They say that time flies when you’re having fun, but this is ridiculous! I feel like I just showed up in Paris yesterday!
has a lot happened since I saw you guys last… Most notably I did the
huge Eurotrip that any American traveling this continent really must
do. Most people do tourism throughout this trip, but not me! Haha my
plan was a bit more complicated (and in my opinion, fulfilling!) than
So why did I scurry around Europe for 12 days? The
direction of my trip was motivated by several things, including
opportunities to see some of my favorite musical artists perform,
getting to know certain regions through the eyes of the people who live
there, meeting up with tons of my family members, and even finding beautiful places to relax and do a lot of nothing! :)
Highlights of my trip:
Brussels with my friend Didier from an online social networking site, CouchSurfing, in Brussels. Two weeks later, the couch I stayed on was featured on the evening news in Brussels and Didier was interviewed! :D
One of my favorite trance duos, Milk Inc. in Aarschot :)
My friend Stijn from CouchSurfing and his family; we’re standing in front of the oldest turret in Aarschot.
Me and my Brazilian friend Lysandra from Ecole Polytechnique. The Duomo cathedral is behind us.
Me and Mike di Scala, one of the most prolific Clubland artists in the UK. We’re on the Spanish island of Ibiza.
Me with Mike Lewis of N-Trance and DJ Manian of Cascada. Cascada recently came out with Evacuate the Dance Floor, which was the top selling single in the UK for more than two weeks. We three are in Ibiza.
Me in front of the Ibiza airport.
Famiglia in Italia: about 40 of my relatives had a reunion because I visited them in northern Italy :)
At Livignio (tucked away in the Italian/Swiss Alps) with my cousins Mattia and Alessandro :)
With family at Bellagio on Lake Como.
But about two weeks ago I got back to Ecole Polytechnique, and since then I have been wrapping up my project. And BAM is it working well :) The paper I am writing that explains the methodology behind our topology optimization algorithm
as well as acts a basic kind of user’s guide is almost finished; all
that is really left is adding graphics of some of our resulting structures and doing some proof reading. Check out our optimal bridge:
Anyways, I’ll soon give you a taste of how my last two Parisian weeks went as well some more cool examples of topology optimization of linearly elastic structures :)
With 45 Nobel Laureates on its Faculty Roster, it’s not surprising that research is an integral part of the Caltech undergraduate experience. One of the programs that promotes such research is the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF). There is no minimum knowledge or experience required to participate in a Caltech SURF. In fact, students can participate in a SURF as soon as the summer after their freshman year. It is not difficult to get a SURF. All you need to do is find a mentor who is working in an area of research that interests you and willing to mentor you through a research project. The mentor can work in a Caltech lab, at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), or at another participating institution. Once you find a mentor, you work together to write a project proposal that you later send to the SURF office for review and approval. About 98% of the SURF proposals get approved. This fellowship is a great way to explore various fields of research and obtain real, hands-on experience where you get to apply the theoretical knowledge you’ve learned in class. Not only do you get to work and learn alongside your mentor, but you also get compensated for your time. The length of the SURF is ten weeks, and it starts at the beginning of the summer. However, it is not uncommon for many students at Caltech to continue their research project throughout the academic school year.
Like many students at Caltech, I suffer from a slight boba addiction, where side effects may include over caffeination, minor sugar highs, and of course, a large toll on one’s wallet. This addiction is not helped by the fact that there are at least three boba shops within walking distance of campus. So, after an entire term’s worth of boba runs, I came back from winter break with a new year’s epiphany: it was time to get a job. Rather than try to curb my addiction, I decided to find a way to subsidize it.
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.