I spent this Thanksgiving at the home of my graduate student mentor, Dave Henry. In addition to being a great research and awesome mentor, he’s also a pretty good guy to hang out with, so Thanksgiving was a lot of fun. In addition to Dave and his family, fellow graduate student Andrew and his family and Occidental Professor / SCUBA Diver Saul and his family were in attendance. I work on a day-to-day basis with Andrew, and I’ve had the pleasure of diving with Saul before, so we all knew each other and had a great time cooking and eating together.
Hmm. That started out as a quick description of my Thanksgiving dinner and ended up as some sort of stream-of-consciousness remembrance of one of my favorite times at Caltech. It also manages to address (although earlier than intended) one of the questions I planned to answer in this week’s blog post: “What is one of your favorite memories of your time spent at Caltech?” This memory definitely ranks up there.
You might be wondering why I intended to answer that question in the first place, and I am more than happy to tell you. On Tuesday I participated in Caltech’s first “TecherChat”, which was a chatroom set up to answer the questions of prospective students by current Caltech undergraduates. The question I answered above was one of the questions directed to me that I felt I didn’t really have time to answer properly. Although I think the chat was a success, the very nature of it (Caltech students outnumbered 20 to 1 or more in a chat, answering questions) led to the answers being for the most part brief and relatively uninformative. Maybe I’m viewing it a little harshly, but I certainly wish I could have answered some of the really good questions asked in more detail–so that’s what I plan to do.
This post is getting pretty long, so I’m going to end it here and continue soon with Giving Thanks Part 2: Asking the Right Questions. I will answer some of the better questions asked in the Techerchat in more detail and also address questions that may not have been asked. I will also try to give advice in general of what questions you as a prospective student should ask of the schools you consider attending.
Oh, and one more thing: If you’ve got a question you’d like answered in full-out-ridiculously-long-Tom-Gwinn-posting-style, please feel free to ask it in the comments.
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.
Hey hey! We’re starting a series where I walk you through my best finds for food and drinks in the Pasadena region, and in the LA metropolitan area. Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, if you will (although, for copyright reasons we can’t call it that). As you explore your college options, I firmly believe that food and location are more important than your high school guidance counselor may lead you to believe. And I’m here to share my best finds from my time at Caltech with you.
Over the past several months, I have had the opportunity to intern at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) under the mentorship of senior research technologist Dr. Xiaoqing Pi. Dr. Pi’s guidance and mentorship has been instrumental to the development and success of my internship at JPL, where I use machine-learning to enhance the accuracy and integrity of navigation and communication signals. In addition to helping me develop an understanding of atmospheric and ionospheric remote sensing and machine-learning, Dr. Pi has often offered his insights on how to improve my researching skills. Dr. Pi was generous enough to take the time to answer a few questions regarding his research and advice for future student interns. I believe many students can benefit from some of the lessons that he has taught me:
The transition period to remote learning was a very uncertain time, especially for research and the Caltech Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) program. Many hands-on projects had to pivot at the last minute to facilitate off-campus contributions. However, many Techers were able to take advantage of the research opportunities offered at Caltech and JPL to make the best out of remote learning and research. To paint a picture, I’ve interviewed a few talented Techers for some insight on what researching from home looks like for them.