On a chilly Sunday afternoon, Ankit Verma found himself staring out of the window of a plane in mid-air. He was feeling confident about the experience, his very first time skydiving, but as he was lifted farther and farther from the ground, he began feeling his nerves tense up.
“Once that door opened and I felt the wind rushing inside the plane, it finally occurred to me that we were all a bit crazy for doing this. As I stepped out on to the edge of the plane, however, for whatever reason all the nervousness was gone,” Verma said.
Verma, a second-year ME, and 24 other students were selected to skydive this past week as part of Techlist’s first ever event, beginning the first of many once-in-a-lifetime off-campus opportunities that the newly organized group would present to students on campus.
“One of the goals of Techlist is to get people out of the [Tech] bubble,” said Bryce Ferguson, a fourth-year IE major who is one of the founders of Techlist.
One of Techlist’s goals is to help students do more than just schoolwork. “Since academics are so rigorous at Tech, people get caught up in numbers, grades, their heads stuck in their work,”
Techlist was created as an idea pitched in last spring’s Buzzinga! competition. Modeled after Emory’s similar organization, called “Once in a Lifetime,” Ferguson and his team members wanted a organization that would allow students to participate in events they normally would not have the chance to, but are still activities that they want to accomplish by the time they leave Tech.
Ferguson and team members Shameer Mirza, Donovan Shuman, Kara Strasser and Kaitlin Curtsinger wrote a proposal and presented the idea in a case competition sponsored by SGA entitled Buzzinga!.
The Techlist founders were inspired by identifying the need for students to break out of repetitive academic and intellectual routines by providing experiential learning opportunities.
The team now is comprised of an executive board, who was part of the initial Buzzinga team, as well as class representatives.
The class representatives are the students who gather ideas for events and are mainly in charge of creating and executing the projects. They create applications for their events and a randomly generated list of applicants to participate, in order to reach out to the most diverse group of people they can.
Members of Techlist are each at different points in their college career and have different perspectives and goals for the organization’s future.
“I just want to see us come back at some point and have it be a big deal… high attendance at these events,” said Kenny Risner, junior class representative.
“As a freshman, I definitely hope to stick with the organization… it can help me grow, I can help it grow… there’s a mutual relationship,” said Laura Winalski, freshman class rep.
Risner and Winalski were two of the members involved in the skydiving event, which was met with 175 applications for 25 spots to go to Skydive Atlanta.
Despite the challenges of an initial launch event, including budgeting, deadlines and the like, Techlist and its participants feel the event was very successful.
Verma had a both nervous and liberating skydiving trip. From initially putting on his jumpsuit to looking down from the plane and flying through the air, his was an eye-opening experience.
“The free fall was a hectic yet blissful blur, then soon afterwards the parachute opened and everything stopped—I could finally look around me and enjoy the view…. Before I knew it… we glided smoothly into the ground and I just sat there on the grass for a couple of long seconds letting it all sink in,” Verma said.
“Our first event was with flying colors… pardon the pun,” joked Ferguson. “Next semester, we are really going to take off.”
Some of the big event ideas for spring involve Swimming with the Whales at the Georgia Aquarium and Dinner with a Holocaust Survivor.
So far, the group has collaborated on ideas by sharing their own “Tech Lists,” and brainstormed events based on their interests and what they think the students would enjoy. Each of the members had their first Techlist wish ready.
“I really want to hug a penguin,” Risner said.
“I want to milk a cow… or learn fencing,” Winalski said.
“I want to swim with the whales,” Ferguson said.
Future idea generation may come from having a literal bucket on Skiles where students passing by can throw in ideas on sheets of paper and Techlist will pull from those ideas.
“The events speak for themselves… get people excited,” Ferguson said. “We want to make the Tech education more than just the classroom.”