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As an aspiring engineer, I've taken every opportunity that has been hurled at me to learn more about the workplace and gain skills that will help me develop in my field. During my time in Dublin High's Engineering Academy, I have been to a number of field trips. One particular field trip that stood out to me was the Patriot Jet Team Air Hangar, where I received the opportunity to take a close look at a number of planes used by the civilian aerobatic formation team that performs air shows, the Patriots Jet Team. At this field trip, I was able to look at planes that actually had been in flight at some point, and learned about different factors that are taken into mind when creating an airplane such as aerodynamics, weight, and design. I learnt about many small things that engineers need to account for, like the number of forces that exist in different altitudes, a way to measure the speed of the plane based on air pressure, and the use of expendable fuel tanks to reduce the weight of a plane after the fuel tank is no longer needed. I have considered entering the field of astrophysics and aeronautical engineering, and this field trip was memorable to me as it showed me that this field has a significant impact in the real world. I also took a lot of information from this trip, including flight terminology and even the scale of the solar system.
I have also attended a field trip to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories (LLNL) on their annual IT Job Shadow Day, where I got to tour a number of facilities in LLNL such as NIF, the National Ignition Facility, a large scale research device that uses lasers to conduct nuclear fusion reactions. I also got to see their supercomputer, Sierra, and it was very interesting to see how each computer was essentially a node connected by a local network, with other systems to minimize latency when communicating between these nodes. The practical uses of such a computer are what fascinated me, as large neural networks consist of many layers and units and require a large amount of processing power to run simulations. It was also interesting to learn that many simulations work at a molecular level and use physics to simulate reality. Since I am interested in the field of Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence, I found the supercomputer incredibly interesting and practical for applications in these fields.
The Engineering Academy has also given me the opportunity to hear the stories of many experienced engineers. One particular guest speaker that influenced me was Maynard Holliday, a mechanical engineer who is currently a senior engineer at RAND Corporation. Under the Livermore National Labaratory, he was on the team to take samples at the Chernobyl Nuclear site as the fuel could burn through the earth. He made a robot and a vision system to navigate the ambient (high radiation & temperature) environment. Some constraints for this project were portability, modularity, and ability to survive in an ambient environment. As a builder at Gael Force Robotics, I was able to relate to these needs and was able to envision how a robot such as the one he made would possibly work. I took away how constraints are essentially what decide everything about a robot, and without them, a robot would have no purpose. I was inspired by his career as I was able to relate and see how robotics is applied in the real world.
Another guest speaker that came to speak in my Introduction to Engineering class was Aaron Pomerantz, a PhD candidate at UC Berkeley. Pomerantz worked at the Tambopata Research Center in South America, in the largest rainforest in the world where there are more species than any other. He worked with Oxford nanopore Technology to take blood samples and see if they carry certain virus strains of the virus and to see where it originated. He 3D printed a centrifuge to take the DNA from a sample and get the species of animals. He showed me how he used these various technologies to conduct research related to biology, and I was fascinated by the potentials of interdisciplinary research. This showed me that computer science does not have to be pure algorithms performing certain actions, but can be artificial intelligence made to find patterns in DNA and categorize species.
This year, in the Dublin Engineering and Design Academy, I took part in the mentor program to develop networking and career planning skills through contact with an industry professional. My mentor, Rupert Young, works as a manager at a technology company in the Bay Area, and has years of experience working in companies such as AT&T. Throughout the course of the school year, I met with my mentor once a month to discuss goals, college plans, develop interview and resume skills. Through this program, I received unique insight into working in a data company and what it really means to be an engineer versus a manager, as well as how new rising technologies are influencing products today.
Digital Electronics: Boolean Algebra Converter.