I will be pursuing a Master’s in CS alongside my Bachelor’s in Symbolic Systems starting in the fall of 2016. I think most people look at me and expected I would do something like that. But really, it’s been a huge challenge for me, and I want to be open about the thoughts I’ve had, which I put down through my statement of purpose when I applied. So here it is (if anyone has questions about coterming, holla at your girl):
As an undergraduate pursuing a B.S. in Symbolic Systems, my coursework in philosophy, psychology, and linguistics has provided me insights on why people think, react, behave, rationalize, and make decisions the way they do. My undergraduate experience has opened my eyes to the theories surrounding the juxtaposition of machines and the human mind, but I aspire to pursue a coterminal program for the following reason: to better understand the ways computer scientists endeavor to create more human-like experiences, and to apply those insights to the fields of education and entertainment. Such experiences would allow me to build a stronger foundation in technical skills and in the art of making, in addition to more thoroughly explore the resources at Stanford by way of computer science courses and research projects.
Mission Statement: To better understand the ways computer scientists endeavor to create more human-like experiences, and to apply those insights to the fields of education and entertainment.
Areas of Focus:
1. Data: In CS 124, I became exposed to how nebulous and complex even simple text can be for a computer program. At my internship with Google last summer, I saw firsthand the tremendous strides pushed forward to display the seemingly simple search results, an effort that was essential to not only the back-end algorithm, but also to the front-end infrastructure that I was dealing with. So much information is available in society today that the question becomes not whether or not the information is present, but rather how to most effectively find, synthesize, and store the information available in the world. I want to better understand how exactly data is being stored and used in practice by taking the following classes:
CS 145: Grasp how data is continually stored
CS 221: Understand how computers “learn” from incomplete data and information
CS 224N: Discover more advanced tools in natural language processing
CS 224S: Explore the technologies regarding spoken language (especially since not all societies have a written language system or know how to type)
2. Design: Through needfinding and user testing for a CS 147 project, I learned that even the most fantastic ideas can utterly fail if the execution and subsequent user experience of the design are poor. Likewise, CS 148 taught me that there is a science behind practical art– ranging from a singular, beautiful artwork to a sleek, interactive user interface. As an avid violinist, my main goal is to convey my emotion and message to the audience, and I believe this venture is applicable to design: you can fall short if your design fails to create an empathetic experience and if it fails to reach the user’s heart. Through the coterminal program, I hope to better realize both the implications of the tactile and visual experience of user interfaces and how to create those types of interactive media (ranging from an iPhone app to the immersive virtual reality). Some classes I hope to take are:
CS 248: See the intersection of graphics and interaction
CS 142: Discover the tools in web development
CS 448B: Learn how to synthesize information in an aesthetically productive manner
COMM 224: Explore the challenges that technology faces in establishing users’ trust at first glance
1. Entertainment + Media: 3D animation studios and filmmaking companies like Pixar have enormous potential to teach diverse audiences about empathy. Pixar’s impact on the younger generation especially astounds me, and I’m eager to be a part of enacting change towards cultivating a more welcoming, kinder, and passionate society for the generations to come. In Pixar’s Inside Out, entire scenes were redrawn and reanimated to better connect with audiences of particular nationalities that the movie was played in (i.e. changing broccoli in America to spinach in Japan as the “disgusting” food). What would happen if we took a step further from those cultural nuances? What if we could even reduce the likelihood of implicit racism by destroying stereotypes that are often so ingrained in media? These questions leave me almost begging to be a part of this near-magical process. This upcoming summer, I will be working at Google NY, the hub of creativity, tinkering on an application about creative productivity. I decided to take this internship not only to better myself as a software engineer, but to capitalize on the opportunity to dabble with the influence that different forms of media can hold. Some courses that would advance my passion in this industry are:
CS 211: Explore how to create real virtual reality content
COMM 272: Discern differences in user’s internalization of media between their first exposure to an advertisement and subsequent engagement
2. Education: In CS 247, my teammates and I created a gig-posting mobile website intended to help low-income teens feel less self-conscious about their financial status and more empowered in their ability to lend a helping hand to other communities. I am in the midst of a two-quarter-long project where I am working in a team of four individuals in CS+Social Good on the domain of education. From rigorous needfinding and observation of students at high schools in East San Jose, we discovered that while high schoolers from the area felt accomplished for getting into college against the odds, there is an abysmal retention rate for these folks once in college. We hope to bridge the communication gap between high school and college students from similar backgrounds in order to address high school students’ concerns about challenges present in their path to and through higher education. Through both my experience in CS 247 and my present work in CS+Social Good, education equity has become a passion of mine that I hope to better understand and use technology for. Technology may not immediately seem like the best solution to solving education equity and accessibility issues, but I hope to fight against that tide and enhance my skills in computer science, by learning how to better handle data and create exciting and productive experiences for students and teachers, in order to contribute to a goal of quality education for all. Some courses in this field are:
EDUC 342: Understand how technology affects child development. As someone who did not grow up with much technology within my reach, I am intrigued to see how current and future generations are affected by the presence of technology and how we can create children-friendly technology as well!
Many thanks to Andrew Lee, Vanuyen Pham, James Yang, Michelle Ramseier, and Sophia Sun (the co-writer of this blog) for reading through my statement. Thanks to Professors Jay Borenstein, Michael Bernstein, and Robin Sharp. Thank you to my parents who couldn’t go on a family vacation with me over spring break because I was agonizing over this. Last thank you to supportive friends all around me. You all made this possible^