Three Semester Review

In anticipation to be an engineer at the University of Maryland, I signed up for the Science and Global Change Scholars Program. However, I was not quite sure what the class entailed. Figuring that science would be a significant component in my curriculum, I decided that this would be the program for me. After a few weeks of colloquium and some organized trips, I realized that this class was not what I expected, but I would enjoy it a lot. In the last three semesters, I have been able to develop an understanding of scientific theory, create everlasting relationships and find inspirations for my future goals.

My journey to understanding scientific theory began with colloquium lectures. My favorite lecture so far has been Merck’s lecture about climate change and the ice age during the second semster. Before this lecture, I had no idea what “erratics,” “drumlins” and “kames” were and I certainly did not realize that these features resulted from glaciers. Who knew how much of an impact ice has on our climate and geography? I remember also learning about what causes mild summers in certain areas, the three factors being if orbital eccentricity is great, axial inclination is slight and axial precession so that summer comes when the Earth is furthest from the sun. Knowing this information comes in handy in many different types of situations. Whether I have to write a paper for architecture or do scientific research, colloquium lectures always come in handy. I recall having to write a paper about “green architecture” in my ARCH170 course and being able to apply concepts I had learned this closing third semester.

A project I really enjoyed was from this third semester was about new energy. Our group chose to do our presentation on IV Generation Nuclear Reactors – a topic which taught me a significant amount of scientific concepts which allowed me to apply what I have learned in PHYS160 and CHEM231. These two courses require knowledge of elementary scientific understanding and Scholars allowed me to continually refresh my memory. As we worked on our project and were presented the projects of others, I was consistently reminded about the way elements such as Uranium and Plutonium function in reactors and the processes of Photovoltaic cells in Solar power. Another class I was able to apply scholars concepts to was when I was asked to analyze a scientific paper in BIOE120Having had a lecture on how to read a scientific paper this semester, I was able to take into consideration the validity of the paper, properly cite sources and extract useful information from it. I was able to also identify different sections of the paper including the abstract, the methods and materials section, the discussion and conclusion.

Along with all the affirmatives, Science and Global Change has been constructive in challenging my personal beliefs – especially on the topic of climate change. From professors, to peers and to family members I have heard strong conservative views that are apathetic to or deny global warming and I have heard opinions which completely support it. Nevertheless, before this course, I had chosen to take a side. Now, however, I fully believe that global warming exists and is an ongoing problem thanks to Dr. Holtz and Dr. Merck. By presenting statistics, teaching us the foundations and giving us suggestions on how improve the world in the future, these two professors have really given me new inspiration to fight for global change.

In conclusion, Science and Global Change has applied to my supporting courses, helped me create long lasting relationships and increased my knowledge on making a difference. This was done through lectures, projects and field trips which have encouraged me to learn about subjects ranging from space, climate change and pseudoscience. I remember the first field trip I attended in the first semester which was to the Marian Koshland Museum. Though I had no idea who Marian Koshland was and how she has contributed to science, I soon learned that it has a lot to do with what we were learning about in class: informing the public on national policy and personal decisions impacting people’s daily lives. My favorite exhibit was on Infectious Diseases, which explores the microbial world we live in, examines the emergence of new threats, and shows how our response determines the spread of diseases. As one can see, my learning has been endless and will hopefully continue in my career as an engineer. I hope that future SGC students have the same great experience as I did.

Submitted November 29,2010