Engineers turn ideas (technical, scientific, mathematical) into reality. Tell us about an engineering idea you have or your interest in engineering. Explain how Cornell Engineering can help you further explore this idea or interest. (500 words max... I'm exactly 500 right now)
(hopefully I touched on the "interest" part)
Gears, tape, glue, cardboard, and a hundred-page instruction manual were the causes of my obsession. Never before did I think a grandfather clock would captivate my attention. The folding of such flimsy cardboard and the interaction with such mechanics - how could one not be interested? As a child, I was a fan of Legos and Knex, immediately falling in love with my do-it-yourself grandfather clock. Building with freedom and control in my hands, I could not ask for a better Christmas gift. Though I barely understood the jargon inscribed in the manual, curiosity and determination would spark me to create a work of art - a clock that would introduce me to the world of design and ultimately engineering.
Mending cardboard with cardboard, I was immediately engrossed in the aspect of building. The carefully-placed glue and precision of pieces caused me to be patient and attentive to detail. Yet, the structure and design of the clock caused me to think of the larger goal in mind. Each meticulous drop of glue and each cohesively mended bond between cardboards crafted my work. I became focused, goal-oriented, and ecstatic towards my first, real creation. And as a child, building a clock half the size of my body was nothing but success.
Barely understanding gears and mechanics, I sought for answers on my own. How did gears work? How do pendulums tick? What effect do weights have on the rhythm of time? Being eight, I tested my hypotheses through trial and error. Embedded in the heart of my cardboards were the gears - the hope of my masterpiece. With weights to clock and gears to gears, I tested the unanswered, concepts oblivious to my mind. Despite my hard work, I was unsuccessful; the do-it-yourself clock was over my head. My masterpiece came short of perfection, though in the end, I understood my mistakes. Through science, I came to learn that each swing of the pendulum released a tooth of a gear; each tick of a clock lowered the weights. These new realizations stemmed my curious nature, and a whole new world of do-it-yourself experiences opened to me; I could not help but seek more knowledge and more answers to the world.
Though I no longer possess my grandfather clock, the memories of building it forever lives within me. Building for fun, for knowledge, and for perfection have become nothing but love; an obsession to say the least. To this day, I am ever-so interested in the experiences and the world in which I live. By becoming an engineer at Cornell, I will continue to build and question the unknown. I will further learn from mistakes and perfect what is given, achieving a work in which one day, I can call a masterpiece. With diligence and patience, I will be able to grow beyond my do-it-yourself grandfather clock and advance my understanding of day-to-day objects. Only then will I build upon my knowledge and hope of becoming Mr. Zhan, the engineer, the curious boy that is.