In the spring, Caltech holds its annual Grad Fair for its graduating students.
Seniors are also encouraged to donate to the senior gift to the school in the form of a dunk tank featuring student leaders from all the houses and even Professor Nets Katz who taught us our very first Caltech math class and our new Dean, Kevin Gilmartin.
There are various booths offering to sell diploma frames, class rings, invitations to commencement and so on. Others also gave out freebies.
Students buy their cap, gown, tassel and stole from the bookstore, and then take graduation photos outside in the study area in Winnett. The photographers provide cap and gown, and even a fake dress shirt collar for men, for the photographs.
Several other booths also were there, such as the Pasadena March for Science signing and also a Microsoft Surface booth set up by a student ambassador with free donuts and Microsoft goodies.
Research at Caltech looks different for every student, and can often vary term by term. As a chemistry major, my course requirements are on the lighter side for a Caltech major, and many chemistry majors take advantage of the lighter course load to join research groups. This can be whenever the student wants, but many people join labs during their freshman or sophomore years. Some may work in one lab only, and some may switch between labs during the course of their undergraduate studies, depending on if their interests change.
SURF, short for Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, is a quintessential experience for any Caltech student. It is a widely accessible research fellowship for Caltech students that funds your proposed research for one summer term. While many of my classmates did their first SURF the summer after their freshman year, I sent in my first application to the program as a sophomore. As a CS major, I was trying to chase meaningful work that intersected computation with the field of neuroscience. I ended up doing a SURF at the Stanford School of Medicine that first year, studying hand gestures in children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Since then, I’ve been working in the research space of applying computational analyses to ASD.
This summer, from the confines of my Brooklyn apartment, you could find me typing away on a tiny 13-inch laptop screen. At times I was looking for answers on countless Stack Exchange pages, editing a Jupyter notebook, or making blood flow measurements on a software called Arterys. This was my 2021 Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURF) experience.
Almost a year ago now, I was just about to start my first Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) at JPL. NASA had sent out an email to all of their summer interns containing a social media template to announce that we had been selected as NASA interns. Excited to show my NASA pride, I posted it on my Instagram story, unaware of what would come out of this small action.