Facebook’s Analog Research lab (ARL) has full-time artists in residence as well as visiting artists who come to teach free classes. These artists create various works to put up on the office walls, including posters, paintings, Lego portraits, and more. Throughout my internship at Facebook, I’ve taken several classes here, including paper textile weaving, introduction to drawing, and introduction to watercolor. First I’ll be focusing on paper textile weaving with Miguel Arzabe. You can find him on Instagram – his page is pretty cool!
To start, we picked out a poster as a base. Then, we cut vertical strips down the length of the poster. It’s also possible to cut the strips in curved lines, but since it was my first time, I stuck to the straight cut. We were provided strips of paper cut from other posters, and we threaded those through our base until the work was complete. Clearly I’m not very good at using a paper knife, but here’s the before and after!
I had a bit of trouble choosing a color scheme (it looks like I changed my mind halfway through on how I wanted the poster to look), but in the future I’ll do better :)
This was the first class I took at the ARL, and it was a great way to be creative and de-stress. It was also my first time seeing paper textile weaving, so it was pretty cool to learn.
I just want to also mention other fun events at the ARL: It has also hosted a Print Fest, where we could screenprint (and keep!) our own bags.
And lastly, I wanted to mention the intro to watercolor class. There were three activities involved, with the first being mixing colors to create a color wheel, the second involving mixing shapes and color, and the third a free watercolor. The ARL is definitely my favorite space at Facebook, and I’m really happy I got to take classes and participate in events here.
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.