One of the fun things you can do in Pasadena, if you can drag yourself out of bed at 8am on a Saturday morning, is head down to the archery range. The Pasadena Roving Archers is a club in Pasadena that has an outdoor range and on Saturdays they have beginner classes. The nice thing is that if it is your first time, then the lesson is free. It is $5 after that, but free if you are a club member, and as a college student it is only $15, well worth the investment. I’ve had difficulty dragging people down to the range with me to have some fun because most people are unwilling to get up that early in the morning. It is a really fun thing to do on a Saturday morning, but some advice if you decide to go. The equipment that they lend out for beginners in the Saturday class runs out pretty quickly and it is first come first serve, so you should get there at 8.20am or so to make sure you get into the class. For Thanksgiving, there is also a turkey shoot, where first place takes home a turkey, second a chicken and third bacon. I took my stack there for my Robin Hood Ditch Day stack and got them a small private lesson with one of my coaches. Be sure to check it out!
The funny thing about my senior year is that I actually wake up earlier on the weekends than on the weekdays for classes. Since I picked up archery, I’ve had to wake up at 8am to go to the archery range on Saturday mornings for coaching and on Sunday mornings for general shoots. Yes, I wake up that early, even when I have been partying at until 2am in the morning. The prime example of this is this past weekend. A group of students managed to organize a party this past Saturday where we had DJ Earworm come down from San Francisco to DJ a party. You may recognize him from his mashup, the United State of Pop.
Anyway, to get back on topic, after the massively awesome party, I had to crawl out of bed at 8am to go down to the range. It was a special day because there was a 2D animal round, where I was shooting picture of animals. Somehow this is supposed to simulate hunting. It was a pretty fun experience, since most of the shooting I have experience with is at target faces. I was shooting a bit blind because I just got new arrows this week and did not have sight markings for them. As a result, I was happy to hit the bonus spot in the “kill” zone of this deer. I think this was the from around 47 yards or so.
Of course, I also nailed the next guy in the same spot. When you get to the end of the shoot, the last animal is a picture of a bear and you get an extra arrow to shoot a fish that is in his mouth from about 56 yards. If you hit it, you get to sign the mark and get bragging rights. I missed it by an inch! I was so close, yet so far.
One of the other things I would like to disclose is how I was able to buy my own equipment to shoot at the range. It is no secret that equipment is expensive. I was able to afford a very nice setup when I entered the Don Shepard Essay Contest at Caltech that gives up to $1000 for something that is not academic related. Last year, I wrote an essay on my passion for archery and the 15 hours/week I spent on it while I was studying abroad at the University of Edinburgh (one of the best clubs in Britain!). I was awarded $1000 in prize money, which I then spent on equipment. This is just one example of the many ways undergrads have a chance to get free money from Caltech. In this case, you don’t even have to have amazing grades or research, you just have to have a non-academic passion.
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.