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.

Wolfram Visit

September 26, 2016 — Leave a comment

The start of this year has been absolutely crazy. I think perhaps I overcommitted and am in over my head. Regardless, cool things keep happening so I will try to keep it the work rate.

FAKEwolframlogo

Last Tuesday, Stephen Wolfram visited the school to give a talk about what he does and what computational thinking can do for us. He is convinced that computational approaches to old problems are the future of science. In addition, he described ways that any number of normally boring processes can be automated, replaced, or obsoleted.

Image result for stephen wolfram That’s the reason that he built his Wolfram Language. He was originally mostly a particle physicist, hanging around the same crowd as Einstein, but a bit younger; he was good friends with Richard Feynman.

Earlier that morning I had gotten to direct Wolfram to his presentation room and explain a little bit about the school. Because of this, some of the faculty from the computer science and math departments invited me to come along with them and Wolfram to dinner! They had made reservations at The Squealing Pig for that evening. By the time students attending Stephen Wolfram’s presentation were done asking questions, time had slipped away and the hour was slightly past 7:30.

Time had slipped so much, in fact, that we missed our reservations at The Squealing Pig and Wolfram opted to go to Au Bon Pain in the interest of getting food quickly. Talking is hungry business and everyone wanted to go home.

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We did go to Au Bon Pain and talked for a long time there and two of the three students that came to dinner got autographed books.

 

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.

More to Reach For

March 26, 2016 — Leave a comment

Every year, there is a massive awards ceremony close to the end of the year, where students who did well or had a positive impact on the community are recognized. I was invited to the ceremony to receive the “Outstanding First Year Leadership Award.” The recognition was a great honor, giving me encouragement and motivation. As much as I loved receiving an award, I also liked being able to go to the ceremony and meet tons of prominent people in the Institute.

During the dinner before the ceremony, I met Provost Rich Hansen, and we chatted for a while. Because he was very knowledgeable and did not mind sharing, we mostly conversed about the school and faculty. Someone got a picture of him, my parents, and me altogether, and I got permission to use it in the blog, but it somehow never made it to me.

In the course of the ceremony, I got to see all of the other students who got awards too. All the ones I recognized were seniors and juniors, so I did not know most of the people receiving awards, but it was great seeing their proud, smiling faces receiving awards onstage. Some of the awards were for academic excellence, some for leadership, and some for service. Again, I must emphasize that there is so much to be had at Wentworth besides just graduation, and so much that you can do for the people around you than just study.

I did manage a picture with President Pantić, and that was cool. She had a couple hundred other people fighting for her attention, so I did not get to talk to her as much as I talked to the provost.

The President and Myself

The President and Yours Truly

I finally got to start some training with admissions this week, and, by next fall, I will be an official Admissions Ambassador. This was one of the roles I applied for earlier this winter, and was accepted to just a couple weeks ago. Admissions Ambassadors are responsible for giving tours to prospective students and their families and answering any questions they might have during the course of the route.

We are some of the first Wentworth students that applying students will meet, so a lot rests on our shoulders. I know that much of my decision to attend Wentworth was made during a visit. Individually, the faculty had a greater effect on me than the students did. The thing that really drew me in, however, was the way that the math department interacted with students and prospective students.

On an event day, I went to tour with the applied math majors, just for kicks and giggles; I was already accepted into the computer science program at Wentworth and several other colleges. The group I was touring with only had 5 people, so I was able to take a careful look at everything. There were a couple math majors there to help out, and the relationship they had with the faculty was just outstanding. They could respect their teachers as humans, as mentors, and as superiors. I really think those things are necessary if a student is to get the most out of education, or even life in general.

Anyways, I really wanted what they had and I thought Wentworth could do that for me. I have been around the block in terms of schools, so I really know what I am looking for by now. And I have pretty much everything I want here, maybe a little more.

Get More for the Same

February 22, 2016 — Leave a comment

There is so much to learn here outside normal classes. Starting at Wentworth, I made it clear that my biggest goal would be to graduate and leave.  The degree is still what keeps me enrolled, but there is so much more to being a member of Wentworth.

What reminded me of this is that all the leadership training and event have started up now. Most students who meet a few basic criteria are eligible to apply for leadership roles around campus and for Leadership Institute. The roles you can assume after training include Resident assistant, admissions ambassador, Student Alumni Society member, and Community Standards Board member. Acquiring any of these positions is contingent on completing their Wentworth Leadership Institute. Though first-years need only have completed Phase I. Currently, I am enrolled in Phase I, and we have been learning a ton of things that have nearly no overlap with my normal classes.

To get the most out of college, try to learn more than your required classes. Required classes are fine, but concentrating on just those will leave you specialized. And specialized can be very boring, unless you absolutely love what you do.

If you want to learn things somewhat related to your major, there are a number of hosted lectures every week. We get weekly emails about when / where some of these lectures are and I am sure there are lectures we could attend from other Colleges of the Fenway. And if you want to meet me, come to the applied math career series lecture Tuesdays at 4 😀

Negative Tips?

February 10, 2016 — Leave a comment

Spring semester is now well underway and hopefully going better than the fall semester, especially for freshmen. Us freshmen had so much to learn the first time through.

I know I am trying to stay away from my old bad habits and remember what worked and didn’t during the first semester. Below is a quick list I made to remind myself of how to stay out of trouble a list of negative commands seemed more appropriate to help keep me out of bad habits.

DON’T:

  • Wait for diving inspiration to write that English paper
  • Practice videogames unless you prefer being good at videogames to doing well in school
  • Stay up late the night before an exam
    • Yes, even if you have to study, sleep is better
  • Be texting / facebooking when studying unless you plan on spending roughly 3x the study time
  • Make plans to go out or spend time unless you’ve made plans for schoolwork
  • Be embarrassed to use your resources!
    • I know what kind of pressure it is to avoid asking for help, but Wentworth did not intend for you to ask for help, we would not have to search so hard for our staff, and nor would we have learning labs or the learning center. The benefits way outweigh the awkwardness.
  • Ignore emails, blackboard, or piazza
    • I know my professors communicate in a lot of different ways, and sometimes it is frustrating to have to check all of the different mediums, especially when they send something I am not really interested in. Chances are, the professor is sending that information because students can benefit from it, so at least skimming it is probably a good idea.

Staying out of trouble has always left me with nowhere to go but up. This list was based on retrospective advice compiled from my family, friends, professors, pre-college teachers, and my own experience. Hope you enjoy!

Springing Back

January 15, 2016 — Leave a comment

Hello. Welcome to the Spring Semester.

Back to School Apples

Things are a little different now. Students are coming back with new resolve after spending some time away. From what I have seen most students plan to work even harder to prove themselves now than they did during the first semester.

The first wave of honors and GPA-measuring events hit the freshmen and they have begun to realize that Wentworth is serious about education. Students with decent grades were invited to rush Phi Sigma Pi, a co-educational honors and leadership based fraternity. Other students were invited to the Dean’s list and Dean’s list dinner. Soon there will be some healthy competition among the students.

Wentworth is always inclusive to its students; there are plenty of resources for all students to increase their GPA and academic expertise. Anyone accepted to the school has the potential to achieve.

A Winternship

December 16, 2015 — Leave a comment

Who knew there were internships to be had over winter break?

Apparently there are a large number of decently important companies that are willing to hire interns over winter break. I started with ENE Systems on the 10th of December, and I will be working with them until the 5th of January. I get to do all sorts of cool computer stuff, mostly just building utility softwares to help us deploy upgrades more quickly and maintain databases and standards around the office, but I learn a ton. I have had to use knowledge of C++, SQL, VB, Python, networks, calculus, and basically anything else I knew existed in order to put forth my best work. Earlier today I was all over tutorial websites trying to figure out how to finish a project and read my co-workers code.

I do not think all companies would be willing to hire for less than a month, with Christmas break in the middle. ENE Systems has a lengthy and friendly history with Wentworth grads, so I think that, and my prior experience with them were major contributing factors. In the engineering department alone (I don’t talk to too many other departments), the manager is a Wentworth grad, the integrator manager is a Wentworth grad, and 2 of the 3 newest employees are Wentworth grads.

In terms of scoring internships / co-ops, Wentworth beats out a lot of other schools because of our practical focus. I already have something over this winter and 2 options set up for the summer of my freshman year. It just takes a little bit of help with a resume, a few emails, and always being courteous. And of course, building a network.

I think many undergraduates would be surprised by the number of opportunities they are exposed to. I got my opportunities in the most unexpected places. I got my most recent offer for a co-op from someone I met doing volunteer work, in a roundabout way. I will go from collecting donations with him to working in high tech defense at Mercury Systems. There is also the method of applying to online postings, and some students have luck with that, but I have had more success contacting people outside those postings. In any case, Wentworth teaches us to use our resources, so I try to email, find people in person, and apply online.