Picture = 1000 Words for Tyler Maschino

Snowy mountains at sunrise.

This image defines the entire experience of studying paper engineering in Austria and the neighboring nations. While it doesn’t explicitly relate to paper engineering in the slightest, there are several subtleties that are present that embody what I took away from the journey.

Set in eastern Austria, on the northern face of the Alps, this photo depicts two benches facing a deep valley and the southern peaks of the Austrian Alps; the mountain range is accented with a vibrant sky — speckled with clouds — and topped with pure, white snow. Every distinguishable, sensory element contained in this picture evokes meaning to me.

The snow, the benches, the sky, the valley, the peaks. It all carries a special meaning. To me, the benches feel like they are seated at the top of the world, especially with the way that they are slightly off-center in the image; this symbolizes how far we climbed in our technical careers as a result of the program. We acquired technical mastery of a variety of topics, while also becoming global citizens: we learned how to interface with a multitude of different cultures present in Austria, Italy,

Germany, and Slovenia. This technical mastery will enable us to be well-versed for the engineering world ahead of us. The cultural competencies that we established will allow us to empathize with countless others across the world for the remainder of our lives.

The benches face the valley and the subsequent peaks of the Austrian Alps. This represents where we started, the valley — ground level, with little to no altitude — and where we are heading in our lives as engineers:  to the top. We will be climbing new mountains in the coming years and, hopefully, reaching their summits.

The snow atop the mountains shows that as we climb closer to the top and we near the accomplishment of our future goals, it becomes cold, icy, and the air gets thin. We will struggle to climb that last 5-10% of the mountain, but, upon reaching the summit, it all becomes worth it.

The sky over these future-facing mountains symbolizes the dawn of a new day; we are coming out of this program changed individuals. Regardless the change, whether it be cultural, intellectual, or interpersonal, we all were impacted by this formative opportunity and will be utilizing that change to realize our dreams, to climb those mountains we are facing.

The wispy clouds that accent the brilliant sky represent the unfortunate truth that not all of our journeys ahead of us will be easy; we will not always be presented with a blue sky and sunshine, but given experiences like this trip, we are better able to turn cloudy days into bright ones.

Although this image does not outwardly express any of these sentiments or the adventures that we have shared, it will endure in my mind as the best way to express my experience without uttering a single word.

- Tyler Maschino