Arijit Trivedi, '22, poses with classmates outside the Purdue Memorial Union. (Photo courtesy of Trivedi)

FRESHMAN FOCUS: Arijit Trivedi, ‘22, joins the Purdue Space Program

Arijit Trivedi, ‘22, attends Purdue University and is majoring in aerospace engineering.

Q: Why did you choose to go to Purdue University? 

A: Well, it has a really good aerospace program, and that’s what I’ve always wanted to do. Out of all the schools that I got into, Purdue promised the best opportunities for aerospace research and the best extracurriculars to support that. 

Q: Why did you choose to major in aerospace engineering? 

A: All the readers should watch “Interstellar” and tell me why they wouldn’t want to do aerospace engineering. 

Even before I watched “Interstellar,” I enjoyed the idea and challenge of it. The idea of getting stuck in space and figuring out a solution to get back home spoke to me, and I decided I wanted to do something related to space and figuring out solutions. 

The Advanced Topics Calculus class with Ms. Jacobsen really reinforced me to become an aerospace engineer. Besides taking the class, we got to do the Solar Regatta competition. 

There are not a lot of engineering classes at Country Day and you only get those experiences out of learning physics or calculus. 

Q: What classes are you taking for your major? 

A: That’s an interesting question because my major isn’t aerospace engineering right now. It’s first-year engineering. 

The way Purdue works is that you have to apply as a certain engineering major like biomedical engineering or chemical engineering. Once you get in, your major becomes first-year engineering. At the end of the year, we have to apply to our respective majors again. 

So for the first semester, I’m taking Engineering 13100, Math 26100, PSY 20000: Intro to Cognitive Psychology, SCLA 10200 (communications class) and Physics 17200. 

Q: What is your favorite class and why? 

A: My favorite class at the moment is Engineering 13100 because it’s pretty interactive, and I like the professor. The class teaches us the basics of the engineering process. 

We use Excel to model stuff and come up with descriptive data for data sets. I also like that the class is more team-based than individual-based, meaning that my grade is dependent on the projects I do with other people. 

They put us into teams of four for a project and assigned a new team per project. So, I find it amazing that in a class of 120, you can still have a small class environment and work with different people. 

Q: What career in aerospace engineering do you want to pursue? 

A: I came into college thinking I wanted to do something with propulsion. And, as of now, I still want to be a propulsion engineer. 

However, I realized by talking to a lot of older engineering students here, there’s so much diversity within that one niche aerospace engineering field. But I guess that’s the point of doing projects and internships to find out what you really love. 

You can specialize in any one or multiple of the components involved in propulsion. So that could be injector design and engineering, chamber design – doing stuff like regenerative cooling, or you could also specialize in the fluids systems that deliver the propellants to the engine in the first place. That’s what I know from my experience so far on the rocket team.

For jobs, I’m not sure how it all works since I haven’t had an internship yet. I think the job titles are usually “propulsion engineer” or “combustion engineer” but that doesn’t mean you’ll be working on that entire system. 

Q: Are there any extracurriculars and internships you’re a part of? 

A: As far as internships go, I’ve only been in college for two months so those usually go to the older aerospace kids. In terms of extracurriculars, I joined the Purdue Space Program, which is a rocketry team split into different teams responsible for different parts of the rocket. 

I’m not doing anything else because it takes up a lot of time, but I’ve really enjoyed working with the rocketry team because they take it seriously. As a freshman going into the team, it’s been tough to get caught up and contribute something substantial to the team. 

Q: What are you responsible for doing in the Purdue Space Program? 

A: I’m part of the Hybrids and Liquids team. There are seven different teams on campus.

There are a lot of differences between the teams such as what they want to do and what vehicle they operate. 

For example, the liquids team operates a bipropellant rocket which is different from all the other teams, which operate solid propellant rockets.

They launched their last rocket about a year ago. It was a 20-foot rocket that used liquid methane and liquid oxygen, so similar to SpaceX in that regard, which is pretty awesome.

 I’m currently working on the propulsion, developmental propulsion and fluid systems sub-teams. I get to do cool work like implementing burst disks in the lower plumbing of the rocket and designing a new jet for the engine. 

I’ve also worked on some code that sizes the cavitating venturis – used to establish a constant mass flow rate for rocketry applications, inside the rocket to the super interesting hands-on stuff like rifling through old boxes for kanthal wire. 

Q: How are your professors at Purdue? 

A: It’s hard to say because all of them are decently chill but strict on certain things. They expect you to be responsible, independent and mature. 

For example, my professor for Math 26100 is very chill, even during disturbances. 

On the other hand, my engineering professor is literally one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met, but he grades so strictly. 

The grading has been challenging because, at Country Day, you can always negotiate with the teacher and ask what you need to improve on. But it’s harder in college because it’s a bigger environment.

Q: How is your housing situation like at Purdue? 

A: It’s been good, but there’s been a hiccup with what happened recently.

The homicide that happened in the same building was shocking and disturbing to hear about.

Other than that, it’s been super fun and easy to transition into college with Ethan Monasa, ‘22, as my roommate. 

Everyone in the building is super helpful. There are communal bathrooms on every floor, and the dorm is spacey enough for two people.

At this school, no one cares if you live in a pigsty or not, but I try to keep my dorm clean. 

Q: How’s the food on campus? 

A: First off, I was raised mostly in California where there’s some great fruits. Secondly, I’ve had Indian food almost every night of my life, coming from an Indian household. Both of which I miss. 

The food at Purdue is hit or miss honestly. I’m surprised by how greasy and fried the food is along with a really sad selection of fruits. 

They try to mix up cuisines by serving Jamaican, Chinese, Korean and other options. But I know they mostly miss on Indian food.

I only eat at the Ford Dining Hall because it’s closest to my classes. However, they all serve different things, which might be why I don’t like the food too much because I don’t go anywhere besides Ford. 

Q: What’s your advice to the Class of 2023? 

A: I’ve heard a lot of people say it doesn’t matter where you go, and I agree with that. 

I think you’ll still enjoy going somewhere you want to go or even don’t want to go because the university experience is the same. 

In terms of applying, take a step back so you don’t overwhelm yourself if you’re one of the seniors beating themselves up over an application. Keeping a clear head ends up being easier to write essays and it gets so much better in February. 

Q: Do you have any tips for college life? 

A: I’ve heard a few dumb ones in the past about sleeping in or whatever. But my tips would be to maintain your schedule, a healthy diet and your hygiene.

For the people that are a little more introverted, my advice is the same as the thousands that came before me. 

That would be to put yourself out there. Don’t feel bad if you aren’t invited to certain events or people already have their friend groups. That’s usually not the case.

Don’t be afraid to have a conversation with the person behind you because it’s great practice for making friends. 

Q: Have you made any freshman mistakes? 

A: Oh yeah. Wash your water bottle. It’s so gross, but I didn’t wash my water bottle for two weeks and then I got sick. Another freshman mistake I made was sleeping through my early morning lab. 

So, not making a schedule was a mistake. Because there are a lot of events and stuff going on in your classes, you need to open your phone and put it on your calendar. 

Q: Do you think Country Day prepared you for college?

A: Yeah, big shoutout to Ms. Bauman, Mr. Kuipers, Mr. Mangold, Ms. Jacobsen and Mr. Hinojosa. They did a phenomenal job. Ms. Nellis and Ms. Bauman are two teachers that taught me to conform to a strict rubric which is really helpful in college. 

Also, shout out to the Octagon staffers and Ms. Stewart because they all helped me get better with grammar and time management.

Ms. Jacobsen and Mr. Mangold, I still have their notes for AP Physics C and AP Calculus BC which I brought to college. I’ve been having such an easy time in Calculus 3 so far because of the stuff Ms. Jacobsen taught me. 

Mr. Hinojosa’s class also helped me in SCLA, my communications class, because we get points for participation. Going through Mr. Hinojosa’s class and getting used to participating in that environment helped me out in SCLA.

Sometimes, I would come to class without reading, and I was able to pick up what happened which is helpful in SCLA. 

Q: How is the Country Day environment different from college?

A: I think anyone who’s been at Country Day for a long time is in for a shock at college. It’s interesting that I’ll never know everyone in my grade, whereas, at Country Day, you can meet every freshman, sophomore, junior and senior.

So that’s interesting, and I’m going to miss the close relationships I had with my teachers at Country Day. You can certainly try to pursue a close relationship with professors at college, but it isn’t the same.

— By Aaryan Gandhi

Originally published in the Dec. 13 edition of the Octagon.

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