Hope you all had a great weekend!
I definitely did!…some highlights: In-N-Out, hanging out with friends, spending the day in Old Pas, enjoying the nightlife in Downtown Los Angeles, and ballet class. Now, it’s back to work…
I’m currently working on a progress report for my next thesis deliverable due this Friday. In addition, I have been making a lot of progress in the experimental phase of the research. I have been working in the machine shop to alter some parts to bring back up to JPL for testing for the next few weeks.
I initially learned how to machine shop during my sophomore year at Caltech through my ME71 class (Intro to Shop). I was at first, really scared about dealing with the machinery since it can be really confusing to operate….and in there, you really have no room to make mistakes—you’ve got to be absolutely safe, constantly alert and know exactly what you are doing. The class was AMAZING. I would have to say it’s one of my faves I’ve taken at Caltech—I got to build a transmission and a bubble machine! I also found that I have a natural flair for machining…and was able to do well in the course. It’s also very empowering to know that I know my way around these machines down there, can really get my hands dirty and prove myself as a true MechE ;).
Yep…so this is the real deal, guys…hardcore MechE stuff–the other kind of “shop-ping” I’m good at ;)
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.
This summer, from the confines of my Brooklyn apartment, you could find me typing away on a tiny 13-inch laptop screen. At times I was looking for answers on countless Stack Exchange pages, editing a Jupyter notebook, or making blood flow measurements on a software called Arterys. This was my 2021 Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURF) experience.