My name is Wesley Yee, and I’m a senior mechanical engineering student at Jones College. I actually applied to Rice to study economics but switched to mechanical engineering during O-Week after seeing the incredible facilities and programs that Rice had to offer.
My academic experience at Rice has been extraordinary in both the engineering curriculum and the classes I’ve taken outside my major. I’ve had the opportunity to learn from some of the most brilliant minds on the planet and work alongside the brightest students from around the country. The small class sizes at Rice means my professors are very accessible, so I regularly attend office hours and ask questions about topics that I’m not understanding. Learning changed from memorizing theorems and formulas for exams to actually understanding them for their context, motivation, and the possibilities for future application.
I’ve also learned to appreciate the freedom to take classes from a variety of disciplines, as well as the overlap between seemingly unrelated subjects. In my European Intellectual History class, I was able to see how history, science, math and philosophy were just different ways to describe human thought. I learned how Isaac Newton came to formulate the concepts I’d been taught in Calculus and the kinematics I’d learned in Physics. Gaining a historical perspective on the concepts I was learning in my STEM classes gave me a greater appreciation for how these ideas developed and played a role in the broader context of human thought. I learned why Newton felt the need to develop calculus--because during his time, algebra and geometry were basically the extents to which humans could quantitatively describe natural phenomena. Newton wanted a better way to describe and manipulate the world, which he resolved by inventing the concept of integrals, limits and his laws of motion. As such, I have particularly enjoyed how my education at Rice has allowed me to understand how humanities and STEM fields are really just two complementary sides of the same coin.
As I’m about to graduate and enter the workforce, I try to make the most out of all the opportunities I still have on campus, including those beyond academics. As an adult, you unfortunately have to cook for yourself, wash your own dishes, pay the bills and drive to work. There’s no cafeteria that you can walk into for every meal and your commute most likely won’t be a five-minute walk. We have it so good as Rice students, y’all! Take advantage of it!