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Favorite Study Spot: GTL 139

Over my nearly three years at Caltech, I’ve explored a lot of different study spots. Besides the obvious places like the library or my House library, I’ve also studied in the fourth floor of Lauritsen, the third floor of Linde, the Morgan library in Kerckhoff, the Dabney library, and more. Each locale has its upsides and downsides; the noise level, the comfy-ness of the chairs, the proximity to snacks and coffee. Through all my explorations, I’ve finally determined my perfect study spot: GTL 139.

Why can’t I just do all of my homework in my dorm room? Simple: the desks in Bechtel (the residence where I live) are tiny! To be fair to Bechtel, the desks aren’t actually tiny, I’ve just taken up a lot of the space on mine with a monitor and assorted ceramic objects that I’ve made. Also, I do all my work on paper (I refuse to become an iPad kid), so I’m often trying to spread several papers out and see them all at once, and failing to fit more than two on my desk at a time.

Why can’t I just do all of my homework in the library? No food is allowed in the library, and I rely heavily on snacks to stay energized while working on sets.

So, I found a new place to do homework: GTL 139. Short for Gates-Thomas Laboratory, GTL is the main building for Mechanical Engineering on campus, so I am already there for most of my lecture classes anyways. And if I’m not already in GTL, I’m often at Red Door (the campus coffee shop); conveniently, GTL is the academic building physically closest to Red Door! GTL 139, officially named the “Undergraduate Collaboration Room,” is a weird little room off the first-floor hallway. The existence of this room was never advertised to undergrads, as far as I know, and I initially found it when I was on my way to a meeting and looking for a Professor’s office.

How to find GTL 139, starting with walking out of Red Door:

Walk towards the Sherman Fairchild Library (SFL), the main library on campus. Instead of going into the library, take a hard left into GTL.

Once in GTL, take another left, and walk down the hall to this little alcove, right across from the elevator.

Scan your keycard at the door scanner and head on in! It is unknown if all undergrads have access to this room, or only those who have declared a Mechanical Engineering major.

Once inside GTL 139:

Enjoy the gigantic tables, upon which you can spread your papers far and wide. Side note: wonder about why someone decided that exactly one wall should be wallpapered, and that it should be done in a blue polka-dot/splat pattern.

When the tables are not enough, spread your work further using the white board wall.

Bring a jacket if you plan to stay for long, because the thermostat is always locked and usually set to some absurdly freezing temperature. No amount of randomly pressing the buttons will have any effect.

Enjoy this delightful painting.

Also, don’t forget to get up and stretch your legs every 15-20 minutes, because the lights are on a motion-detector timer and will unexpectedly plunge you into darkness.

Hannah Fisher ’24

Hi, I’m Hannah! I’m a senior from Portland, Oregon majoring in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Geological and Planetary Sciences. At Caltech, I work as a teaching assistant for MechE classes and as a student researcher in the Daraio Lab. Outside of school, I enjoy long distance running, making arts and crafts, and reading nonfiction. On weekends you can usually find me exploring Los Angeles by metro, going to live comedy shows, and trying new coffee shops.