The power of personal connection
November 30, 2020
What research experiences have you had as an undergrad?
One project I've worked on as a Grainger Engineer is the open source Queue. I initially got involved with the Queue as a Course Assistant for CS 225, and have continued to contribute to it through an independent study, alongside a few other talented peers. I think the coolest thing about the Queue is its usefulness across campus, especially during the pandemic. I think it's so amazing that something that was originally created to facilitate open office hours in person could be translated into something to work on facilitate virtual office hours. It's been such a great learning experience to be able to contribute to open source & collaborate with my peers to create something very useful to the student community.
Who has made your Grainger Engineering experience special?
Professor Wade Fagen-Ulmschneider has definitely made my Grainger Engineering experience special. When I first took Data Structures at the end of my freshman year, Wade presented the material in such a wonderful & intuitive way, and all of the assignments were so exciting and interactive (my personal favorite was definitely MP Mosaics). I loved everything about CS 225, and I knew I wanted to be a part of the staff that made everything possible. So, I took a chance & reached out to apply for course staff, and ended up becoming a CA. Through that, I got to work on the Illinois Open Source Queue with Wade and several other amazing CAs, and continued to do so through an independent study after Wade left to teach data science. Over time, Wade has become a mentor that I can reach out to for career advice, and he's provided me and so many other students with amazing opportunities to get more involved. For any students reading this, I urge you to get involved & interact with your professors – take advantage of any opportunities you get and learn as much as you can from your peers & professors.
What tips do you have for incoming students?
One tip I have for incoming students is to be bold and interact with as many people as you can. Take advantage of your classmates & your professors and learn from them. There are so many talented people in this community, and there's so much you can gain by collaborating with them. Don't be afraid to reach out to professors -- drop in on office hours and ask them how you can get involved.