48 Hrs in Atlanta, GA for STEM/AerosPACE

I’ve always wanted to visit Georgia Tech. When I was in high school Atlanta seemed like a good place to escape to while earning an engineering degree as it was, and still is, highly ranked and regarded in the USA. Many of my good friends are from GA Tech, so I guess life had destined us to meet. Hehe

Last week my coworker asked me to participate as a coach and engineering mentor for an intercollegiate initiative called AerosPACE. The goal of this program is to enlist multi discipline teams of undergrads to design, build and operate an unmanned aircraft or UAS. During the competition they will learn and reinforce the art of acquiring requirements and meeting customer demands on a set budget and timeline. In essence, it is similar to what I did back when I was an AeroDesign student for SAE’s collegiate competition. He didn’t have to twist my arm to get me to accede to support this endeavor. It doesn’t hurt that we get paid and flown over to Atlanta to participate. Yay!

We left early on a Thursday morning and headed to the ATL via Alaska Airlines, non-stop service. Since they don’t run IFE (in flight entertainment) the traditional way – they rent out equipment for $12 USD a fee that you can avoid by bringing your own stuff to keep busy – I made a quick stop at Hudson Books and got a few tomes to read during the flight. Breakfast came in the form of a Burger King crossandwich which is a guilty pleasure I enjoy during my travels. The Alaska service for economy class is basic and I’d rather eat at the airport than pay for an onboard meal. It’s cheaper anyway and my company appreciates every penny I can save during my journey. The 737-900 seemed to have the new Sky Interior and 777 style overhead bins which are always a welcomed sight. Now if the guy right next to me was less broad shouldered, I could avoid getting a back spasm because he is pushing me towards the aisle way. 😦 Curse you 17.5 inch wide seats!

4.5 hrs later…

I’m on page 270, the Lusitania just got hit by a torpedo, and they guy next to me encroached on my space and dropped his water all over my lap. The book was unharmed though. πŸ™‚

The weather is clear with 80Β°F and 60% humidity which is great for Atlanta during August/Summer. Traffic was a pain since we landed at 5:30pm but it didn’t turn into a super long and excruciating ride from the airport to the GA Tech Hotel. We checked in quickly at the convention center and took a break before heading out to dinner at Fandangles. It wasn’t too fancy, although it was mid priced, and our waiter Anthony Brown made the evening delightful and worth the cost of the dinner. After all the professors introduced themselves we networked for a while, ate and then went straight to the hotel to sleep. The skirt steak, chimichurri sauce and chocolate cake I ordered took their toll on little old me. He he πŸ˜› (Made me sleepy.) With the three hour difference it took me a while to fully doze off, giving me time to finish the Lusitania book and start its review around midnight. The plan is to raid the Barnes and Noble across the street from the hotel tomorrow to get another book for the journey home. Gotta use my discounts!

GA Tech 

The next morning we went to the Georgia Tech campus and sat through the AerosPACE kick off. Our role in this endeavor is to coach and mentor the aerospace engineering majors to make sure they design the best possible solution for their customer. Employers want grads to possess interpersonal teaming skills and the know how to critically think and analyze engineering problems. It is the goal of this program to mash up students from all over the USA to help them understand the challenges of working across time zones and remotely to get the job done. In April, we will all meet again to see the UAS fly and to celebrate completing such a hard but satisfying journey.

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Pidgey? For real? @GA Tech Campus

One of our teammates had to fly back home sick so we are down a man. 😦 Hope he feels better soon. This changed up our itinerary somewhat but we still managed to hit lunch in time. The Papa John’s pizza and this morning’s Starbucks sandwich have me rethinking my diet and exercise plan for the weekend. My coworkers are on board to walking later in the day but it turned out that Pappadeux was about 16 mins away on car so we ended up driving instead. The weather was truly lovely and we did not mind the temperature being in the 80s. I have to admit I miss the toasty warm feeling of the Atlantic/Caribbean sun but not the humidity.

Pappadeux is technically in Marietta, the home of Lockheed Martin (nee Marietta). The Seafood Kitchen moniker is exactly true and doesn’t give it justice. Inside the place you feel like you are at the Bayou or Gulf enjoying a nice evening out with friends. The decoration and ambiance are delightful and the service was friendly, warm and quick. The libations, both alcoholic and non, were excellent; my watermelon mule was refreshing and perfect for the weather and environment. You could hear live music in the patio, another cool place to enjoy your meal. I had the Salmon Alexander which has a little bit of scallops, shrimp and other fare on top of the fille served with yummy dirty rice. Anything seafood or meat will be excellent and tasty, especially the shareable appetizers. πŸ˜€

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After the meal we went back to the hotel (nearly got hit on the highway in the process, nice save by my German driver-internal joke) and took a stroll through Barnes and Noble. I couldn’t decide which book to get so I will have to rely on Delta’s IFE, especially now that I got bumped up to first/business class. Woop woop! I’m so close to Gold Medallion status it is exciting! A miracle though that I got upgraded since this route is usually full. He he. After the stroll and the good upgrade news, I went to the hotel,  packed up and went to bed. Outside, students walked up and down the streets and placed lures that almost landed me a Charmander. Almost…

The next morning we had breakfast at the hotel and finished up the AerosPACE kick off. The students and faculty presented the schedule and communication tools. By the end of the day they had preliminary schedules and concepts as they present to the advisory board September 23rd. It will be interesting to see how the designs have evolved by then. We wrapped up on a high note and stopped to lunch at Der Biergarten on our way to the airport.

Traffic cooperated and we made it in time to catch our flight back home. Next time, I hope the Braves are in town to catcha game. Let us see how the project turns out. We’ll be back in April. Until then ATL!

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