Category Archives: Jonathan C.

A Fun Night with Penn Baseball at “The Bank”

Author: Jonathan Cousins, SEAS’14

Last night, I hopped on SEPTA, and took the Broad Street Line down to AT&T station, and the Philadelphia sports complex. Upon my arrival, I saw many people walking towards the Wells Fargo Center, en route to the Sixers game. Farther along, Lincoln Financial Field and Citizens Bank Park sat, seemingly empty, as the Eagles are in the off-season and the Phillies were in San Francisco. But, at least for one night, there was baseball to be played, as Penn and St. Joes squared off in the final of the Liberty Bell Classic.

The Liberty Bell classic is a 20 year old tournament designed to allow the Philadelphia area schools to play each other in baseball. The tournament features eight teams, and the final two meet at Citizens Bank Park. Neither Penn nor St. Joes had ever won the tournament, so no matter who would win the game, it would be a new team engraved on the trophy.

As I walked up to the stadium, it was strange to see the third base gate closed off. Even when I got to the first base side, there were only two ticket windows open, and only one entrance gate.  The Phillies and their 42,000 faithful create a buzz at the park that simply can’t be replicated. So, walking into the ballpark, many of the concessions stands were closed, and everyone was being funneled into the seven sections right behind home plate. It was almost like I could hear the ghosts of baseball whispering. I knew what sounds I expected to hear, but they weren’t there.  There was no buzz of the crowd and no hot dog or beer vendors yelling. But it was still baseball, and there was something magical about seeing Penn’s entire roster being announced, and lining up in front of the dugout normally inhabited by major leaguers.

There were a lot of things missing from the park that night, but also many new things. It was strange looking out into the sea of empty blue seats, echoing the sounds of baseball across the stadium. But it was definitely the only time when $5 would allow me to sit directly behind home plate at a major league park. The Quaker also made an appearance, and quickly gained an entourage of five kids who followed him anywhere he went.

Once the game began, Penn fell behind on a home run early on, and failed to get the clutch hitting they needed to come back. Unfortunately, they lost 6-3. The night was something that I have never experienced before, getting to watch baseball in Citizens Bank Park with only 300 other people, and it was a lot of fun.  Hopefully, next year. Penn will take home the title!


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Author: Jonathan Cousins, SEAS’14

Penn is full of acronyms – OCR, SPEC, UA – the list goes on and on, especially in engineering, where acronyms seem to be the order of the day.  From SEAS to each major (MEAM, CBE, ESE, etc.), you can hardly get through a day without using acronyms.  This week, I was introduced to a new one – CBI.  While a typical Penn student might think College Board I______, or something along those lines, the CBI is actually an acronym more closely associated with NCAA and NIT.  Yes, the CBI is the College Basketball Invitational, the postseason tournament that Penn is currently competing in.

Most people, including myself, had never heard of the CBI before this week – and most of those people still don’t know what it is.  It is a fairly new tournament, started in 2008, whose distinguishing feature is that the championship round is a best-of-three series.  When I heard that Penn was going to participate, I was not sure whether to be excited or upset.  After all, this news came on the heels of the painful loss to Princeton last Tuesday that kept us out of a playoff game for the Ivy title. But I got a ticket for last night’s game against Quinnipiac – and I was among the few who did.  Almost the entire upper bowl was empty, and the student section was more sparsely filled than over spring break, which is saying something.  Two of our seniors, Tyler and Mike, were out with nagging injuries that have plagued them throughout the season.  All-in-all the atmosphere was that of a meaningless preseason game. But Penn put together a good effort, shooting almost 50% from beyond the arc and playing well defensively and they went on to win the game.

Here is where I insert a plug for the second round game. Having won the first game, Penn now plays Butler in the second round, at home on Monday. If the name Butler rings a bell, they probably ruined your bracket at some point during the past two years, as they went to the Final Four the past two years.  Yes, that is the Final Four in the NCAA tournament, against the best teams in college basketball.  This year has been a down year for them after they graduated some of the upperclassmen that fueled their previous tourney runs.  But if that history is not enough of a draw, perhaps you have heard of the Hinkle Fieldhouse.  “Indiana’s Cathedral of Basketball” as it is described on Wikipedia, not to be confused with our own Cathedral of College Basketball, the Palestra.  Even if Hinkle doesn’t ring a bell, you may have seen it as the stadium used in the classic basketball movie Hoosiers.

I think this game will attract more campus attention, and I encourage anyone that can make it out to the Palestra on Monday to be there.  It should be a great game, and any trip to the Palestra is a special, unique experience.  I’ll be there, Row 2, behind the basket amongst the Red and Blue Crew. Looking forward to it!


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The Locust Walk Experience

Author: Jonathan Cousins, SEAS ’14

One of the most iconic locations on Penn’s campus is Locust Walk, the bustling, beautiful, tree-lined central pathway through campus. Stretching from 34th to 40th, every Penn student has dozens if not hundreds of trips down this path. During the winter, lit globes fill the trees, and add a spot of light during the cold winter nights. But, there is another side to Locust, one that only shows itself in the middle of the day, during the prime walking hours. Fliers. The ultimate elevator pitch, various campus groups attempt to entice students into taking their sheet of paper, and ultimately attending their show or concert. The only problem is, most people don’t want anything to do with the fliers. Students have been known to use various tactics to avoid the sales pitches, from pretending to absorbed in their iPods and cell phones to just plain walking with their heads down.

Early on during my Penn career, I experience phenomenon, and it changed Locust Walk for me.  Suddenly, I had to make a tradeoff – take the scenic walk and deal with the fliers, or walk down Walnut and avoid it entirely? Fortunately, as an engineering student who lived in Hill and then Sansom West, my route to the Engineering Quad rarely required me to take this pathway. This was a relief, because I found the constant calls for attention to be on the annoying side, while at the same time feeling bad ignoring someone who is working hard to represent their event.

So, imagine how I felt when suddenly. Red and Blue Crew decided to sell Princeton basketball tickets on Locust Walk. As a prominent member of the Crew, I signed up to do my share of shifts, and immediately I was thrust onto the other side. Now, I was the one yelling my pitch across the Walk, hoping people would notice and take action. It was during this process that I discovered something: I truly enjoyed it. Every time someone came up to buy a ticket, or told me that they already had one, I knew one more person was hooked on Penn basketball. I got to really experience what the buzz on campus was like for that game, and it was exciting! And it also paid off in the end, as the Princeton game ended up drawing over 600 students.

Even more fun was the week leading up to the Harvard game, where we were giving tickets away. While other tables were desperately recruiting walkers, we had people coming up to us without provocation to ask about the free tickets. Overnight, the Harvard game became the place to be on a Friday night, and we drew 1,800 students – the largest number who attended in years!  So now whenever I take a stroll down Locust Walk and see people yelling about their group, I know how it feels. My saying “no” will have little to no effect on them, because that’s not what they are waiting for. They are waiting for a chance to connect with people who are excited about the same things as them, and it is this network of connections that makes Locust Walk, even at its loudest in the middle of the day, a beautiful place.

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My Trip to Columbia University

Author: Jonathan Cousins, SEAS’14

Last Friday, I went to see Penn Basketball play at Columbia. It is always a unique experience to watch your hometown team in another city.  For one thing, the crowd is rooting against you. It is especially hard to deal with by yourself, because if there is only one of you, you stick out.  At Columbia though, there were ten members of the Red and Blue Crew, and we were sitting right next to the Penn Band.  Between the two groups, we basically owned a corner of the gym. And, it was fun to have a bunch of us cheering against the majority of the pro-Columbia crowd. I also noticed that there were a lot of Penn alumni present, especially in the section right behind the Penn bench.

Getting to and from the gym was an adventure. We took Bolt bus from 30th Street Station to Penn Station in New York, and then rode the subway from there to Columbia’s campus. However, the gym is underground, and once you step on campus, it is not easy to find. I bought the tickets for the group ahead of time, and so I had to be the one to pick them up at Will Call Office.  I booked a bus that left at 3 PM and arrived at 5 PM, thinking that would give me plenty of time before the 7 PM tipoff.  I didn’t anticipate that my bus would leave an hour late, and I found myself scrambling to get to the gym on time.  In the end, I made it, arriving in plenty of time at 6:30.

The game remained close through the first half, with Columbia taking a small lead into the break.  We surged back at the beginning of the second half, and led by nine points with two minutes to go.  We watched the lead quickly evaporate due to poor fouls and turnovers. Columbia even had a chance to win the game with a three at the buzzes, but thankfully, it clanked off of the iron as the horn sounded. The final score was a close 66 to 64 with Penn winning. You can read the full press release here.

Tyler Bernardini hit four clutch free throws in the final minute Friday at Columbia. Photo courtesy Mike Mahoney.

On the way back home, our group stopped for pizza, and then took the long ride back to Philly. I really had a great time taking half a day and going on an adventure to another city. I got to get out of the Penn bubble, see another Ivy League campus and watch a Penn victory. I have also found that you get closer with the group of people that go on trips like this. In the future, I hope we find funding to send groups of students to the road games, Ivy or otherwise. Even if only 5-10 students went on each trip, if we took 3-6 trips a year, every season ticket holder would at least have the opportunity to go on one. This also discounts the bi-annual trips to Temple and La Salle, which are located right on the Broad Street Line. I hope these trips continue to exist, and expand in number, so that more people get to have the type of fun experience that we did.

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Top 4 Things I’m Looking Forward to Next Semester

Author: Jonathan Cousins, SEAS’14

As this semester quickly draws to a close, I know that as soon as I get home, I will love being there, and will wonder what Penn has in store for me upon my return.  So, to remind me about what is coming, I am going to list my top 4 things I am excited about for next semester.

#4 Spring Fling

Last year, a combination of being sick and rain caused me to miss out on some of the best parts of fling (namely, the quad).  This semester, I will get a fuller fling experience, and everyone loves the time of the year when the entire campus could care less about school work.

#3 Classes

Many people will disagree with me here, and argue that classes are the main deterrent to returning to campus. However, for me, classes provide order to my life and add obligatory social interaction to my day.   No matter how boring the class, if you are sitting with a friend, you can find a way to make it interesting.  This leads directly into…

#2 People

It is great to be able to hang out with my friends, but I also have good interactions with my advisor and my professors.  I have created a great network of people here, and I look forward to deepening the bonds that already exist and creating many new ones.

#1 Sports

The primary thing I get at Penn and nowhere else is the student section, especially at basketball games.  Last semester was pretty good, but there are some great promotions and new activities coming from the student section in the new year.  I can’t wait for Big 5 games, and of course the HUGE matchups against Princeton and Harvard.

What are you guys looking forward to in the next semester? I’d love to know!

In the meantime, I hope everyone has a great break and a happy holiday season.

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Basketball is Back!

Author: Jonathan Cousins, SEAS’14

They say that you never know how much you miss something until it is no longer there.  Well, in the case of Penn Basketball, I realized just how much I had missed an hour before game time.  I realized that I was going to get to go to the Palestra, the cathedral of college basketball, and watch Penn and Temple in a Big 5 matchup.

That would have been enough, as I and many of the Penn fans felt we had no business being competitive in this game.  But, that’s why you play the games. Penn fought as hard as I have ever seen them against a bigger, more talented Temple team.  Tied at halftime, and with back and forth swings throughout the second half, the game had an atmosphere of spirited competition that was rarely there last year.  Last year’s Harvard game was amazing, but the Big 5 brings out something special in the Palestra.  There is nothing like having the arena split half and half, with every shot, miss, turnover, and foul drawing half praise and half objection.

Zack Rosen had another big game, scoring 27 points (Courtesy: University of Pennsylvania)

There was a strong internal temptation to make a statement about the officiating, especially at the end of the game, but I will let others do that, at least in public forums.  My focus is on the atmosphere.  The other night, the Palestra was loud and proud, and hopefully, the experience will keep Penn students coming back for more.  There is understandable disappointment after the loss, but, from my perspective, the atmosphere of Penn pride could not be beat.  Keep it up Penn students – we need your voices all season.

Looking forward, this game gives me hope.  Temple is a better team than Harvard, who everyone is predicting to run away with the Ivy League title.  Whether we end up winning or not, we can play with any team, and I hope to see good efforts in each and every game. This experience is what I have been missing ever since Spring Break last year. Finally, it is back.

Here’s to a good season. Go Quakers!

You can read more about the game here.

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What I Found in the Bookstore

Author: Jonathan Cousins, SEAS’14

On my way to class, I often take a shortcut through the Penn Bookstore.  As I glance down the aisles, I see some of the things you expect: books, hats, shirts, computer materials, and the like.  But recently,  I walked over to the Penn gear section, and some of the things I found surprised me.  Interestingly, the bookstore had a sign on the information desk that described the type of items that I found, as many of them were odd, curious and cool.

And so, I would now like to  present a list of the strangest things I found for sale in the Penn bookstore.

1. Penn Belt

The idea of wearing a Penn Belt is an interesting one.  It would not make sense for the business world, since it is red or blue instead of the classier black or brown normally worn with business clothing.  It also has the repeating Penn logo, which makes it stick out.  I don’t think I could match the belt itself to many things in my wardrobe, and I don’t think I have ever seen anyone wearing one around campus.

2. Penn Chocolate Bars

I’m having a little trouble imagining when one might need this item. While I might be inclined to imagine a high-class Penn party, even then,the dessert would probably be fancier than a chocolate bar.  The only fun scenario I could see with these is using them as application responses.  Imagine receiving a Penn chocolate bar in the mail, and having to open it to discover either nothing or a red and blue foil ticket, granting you admission to the University.  But I digress…

3. Penn Boxers

Another item that is not usually seen, and so the Penn logo part of it is pretty irrelevant.  Maybe those items give the wearer some sort of school pride, but it takes a certain type of person to buy school brand clothing that doesn’t get seen by the general public.

4. Penn Birdhouse

This item really struck me.  Sitting on the bottom of a shelf up against the wall of the store, it is pretty hard to find.  But there it was, a custom painted wooden birdhouse  with “Penn” painted on it.  However, I imagine that having birds use the bathroom on your beautiful red and blue birdhouse roof would put a damper on your school spirit.  But someone must love birds and Penn enough to make this purchase.

5. Penn Stuffed Animals

The Quaker doll I can understand, as I can the generic teddy bear with a Penn shirt.  But a Penn zebra or elephant or giraffe?  Why?  Who could they be trying to market towards that would not appreciate a simple teddy bear?  If people want nice stuffed animals, they go to a toy store.  If they want a souvenir animal, they can get a mascot or a bear. I, for one, don’t see the need for such a large selection.

6. And finally, one of my favorites, the Penn Invitation

This ties into the golden ticket idea from above.  Imagine getting an invitation in the mail, “You’re invited to Penn!”  Sadly, upon further reading, you would discover that this would be a birthday party at a football game, instead of admission to the University.  Now, I love Penn Athletics, and, as a Red and Blue Crew Leader, I am committed to making Penn sports more popular.  But one thing I don’t see very often is Penn birthday parties.  I know this is a common occurrence at other pro sports, and even popular college sports, but at Penn?

It may seem like I am down on the Penn Bookstore, but I’m really not.  I have made many purchase from there, and will continue to do so.  I just have fun wandering through the endless piles of Penn gear and wondering what kind of person would pick up and purchase a Penn birdhouse.  If you have not made a trek to explore the Penn section of the bookstore, I highly recommend it.  You never know what you might find.

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Why I Am Here

Author: Jonathan Cousins, SEAS’14

Whenever I meet someone new, one of the first questions that come up is ‘Where do you go to school?’  Upon revealing that I go to Penn, I get a variety of responses, from the sadly common ‘Penn State?’ to ‘That’s a long way from California.’  But the question that sticks in my mind is this: ‘What made you choose Penn?’  Sometimes, when I am basking in the lack-of-humidity that is a California summer, I wonder the same thing myself.  There are times, mostly when the weather is poor, when I wonder why I didn’t choose the ocean views of UCSD.  But when I got back to campus, I remembered why.

One clear reason was sports.  When I got here I had no idea how much history there was in the Penn Athletics community.  But upon entering the oldest two-tiered football stadium in the country, and the Cathedral of College Basketball, I was sold.  And over the summer, I missed Penn sports.  There were times when I just wanted to walk into the Palestra, wait for the band and the basketball team, and watch a game.

But if it was the sports that brought me back, it was the school and community that kept me here.  When I got back early to be an OPA! (Orientation Peer Advisor) for incoming Mechanical Engineers, I got to see all my old friends again, and meet some new ones.  Instantly I fell back into a comfortable place socially – and I realized just how much I had missed my friends over the summer.  And when classes started I remembered that being a Mechanical Engineer at Penn is a lot of fun.  In one day last week I both cut metal and flew paper airplanes – and these were both part of classes!  Even in a more theoretical physics class, we took pictures of structures and got to talk about what makes them stand up and stay up.  I didn’t realize how many metal beams Franklin Field had until I went and took a picture of it.

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Out of My Comfort Zone

Author: Jonathan Cousins, SEAS’14

When I was picking classes for this semester, I found that I had a few spots to take electives.  I was locked into math and physics, I needed a writing seminar, I wanted to take mechanical design, and I still had space for one more class.  I could have picked anything – but I chose to take Video 1.

This class, at least initially, was way out of my comfort zone.  Here I was, among students majoring in anything from fine arts to business, and we were all in the same room, doing the same thing.  The class topics ranged from technical camera details to discussions on visual storytelling – and it really appealed to me.  I loved how this class engaged all of the different parts of my brain – the creative side while writing or brainstorming, the artistic side while shooting video, and the logical side when editing.

I was worried at first that my lack of development in art would hinder me in an art class, but what ended up happening was completely unexpected.  My lack of sophistication allowed me to come up with ideas that others could not, and sometimes those ideas worked out very well.  This type of class is probably something I won’t experience again during my time at Penn, especially as my focus narrows down to courses in my field.  But my experience was so positive that maybe, just maybe, I’ll end up taking Video 2 sometime in the next three years.

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Life of an Engineer

Author: Jonathan C., SEAS ’14

When I joined the Engineering School, I knew there was a reason I was meant to be there.  I understood that being an engineer requires working late into the night.  While I have yet to experience an all-nighter, I had a late night a few weeks ago.  It was for my MEAM-101: Introduction to Mechanical Design class (check out the PRESS project).  The project was to make anything, as long as it used press-fits.  Short explanation: a press fit is where you have a slot and a peg out of a given material, and you make the peg slightly larger than the slot (on the order of a few thousandths of an inch).  Then, when you press the peg into the slot, the peg slightly deforms and will stay firmly fastened, creating a connection between the two parts without needing adhesive.

I decided to build a space shuttle and started with a model on the computer.  I went to the room at 10 PM thinking it would take maybe an hour to cut all the pieces out and put it together.  By the time I was cutting the last piece out, the clock read 1 AM.  Suddenly, I understood the joy of being an engineer.  There are people out there who would have meticulously watched the clock, and would have left the room with a partially-finished product with the intent to come back the next day to finish it.  But I had become so engrossed in the project that I was shocked by the amount of time that had passed.  And, when I got to the end and had a finished product, I was filled a combination of exhaustion and great satisfaction. At that moment, I knew that being an engineer was the right choice for me.

Not my project, but an example of a press-fit project

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