One of the most awesome things as a SURF student at Caltech is that the Student-Faculty Programs Office arranges and hosts activities for us! These events are usually geared to help people chill out from work and socialize.
This year, they setup a trip to go to Disneyland for half off and transportation provided. I hadn’t gone to Disneyland in recent memory, so I was definitely very excited. I love rollercoasters! My friends and I decided to go to the Disneyland California Adventures Park rather than the iconic Disneyland Park because it has more rides. We went on all the rides (except the ones clearly only for kiddies), but I’m only going to talk about a few.
One of the many rides we went to was the Toy Story based Midway Mania Ride.
It’s not a rollercoaster, but more like a 3D arcade shooter with a running score throughout the ride. In the ride, you “fire” digitalized plates using the canon in front of you (green and yellow in the picture above) at the targets in each mini-game screen. I have the aim of a blind dog, so I missed most of the targets.
I feel that the ride was very well put together with the guests in mind. For example, we were kept entertained by HUGE Mr. Potato Head figure while waiting in line.
Mr. Potato Head was really cool! He could pick out features of people in front of his exhibit (ie white top, red hat, etc), ask questions, and gesture appropriately with his arms. At the end of performing a song, he even made a funny comment, something along the lines of, “Wow! A standing ovation!”
The most unexpectedly fun ride was the Cars basedRadiator Springs Racers ride.
I personally didn’t find Cars that great of a movie, but I figured going on the ride was a part of the complete Disneyland experience. I didn’t expect much - just figures moving and “speaking” with some preset audio. And while initially that’s what happened, our Car ride (pun fully intended) turned into a fast and wild race. I wasn’t able to capture a good picture with the feeble camera on my phone, so I grabbed a picture from flickr for your viewing pleasure.
We also attended a live concert called the Mad Tea Party!
My friends and I were super surprised by the fact that there was a live performance. We stumbled across them while looking for other rides to go on. Later, we found out that there are multple people who play each role (ie Alice, Mad Hatter, etc). The particular group that we listened to were awesome - Alice had a gorgeous voice and Hatter really knew how to work the crowd.
This post only describes a snippet of my experience at Disneyland during the day. For Part 2, I will go into detail about the activities we did during the evening.
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.