Glasses Under the Sea

Mountain MaleI lost my glasses in the Mediterranean Sea.

Twice. I don’t miss them one bit. Why? Because I learned two important lessons when I studied in Spain last May.

First, don’t go kayaking without securing your glasses. Second, you have a rare opportunity to earn college credit while having a marvelous adventure by finding a new way of seeing things — in more ways than one, in my case.

At Hope, I’m used to a rather “structured” academic schedule as an engineering major. I went to Spain in May 2018 with Dr. Berta Carrasco to finish up my SpanishHouse of Ruins Spain minor and also fulfilled my Culture Heritage II credit without putting my engineering class schedule in crisis.

Before going to Spain, I had to figure out how to afford my trip. There’s obviously an upfront cost to studying abroad other than just the plane ticket, housing, and college credits. But really, it just depends how you look at that upfront expense when thinking about how you’ll afford it. For me, it was an investment in my education by taking a class I would have to take anyway, with the added benefit of spending that time abroad. Not only would I have a pretty awesome time, but I’d have a unique experience as a global learner that would set me apart from others.

GrenadaOf course, loving travel is also a huge part of it. Seeing the world is an experience that you just have to do, especially since we’re so young. For us as Hope students, we should take advantage of the interdisciplinary opportunity that we still have. Seeing the world not only allows us to learn more about the world, but allow us to get out of our comfort zones. In my case, it was being able to speak Spanish for an entire month while taking in the culture around me.

Once you study abroad, you also get a very rare opportunity for clarity. You get a chance to step away and embrace a different way of doing things, at least for a little bit, and experience what really matters in life from a different point of view. This new way of life may grant you a few things: More free time, more opportunities while you’re abroad, a different pace of life, or all the above.

The moment you leave home, you’re just not worried about the same things anymore.

Norway Male Rock

The free time is amazing. For three whole days during my May Term in Spain, I did nothing but contemplate life while on a hilltop in Norway for a weekend.

The moment you leave home, you’re just not worried about the same things anymore. You have a chance to make the most out of your experience and chase your next endeavor wherever you decide to go abroad.

Still curious? You can learn more by consulting with one of Hope’s global ambassadors at the Center for Global Engagement office inside the Martha Miller Center.

Life is about the moments that matter

I figured out a while ago that I should spend my life solving problems and so I’m pursuing engineering. While engineering isn’t easy, many pursue it in hopes of entering their field of work right after college.

That was me, for like the first week of my freshman year. I quickly figured out, though, that I wanted to pursue engineering in a different way when I joined the Hope Entrepreneurial Institute (HEI) mentorship program.

I always thought that the “entrepreneur” label was only reserved for those who could sell a revolutionary new product, but it’s not. It’s for everyone that believes they can provide something better, faster, cheaper, or all of the above. I found myself fitting into this community because as an engineer, I strive to create solutions for a world in need.

I always thought that the “entrepreneur” label was only reserved for those who could sell a revolutionary new product, but it’s not.

Student looking at computer. Going into my junior year, I have completed both my mathematics minor and my Spanish minor.  With the time I have remaining to finish my Biomedical Mechanical Engineering major, I have also decided to pursue problems not only as an engineer, but also as a Hope Entrepreneurial Institute Fellow to solve problems in a more immediate way.

We have meetings with our HEI mentor, Matt Gira, a 2016 Hope grad, from Fathom every other Wednesday at Start Garden in Grand Rapids. All HEI teams come together there so that we can go through team-by-team to see how every team is doing, what needs improvement, and what every team would need to grow. I believe that the mentorship aspect of HEI is most definitely a key asset to what makes this program incredibly successful. It allows mentors to guide newcomers along a proven path, saving time and money by avoiding common mistakes.

My close friend, Timothy Doorenbos,Graphic explaining how Honey Batcher software works. and I have spent the last few months at Start Garden developing and refining a software we’ve developed called Honey Batcher, a computer program specifically created to save precious time in postproduction for event and wedding photographers. As the user experience (UX) designer, my role is to dissect the modern photographer’s workflow to make improvements for the future. This includes conducting in-person and online interviews with our target market in order to solve their problems and fulfill their needs. Timothy is the temporary lead developer who handles coding and debugging within Java.

David Wang and Timothy Doorenbos receive check from MWest Challenge.We obtained our workspace at Start Garden in April 2018 at the MWest Challenge, a local pitch competition sponsored by West Michigan Colleges and Universities Group with the goal of promoting entrepreneurship and venture creation at the collegiate level. We were awarded first place and received a $5,000 grant and six months of unlimited access to a work space at Start Garden. Red Bull has also been an influence in our space, from providing free product to getting us connected with their local interior designer to help us optimize our workspace. This workspace is also home to two other teams from Hope College that competed in the MWest Challenge.

Student is coding software.Neither Timothy or myself are native entrepreneurs. But with my engineering major and Timothy’s computer science minor, we’ve both been able to use what we learned in our respective fields to put together what is called a “minimum viable product” — that is, we’ve been able to develop a solution-based product that is sufficient enough for early adopters. From here, we can continue to work and refine, or outsource labor if time demands it.

I’m an engineer first, but I believe that being an entrepreneur helps me be a better engineer because I feel that I can solve problems in a much more immediate way…

So, now what? Do I drop everything as an engineer and become an entrepreneur? Not quite. I’m an engineer first, but I believe that being an entrepreneur helps me be a better engineer because I feel that I can solve problems in a much more immediate way in a startup model rather than jumping on the corporate conveyer belt. But, I’ll be honest with you and myself: I’ll be jumping on the corporate conveyer belt sooner or later.  Wherever I go, I’m sure I’ll find myself at the doorstep of another problem in need of solving.

If you’d like to learn more about Honey Batcher or see how Honey Batcher can help speed up your photography workflow, go to for more details.