting knowledge, but I enjoyed the  4 things I listed most.

Thinking about what I shall write next, it will probably be on something more personal, if not an upcoming race with the Cross Country team in the Netherlands! Stay tuned for more 😀

Remember to write any comments if there’s anything you’re wondering about. I try to answer asap.
I promise I don’t bite.

– Franz T. C.

THE BIG BUCS BLOG

A very muddy weekend in Gloucester with the ICXC team. #BUCSCrossCountry2016 #mudisgood

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The Imperial College BUCS Cross Country 2016 Team. #mudisgood

On the 6th of this month, a Saturday, 48 Cross Country runners represented Imperial College in Gloucester at the BUCS Cross Country race of 2016.

If you didn’t know, BUCS stands for ‘British Universities & Colleges Sport’.

The whole trip was organized and hyped up by our wonderful ICXC&A committee, who had put lots of work in to get us there, have a good time (especially for BUCS freshers – like me) and be safe.

And I did have a good time. The whole BUCS 2016 experience began with a text from a mysterious ‘GH’. The one and only Gary Hoare.

As how I think the myth goes, he was once a member of this club… If you want to know the rest, why not join the ICXC&A club and find out for yourself?

Anyway, the message contained my first challenge: #BakeOrBooze

I was to bring baked goods along with me for post-race consumption, and if not, I would have been “fined accordingly.” Not sure what it meant, but it probably involved paying for booze.

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I called mine “orange chocolate chip cookies”.

It was truly the first time I baked anything, EVER. If you read my previous XC blog, then you’ll know bringing baked goods to races is a tradition of this club, and I got to bake something this time. Though I didn’t get an image of my pride, I got this:

I stayed up ’till 2 AM to finish baking, and I paid back my sleep-debt in the coach as we were on our way to Gloucester. We had left on Saturday morning, and the trip had taken about 2 – 3 hours.

Upon arrival in Gloucester, the colder weather and the sound of heavier rain woke me up. Passing by the course, we saw the big, green park in which we would be running laps, but also a large puddle probably was due to the rain. Probably.

I initially thought we had to stay outside, in the rain and cold, as we wait for the races to start, but all runners got a space in a sports complex – with a roof – nearby. As time passed by, I was shocked to see how many university students were in such a small space.

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This was just one side of the area. #thatbellythough

We were all brought together in one area for one purpose – to compete and represent our unis/colleges in this race. But also to get muddy. After all, #mudisgood.

Everyone was putting on face paint, chatting, getting to know others in their respective teams better, smiling, making memories.

As I had brought a DSLR camera, I tried to capture some of these memories digitally to look back at a year from then or even in later years.

Then the Men’s A race began. It was 10.2 km long, and it was completed insanely fast by Chris Olley – our fastest runner- in 32m:54s. The Women’s race followed, and our speediest girl, Sarah Johnson, finished her 6.1 km race in 24m:22s.

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The A Team.

The Men’s B race was last, and at this point, the track was SUPER muddy. As over 1000 people ran several laps in the race course, all the grass was pushed under the rain water and mud in some areas.

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Imperial > All other unis & colleges

I knew it would be having a hard time washing my clothes when I got home. Nonetheless, I ran and completed my 7.3 km race in 35m:41s.

 

After finishing the race, besides thinking that I should train more, I headed directly to my things to drink some water. However, I had forgotten about our second challenge: #memento.

The BUCS freshers were to “take a part of the course” with us to “curry and beyond”. We had curry for dinner, you see.

I only remembered when I noticed other Imperial runners with barricade tape from the course used to border it.

As I removed my muddy shoes, I realized I had a small plant – with leaves and root – stuck inside. I decided to keep it as my #memento. And I still have it to this day!

Back at the travelodge we were staying at, we got cleaned up and got ready to party the night out in tie dye!

While we got ready, GH sent our third challenge: #BUCSSELFIE

This one required to take a selfie of “minimal dignity, and maximal hilarity”. I think I nailed it:

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My mom would be angry if she saw this picture.

Then we headed for dinner!

We had curry at a BYOB curry house. It had low tripadvisor ratings and the wait for curry was too long. But I didn’t care about that really. During the long wait, I got to know some of the others XC runners from Imperial much better through conversation and never-have-I-ever.

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Tie dye is our uniform.

Our next stop was the BUCS afterparty where we would meet the students from other unis/colleges that we competed against in the morning, but the cue was … you guessed it… too long.

We settled for a Spoons, which was literally next door to the club. It had all we needed – a dancefloor. The fun came with us 🙂

The rest of the night involved dancing, chanting, trying to dance with girls from other unis, but mainly enjoying the night with people I can now call friends.

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You can see I was having a good time.

I realized I forgot to mention the final challenges. These were actually announced after GH’s identity was revealed as… the club captain.

For the fourth challenge, we were to get a bit loose by drinking a can of Strongbow. Though I don’t drink much, I admit: alcohol does help to let go and loosen up a bit.

For the fifth and final challenge, all BUCS freshers were to run a longer distance on Sunday than in the BUCS race. Some people actually woke up at 8 AM the next morning to complete this challenge, but I was too tired that I slept through the morning run. However, I later completed my final challenge on the treadmill at my local gym, finishing the run just minutes before the gym closed.

And that was my BUCS 2016 experience. I greatly look forward to next year. But for now, I gotta stop eating chocolates and train, train, train!

Franz T. C

What is Imperial Plus?

Volunteering, new connections, developing interpersonal skills and getting recognition.

You know, I can answer this question by just re-reading the Union’s page ‘What is Imperial Plus?‘ and paraphrase the things I read there.

However, I figured that would not be as interesting (and as easy) as me just writing on what Imperial Plus has meant to me so far, and what experiences I’ve had until today.

I initially learned of the Imperial Plus (let’s abbreviate it to IP) scheme in an e-mail from Imperial before the Autumn term started. Of course, I read the page linked above, but I finally understood it when I attended a volunteer fair in the Great Hall in the South Kensington campus on the 13th of October, 2015.

Community Connections (CC)

There, I met the current Deputy President of Education, Chun-Yin, who answered my several questions on IP and CC.

I believe there were more than 20 organizations in the room, and they all had links with Imperial College, facilitating connections that Imperial students can make with these organizations based around London. This is Community Connections.

In the fair, I spoke with representatives of the numerous orgs., which mainly included charities. Through the process of jotting down my e-mail several times and saying I’d return to sign a form, there was one charity that I had a strong interest in – Kith & Kids.

I believe I already touched up on what the charity does and aims, but I really appreciate their slogan: supporting disability – focusing on abilities.

It is through CC that one is able to find organizations they may be interested in, and through the IP scheme, an Imperial student can log the hours he or she has spent volunteering with that organization.

Hour logs

As an IB Diploma Programme graduate, I have gone through the struggle of recording my CAS (Creativity-Action-Service) hours and later reflecting on all my volunteering activities. However, if it wasn’t due to the pressure I got from initially seeking places to obtain hours, I would not be volunteering as much as I do now.

Volunteering is actually one of the things that makes me happy.

The logging of hours can be done through the Imperial Union website, which every Imperial student has access to with their usernames and passwords.

It’s different from what I’ve become used to in the previous 2 years, but it’s simple and I guess it gets the job done. However, if I could improve it in a certain way, I would like to upload images of my volunteering experiences/memories with the organizations I volunteered with so that a collage can be automatically made, and possibly be used as a template to print a certificate.

Don’t you think it’s a good idea?

Imperial Plus Workshops

After having volunteered with various organizations back home and a few here in London, I feel that I have gained certain skills and traits I did not have before having my first set of hours signed

-I have become less fearful of approaching a stranger and promoting a cause.

-I am able to speak to new people I meet with more respect and attention.

-I have become more conscious of how I distribute and balance my time.

These are just a few things, but I could go on.

What I like about the IP scheme is that there are workshops in which an Imperial volunteer, but I believe a student in general as well, can learn about volunteering skills so you can develop them.

They’re a total of 6, and at the time of writing this, I have attended 4, but my most favourite one was Personal Effectiveness. You can find out about them here.

Recognition

Students can get recognized with certificates for the time spent and achievements met through volunteering.

They mainly require the student to complete a set number of hours, but one specifically requires writing reflective assignments based on 4 of 6 workshops attended.

Last term there was a celebration evening that I attended, though I hadn’t achieved the minimum number of hours for the first certificate yet. However, it was interesting to meet other volunteers at the event and hear of what they do for volunteering. I also got a chance to speak to the current President of the Union, Lucinda, and meet a recent MEng Biomedical Engineering graduate.

What was most surprising to me was that some students completed 100+ hours in just one term! I find that very difficult to do, so kudos to them.

I’m currently working toward the Volunteer Accreditation certificate, which requires me to have recorded 100 volunteering hours (66.50/100 at the time of writing this) and write 4 reflective assignments based on volunteering experiences or activities and the workshops I attended.

~

At the moment, I’m part of the Student Volunteering Week (Feb. 22nd – 28th) team at Imperial, and we’re working on several projects to do throughout the week and until then. Stay tuned for an update!

-Franz T. C.

Bioengineering Dpt. Winter Bash (KARAOKE!)

Bioengineers don't only work hard; they also party (and sing) hard.

On the 18th of January of this new year, the Bioengineering society organized a celebratory event with free drinks, free snacks & karaoke!

The celebration was for those students whose exams are almost finished. However, for first years (like me), we didn’t have many exams in the beginning of the new term. But we did have several coursework to do over the break.

The drinks and snacks were simple – fruit juice, soda, chips, cheese and crackers. But what made everyone’s night, at least for me, was the karaoke.

This was my first karaoke event, and I was self-conscious at first because after hearing recordings of myself, I believe that my voice is not one for music. At the event, however, I decided to let loose and just have fun.

And it was.

It was actually addicting. (Probably explains why I went to another karaoke event with the Cross Country club 9 days later).

After singing Riptide (by Vance Joy) with my Bioengineering friends, I wanted to keep on going but since I was also the photographer for the night, I had to GTS (get the shots). You can view the photos taken here.

Pic1

Enthusiastic Riptide fans.

 

Pic2

So much more enthusiasm for Adele’s ‘Hello’.

 

Pic3

Someone had to GTS while I sang, right?

 

Pic4

Bioengineering Pokemon masters band.

Though it was my first karaoke experience, what made it memorable and fun was the interaction with my new great friends I have made at Imperial.

We have come together by similar interests, and I’m sure our bonds will only strengthen as time goes on.

But besides the amazing parties we have, being a Bioengineering student at Imperial is unique.

Have you got any questions? Leave them below and I’ll answer ASAP.

-Franz T. C.

Ally Pally LCL (27/01/16)

It was a very muddy race, but then again, when are they not?

On Wednesday (it’s Friday today) I participated in another London Colleges League race. This time, it took place in Alexandra Palace, or as others call it (myself included now), Ally Pally.

This was the fourth and penultimate LCL race of the yearly series, but third for me.

The journey there from South Kensington campus took about 50 minutes, including tube, national rail train and walking. Upon arrival I noticed that the course already had red and yellow markers used to border the track. But what stood out most to me was the mud and slope of the terrain.

Cross Country

The Imperial Ally Pally LCL race team. Credits: Harveen (club member & friend)

The run consisted of 3 laps around the marked course, each lap 2.2km long. This was my run, at least. The run for the girls consisted of 2 laps, same course.

For this course, many of Imperial runners wore spikes, and I was one of them. They are new to me, as I never had to use them back home. They come in varying sizes, but I feel my 9 mm spikes may not have been long enough.

Throughout the race I tried to keep up with others beside me, who may be runners from the Imperial team or from other unis. I find it motivating to keep going when another uni student is beside me, and as an Imperial representative, I don’t want to lose. As such times, I feel energy surging through me, and I feel energized to keep pushing.

Just after finishing the race, a team mate of mine handed me a brownie, which was extra delicious at the time. Our XC&A club has the tradition to bring baked goods to races like this. I really like it, and I’ll try to bake something for the next LCL race.

As expected, I was bathed in mud, or at least my legs were. I knew it would be a pain to wash everything when I got home, and it was.

Imperial Vest

I had to change in the train station because I was so dirty.

After the LCL races, the club usually plans social events in places around London. Yesterday, the plan was to go to the Spoons (a pub) in Fullham Broadway, then for Karaoke at the Chelsea Pensioner, and finally to The Slug at Fulham, a bar, for late night drinks.

Unfortunately, I had to wash all my clothes when I got back to my hall after the race, so I wasn’t able to make it to Spoons on time. However, I did make it in time for the karaoke!

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It was a full room in the Chelsea Pensioner karaoke room. Credits: Anna (club member & serious runner)

 

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We run, we don’t sing. (We were horrible). Credits: Anna.

It was very fun and it made me remember about last week Friday, where the Bioengineering Society organized a karaoke night in our building.

After the karaoke, I headed home, so I didn’t get to go to the Slug. I heard that the rest that went had a lot of fun! As for me, I was glad to be in bed; I was very tired.

The next race for me will be the British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) race in Gloucester. I have never been out of London, so this should be a new experience for me, and I am very excited! We will be leaving next week Friday, and arriving back in London in time for lectures on Sunday the 7th of November.

If you’re interested in the Cross Country & Athletics (XC&A) club, drop a comment down below and I’ll answer ASAP!

Until the next one,

Franz.

Autumn Term

It went by too quickly, but here's a breakdown.

Happy new year! And merry belated Christmas!

I hope you had a great time with your friends and family, wherever you are.

It’s just been a few days since the start of the new year and I’m excited to continue my studies here in the Spring term.

But what happened in the Autumn term?

Well, for one thing, I became an Imperial student blogger, which I’m really amped to be. I know I haven’t written as often as the other bloggers (do check their blogs out – they’re great!), but I’ve been busy.

I’m not lying. Seriously…

Alright. To be honest, I could have made some time to write a post or two.

Anyway, in this term we had the following modules:

Bioengineering in Action: Academic staff of the Bioengineering department gave presentations to our year on what sort of research they have been doing in their labs, showing us real-world applications of the things we are and will be learning in our lectures. The range of research topics in the department is so vast that I learned about many branches in Bioengineering that I didn’t know about before.

Biomolecular Engineering 1: When making parts of a bionic limb, for example, it is crucial to consider how the materials it’s made of will react under stress. Will it break? Will it bend? Will it stretch? Are these responses beneficial or undesirable? In this module, we started off at the atomic level and built it up to the macro-scale level to see how different materials, which are made differently, react to different levels of stress.

Electrical Engineering 1:  If you didn’t cover electrical circuits in high school or further education, you’ll learn about them from the very beginning in this module, so worry not. If you did, you will still learn new things you may not have thought about. Now, this aspect of engineering is important; think about it. How would I power my bionic limb? And carry the messages from one end to the other? And have it do what it’s supposed to do?
Also, a puffer fish once gave one of the lectures:

Pufferfish

And I thought there was something fishy about the lecture that day.

Logic and Digital Systems: In the world of today, computers exist to make our lives easier. Their language, however, is only restricted to 0’s and 1’s. Computers cannot understand anything else, so how is it that you’re able to watch cat videos on the internet? These input 0’s and 1’s are carried through logic gates, generating new output messages (again in 0’s and 1’s), which when specifically programmed, will carry out a certain command. For example, memory. All your music and pictures are stored in sequences of 0’s and 1’s, after all.

Mathematics 1: From functions, to vectors and complex numbers, to calculus. This module is crucial in any sort of engineering, as it will help to design any parts needed for our bionic limb, but also to help us understand the world around us, like propagation of action potentials in our nervous system as waves. We will be continuing this module in the Spring term.

Medical Science 1: Bioengineering is all about improving the health of human beings, but to do that, we need to understand how certain aspects of the human body function. Whether we want to design a bionic limb (I know I keep mentioning this, but this is my goal as an aspiring biomedical engineer), build a pacemaker or model the circuitry of the brain, we need to obtain deep understanding of the physiological concepts.

Mathematical Tools, Vibrations & Waves: The light emitted from the screen where you are reading this is an electromagnetic wave that travelled across air and to your retina. But can we model its motion and path? Starting with mathematical principles, moving on to oscillations and finally wave motion in transmission lines, this will be one of the most interesting modules you’ll get. We mainly covered the propagation of voltage and current waves in circuits containing resistors, inductors and capacitors, and later transmission lines, which can be compared to the nerves in your body.

Walking & Running: This module involved executing an experiment very early in the term; in fact, the first week. Through laughing at how your peers walk and working with them to make a presentation, you will learn about the basics of how humans walk or run, and what implications this has on our joints.

As an Imperial student, I also got the chance to take an Horizons course, and for this term I chose Global Challenges: The World Today.

The course involved identifying various challenges, or issues, the humans of the world are facing. Different groups work on different challenges, and report our findings back on a wiki page that we write ourselves. From scratch. Sounds great, right?! I believe the purpose of this scheme is to expand our knowledge about something else than our degree subject. I know I did, as my group investigated the occurring refugee crises, most especially the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis.

I also attended various Imperial Plus workshops to develop my volunteering skills. From them, I learned new things that I could do at my volunteer positions that would improve my experience and impact.

I really enjoy volunteering; I have been doing it for the past 5 years, but mainly for the past 2.5 years. During the term and my winter break, I volunteered at a charity in London that focuses on people with disabilities. More on that to come on the next blog.

How could I forget clubs & societies?! As I have already mentioned, I am a member of the Imperial Cross Country & Athletics Club, and I have attended various training sessions, weekly runs and races, but I was not very constant throughout the term. For this new term, I aim to be more constant, at least 2 sessions a week (there are daily sessions, you know!).

I participated in the 3rd London College’s League race in Wimbledon, where the conditions were forest-y, rainy, muddy and fire-y. There was a large, wildfire in the forest, and I had to run next to it – twice. That was a unique experience indeed. At the end of the race, the conditions of my legs and shoes were like this:

Legs

Those socks used to be white.

This, my dear readers, was blog #02.

Do comment with any questions you may have, and I’ll respond as soon as I can!

Franz, out.

Welcome Week 2015

An unforgettable first week at Imperial College London.

Beware: This might be quite long.

Blog #01. Woohoo! Let’s get started.

Before coming to London, I lived in St. Maarten, a tiny island in the Caribbean, where the beaches are crystal clear and the airport runway is next to the beach. No kidding.

Did you know: London is 607 square-miles. That’s 16.4 times the size of St. Maarten!

Moving to an enormous city like London to study at such a prestigious university like Imperial College is a big step for me and my family. I’m so psyched to be here and I’m having a great time so far.

But anyway, how did my great time at Imperial start?

My arrival here and the coming weeks were very eventful. I signed up to attend the 3-day International Student Orientation Programme, during which I kind-of learned my way around campus and others things like how health insurance in the UK works, and what the British say, eat and do.

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Tens of the 300 students attending the International Student Orientation Programme.

It was during this time that I began to meet heaps of people with 3 questions:

-“What’s your name?”
-“What course are you doing?”
-“Where are you from?”

For me, these were conversation starters, unlike the British who usually start a conversation by commenting on the weather.

Every time I met someone from my course, I would feel joyful because this person and I will be classmates for the next 3 to 4 years.
The best experience I had during the programme was going up the Queen’s Tower and being able to see the rest of the campus and the city from high up.

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Royal Albert Hall, as seen from the top of the Queen’s Tower.

Did you know: The Queen’s Tower formed part of the Imperial Institute Building, which stood from 1893 to 1966, and has been retained by the current Imperial College.

Those 3 days went by pretty fast, and on the 2nd of October, the rest of the new students (more than 2000 in total) began to move into their respective halls. I got the awesome opportunity to live in Woodward Hall, also known as the Diamond of Imperial.

And then came the most eventful week in my life: Welcome Week.

My timetable ranged from registering with the Bioengineering Dept., meeting other Bioengineering undergrads through the Mums and Dads programme, being introduced to the library, and last but not least (best for last, actually), Freshers’ Fair.

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Students at different stalls by the Queen’s Lawn.

All 350+ clubs and societies at Imperial College set up stalls around campus, meeting new students and explaining them what they are about. The students walked from stall to stall, submitting their names, e-mails and maybe even phone numbers.

This would later develop to attendance in taster sessions during the coming weeks, developing interests and finally club memberships.

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Tens of students in the Beit Quad going from stall to stall.

This event not only gave the new students an opportunity to meet other students with similar interests, but also a chance for them to continue practicing what they love to do or are good at.

As for me, I joined the Cross Country & Athletics club, because I realized that I’m good at running, but I would like to be great. Not only that, but I would really like to participate in a marathon one day and complete it.

Did you know: The Cross Country & Athletics club won Club of the year for 2014-2015!

Welcome Week finally finished with the Freshers’ Ball, where hundreds of students gathered at the Beit Quad for a night with music, drinks and socializing. This is where I got to see a live band play for the first time. (Yeah, there’s a lot of things I haven’t seen or done; I’ve never seen snow, for example.)

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Oebus playing at the stage inside the Metric bar.

The craziest moment that night, for me, was when everyone had to evacuate the dance floor as the fire alarm went off. It was at that moment I got to see how dense the area was with students. See below:

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High population density at the Beit Quadrangle.

Back in St. Maarten, I would normally just walk back home after a night out since everywhere was close, but now that I am in London, I had to take two buses back to Woodward.

I’m still getting used to how life is in a big city, and I look forward to the day where I can confidently get from point A to point B. I’m sure by then I will have made stronger friendships, and gained amazing experiences at Imperial. But let’s not rush to that day.

Imperial College London is an amazing place to be, and I keep meeting authentic people every day. So for now, I shall take every good opportunity as it presents itself to me.

Until next blog!

Franz A. Tapia Chaca
Biomedical Engineering Year 1 undergrad.