By Dave Block ’93

Mechanical engineering major Ethan Ames ’22 is working as a cook this summer on Block Island in his home state of Rhode Island. “I am the only cook at Odd Fellows Cafe, and I made 150 egg sandwiches in the past two days,” he recently said.

How did you become a cook?

I became a cook this summer really just to be on Block Island. I have worked on a food truck called Rhode Rage in the past, and I loved the fast-paced work environment.

Where did you study abroad last semester? How did it go?

In Madrid, Spain. I went with 30 engineers in my class and lived with six other students who were studying abroad from different schools in the U.S. I really enjoyed how easy it was to travel Europe. I am a very last-minute planner, and that was OK in Europe. One morning I woke up and said, “Let’s go to Portugal,” and so I rented a car with three of my friends, and by 9 p.m. we were at a bar in Lisbon. I also really enjoyed being in a Cultural Psychology class, which was through Lafayette, because we would study specific differences in culture and then be able to see, experience, and live them in our everyday lives.

What's an important takeaway from your time abroad?

I learned how important it is to be relaxed and flexible. Everything moved in “Spanish time” and people, in general, were just more relaxed and understanding.

How did you feel about having your time cut short?

After being sent home, I felt like I have an excuse to travel back to Europe. I know a lot of people say they will go back after being abroad but then can never actually make it, but I have plans that were canceled and money that wasn’t spent, and so I see that as an excuse to go back for about a month.

How did your snack giveaways start?

I started Snaccbag my freshman year at Lafayette. I had too many snacks left over to eat by myself before winter break, so I asked my close friends and teammates where they were studying and would stop by and share a snack with them. They seemed to appreciate it, so when I saw some classmates studying, I offered them snacks. Over time I opened up to sharing with more and more people: classmates, acquaintances, friends of friends, anyone I recognize. At this point, if I have my Snaccbag and you make eye contact with me during finals you will be offered a snacc.

Why the unusual spelling, "Snaccbag"?

The unusual spelling is important to me because it is a name rather than an objectit goes from a bag full of snacks to THE Snaccbag. I get excited for finals season because I love finding people and sharing a snack and a conversation. Most of the time I will talk to them about what they are stressing about and then what their plans are for break, but the conversations are based on the person: how I know them, where they are, what they’re doing.

What's a Snaccbag interaction that stands out to you?

This past fall semester I was struggling in a class, and the thing that helped me most was a student whom I had only known through Snaccbag. My first year I offered her snacks because she was next to someone I knew, so this semester when I offered her snacks because I recognized her she asked if I needed help studying for the exam we both had the next day. I honestly would not have done well if it weren’t for her.

What's the payoff for the hard work that it takes to compete in crew?

My freshman year on the crew team I was pulled into a varsity 4+ with another first-year, and we ended up placing third at the Dad Vail Regatta, which is the largest collegiate regatta. Apparently that wasn’t enough for us because we decided to train on our own for the ACRA Regatta two weeks later, which is basically nationals for the club division of rowing. We spent all of finals and Senior Week doing two and sometimes even three practices a day. Unfortunately, the regatta fell on graduation, so we weren’t able to bring our fourth man, coach, or any teammates, but we still ended up winning in a pair and placing fifth in the single. Having teammates who were able to push themselves as hard as they did made all the hard work worth it.

What was your favorite class last school year?

ME 210 with Professor [Matthew] Levine. It is tough to teach students how to be good engineers, but ME 210 gave us all the materials we needed to learn how to be. I worked with a large portion of my grade of MechEs and was able to learn things from experience rather than from a PowerPoint.

What professor has impacted you the most?

Professor [Dave] Mante. He makes it clear that your success is directly related to your effort and participation. Yes, he taught me Statics and Strengths of Materials, but he also taught me the importance of step-by-step problem solving, having attention to detail, and being neat, thorough, and timely with my work.

How would you like to start your career after graduation?

I really would like to find a job where I can connect my passion for engineering and psychology as a human factors engineer. I want to use feedback and human behavior to figure out the best ways to engineer a solution or design. I love designing, and I love studying human behavior, and I want to use them to help people.

What was the highlight of the school year for you?

Taking a sculpture class because I have to spend a lot of time designing things that work, but last semester I was able to design things that look aesthetically pleasing.

What's a funny Lafayette story you've experienced?

During my first semester, Leopard Works had just been completed, and I was studying chem down in the basement of Acopian. I had my headphones in, I was focusing hard, and I was loving the vibe down there. Slowly more and more students started to join me, and I didn’t think much of it because I was facing the back of the room focused. About a half-hour later I looked up, and there was an entire class of seniors and a professor halfway through a lecture!

Who is the most interesting person you've met at Lafayette?

Chris Romano [’19]. During training for Orientation he shared his Senior Voices experience with us. I really liked his kind nature and how he always radiated fun, positive energy. I remember meeting him during an activities fair where he convinced me to sign up for the Civil Engineering Club even though I am not majoring, and having no interest, in civil engineering.

What did I miss?

I love spending time in the dining halls at Lafayette. The food might not be the greatest, but the company is. On Sunday morning I spend four and a half hours in Upper sitting with different people talking about what they did the night before, what they have to do today, and what their upcoming week looks like. I am a very slow eater, so it usually works out where I can sit with at least two groups of people before I am done.

1 Comment

  1. Claire Michalowski says:

    That’s my Grandson!!! A man of many interests

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