RSS Feed

‘Cornell’ Category

  1. When class doesn’t feel like class

    March 11, 2014 by Ian Perry

    This semester, I’m taking a class in the Information Science department called Introduction to Rapid Prototyping and Physical Computing. So far, we have been introduced to programming with Arduino, and have been learning to use different sensors through a variety of projects. Prior to this class, I had experience with software, but had never really explored the world of hardware. It was something that I was interested in learning, and something that I would have probably wanted to pick up on my own anyway, even if it wasn’t offered as a class. The work does not feel like work as much as just something interesting that I’m learning. For me, it’s a class that doesn’t really feel like a class.

    This week, we had an assignment due in which the only requirement was to use a certain component in our design, an RGB LED light. Other than that, we were encouraged to be creative and have fun with whatever we designed. Some students, maybe even myself in the past, would cringe at such an open-ended assignment because there are no clear requirements, other than the one. One thing that typically causes worry with such open-ended assignments is grades. During my time at Cornell, one thing I have learned is that I usually have more fun, and learn more if I keep grades a secondary thought with these kinds of projects. Yes, they’re important, but if you create something you’re proud of and learn throughout the process, shouldn’t that count for something? Also, from my experience, focusing on having fun and learning, often results in good grades anyway.

    As an example of the kinds of things that we get to design in the class, below is the video from my assignment. I combined two of my passions, running and technology, to create a running light which is designed to be attached to a runner’s sneaker. The runner can change the color of the light by pushing a button, and the light changes brightness depending on how bright it is outside using an ambient light sensor. I also used a gyroscope to make the light blink when the runner is moving.


    If you couldn’t tell, I’m really excited that I’m taking this class. We’ll be continuing to work with Arduino, and also get to do some laser cutting and 3D printing. We also have a very open-ended final project, in which my group and I are designing and building a basketball-shooting robot. I’m looking forward to seeing how it turns out, and will post a video of the final product in a later blog post. If you ever have the opportunity to take a class like this, even if you have limited software or hardware experience and it seems like unchartered territory, I would highly recommend taking it. You will learn a ton about the way things work. More generally, if you find a class that doesn’t feel like a class, you’re probably in the right place.

  2. What I learned from being a TA

    January 17, 2014 by Ian Perry

    Last semester, I had the opportunity to be a teaching assistant for INFO 1300, Introduction to Web Design. Since it was my first time being a TA, I wanted to make sure that I got the “whole” experience, so I signed up to be involved in both teaching and grading. Every week, I led a section with another TA, graded projects, and held an office hour. Overall, I enjoyed the experience and wish I would have had the chance to be a TA earlier on during my career at Cornell. Some of my key takeaways from the experience are listed below.

    Teaching is fun

    Some of my favorite parts of being a TA came while teaching section and during office hours. It was fun helping students learn web design, something that I’m passionate about. It also felt good to help students understand something new that they had never learned before. There is a certain satisfaction that comes with helping other students, especially since I’m a student myself. You want to see your students succeed, and this often takes patience, which brings me to my next takeaway.

    Be patient

    If you are not a patient person, teaching something like programming to students who have zero programming experience can be tough. Even though I’m a fairly patient person, it was still easy to get frustrated at times during office hours. However, I understand that new concepts and material aren’t always easy to pick up at first having been in that situation myself. Being a TA helped me become an even more patient person, and made me appreciate the importance of patience while teaching. It’s easy to just give students the answers they’re looking for. However, it’s not always as easy to help students arrive at a solution to their problems without telling them exactly how to do it. I understand the importance of this even more now that I’ve experienced it from a teaching perspective.

    Often, the best way to learn something is by teaching it

    I’ve heard people say this many times, and I got to experience it firsthand while being a TA. Web design is something that I very much enjoy, however, it’s not something that I practice every day. I’ve taken a few courses in web design, but, being a TA in an intro web design course really helped me strengthen my skills when it comes to the basics in web design.

    I’m not a huge fan of grading

    Although I very much enjoyed the teaching part of being a TA, I didn’t care as much for grading. It was definitely a valuable experience to be on the grading side of projects, however, assigning grades wasn’t my favorite part of being a TA. That being said, I definitely learned a lot about the grading process from the perspective of both the grader and the student, and I’m happy that I decided to participate in grading throughout the semester. In addition, as I mentioned above about learning, grading was a great way to learn the material even better because I got to see how different students completed the same projects in different ways.

    Overall, I’m glad that I had the opportunity to be a TA at least once while at Cornell. I’d love to hear about what you learned from being a TA in the comments below.

  3. One last hurrah

    October 7, 2013 by Ian Perry

    Well, now that we’re already about a month into the fall semester, it’s probably about time I started blogging again. The usual start of the semester craziness coupled with the job search has prevented me from starting sooner, but I plan on getting back to blogging regularly starting now.

    After spending the summer in Portland, Oregon interning at Nike (more blog posts to come about this), it was a little strange coming back to Ithaca, although I’m happy to be back. Actually, Ithaca kind of reminds me of Portland in a lot of ways. There are a bunch of similarities between the cultures, there are a lot of outdoorsy things to do, and there’s tons of good food to be found. Now that I’m back for my final year as an undergraduate, I’ve started thinking about all of the things that I haven’t yet experienced at Cornell and in Ithaca. There are so many things that I have yet to do, and I want to make sure I don’t miss anything.

    It’s really easy to get very focused on your school work at Cornell, and it tends to happen often. This makes it easy to come up with excuses for not doing things. In my opinion, “I have too much work,” is never a good enough reason for not going on a hike, not going for a run, not exploring the Ithaca Commons, or not heading down to the Farmer’s Market on a Sunday morning. Yeah, school work is important, but the experiences that make being a Cornellian what it is are just as important. So, this year, I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure I explore everything that Cornell and Ithaca have to offer, and not get caught up in just doing school work all the time.

    I’d say I’m off to a decent start. This weekend, I finally made it to Cornell’s golf course for the first time and I also went to Apple Fest for the first time. It only took me four years, but hey, better late then never.

    I’m looking forward to getting back to blogging, and plan to cover many topics. I’m also hoping to get Hanging with Cornellians started up again, so if you have any suggestions for who I should interview, let me know in the comments.

    Oh, and if anyone has any suggestions for things at Cornell or in Ithaca that I absolutely must do before graduating, feel free to leave a comment.