Prompt: 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. Maximum of 500 words.
This one needs some help :/
I have had a number of "engineering ideas" through the years, many of them attempts to find a solution for the clean energy problem. While mowing the lawn one day when I was thirteen, I had what I thought was a brilliant idea: why not use grass cuttings as fuel? By the time I finished mowing the front yard, I had fashioned in my mind an elaborate scheme in which everyone had their lawn mowed by an alternative energy firm-so that people with bigger lawns could not claim it as the fruits of their labor and demand compensation-which then converted the clippings into biofuel and sold it back to the community as an affordable alternative to fossil fuels. As soon as I was back in the house, I did a Google search for "grass cuttings as fuel" to see if it had already been thought of. To my dismay, I found that it had been thought of, tried, and dismissed as uneconomical. A similar thing happened to all my other energy-related ideas (landfill gas, exercise equipment that could capture and store the energy you expended, solar power collected in space, etc.): either they had been abandoned as inefficient or they were already being implemented.
Looking back, I recognize the major flaw in my approach: I was trying to find a new solution to a long-standing problem without first educating myself. I didn't know which ideas had already failed and why; I didn't even know any of the basic physics behind energy conversion. I didn't want to. I stubbornly harbored the notion that this would be "cheating"-the notion that knowledge would only stifle originality, like an artist's individual style is slowly watered down by the influence of other art he observes. Now, I realize that engineering works in precisely the opposite way. Ideas continually build off one another, as evidenced by the lightning-paced advancement of modern technology; and today, real innovation requires in-depth knowledge of the subject in addition to the ability to creatively apply that knowledge.
This is where Cornell's College of Engineering comes in. I plan to major in mechanical engineering because it is "the Swiss Army knife of engineering disciplines," as my cousin put it, making it conducive to my extremely broad range of interests. While I don't know exactly what I want to do yet, I do plan to further my interest in energy by taking advantage of Cornell's new Sustainable Energy Systems minor. To augment this, I plan to participate in Cornell University Sustainable Design, which would give me hands-on experience and the opportunity to collaborate with peers. Cornell's generous research opportunities in nanotechnology also make it extremely appealing to me, as I am fascinated with the countless possibilities of nanotechnology-many of which are still undiscovered. Cornell is the perfect place to explore energy, nanotechnology, and all my other interests. I can supply the creativity; Cornell's world-class engineering program can supply the knowledge and skill I need for it to produce results.