Last night was one of those nights where I was asking myself a lot of questions…
What is this word problem asking me to find? Are the units consistent throughout the problem? Do I have all of the givens to be able to solve? What time is it?–wait don’t tell me that!
Last night—I worked on a pretty intense homework set for my energy course. And now it’s the next morning (or later in the morning to be exact), and I am here at my desk at JPL…and I’m still not done with it all.
Problem sets are the bulk of the work we do at Caltech (sans lab
reports, some essays and reading we do for classes). And this one was
no different than any I have done in the last 4 years–it’s deceivingly
difficult (though doable), and you should probably go to office hours
and have a friend/group to work with if you want to complete it
successfully (in a reasonably finite time). Usually every class has a
set due every week—so that adds up to be maybe 3-5 sets a week when
you’re still on CORE, but less when you’re an upperclassman. I guess I
shouldn’t be complaining now that my workload only calls for one set
every two weeks…But a set is a set.
I found myself pushing through the hours in the night, blasting music to keep me awake and collaborating with Yicheng, another senior who is taking the course. He was so thoughtful to have brought a boba drink for me from TeaSpot to enjoy while we were working.
The rigorous curriculum and fast-paced classes are quite the challenge for those who come here–but because of it all, I truly believe that all of us Techers develop the same characteristics that prepare us for any career we hope to pursue after Caltech. ALL Techers are resourceful, self-motivating, inquisitive, insightful and focused. We all learn quickly our freshman year what study habits we must use to get through our classes, and to never give up. I came to Caltech to challenge myself and push myself to the limit intellectually—and it has given me just that and so much more…
After I commute back to Tech in a few minutes, I’ll take a nap during lunch, then meet
up again with Yicheng (hopefully the TA has emailed us back with
answers to our questions!) to finish the set before 5pm.
This summer I had the incredible opportunity to do a 10-week internship at Gilead Sciences in Foster City, CA. For those unfamiliar, Gilead Sciences, Inc. is a research-based biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development, and commercialization of innovative medicines.
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.