Every semester there is this wonderful thing that happens. Perhaps one of the greatest things of all. I am referring of course to Lehigh registration!
With the end of the semester close on our heels, we have to start thinking about the future; that is, the second semester. As an IDEAS student, this can be one of the most fun/painful experiences you’ll ever experience. On the one hand, looking up courses that sound interesting and that you’d actually want to take can be invigorating. On the other side of the spectrum, the actual registration process… well… let’s just say it’s downright painful. When I first came to Lehigh, I dropped my entire schedule and built it from scratch so I have some experience in this. Essentially, it consists of a student making a list of the courses they want to take, and then rushing around like a madman to make sure no one else takes your ever-so-valuable seats.
This process is further hindered by the fact that many IDEAS students overload their schedule (at Lehigh the max credits per semester is 18, overloading require special permission and can go as high as 21 credits). We also often deal with pre-requisite overrides so we can avoid taking some intro level courses. All this in mind, registering guarantees to make you miserable for at least 24 hours. That being said, I still love the whole prospect and can’t wait to get officially registered. Brace yourself second semester- I am on the move.
The IDEAS program is so hard to describe to people when they ask that standard question, “What is your major?”. The concept of being in two colleges and integrating different areas of study across those colleges, areas that may seem completely unrelated, is one that is hard to understand. You often get asked the question, “Well what do you do?” or “What are you going to do?”, and the beauty about IDEAS is that none of us really have that figured out yet, but we know that we want to do something special and different in order to change the world.
In the last seminar Professor Best brought up this idea of “changing the world”, and about how we would do that. It is not necessarily about changing the whole world, its about changing our corner of it. Our motivation is this prospect of maybe exerting some change with what we are passionate about that will create a ripple effect and cause good everywhere through our work and inspiration to others.
We are here to think broadly, define new ethics for an unknown future world, thinking about the possibility of going somewhere and what to do when that happens. We are discovering questions and topics that are important to us, finding out what really “bothers” us, in order to take this out to the world once we leave and hopefully make some kind of difference.
The year is 1971 and you are cruising around town in your brand new Ford Pinto. With your car brilliantly glistening in the summer sunlight, today is perfection incarnate. As you swing around a particularly tight bend, your friend in the passenger seat reaches over and begins fumbling through the radio stations. Sadly, the two of you have never agreed when it comes to music. The traffic light ahead give you the perfect opportunity to take the radio back. You gently roll to a stop and slowly reach over to the radio…
You never noticed the car behind you…
In a sudden flash, blackness engulfs everything and your “perfect day” spirals out of control.
In the 1970’s the Ford Pinto was brand new to the consumer market place. Yet, even in its new and gilded condition, a dangerous flaw lurked beneath the surface. The Ford Pinto suffered from a structural flaw that allowed its fuel tank to be punctured in the event of a rear-end collision. Interestingly, the company was well aware of this explosive flaw yet ultimately chose to do nothing. This begs the question, why? The answer is oddly straightforward. It was simply more efficient to leave the flawed design and pay for the lawsuits as opposed to paying to redesign the Pinto at that point in its design. This event prompts ethical questions from all over the spectrum.
As an IDEAS student, every week we walk into seminar knowing full well that we are going to be faced with questions that will test and challenge our morals. As an engineer in today’s society, it is possible that we will be in a situation where we will have to make a decision that will challenge us on this same level. Educating and discussing topics like these with our peers is what makes IDEAS so invaluable.
As a second semester freshman, I am already delving into my intended major. The biggest asset of IDEAS Program is that it concentrates on making you proficient in your area of learning. That does not just include what classes you have to take to get a degree but what classes will allow you to become a more well rounded, holistic engineer. This semester I chose to enroll in Beginner Spoken Mandarin II, Glaciers and Glaciation, The Science of Environmental Issues and Natural Hazards: Impacts and Consequences along with my prerequisites. It is a fantastic feeling going into a classroom and being passionate about what you are learning. IDEAS teaches you that any class you take will help your major. If your majoring in Environmental Engineering but take a psychology class, it will help you understand people which will help you to become a better engineer. IDEAS is a privilege to be part of and if you want to learn more go to