Virtual Reality Game Development

Name: David Levine

Type of project: Virtual Reality Game Development (Artistic and Creative Endeavors)

  1. Description of project

The goal of my project was to teach myself how to develop virtual reality video games. To do this, I began by building a PC to support virtual reality development. From there, I taught myself how to use a game development engine called Unity through an online course and a wide variety of tutorials. I used the knowledge there to develop two different video games.

  1. What understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP signature project?

This experience helped me learn much more about my ability to lead myself through my own projects. For one of the first times in my life, I had to take the broad topic of game development, and figure out how to develop reachable goals and deadlines that would span from May to August. By doing this, I was given the opportunity to become conscientious of managing my own projects. This helped me realize that I am more than capable of leading myself through my own projects, which is an important skill to have for any career field. Additionally, this project gave me actual experience conceptualizing ideas and bringing them to life through programming in Unity, which is not something I had necessarily done before. As a result, I found out how fun and exciting it is to implement features in my game, as it was always very rewarding when I would successfully develop a new game mechanic. Lastly, I always viewed myself as an uncreative person. However, by completing this project, I realized that I can be creative if I put my mind to it.

  1. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature project led to the change/transformation you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you?

To begin the project (besides building the computer), I had to sit down and think about how I would be working through my project. After all, I had to have some sort of plan for the upcoming months. Therefore, I decided that my first activity should be planning out the entire project. I began by watching videos about beginning game design, and learning about the conceptual processes that go into making a game. From there, I was able to figure out how I should plan games and used this to roadmap my development over the next two months. This planning helped give me a greater understanding of project planning, and showed me that it is possible to create your own plans and stick to them. As a result, I have greater confidence in starting larger projects on my own, and have a better idea of how I would complete them.

Developing my own game mechanics was also incredibly rewarding. When you’re learning to problem solve in the classroom, there is usually much more frustration involved when working through challenging problems that are assigned to you than there is excitement. However, the dynamic significantly changes when you solve problems that you give to yourself! For example, when I was working on my second game, I was trying to create a weapon switching mechanism that would allow you to throw your hands behind your head and squeeze the grips on the controller to switch from a bow and arrow to guns, and vice versa. While spending the time making these systems can be tedious, nothing is quite as rewarding as testing your system and seeing it work exactly as intended. Every time I finished adding something to my game and see it work, I couldn’t help but feel incredibly joyed. Because of these many experiences, I realized that developing solutions to problems you want to solve is incredibly rewarding!

Lastly, I got more experience expressing myself creatively. This extends into a lot of facets of my project, mostly by figuring out how to program different systems and by figuring out what type of game I wanted to make. In terms of creativity programing, a lot of the systems I programmed involved me thinking about how I could creatively use the tools in Unity to simulate some feature in my game. Additionally, just the act of thinking about what game I wanted to make can be creative. I remember deciding to make a game where you must teleport between trees while monsters fall from the sky and try to destroy the tree you’re on. If you fall and hit the ground, you plummet into lava and its game over. While incredibly nonsensical, it was fun nonetheless to make and even more fun to think about making. This gave me the confidence to realize that I could be creative as long as I am willing to put in the effort!

  1. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life?

Ultimately this change gives me the confidence in pursuing larger personal goals. Now that I have more experience undertaking larger projects with no guidance, I feel inspired to do similar, longer learning experiences where I teach myself other skills through more planned projects. Since I am a Computer Science Engineering major, being able to teach yourself skills and learn things on your own is a vital part of one’s future. This also extends to professional settings as well; if I can figure out how to develop with new skills or technologies, this will only improve my competencies as a worker. Because of my STEP project, I was finally able to lead myself through my own long-term project while developing useful skills along the way.

Link to game development blog

 

Developed Video Games:

 

STEP Artistic and Creative Endeavor

Christopher Lysyj

Artistic and Creative Endeavor

The goal of my project was to learn how to design and create my own clothing. Over the summer, I learned the trade of sewing from my family. For many years, my grandmother owned her own business designing and creating custom clothing, drapery, and upholstery. This business was eventually passed onto my mother who still operates it today. My STEP project involved a very informal apprenticeship and a lot of family bonding time. It also entailed a substantial amount of designing and self-study in Adobe software. The goal of my project was to create a Ukrainian style cloak (I’m half Ukrainian) as the culmination of my summer’s learning and effort.

My STEP project couldn’t have come at a better time. During my first two years, I had a lot of difficulty with school. When I first came to Ohio State, I chose biology as my major. I was an honors student with a pre-health declaration, and I wanted to pursue a career in health care as a doctor. But as I went through my classes, did a lot of shadowing and volunteering, and heard a lot of stories, I realized that the life of a doctor was not for me. Most physicians I talked to said that medicine was their lifestyle before anything else. I felt that I would need more of a work life balance. I also felt that medical school and residency might be too overwhelming. So I did a lot of thinking and I changed my major. And then I changed my major back to biology in a few months. It was a mess. I just felt stuck without any real direction. There were also some deep feelings that I couldn’t really get in touch with. I was homesick and lonely. I wasn’t making many friends at school. My classes were all hard sciences like biology, chemistry, physics, etc. Learning seemed very cold, and there was so much pressure to get good grades. I felt like I didn’t even know who I was anymore. It was a really difficult time in my life. I was considering leaving college entirely. I felt like I needed to take some time off from school and get my thoughts together. I wanted to do something personal, something creative. But my family wasn’t really in a position financially to make that possible. This is why STEP was the perfect opportunity for me.

It was my mother’s dream for one of her children to take over the family business, and I felt like I could always just learn how to be self-employed and run my own business. But I wasn’t really sure if that was what I was meant to do in life. Part of me still wanted to be a doctor, but it just seemed too unreasonable. My STEP project was an opportunity for me to work on something entirely unique while also giving me a lot of time to think about my path in life, spend time with my family, and work with my mother in her business. A lot changed for me over the course of my signature project. It felt like a complete paradigm shift from where my mind was a year ago. Ultimately, I decided that taking over the family business wasn’t for me. And I was able to decide on a new career path in health care, so I was able to keep biology as my major. I really found my resolve to continue through college at a time when I just felt lost and confused. STEP was amazing for me.

One of the best things that came out of my STEP project was my relationship with my STEP mentor Philip Smith. Phil was great, and I gravitated to him immediately. He was there for me when I needed someone to run ideas by, and he also really helped me navigate through college and STEP in general. Throughout my sophomore year, we were meeting at the faculty club and talking about anything and everything. Phil was really able to help me get my thoughts together about college life and the college experience. He reminded me how difficult the 18-22 years can be for people, and that everyone is overwhelmed and confused by life sometimes. That helped put me at ease. I felt like our relationship was good for him as well. Phil would sometimes talk about how I reminded him of his own children (who are all fully grown, highly successful adults!) which always flattered me. We still keep in touch today, he even came to visit me at the expo.

Working with my mom was also a great lesson for me. Sewing had always been a part of my life because of my mother, but I never really gave it much thought. It was so under my nose, that for most of my life I didn’t really notice it at all. That’s why for my STEP signature project, I decided to do a fashion design and creation project. I always liked clothing and textiles, and I thought that an artistic and creative endeavor was a perfect outlet for my emotional and mental state at the time. I also got to see up close the inner workings of a professional workroom and how a small business runs! My mom and I were running all kinds of work errands, doing measures in customers’ homes, folding fabrics in the workroom, pinning swags and jabots, and of course sewing. One thing that really stood out to me was how demanding owning your own business can be. My mom’s garage is constantly full of boxes, her workroom is always filled, she is constantly sending emails, uploading paperwork, scheduling, making calls, making pickups, driving around, and working with her installers. Work is never detached from her life, but she says that she loves it that way. The work is physically stressful as well. My mom has a perforated disk and shoulder problems from lifting boxes and fabrics for 30+ years. She’s getting older but never acts that way; she’s always full of energy. Honestly, it all reminded me of some of the stories physicians would tell me about how their work was so consuming. I gave it a lot of thought, and eventually I decided that my mom’s business wasn’t the right fit for me. However, over the summer I was able to look into a lot of graduate programs for biology majors. I found one in a health care field that really appealed to me. I began looking into it, and now it is prevailing career path! I feel very confident in my new direction, and a lot of my stress surrounding work and life has subsided.

The most transformational aspects of my STEP project came through my independent designing. I got really into my project immediately. I got a few notebooks to keep a record of my thoughts, and I began working with ideas. This was a huge aspect of my project, one that I didn’t really anticipate, but I got heavy into journaling. Journaling became such a good way of venting and relaxing my mind while also doing something really constructive for my project. I also got really into yoga and meditation which wound up being excellent ways for me to destress—something I definitely needed (and it got me to take yoga I and yoga II at OSU!). I did a lot of sketching and work with Photoshop. My dad was a graphic designer and worked in a print shop in Cleveland, Ohio when he was my age so it was a really special connection for me. My dad and I got to do build a bunch of cool parts of my project like the standing dress-form which we fitted to my body. Eventually, I constructed all the templates necessary, bought all of the fabrics that I needed, and created my custom clothing. I ended up making my cloak along with five accessory pieces! I spent the whole summer with my design which was such a needed break from the very left brain nature of my biology major/pre-med curriculum. I found that as I was working with my project, I was also working on my own self-development. My thoughts were really clear and focused, and I found that a lot of the things that I was obsessing about during school were not relevant anymore. It’s kind of difficult to put into words, but it felt like as I was finishing my project, I was really working on myself. I am very proud of what I was able to accomplish, and how I was able to grow up over the course of my project.

Completing my STEP project really changed my life. I was able to create something completely new and original. I was able to make a lasting relationship with my STEP mentor. I was able to get in touch with my roots and spend a lot of time with my family. I got to see how a professional workroom runs, and I have a much better understanding of what it means to own and operate a small business. And maybe most importantly, I have some peace of mind about my direction in life. Honestly, that means everything to me. Just to be comfortable within myself. I have a much better understanding of where I need to be going in the world in terms of school, work, family, and experiences. STEP was such a great opportunity to learn outside of the classroom. I will remember this past summer very fondly.

Step Reflection: Building a PC

1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project.

My STEP project was to build a desktop computer from components I research online. After construction, my goal was overclock the computer as high as possible to obtain maximum performance.

2. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your
view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP
Signature Project?

Before my STEP project, I was always in love with computers. It seemed that everything in the world was becoming a computer, from the tv, to the smartphone, and even to the refrigerator. It always astounded me how they worked.
My STEP project gave me the chance to explore how computers worked and to even build my own exactly how I wanted it. It changed how I look at technology as a whole and how I look at the field of computer science, to something that isn’t as mysterious but is open with endless possibilities.

3. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP
Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in
#2, and how did those affect you?

The first event that led to this realization was researching how to build a computer and how the computer seemed to just come together. Before building and researching, I had a few ideas of how I wanted the PC to look and work by looking at other images and seeing what popped out the most. I thought that a computer wasn’t only a machine to work on, but is also an art piece that expressed my personality. While picking these components, I learned what I liked in style, and what I thought was important in terms of performance of a computer. Being a computer science major, I think this is extremely transformative as it allows me to begin to create my own style when it comes to designing a workstation for my use in the future.

Another even that led to this change was the actual build process. I feel I was challenged by the parts I choose, in how keeping the assembled parts looking right with clean, but manageable in terms of expansion. For the case of the computer, I chose a case that used a large tempered glass window on the side. This led to careful preparation, and designing how I wanted by build to look before putting it together. Looking at it now, completed and lit up, I am extremely happy with the result

The final change I went through was gaining patience, as I tweaked this computer to my specifications. My goal was to get the most performance as possible from the computer without exhausting its limits, so they required careful manipulation of values in the BIOS in order to achieve maximum efficiency. Now, I am happy with the results I got and I would love to do it again.

4. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your
life?
I believe these changes are extremely significant for my life. My life after college will by computer science and gaining more knowledge for this subject is key. Plus, this build provided a workstation for me to do further programming, video game design, and graphics rendering that wasn’t possible on my previous machine. Also, the patience and attention to detail I learned from completing this build will follow me into the work place and into life where I can use it everyday in order to further myself. This project was great and hopefully I get to do it again in the future.
Thank you for reading!

Dr. Sticksel & the Lucky Umbrella

Name: Annalisa Hartlaub

Type of project: Artistic and Creative Endeavor

 

My STEP project entailed the creation of a children’s book to honor a lifelong mentor. The plot of the book was based around this mentor, Dr. Phil Sticksel, and a whimsical story he told me. I used the funds provided to print and distribute the book to elementary schools in the community I grew up in.

 

The transformative aspects of this project have been manifold. What stands out the most for me as I move forward is a greater understanding of the important role mentors have played in my life and the depth of gratitude I feel towards them. This project has left me reflecting on the importance of mentorship in the lives of young people and how education and empathy can change the course of our lives. In the months I spent creating the book, I reflected on the many things that brought me to the place I am in today.

 

Since I was quite young I have been pulled towards the pursuit of science. Along the way my path has crossed with many people who have offered guidance and encouragement in this journey. I first met Dr. Sticksel when he was serving as a volunteer science educator through Westerville City Schools and Battelle. I was in elementary school at the time and he was a great force in encouraging me to pursue science long-term. During the creation and distribution of the book I thought a lot about the role he has played in my life and how it has changed the course of my life.

 

As for the distribution of the book, this was an invaluable experience. Giving back to the community that facilitated so many of my educational experiences, was wonderful. I was assisted in integrating the books into each elementary school’s library in the district and donating books to various young readers in those schools. I’m hoping that through this, a piece of the joy and encouragement I received during my time there can be passed on to the next generation of students. The most personally impactful distribution however, was the books that I gave to Dr. Sticksel. Getting to help his story come to life and thank him for his work as an educator was an inestimable experience.

 

In addressing the aspects of the project that touch on the creative pursuits in my life, this project was also a fantastic learning experience in honing new mediums. As an artist and writer, self-publishing and working in collage has been an entirely new experience. It has strengthened my artistic abilities and also helped to open my horizons to the wealth of mediums I may pursue. Art and science have always been two sides of the same coin in my life and being able to integrate them in such a meaningful way was quite transformative.

 

As I begin my professional journey into the world of science, I am so grateful that I was given this opportunity to honor the impact that Dr. Sticksel has made in my life. It has strengthened my desire to continue pursuing a career in art and science and has truly impressed upon me the importance of encouraging others to do the same. As I move forward, I believe this project will be a foundation for my path as an artist and writer.  It has sharpened my awareness of the instrumental nature of mentorship, and as I stand on the cusp of new chapter in my life, impressed upon me a sense of obligation to pass forward the skills I’ve gained to the next generation.

 

 

Step reflection

My STEP project has 3 components. The first is learning how to build a desktop computer, specifically, one that is small and still powerful enough to run a virtual reality (abbreviated “VR”) system . The second component is learning about VR myself, and how can create content for VR. The final component involves education.

The first component was difficult. I put together a list of and had my computer-building friends verify that all the components would work together. Then, when all the parts arrived, came the task of assembly. That was a wild ride.

While assembling my computer I probably shouldn’t have overestimated my technical abilities so much. The first thing I did was take out the case, put it on my desk, then install the motherboard. Then, I looked inside the box for the motherboard, and I saw a shiny metal cover. That cover was supposed to be installed, and then the motherboard should be installed. This wasn’t a big deal, I just took out the motherboard and installed the shield and re-installed the motherboard.

I had assumed that the motherboard should go in first. It is generally the largest part of a computer build. All the other components have ports plug into the motherboard. This is when I realized I needed to stop thinking about this from the perspective of how all the components work, and start thinking about it like I’m building some Ikea furniture.

After the motherboard I installed the cpu in place. The CPU has to be perfectly aligned on the motherboard. It has hundreds of pins that must align perfectly in the motherboard. The CPU does most of the calculations for a computer. It works so hard that it gets really hot so I had to install a CPU cooler. It’s really just a piece of metal with a bunch of fins cut. This is really just to maximize surface area, because air is being circulated over the fins, so more surface area means more cooling.

Next I installed the rest of the components, including the GPU and hard drive, and the power supply. I also had to connect some of the buttons and USB ports on my computer case to the motherboard. At the end of the day I had a fully functioning PC! Except I had some difficulties trying to use my old version of windows, but I will not write about that in this post.

I also want to reflect on my experience at GDEX, which was a game development conference held in the convention center in Columbus. I volunteered there so I was working most of the weekend, but in my spare time I got to meet a lot of people. I got to meet people who work in VR, and I got to try their VR setups. I made some conclusions about what I could do for education with my VR rig. I decided that I didn’t have the resources to create a classroom educational experience and get permission to bring it into the classroom.  The HTC Vive is the VR headset I use. It’s just not practical enough to let more than 6 people use in a one hour period or so.

So instead I came up with an alternative. I wanted to apply the engineering principles I’ve learned here at OSU, to create an educational VR experience. I’m starting with statics, which can be thought of as a way to make predictions as to how things will react to forces while the objects are known to not move. For example, we can analyze how much forces will act on a cable that holds up a suspension bridge. I want to be able to solve these types of engineering problems in VR, and I think that it would be a great way to learn the material.

I don’t plan on writing this all from scratch, I mostly use existing physics simulators, and just create a nice user interface. So a user using the educational app, could look at a problem and explore it in 3D. This is quite the undertaking, I understand, so I’ve already asked some friends for help and asked for some feedback from my summer boss.

I’m really happy with the turn that my project made. I can genuinely say I enjoy reviewing the engineering material I learned before. But unfortunately this is mostly a software complication issue, I want to build this so that anyone can develop modules for it. And I want to make it open source. It depends on how successful I feel after I finish the first iteration of the program. I am also happy because this is a way I can contribute to education, and do something with mechanical engineering, which is my degree. I will make more posts in the future, but this is my first reflection. I’ll breakdown the rest of my projects into posts about each aspect, and the VR project will have ongoing updates.

STEP Reflection: 3D Printer Build

My STEP Signature Project was to design and build a 3D printer. The design process included creating a comprehensive CAD model that was referenced for creating a bill of materials. Once I was content with the final design, the necessary hardware was purchased, fabricated, and assembled together into my first 3D printer prototype.

People tend to think that innovation routinely occurs, but that’s not the case. Technology doesn’t automatically improve unless people make an effort to advance it. That is why I want to play a role in the advancement of additive manufacturing. For the first couple decades of 3D printing, a lot of the technology was locked up behind patents from a couple big players in the additive business. In the 2000s and 2010s, many of these patents expired and now new companies are popping up that further develop the technology. A lot of these companies build off of the RepRap project. RepRap stands for replicating rapid-prototyper and the project is an open source collaborative effort to develop low cost 3D printers. My STEP project is an effort to contribute to the worldwide RepRap community. More than just satisfying my desire to innovate, this endeavor to prototype my own DLP 3D printer was also a great learning experience that taught me a lot about manufacturing, CNC technology, mechanics of gantry robotics, and materials science.

My 3D printer build took place at the Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence. CDME is where I’ve been working as an undergraduate research assistant since the end of my freshman year, and it is where most of the hardware for my printer was assembled. In conjunction with my STEP 3D printer build, I was working on developing a metal additive system for CDME. My work and exposure to other 3D printing technologies at CDME greatly influenced how I went about building my 3D printer for STEP.

My advisor at CDME is Richard Teynor. Rich is our additive manufacturing expert and operates the many printers at the center. Being under Rich’s supervision, I have exposure to additive technologies that most people have never seen or are unaware of. The most widespread form of 3D printing that most people are aware of is fused deposition modeling (FDM). FDM involves the extrusion of a thermoplastic filament to build up layers of a part. CDME has four FDM printers ranging from desktop models that are about $1000 up to a mid-range industrial system costing about $40,000. One of the printers we have is a Markforged printer that can print parts with carbon fiber reinforcement. The Markforged technology is a relatively new advancement in 3D printing and it’s pretty cool to see it in action. The center also has printers that utilize vat photopolymerization, material jetting, binder jetting, and sheet lamination technologies. CDME is also getting a powder bed fusion printer for metal parts. I have had the opportunity to see all of these 3D printing technologies in action and regularly use them for undergraduate research. My experience with additive manufacturing at CDME is what ultimately led me to want to build my own 3D printer.

My STEP 3D printer build took place at CDME and became my side project at the center over the summer and autumn semester. My main focus at CDME has been the development of an additive system for metal parts that equips a gas metal arc welder. My STEP 3D printer build is different in terms of the material deposition technology used for creating parts, but at the same time very similar in mechanics and software. Throughout both builds, I found that I was regularly using what I learned from one build and applying it to the other. My experience with refurbishing a CNC gantry for my CDME build helped me a lot in the design process for my STEP build. I also applied what I learned from my STEP build about motor drivers and controllers to help me with my CDME build. Throughout both builds, I often referenced the design of the other 3D printers at the center and studied how they operated.

I now know more about linear guide systems, gantry design, motors, motor drivers and controllers, slicing software, G-code, and prototyping workflows from this STEP project. The thought of building something can sometimes be overwhelming, but once you gain experience and breakdown the system into smaller sections that you can understand, the build becomes less daunting. You begin to appreciate the complexity of technology around you, but it also becomes less “foreign” and more intuitive.

I have developed an interest in 3D printing that I believe will influence not only my coursework in college, but also my entire career. This is one of the main reasons I decided to pursue welding engineering since 3D printing is essentially the weldment of either polymer, ceramic, or metal layers. I hope to build off of what I learned through this STEP project and apply it to my coursework as well as future prototypes. I don’t plan on my first prototype being my last prototype.

Once you understand that everything around you was created by people no smarter than you, you’ll develop a belief that you can change it. In my case, the notion that I can influence the world by designing, building, and innovating with my own ideas has become less formidable and more realistic. The overall goal I have set in place for myself is to build my own company focused on 3D printing technologies.

See project details and files updated here: OSU Makerspace Framework

M1 3D Printer Rendering

STEP Reflection: PC Build

1.

The focus of my STEP project was the planning and build of a semi-compact computer and solution for transporting it for use at events such as the hackathon and game jams. The build needed to be small enough to be able to fit into a carrying solution while still being powerful enough to run modern games and game development software. The solution I eventually came up with was a duffle bag with velcro straps to secure the compact PC build turing transit.

2.

My first computer build was completed when I was in high school, it was a decently powerful machine and lasted me well up until the present. The problem which I was presented with that build though was that whenever I needed to bring a computer more powerful than my laptop to an event, I’d have to spend a lot of time packing up my build and then lug it out to wherever I needed it. Unfortunately, this was only possible if I was driving to an event or had some sort of cart to transport the machine. So for this new computer build, I researched compact cases which would still be large enough to accommodate the rest of the hardware that I would need. I settled on the Corsair Air 240 as, while not the smallest case on the market, it is certainly capable of fitting all of the hardware necessary to run even the most demanding of games. This is where I wound up going a bit over budget and spending some out of pocket, as I wanted to be able to run even VR games at events, I went with the Intel 7700K for my CPU and the Nvidia GTX 1080Ti for my GPU as well as getting 32 GB of RAM and a 500GB M.2 SSD. I have since taken this build to various events such as Hack OHI/O and game jams for the Game Creation Club at Ohio State. In addition to being a great experience exploring how to create a better system, it has been greatly helpful to be able to work on VR games and other more intensive projects at events.

3.

The most influential part of my STEP project was the process of researching and planning the build, as it helped to expand my knowledge of building and cable managing a much smaller computer as opposed to building in a much larger case like I was used to. The creative experience of collaborating with a team on a VR game at Hack OHI/O was also a fantastic learning experience on how to collaborate on a more advanced short game project than I’m used to.

4.

As stated earlier, having access to a portable, powerful machine is greatly beneficial for me. As the president of the Game Creation Club at Ohio State, I’m frequently attending, running, and/or participating in various game jams and hackathons. Having a powerful build allows me to offer a platform to create without restriction, as well as being able to offer the capability to create VR games to members of my club at game jams. This opens up valuable opportunities for collaboration for both myself and others, which can only serve to expand our collective knowledge about Game Design and Computer Science.

 

STEP Reflection: Yoga Teacher Training, Danielle Nagy

This past summer, I completed a Yoga Teacher Training at Yoga Six in Upper Arlington. Throughout the 3 month program, I learned about yoga history and philosophy, teaching methodology, anatomy, meditation, and elements of a dynamic yoga class. Yoga teacher training expanded my knowledge of the physical and spiritual practices of yoga.

The program consisted of 2 intense ten day modules, separated by an anatomy weekend throughout the summer months. This is our cohort of yoga teachers in training!

Yoga Teacher Training as a Transformational Experience

Yoga teacher training was not only an educational experience but also a transformative process. Studying tantric yoga philosophy — tantra meaning “a loom, framework, system, or wrap,” a concept that views crafting and weaving life as a tapestry of experience, urging ongoing conversation to invest in “the more” of experiences — allowed me to recognize that there is no one “right path” through the concepts of exploring “the more” and creating an ongoing conversation. There are many paths, unique to each individual. Studying the spirituality behind yoga allowed me to expand my view of spirituality as a practice. Raised in a Christian household, I held narrow minded views towards religion. Understanding yoga as a spiritual practice allowed me broaden my view of spirituality. Finally, building relationships with the other women in my training cohort allowed me inquire about their experiences and ask insight for life as a young adult.

Catalyst for Transformation

Although we learned about tantric ideology in our first teacher training module, the concepts were physically illustrated to me during the anatomy module of the program. We studied how individual anatomy influences yoga postures, and my anatomy teacher explained that the differences in bone structures can be seen in individual faces: we all have the same bones in our face, but the variation of such makes for different face shapes, no two of which are the exact same. In yoga poses, there are safe alignment principles that protect from injury, but my yoga teachers encouraged me to do what feels best in my body, regardless of what variations others take. This knowledge translates well for my development as a college student, transforming my perception of my academic and career path. My academic and career path are unique to me, regardless of what course of study or careers I think I should be pursing. My peers may choose one career path, while I choose to follow the career path that best fits my interests, aspirations, and strengths.

The facilitators incorporated elements of meditation and spiritual practice into the study of physical yoga poses. Through the meditation practice, they facilitated my development of witness consciousness — the ability to witness thoughts, commonly referred to as metacognition in academia, and withhold judgement of those. The concept of witness consciousness, along with others we practiced, such as nonviolent communication and active listening, allowed me to enhance my emotional and social skills. Additionally, learning about the history and philosophy of yoga allowed me to broaden my knowledge of spirituality. Applying concepts, such as the yamas and niyamas — guidelines for treating others and yourself — allowed me to experience personal growth.

Throughout the 3 months of the program and since, I have genuinely enjoyed getting to know the other teachers in my training cohort. Our 3 facilitators had much wisdom to offer — not only did they have much insight into yoga and their experiences as teachers, they gave insight into the impact of different life experiences. They facilitated a very reflective process — one which I not only valued as an education experience but also as personal development. As an emerging adult, I face many decisions relating to academics and career development. I enjoyed talking with the other women in my cohort, many of whom are in their late twenties and early thirties, about their experiences in post-grad life, such as graduate school and job searches. Many worked in fields that I have interest, such as education, and I was grateful that they were open to speaking to their experience, offering insight, and giving feedback for my ideas relating to my post-graduate endeavors. Throughout my experience, I gained friends, confidants, and advisors.

Purposeful Transformation

I began yoga teacher training with the expectation to learn about yoga. I emerged from the program with a depth of knowledge about yoga as well as a broadened view of my myself within a larger scope. The physical and spiritual practices of yoga allowed me to learn about myself. Learning about and practicing witness consciousness, conscious communication, and active listening allowed me to increase my social skills and emotional intelligence. Learning the tantric philosophy and recognizing that there are many different paths to achieve a desired goal enhances my perception of my academic and career endeavors. Experiencing yoga as a physical practice allowed me to broaden my view of spirituality. Fostering relationships with others in my cohort allows me to feel connected, as well as having mentors to reach out to for advice relating to life experiences, academic endeavors, and career paths. Carrying these insights with me, I hope to continue to authentically develop my academic interests, seek to broaden my views by learning about such different than those I hold, and be intentional in developing relationships. Yoga has become integrated into a large part of my life, and I hope to share my passion for the practice as a teacher.

Celebrating after our graduation ceremony!

STEP Reflection – Rishee Jayasimha

Name: Rishee Jayasimha

Type of Project: Artistic and Creative Endeavors

 

  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.

My STEP project involved building my first desktop computer. There was a lot of research (I had been researching parts since October 2016) and budgeting involved to find all the right parts at reasonable prices. I also trying creating video games using the Unity engine.

 

  1. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place.

Early in my childhood, I first saw the insides of a desktop we had. Since then, I knew I wanted to build a desktop, and I kept track of new technologies. That involvement decreased as my childhood went on. In researching parts for my computer, I realized that there is much more than picking any part and assembling a computer. These technologies are changing almost every month. Since I built my computer, AMD announced and put to market 4 CPU’s and 2 graphics cards, Nvidia put out a new GTX 1070 Ti, and Intel launched more high-core count and mainstream CPU’s.

The “view of the world” of technology that changed was the technical detains of each part. For example, until I built my computer, I did not know what PCIe lanes were, and how they would affect the way my system operates. Since then, I have found out that these lanes are how parts, like graphics card and storage, communicate with the CPU.

Since building my computer, I have kept up with the news relating to new parts, like graphics cards and CPU’s. This project has opened a new world of technology that I had forgotten about, and it is one I will keep up with in the future. I feel that I understand the hardware of a computer, and have started to think about how I can use this in my CSE programming classes.

 

  1. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you? Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation.

When I decided I wanted to build a computer for my STEP project in October 2016, I was not aware of the technicalities that came with building a computer. My roommate from last year, who also did a STEPMaker computer build, got me started in the research when he told me about a giveaway on pcpartpicker.com. I did not know what parts to pick, but I started watching YouTube reviews and searched online. Soon, I understood what parts would be best for my computer.

When I overclocked my CPU and GPU, I did not know how to start. This meant I had to research again. I learned a lot about overclocking and feel I can overclock any CPU or GPU.

With all this information, I have been able to look at new products objectively and think about how I can develop efficient programs as a future software developer. I know that Intel CPU’s can be overclocked around 500Mhz more than the clock speed they ship, and GPU overclocking is complicated. The question now is how can I use what I know to develop efficient programs. I think I will find that out as I go through the CSE sequence, but I feel that I have a better understanding of the hardware in a computer, which will help me in my CSE classes as compared to those who did not build a computer.

 

  1. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans.

Academically, I believe I now understand the hardware in a computer. For CSE and software development, understanding hardware and figuring out how to use it for efficient programs is crucial. This gives me a “leg-up” as compared to my peers. This also affects me professionally as in a career of software development, it would be easier to earn a job with the experience of building a computer and knowing how the hardware works to design efficient programs.

As for my future plans, building my first desktop computer has given me the confidence to be able to pick the best parts, given a budget, and the desire to build more computers. In the short term, as of writing this, I want to build a computer for my brother later this year with a lower budget. Long term plans include upgrades to my new PC, and to use it for academics, including homework, CAD, simulations, and video game development. I will be requesting a SOLIDWORKS license and want to explore using SOLIDWORKs with Blender to create animations and simulations. Building a desktop has given me the tools to explore software that I would not have been able to without my computer.

Below are links to my u.osu.edu blog that I created for this project and a link to my Makerspace website that includes my technical report for this project.

U.OSU.EDU Website: https://u.osu.edu/stepproject2017/

Makerspace: https://www.osumaker.space/project/388/

Below are pictures of my build:

Ayna Arora’s STEP Experience with Chocolate

For my STEP Project, I decided to take a 4-day intensive class in making the most delicious tasting and shiniest chocolates with Melissa Coppel, a Cacao Barry Ambassador in Las Vegas. It was a very technical class suited for small business owners, and involved many different flavors and chocolate designs.

Going into the class as a food scientist, I was a little nervous of my lack of skill and being able to pick up the techniques in the class. It was a transformation experience in the least because contrary to what I expected, it was a great opportunity to integrate my current knowledge as a food science major with the culinary knowledge I was picking up. My brain could now think about refining and simplifying processes. What this experience opened my eyes to is the collaborative work that can occur between chefs and food scientists to manufacture top notch products. The class instructor being a small business owner herself and having a family also taught me about the value of work life balance, and to seriously consider my own life and when I would want to do either of those things so as to avoid conflict.

One of the things that particularly struck out to me was that the class instructor was herself a small business owner, and an accomplished professional in a field where it is difficult for women to get recognized for the work they do. She had overcome these hurdles and is considered one of the brightest in her field, and it was very interesting to see how she focuses on empowering women through her social media but also her words. Something she said to us on the last day really stuck with me, and it was something along the lines of how we as women need to encourage and support other women, and form a strong community. Since she is managing a small business and has a family, it also made me consider what my priorities in life are and think about what work life balance meant to me.

Another thing that I took away from the experience was that the needs and capabilities of a very small business in the culinary field and food manufacturing need differ. Culinary gives you the freedom to have a lot of hands on work, whereas in food science, a lot of priorities are minimizing costs and processes while delivering a product that is acceptable to a large enough market. In culinary, it is much easier to charge high for a very refined, niche, product but this business model is extremely hard to execute if they were instead manufactured, due to the complexity of processing and the costs involved.

However, the course also sparked by creativity and I have come to realize that the two fields are interdependent. Even though the instructor was a small business owner, she still required production permits and had to follow several food safety rules, and had to account for shelf life. At the same time, I saw that with a creative mindset I could also come up with new ideas and formats that could be manufactured on a larger scale, as I would consider every step of chocolate production and how it could be translated to a larger scale. This made me realize the interdependency of the two fields, and how professionals in both food science and culinary can benefit from at least a basic understanding of each others fields, in addition to some basic techniques. The field of food science at times tends to be very planned and methodical, whereas the culinary field can be extremely fast paced and improvisational. These are skills the professions can better learn from each other.

For the future, I will now consider when I would want my family life and business to fall into, and what is more important to me. I will definitely consider before I open my own business or have my family about how it affects my life either way. This experience has not only inspired me to gain more multi-disciplinary knowledge, but also seek individuals to partner with who have skill sets than span over different fields. Empathy for other fields gives insight to how things are done, and can help build more cohesive teams.

Read more stuff on my blog here.