STEM Spring Project Conclusion

From the beginning of the semester, you may recall my post about the Spring Project that I was going to undertake. I’m now proud to say that after a long, unpredictable, and crazy semester, my final product is finally here.

Surprisingly, the Rubik’s cube was not very difficult to learn how to solve, but the real challenge came with solving it fast. After many different YouTube videos and websites, I was able to learn the general steps of solving the cube. While the algorithms were pretty straightforward, I also had to learn the notation of the algorithms (for example, I had no idea what L D L’ R’ R meant) and simple cubing techniques, such as the left and right trigger. After learning the preliminary steps, the real challenge came with memorizing these algorithms. This was hard because for each step, there was a different algorithm to know. Some algorithms were as short as 6 steps, while others were as long as 12 steps. To practice, I would attempt to solve the cube without looking at the algorithms, and only look if I was truly stumped. After a while, muscle memory came in to play and doing the algorithms became one continuous motion, as opposed to trying to remember the orders of seemingly random letters.

Another large challenge I faced was not messing up the steps of each algorithm. This was extremely annoying because even if I was on the very last step and messed up one step of the algorithm, I would have to go back 4-5 steps. This happened to me many times, especially when I was trying to break the 2-minute barrier. However, after practicing everyday, I was able to shave my time down and eventually solve the cube around 2 minutes consistently.

Here is a video of me solving it in around 1:30!

Though this project took a lot of time and effort, it was very fun and rewarding. Being a STEM major, I felt as though being able to solve a Rubik’s cube would be appropriate due to it’s heavy focus on algorithms. Practicing the Rubik’s cube was also a nice break from studying/completing assignments and often let me refocus.

Through this project, I was able to practice my time management skills and hold myself accountable in completing a self-directed project. Due to COVID-19 and aspects of my summer internship being cancelled, I figured that this summer would be the perfect time to conduct a self-directed programming project. This STEM assignment gave me a good idea of what that would be like, as well as what motivation and focus is needed to complete such a project.

Linked below is a log of my 10 hours that I spent doing this project. While only 11.5 hours are officially logged, I had many times where I informally practiced the Rubik’s cube over and over, such as 15 minutes one day, 30 minutes the next, etc.

STEM EE Spring Project Hour Log

Overall, I really enjoyed this assignment and it definitely got me excited for my bigger 2nd-year Capstone project. Since the Capstone is substantially larger than this project, I plan on spreading my work out over the course of the semester as opposed to doing it all towards the end, like I did on this project. Regardless, I’m excited for my future in the STEM EE Scholars program and I can’t wait to see what is in store for me next year!

 

STEM Spring Project Introduction

This Spring semester, I was assigned by my STEM EE Scholars Program to complete a 10-hour project. Unlike the majority of the assignments of my Scholars Program, this assignment does not have to be STEM-related, but it must take me 10 hours to complete and I must have a tangible result to show what I’ve accomplished.

My initial brainstorm of topics for this project led me to STEM-related topics only. Should I make a game to play programmed in Java? Should I learn C++? While these may have seemed like good ideas, they were pretty ordinary and not exactly what this project was looking for. This project wants us to focus on things that normally we wouldn’t learn, or wouldn’t have the time to learn. Throughout the rest of my college career, I’m sure I’ll have the ability to make a game programmed in Java, and I’m sure that eventually I’ll have to learn C++. That being said, my mind started to drift towards ideas that I normally wouldn’t learn in school. Even though the project doesn’t have to be STEM-related, my passions do lie in math and algorithmic thinking, so I wanted to stay in that area of topics. After thinking for a while, I came up with the perfect idea for this project: solving a Rubik’s Cube. I know this seems like a basic idea, but it is exactly what I was looking for in this project; it’s something that I will not learn in college, but it’s also related to my passions of math and algorithmic thinking. I don’t think simply learning how to solve a Rubik’s Cube is going to take me 10-hours to complete, so instead, I will attempt to learn how to solve a Rubik’s Cube in under 2-3 minutes. The reason that the range is 2-3 minutes is because I don’t know exactly how long a Rubik’s Cube takes to solve, but I figured that would be an appropriate initial goal.

With that being said, I’m excited to start my goal of solving a Rubik’s Cube, and hopefully in a few short months, I’ll be a Rubik’s Cube expert!

Diversity at The Ohio State University

Today, I had the opportunity to attend a lecture on diversity, put on by the Multicultural Center at The Ohio State University. I have actually been to two other sessions revolving around diversity, so I knew somewhat what this session was going to look like. Despite enjoying these types of events, I get a small amount of anxiety when I attend them. Oftentimes, unfortunately, people see these sessions as the perfect times to crack an “I identify as a _____ joke”, with the blank usually being filled by “attack helicopter” or “toaster oven”: a joke used to mock non-binary peoples. That being said, this was a STEM EE sponsored event, so I was not necessarily as worried about that as I would’ve been typically.

The session began as normal. The lecturer would discuss a topic for a little while, and then have us break into small groups with the people around us to discuss what we just learned. Normally, these “small group discussions” just tangent in to other topics, not revolving around the actual session. While I don’t necessarily mind these discussions getting off-topic, it disappointed me a little, since I usually like to talk about diversity and privilege and such, and listen to other people’s viewpoints on the topic.

While the majority of the session was routine, one portion of the session hit me very hard. The presenter showed a graphic of qualities that can make people have more privilege, and qualities that can lead to people being oppressed or discriminated against. After looking at the graphic for a considerable amount of time, I had an eye-opening realization: I had every single one of the privileged characteristics (white, male, heterosexual, etc.), and not a single characteristic from the oppressed/discriminated against section of qualities. Even though I knew I was privileged coming in to the session, I guess I didn’t necessarily realize how privileged I was. When the presenter asked for our opinion on the graphic, I raised my hand and shared my thoughts. I talked about how I had all of the privileged characteristics and none of the oppressed characteristics, and how that almost made me feel bad about myself. I didn’t feel bad per se, but I felt guilty about my own privilege, and how I had such an advantage over others naturally, simply due to my physical characteristics and socioeconomic status. After sharing, I was nervous that the presenter would judge me and have a distaste towards me for being so privileged, but she was actually very understanding. She assured me that many privileged people actually feel this way, but that I have nothing to feel bad about because none of my privileged characteristics were my fault. Instead, she suggested that I use my privilege for the greater good, and stand up for those who may not be able to defend themselves and their beliefs in today’s society. This resonated with me heavily, and I no longer saw my privilege as a guilt, but rather as an opportunity.

Overall, this diversity session was very informative and eye-opening, and I would highly recommend that each student at The Ohio State University attend at least one of these sessions.

 

STEM Seminar: Nanorchitecture Energy Storage

Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to attend a seminar by renowned chemist Debra Rolison. Coming in to the seminar, I honestly had no idea what to expect; even though I knew the premise of a seminar, I had never actually attended one. To ease some of my anxiety of attending a seminar, I asked my friend from my scholars program, Ethan, to accompany me.

When we arrived to the room that the seminar was taking place in, a kind-looking woman opened the door for us and greeted us. “Gentlemen,” she said politely, as Ethan and I entered. Little did we know that that woman was actually a research leader at the U.S Naval Research Laboratory with 39 U.S patents to her name, as well as over 225 published research articles: Dr. Rolison, herself.

When Ethan and I sat down, we looked around at the other people attending the seminar. Everyone else there looked like a PhD student or faculty member, and we were pretty sure that we were the only undergraduate students there. As Dr. Rolison started her presentation, I was able to follow along pretty well. She was discussing her research on the zinc-air rechargeable battery, and how she changed the structure of the battery from a linear barrier between the anode and the cathode, to a porous zinc sponge that had more surface area and, thus, the ability to transfer more electrons. While this was all very interesting to me, I was only able to understand what she was saying for the first 20 minutes. After she was done discussing the general idea of her research, she started to dive deeper into the advanced chemistry that made her battery possible. Despite my “extensive” chemistry knowledge from my AP Chemistry class in high school, I was incredibly lost.

Even though I may not have been able to understand what Dr. Rolison was saying, I was definitely able to appreciate the complexity of her research. Her sheer knowledge and expertise in chemistry was fascinating to me, and I was mesmerized by her eloquence and confidence when speaking on the topic. Despite chemistry not being my major, this seminar inspired me to strive for greatness in my own field of computer science. Another thing that I found captivating about Dr. Rosolin’s research was that she was revolutionizing the field of science. Her research has the potential to completely change the science of the modern-day battery, and I think having that sort of power in knowledge would be an awesome thing to accomplish.

In the future, I would definitely love to attend more seminars. I think that I would find a computer science seminar even more fascinating, since I would most likely be able to understand more than I was able to in the chemistry seminar. Seminars also seem like great opportunities to network and learn more about topics that I would not necessarily learn about in the classroom.

Coming in to college, I had no intention of pursuing a master’s or PhD. However, after learning about research in my survey course, as well as seeing what research looked like in seminars, my interest in pursing graduate school has been sparked. That being said, a lot can change in three years, but it is definitely not out of the picture. Overall, the seminar was a great experience and I’m looking forward to attending more in the future!

Engineering Career Services

One major goal that I had coming into Ohio State was to use my resources here at the university to find an internship, or job in the computer science field, for the upcoming summer. I had planned to attend both the university-wide career fair and the Engineering Expo, but both events took place during my class time, so I was not able to attend either. This ruined my plans of finding an internship and caused me to become stuck in my job search process: I didn’t know where to go from here.

Not all hope was lost, however. When I went to pick up my name tag for the Engineering Expo, I had to get it at the Engineering Career Services (ECS) office. I had heard of the ECS before, but I wasn’t exactly sure what they did for students. This STEM post requirement gave me the perfect opportunity to visit the ECS and see what it was all about.

After researching on the ECS website for a while, I decided the best strategy to visit would be to go for a walk-in appointment, rather than a scheduled one. When I arrived at the office, I told the secretary I was there for a walk-in advising appointment and she had me sign in and register with Engineering Career Services. After about 5 minutes, I was called back into an office by a nice woman named Amy, and my advising appointment began. I told her my whole scenario: how I wasn’t able to go the career fair events, how I wanted to start searching for jobs early this year, and how I wasn’t sure what to do from here. Amy took what I had said into consideration for a second, and then immediately referred me to Handshake, Ohio State’s career networking site.

On Handshake, Amy showed me how to add any previous work experience to my profile, how to upload my resume, and overall, how to make my profile look appealing to potential employers. Since I didn’t know what steps to take to find a summer internship, she told me to first complete my Handshake profile, and then update and reformat my resume to upload on to Handshake, and then to schedule another appointment with ECS to review my profile and take my next steps in my job search.

Going into my walk-in appointment with ECS, I was hoping for some guidance on how to secure a summer internship, and that is exactly what I got. The staff there were incredibly friendly and helpful, and also recommended I come back in the future so they can continue working with me in finding a job. In my opinion, this type of service is exactly what makes Ohio State so great in helping students. Even though I had no idea how to pursue a summer internship, the ECS office gave me a step-by-step guide on what I should do to get my name out there to employers. My visit to the ECS made me excited about my professional career, and it also makes me want to go out and explore the other campus resources that Ohio State offers and really get the most out of my time here at The Ohio State University.

If you’re interested in checking out Ohio State’s campus resources, I would highly recommend starting with the Engineering Career Services office!

STEM Outreach Organization

When I first arrived at Ohio State, one of my top priorities was to find and join a club/organization that interested me. With campus being so large, I wanted to find a club where I could meet new people in a smaller setting, while also doing something that I enjoyed. For me, STEM Outreach was that club.

I first discovered STEM Outreach at the STEM EE Scholars Program Mini-Involvement fair. I had initially went to the university-wide involvement fair the week prior, but with over 1,000+ student organizations on campus, it was very difficult to actually find a club that suited me. At the Mini-Involvement fair, on the other hand, I was able to take time and determine which clubs would be best for me, without the intimidation from the sea of clubs on the Oval. When the STEM Outreach club was presenting at the fair and telling everyone about the small STEM-related projects that they made for presentations at inner-city Columbus schools, my interest was immediately sparked.

I went to the first club meeting by myself, but when I walked into the room, I saw a lot of my friends from the STEM EE Scholars program. This was reassuring and definitely eased any apprehensions I had, since going to an event by yourself can be a little daunting. While there, we did a small project (similar to the ones that we would conduct at a school event), socialized, and ate pizza. Overall, it was a great time and it made me excited to continue working with the club in the future.

The first experiment we did as a club was a small electromagnetic circuit that made a little coil of wire “jump” off a magnet. Even though the projects are intended to be fun and informational for elementary-level students, I still got a small introduction to basic electronics and circuits, which was very fascinating to me. My first impression of the club was definitely a good one, and it hit all the check marks for what I was looking for in a club: networking with other STEM-interested people, learning new things, fun meetings, and free pizza.

Even though I have not been to an actual event for the club yet, I hope to become more involved in the future. One of the big concerns of joining a club was the fear of stretching myself so thin that I would not have time to finish all my school work and still have time for leisure. The good thing about this club, however, is that the meetings are biweekly, and members have the ability to sign up for events as they wish, meaning I could be involved as I’d like, or only do events when I’m available.

Sometime in the near future, I’d like to find other clubs to join and be involved in. While I have found a passion in the STEM Outreach club, I also think it’s important to diversify myself and join a club that’s not necessarily STEM-related. With the incredible number of clubs on campus, it doesn’t seem like it should be an issue to find another club that’s right for me. Regardless, the STEM Outreach club has definitely opened me up to being more involved at Ohio State, and I’m excited to see what the future holds for me here over the next four years!

An Afternoon at the Math and Statistics Learning Center

Earlier today, I visited the Math and Statistics Learning Center (MSLC) to seek help on my Math 1172 homework. My first midterm is tomorrow, and since I still didn’t understand certain topics that were going to be on the exam, I figured it would be beneficial for me to go and see if the MSLC tutors could help me understand the material. To some students, seeking out help like this is a normal occurrence. However, to me, it was a new experience. In high school, I excelled in all my classes and typically, I was the one helping other students, and not vice versa. That being said, walking into the tutoring center didn’t exactly make me feel embarrassed, but it definitely was out of my comfort zone.

Despite this sense of uneasiness, I actually managed to take a lot away from my tutoring session. Not only did the tutors not make me feel silly for asking questions, but they also helped me understand each concept thoroughly so that I could apply my knowledge in later questions. Another aspect of the MSLC that I really enjoyed is that the tutors did not solve the problems for me, but rather they led me in the right direction and let me do my own critical thinking. Not only was it more satisfying when I finally arrived at the correct answer, but it also helped me understand the process of each question, making me feel confident for the midterm tomorrow. For example, in class and recitation, I simply tried to memorize the formulas and then plug the numbers into them. At the MSLC, on the other hand, the tutors really helped me understand how each formula was derived, so if I forgot the exact formula for a certain problem, I could derive the formula on my own using critical thinking (a skill that the MSLC also helped me develop today).

As the semester continues, I definitely plan on using the MSLC more. The one thing that I really liked about it was that it was a such an efficient concept: rather than it being a traditional tutoring center, it was more like a library/study area with help available whenever you needed it. There also seemed to be no stigma about the MSLC, and I was not ashamed to be there at all. Obviously, college is exponentially harder than high school, and it is normal to struggle with tough classes (like my Math 1172 class). That being said, the MSLC was a very positive environment about learning and growth, rather than helping the “dumb” kids (such as how tutoring may have been stereotyped in high school).

In the future, I could certainly see myself working as a tutor in the MSLC or another learning center similar to it (such as the Dennis Learning Center or Younkin Success Center). In high school, I really enjoyed helping my peers with problems, and it also helped me solidify my knowledge further by teaching them. Obviously, I would have to understand a class well enough to be a tutor, but that will come with time.

With all that being said, my time at the MSLC was a very beneficial experience and I would highly recommend everyone stop in and check it out!

Year in Review

[ “Year in Review”  is where you should reflect on the past year and show how you have evolved as a person and as a student.  You may want to focus on your growth in a particular area (as a leader, scholar, researcher, etc.) or you may want to talk about your overall experience over the past year.  For more guidance on using your ePortfolio, including questions and prompts that will help you get started, please visit the Honors & Scholars ePortfolio course in Carmen. To get answers to specific questions, please email eportfolio@osu.edu. Delete these instructions and add your own post.]