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Post-Summertime Post

September 13, 2017 — Leave a comment

It’s still technically summer, so I don’t feel bad about talking about summer semester even though we’re two weeks into the fall semester now.

I did make it through the summer and learned a good deal. The axolotls were a lotl fun and, as expected, working way outside my comfort zone and expertise was great for my mind. The labs of James Monaghan and Justin Crane were welcoming and had unending patience for their somewhat helpless REU students.

By the end of the summer, I could run protocols based on techniques that I read in passing science magazines and never thought I would try. I learned all about axolotl husbandry; something I never expected to see on my resume…

Sonic Hedgehog!

One of the genes important in regulating cell proliferation in regeneration is called Sonic Hedgehog!

With my partner, I made a technical poster with all the trappings of a professional science poster (Ask me about it sometime). We talked about some cutting edge experimental methods to make mice missing certain genes, but to change their genes only in a particular tissue and only when we decided to change their genes. We also had images of tissue samples from the mice that were lit up with fancy colors because we were doing a fluorescent analysis of RNA from genes we wanted to look at.

rna FISH

These are little bits attached to RNA that are lit up using a fluorescent microscope

First Conference

April 25, 2017 — Leave a comment

A couple weeks ago now, I went to my first mathematics conference. I didn’t know what to expect; the only conference I had been to before was the Catholic Men’s Conference. The two were different and there were too many topics for me to hear everything.

The whole math club and a few other students were invited, but only six students and two professors attended. I would expect higher attendance if the conference were earlier in the year, but for Wentworth students, that was crunch time and many potential students opted to work on final projects. I probably should have worked on projects myself, but I did not want to miss the opportunity.

Attending the conference reminded me that all WIT math majors from my year have requirements outside the classroom. We all need to present two public talks, a poster at the math and science poster session, and develop a website. These things are all strong for our resumes or CVs, but they are not easy to accomplish.

During lunch at the event, the keynote speaker decided to eat lunch with us. This was a pleasant surprise and I don’t think anyone planned it. The man, Noam Elkies, is a Harvard professor with an epic of accomplishments and a unique persona.  His talk was about entropy in music, and the abridged version of the conclusion is that the number of western concert style musical pieces is limited because they have a certain structure; they are not random.

Bio Makes Me Nervous

December 20, 2016 — Leave a comment

Completing finals last Tuesday has been a great relief. Grades came in this afternoon, and were about what I expected – not too exciting, but not embarrassing either. In spring, I will be taking cellular and molecular biology to progress towards my bioinformatics minor, and I’m nervous. So many of my plans revolve around whether or not I hold an affinity for this area of study.

Back in high school, one of my favorite and most engaging classes was bio, but this course was taught with a different style and intent than something I might find at a technical institute. Based on my enjoyment of Miss Mitchell’s high school bio, I have made grand plans involving grad school and maybe medical school that will need to change if I find that I dislike cellular and molecular biology. It’s like a first meeting with someone I will have to work with for years to follow.

Not that I have a love for only the known, but I want to keep my plans, so I’m lining up next semester’s trial to be perfect. The professor will be Ryan Rogers, whom other students have recommended on numerous occasions and I have met a couple times around the school. My younger sister and I are studying up using Khan Academy’s biology track. I’m studying this right now, which links nicely into last semester’s chemistry course.

 

Any questions or just want to chat? Leave me a message in the comments section.

The Close of Chemistry

December 14, 2016 — Leave a comment

This evening, my chemistry course concluded with a final exam. In the journey of an applied math scholar, chemistry is not the strangest thing, but nor is it in the standard package.

This course was outside my major requirements, but stimulating enough that I jumped at an opportunity to take it. Though other applied math students were doing cool things, I’m convinced none among them took home biodiesel and a tie dye shirt after their last classes.

dyed in indigo from Wentworth’s own wet chemistry labs, this shirt will soon define modern fashion

Dyed in indigo from Wentworth’s own wet chemistry labs, this type of shirt will soon define modern fashion. 😀

Many students, given time, would enroll in chemistry, but the fast-track applied mathematics program does not afford so much wiggle room. For me, the course was possible because transfer credits from high school allow me ~6 more choice classes than my contemporaries.

But why take chem and not something mathy? Two big reasons. One, a fellow can be overloaded by math. Two, my childhood dream of saving lives as a surgeon became a step closer.

The first reason was perhaps not the wisest. This course was a major challenge for me – turns out I’m a math/compsci guy for a reason. I did appreciate the break from more complex math, but I was not prepared for all the memorization and new ideas without my other supporting classes. Chemistry was a worthy way to broaden my horizons, however, and I recommend the course to anyone with free time and a hard-working spirit.

Applied Math Poster Session

December 11, 2016 — 1 Comment

Yesterday evening, the mathematics department held its biannual Applied Mathematics Poster session. Being a student, I had the inside scoop on a lot of the project teams, and many of them were anxious as the poster session approached. Some of these posters represented months of teamwork and late-nights in front of MATLAB, and everyone wished they had more time to crystallize and improve their projects.

The night of, however, was a big party with chips and salsa and dignitaries. Finally, I received the opportunity to see what my friends had been working on for so long and to show off my own work.

Ichiryu Con Poster

My teammate Ichiryu Nakashima ready to present our research. Nakashima is one of the masterminds behind our poster design and instrumental in our success story.

I wish I had snapped a picture of the scene from above, but I was so engaged by friends, admirers, and examiners that I didn’t think of it.

Coop Outing

November 28, 2016 — Leave a comment

Last week, ENE Systems (my summer 2016 co-op) invited me on one of their outings. The engineering and integration groups all went out for hibachi and a puzzle game. The invitation to meet up with the group was a real honor and the outing itself was a blast.

If you ever get the opportunity, Trapology in Boston is an awesome adventure for a group of engineers. Not all Wentworth students are engineers, but I think all of them would be entertained by the experience.

The ENE Systems Engineering outing squad

Our group rejoicing after glorious victory (only 17% of groups manage to make it out of the room in time)

Entrants are dropped in a room and have to escape by solving puzzles and finding clues in the room. As a player, I was able to use skills developed by my Wentworth education: leadership, communication, attention to detail, and looking at a problem with multiple perspectives.

 

 

 

Opportunity and Engagement

November 4, 2016 — 1 Comment

Just going to say this straight up: I love my on-campus roles. There are so many on-campus responsibilities, and they pretty much all rock.

I completed Phase I the Wentworth Leadership Institute and did well in my classes last semester, and that opened up so many doors for me and my career. My roles with the Institute grant me all sorts of experience before I need to look for permanent employers. The opportunities I have as a sophomore are things that not every student gets to see, and Wentworth made opportunity knock. Students who have completed the first phase of WLI can become RAs, join the Student Alumni Association, give tours to prospective students, sit on the Community Standards Board, and more. The opportunities are abundant for anyone willing to grab them.

I get to meet all the cool people and do all the cool things because of my roles and they are the primary reason that I engage well on campus. I’m getting teaching experience as a Learning Lab Tutor, networking and event planning experience as a Commuter Assistant, and other perks from my additional roles.

Codestellation and Co.

October 26, 2016 — Leave a comment

This weekend I finally managed to get to my first Hackathon. A hackathon is an event sponsored by tech / geek companies and a large number of the geeks gather to break into teams and make cool things. Wentworth Computer Science Society will be hosting one in April 2016.

Anyways, this one was Codestellation at Brandeis university and the event ran from 8AM Saturday to 2PM Sunday with lots of tasty food and cool hardware. The hackers developed loads of new software and ideas that weekend, and Wentworth Computer Science Society represented really well. We sent a few teams and one of our students won a prize.

My partner and I checked out a Microsoft Hololens for the weekend. If you want AR, this is nearly everything you could imagine, and it’s really exciting to imagine that it will be heavily developed and common someday.

Harambe and Shirshak

Harambe and Shirshak Chilling at Codestellation

 

By the end of the weekend we had developed a somewhat functional Skype bot that users could call from their own skype accounts. The bot would pick up the call (with video, if wanted) and try to have a conversation with the user.

To geeks globally, you should take advantage of clubs and events and go to hackathons.

My First Co-op

April 28, 2016 — Leave a comment

On April 20th, I finally started working my summer co-op. All through the year, I had been deliberating over where I would have my co-op; there were so many options. Ultimately, I ended up working with ENE Systems, a building systems technology company. They do more than that, but significantly more than I could say.

ENE has an excellent relationship with Wentworth, and an outsider could easily see that we have a strong preference for Wentworth alums. In engineering, the department I have most contact with, more than half the employees are Wentworth graduates, including the manager.

I had already interned with the company while I was in high school, so it was not difficult to convince them to hire me, but my work is not the same this year. I will be using many of the same technologies and methods, but I will be working in different areas. This afternoon, I finished checking and repairing an entire library of graphical components, generating well over a thousand by the time the job was done.

You may ask how this job is relevant to my major: what do graphics have to do with applied mathematics?

It is not so much the work that is mathematical so much as the approach. My boss more or less gave me an set of components, told me they were broken, and asked me to give him a fixed set quickly. My approach was wide open and I had freedom to tackle the problem any way I wanted. So  before actually setting to work, I analyzed a few possible methods and tried to figure out how I could approach the problem most efficiently – there is actually an immense mathematical concept devoted to this called critical path analysis. Then, I tried to figure out how much I could automate using tools I knew I had (like python, which I learned during math class) and how I would have to learn new things. Then I started. My supervisor allotted 2 months for the project, starting last Tuesday, and I am finishing up today, less than 10 days later.

Work is like this for many Wentworth students. They secure their job, come in, and apply what they have learned. The work ethic and skills developed during their studies at the institute astound their employers, and they are employed happily ever after.

Finals, Finally

April 24, 2016 — Leave a comment

Wow.

Exams are finally over along with the rest of the spring semester.

I had planned on writing a post about prepping for exams before exams, but I guess I got a little wrapped up.

The studying for exams was not too hard. I had paid enough attention over the course of the semester – not enough attention to know everything, but enough to know what I was missing. I knew what the professors wanted us to learn from the courses and where to find info I was rusty with. In short, I was prepared to prepare.
The question of whether I prepared enough will be reflected in my grades.

For me, the harder part of the end of the year was the projects. For a number of my courses, I had to complete major projects at the end of the semester. Completion of these projects would demonstrate a true mastery of course material. And, in my case, a few helped me to achieve that level of mastery.

I had projects in every class except physics. In English, we had an essay that tied together some of the major ideas from the term and included organized peer editing and a 1-on-1 session with the professor for guidance. In Operations Research and Linear Algebra, the professors let my friend and me combine projects for the classes to produce a paper on a particular method of optimization. In Foundations of Applied Math, my group wrote a paper about the Collatz Conjecture.

Lots of good stuff, and I know I learned things this semester.