Snapshots: Life At The Cockrell School Of Engineering

By Jenna Stoyanov

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Each week, burnt x will feature one student from one of UT’s 13 colleges. This week, we’ll feature Emily Hood, a fourth-year mechanical engineering student at the Cockrell School of Engineering. 



photo by Jenna Stoyanov


A bit about Emily Hood:


Do I have to answer this?

Okay, fine. Honestly, the only thing I can say is that I love food. And I’m not talking about just eating food. I love everything that encompasses it. Different cuisines, spices and complements, drink complements, weird vegetables, exotic fruits… This is my happy place. I would work at a farmer’s market if I wasn’t studying engineering. Maybe I’ll work at a farmer’s market anyway.”


What made you want to attend UT?


“Initially, scholarships and funding were the main reasons to attend UT. But during my senior year, I skipped a day of school to visit UT Austin and fell in love. The architecture, the verdancy of the roads, the proximity of everything – it’s a lovely place. The people, though – you can’t meet a better group of people than at UT. I continue to develop a deeper appreciation of our university every day.”


Why did you choose your major?


“This is a cliché answer regarding ME, but I chose it for its ability to apply to a wide variety of fields. I like to do a little bit of everything, and mechanical engineering allows me to do just that. I’ve dabbled in robotics, modeling and simulation, mechanical design… there’s just so much to see and do within this field. It’s fascinating to see what we’re capable of.”


photo by Jenna Stoyanov


What is your average day like?


“My days are generally non-stop. Sounds boring, but I’m usually on campus most of the day, either attending class or going to organizational meetings. Some of my evenings are spent with my roommates at local coffee shops around Austin (East Austin has some awesome ones), and I try to make time for a handful of homemade meals a week.”


Why is Cockrell the best school?


“I can’t really answer this question because I haven’t been exposed to the other schools on campus. I wish I knew more about them. I can say that Cockrell is wonderful in many ways – diverse, and filled with endless opportunities. The student leadership is active and well-organized, and we’re lucky to have a cool dean like Dean Wood. I’ve been too scared to meet her myself, but she’s a bada**. She’s a favorite among us engineering students.”


How much time do you spend studying per week?


“Let’s just say that I’m only enrolled in 13 hours this semester, but I am in class 19 hours a week, with a minimum of 7 assignments a week. I tend to spend a minimum of 20 hours a week doing homework. It’s a bit depressing to think about, but it’s a lot more fun if you work on your homework with friends.”


Do you think you spend more or less time studying, compared to the average student?


“Compared to the average engineering student, I study much less. I am involved with a handful of student organizations that take up a lot of my time. Compared to the average UT student, I think I study a little more. I’m really not trying to brag – engineering is just really, really difficult. I’m not smarter than the average student, so I just have to study more. That’s just how it works.”


Emily’s robot designs, photo by Jenna Stoyanov


Are you currently working on any projects?


“Currently, I work at the Longhorn Maker Studio, located in the basement of the ETC. You can make almost anything here, it seems. We have laser cutters, CNC machines, 3D printers, soldering kits… everything. It’s fascinating to walk into work and see fellow colleagues working on the coolest projects that don’t even have to do with their degree. My friend made his own motor-powered skateboard… who does that?


I am also working on a search & rescue robot for my Senior Design project. I have five other team members, and we are currently working on the design aspect of the robot. We’ve been asked to send a robot down a 8”x12”x8’ duct, then retrieve an egg off of a 2’x2’x2’ box. Sounds easy, but it really isn’t. I’m learning a lot so far and we don’t even have a prototype yet! Really excited to see how this will turn out.”


Anything else you wish to add?


“Sometimes engineering students come off as conceited or egotistic about their “intellectual ability.” Yeah, we’re smart, but so are a lot of other people. If you’re afraid of talking to engineers, don’t be— outside this thin, cocky barrier, we’re all just like you. If we all understood what educational struggles we go through on a daily basis, maybe we’d stop talking crap about other schools and majors.”