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.
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.