BlueStamp Engineering - Week One

Last winter, I went through dozens and dozens of websites, looking for a program to attend over the summer. I was just about to give up on my hopes of actually earning anything and sign up to be a camp counselor when my phone buzzed. It was an email from a company called Wishbone. I vaguely remembered applying for it after a guest speaker had come to my school, but I still wasn't entirely sure what Wishbone even was. Weeks later, I would come to find that Wishbone is an organization that helps send low-income students to the summer program of their dreams. With a little help form donors and sponsors, students can attend a program with little to no payment on their end.

Long story short, I was accepted by Wishbone, who steered me in the direction of an engineering program called "BlueStamp Engineering" or BSE for short. I was incredibly lucky to have Colleen's Foundation fully fund my tuition. Basically, I got a full ride into a normally $4,000 program, thanks to their generosity and dedication to helping women in STEM.

Right now, I'm halfway through my second week at BSE. I've completed my starter project -- which is more of a warm-up to the main event -- and started putting together my main project. For the next few weeks, I'll be building a 3D-printed robotic hand. It's a little ambitious for someone who has pretty much zero engineering experience, but the instructors at BSE have been so, so helpful with everything. In a span of five days, they taught me more than I thought I ever could at sixteen.

Well, at seventeen. My birthday just so happened to land on the first day of class. It felt pretty weird to say, "Hi, my name is Kriselle, and it's my birthday today," so I ended up not telling anyone. To be fair, I told one of BSE's directors while he was interviewing me for the spot, so I blame him for forgetting. By the end of the week, my instructor found out. Next thing knew, I was sitting in one of my three regular seats (right next to the toolbox, but just far enough from the whiteboard that I can still read it), smiling awkwardly as the class sang me the Happy Birthday song.

It honestly feels a little strange to have learned so much in such a small amount of time. Two weeks ago, I had no idea how to pronounce the word "solder", let alone work with it. I'm starting to be able to have solid conversations with my Actual Engineer dad, who is literally decades ahead of me in terms of engineering experience.

It's even weirder to be in the presence of so many insanely driven students from so many insanely prestigious schools. I'm a rising senior, and sometimes I rub elbows with a rising freshman straight from Harker Middle School. That's, like, the type of school that you would send your child o if you had bags of money to burn. I hear names like "Lynnbrook", "Homestead", and "King's Academy" on a daily basis. My school doesn't even have an actual campus. f you look to the left and look to the right, you can see every building our school has to offer.I mean, we didn't get a water fountain until last year. Our Sociology of Law teacher said that that was probably illegal, but that's okay. Anyways, coming into a pretty heavy engineering program without any proper experience was already enough to fuel my growing impostor syndrome. Just imagine how I felt when I found out the girl I consider my favorite friend had an older sister who was going to MIT. Don't get me wrong, I love that I'm able to work with other people my age with such bight futures, but mine seems just a little more dim in comparison. At school, I felt like a big fish swimming in a small pond. Now, I'm the small fish in a big pond. I would say something corny like, "Well, that just means I have room to grow!", but do I really believe that? Nah, not really.

There are worlds and worlds of more information about BSE that I could dish out, but it's probably easier to understand if you take a look at my BSE website. I hope my robotic hand turns out well, but if it doesn't you'll hear about it anyway.

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Kriselle Tanhueco

I'm a high school student who kinda likes writing, kinda likes math, and kinda loves getting involved.