Senior Design

RIP Derk Slottow

I got a call today from my friend Dave back in the States, “Hey Ferg, it’s Dave…um…give me a call when you get this…um, it’s pretty important. Talk to you later.”

A rather cryptic message. I called Dave back. I asked what’s up. And that’s when he told me that Derk had died in a kayaking accident.


And for some reason, I’m more ratteled than I would have expected. Maybe it’s because I’m off in a far-away land, and feeling somewhat vulnerable myself…especially now. Maybe because I had a relationship with him. We weren’t best of friends or anything, I had a few classes with him and would see him around campus. If I saw him at the Student Center eating lunch, I’d sometimes go over and eat with him.

I mostly knew him through Dave, since he and Dave kayaked (and I didn’t).

For some reason, I saw him more this laster semester. We talked a lot about my Senior Design project. Derk had even offered to let our team use the CSM Kayaking Clubs’ pool time to test our project out. Unfortunately we never go to that phase. I think Derk wanted to see it actually work (me too, for that matter).

We had our fun, and he was a good friend…no matter the amount of crap I gave him – which, for the record, was quite a bit.

So yea, sad day…Derk, I’m glad to have known you. You will be missed by me and lots of other people. Alot.

On Facebook from the album: "The Year Begins Fall 2007" by Rachael Madland. 21 September 2007. © Rachael Madland.

On Facebook from the album: "The Year Begins Fall 2007" by Rachael Madland. 21 September 2007. © Rachael Madland.

See also: Denver Post: Colorado School of Mines student dies in kayaking accident

As an aside:

One of the interesting things about traveling and technology is how it allows one to remain connected, even when separated by vast distances.

Right now, it would take me at least 24 hours to get back to my house in Seattle. However, I can see my parents face within a mater of milliseconds using Skype.

And while it has been nice to escape most of technology, I still find myself keeping a pulse on the world as I travel. I do this through a variety of methods that ensure my signal to noise ratio is very low1 email, Facebook, Twitter, my blog, and even voicemail (using Google Voice).

This incident, despite the overwhelming sadness, just goes to show how pervasive technology is in our life and how it connects people around the world, literally in this case. Technology is amazing and I am grateful that I live in a world where this is possible and in a society where I’ve had the opportunity.

Photo of Derk with pink hat From the Facebook album:
“Rocky Mountian High Continued…” by Lucy Simpson. 10 November 2007. © Lucy Simpson.

  1. of all the information I look at, most of it I care about 

Engineering Should Come With a Warning Label

Someone I know at school, Islin Moy, posted this note. I felt compelled to share it because it’s basically what I’m feeling right now.


In your senior year second semester, you will experience stress levels not felt since failing your first test, over a prolonged period of time, at the same intensity.

This is due to senior design and the “random” decision of professors to double your workload, including the ones you took courses from before.

Senioritis and the general decline of your attitude towards school also doesn’t help.

The question is, do you really want to graduate?

If the answer is YES, then forge ahead and take your sleeping pills/other methods to fall asleep at night to wake up 4 hours later! Only 72 days left!

There is no such answer as NO. You got this far.

And it’s actually only 66 days left now. I’m glad to hear other people are in the same boat I’m in.


Final Schedule

Even though registration for next semester was several weeks ago, I didn’t get my class list finalized until today. My schedule for this semester has been a thought in the back of mind for a while now, this semester is the linchpin. If I couldn’t get all my classes to fit in, I would have to be here another semester, which I didn’t not want to do.

As it turned out, I was able to get all my classes in…although it took a bit of finagling.

Here’s what I’ll be taking:

  1. Introduction to Robotics (EGGN 400): MW 11-12, R 2-5
  2. Analog and Digital Communication Systems (EGGN 483): TR 11-12:15
  3. Advanced Robot Control (EGGN 514): MW 5:30-6:45
  4. Introduction to Ethics (LAIS 320): TR 8-9:15
  5. Senior Design (EGGN 492): T 8-11

I’m taking a total of 16 credits, which is one more credit than I was planning taking…oh well. Also, Advanced Robot Control is graduate level class, so that should prove interesting. Finally, Senior Design officially meets on Tuesday mornings, however we will rarely meet for class in practicality.

Bonus: No class on Friday. I see lots of skiing in my future.


No Shave November

As I’ve done for the last few years (see this, this, and this), I participated in No Shave November again. I think this will be my last year.

I ended up trimming it, which means that I’m keeping a beard for time being. I like to call it my Beard of Power. We’ll see how long that lasts.

Also, finished up Senior Design (for this semester at least) and Machine Design today. That’s seven of my 19 credits wrapped up.

Nikkor 50mm || 1/60 || f/1.8 || ISO640 || tripod


This Seems Familiar

Well, it’s 4:49am I just got back from Kinkos FedEx Office. What was I doing at FedEx Office at four in the morning? Making copies and getting our Senior Design presentation bound, of course.

As I was driving home, I had a flash back to the Fall Semester of my Freshman year when Josh Gresham and I basically finished up the EPICS project all by ourselves.

I really try not to pull all nighters these days. It just isn’t worth it and the amount of work I get done is minimal, especially when compared to the amount of time I spend just trying to stay awake.

Anyway, I’ve been up since about Monday at 8:30am, so that puts me at about 21.5 hours of uptime. I’m going to go grab a quick nap before we present at 10am.

Ferg out.