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Posts Tagged ‘follow your passion’

  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. Following Your Passion While in School

    January 30, 2013 by Ian Perry

    One of the most valuable things that I’ve learned while at Cornell is to follow your passion. This isn’t something you learn in the classroom, it’s something you learn on your own.

    This is my eighth semester at Cornell, however, I won’t be graduating this semester as previously planned. I was on track to major in Materials Science and Engineering, but during the spring semester of my junior year, I made the decision to switch. The main reason I decided that I no longer wanted to stay on that track was because I just didn’t feel passionate and excited about the classes I was taking. That being said, I have only good things to say about the major  – it just wasn’t for me.

    During the summer after my sophomore year, I worked at a small business called Monarch Teaching Technologies. They make interactive learning software for children with autism. Being a part of this company was amazing. Not only did I get to directly see how the software was helping children, but I also got to see how my work was helping the company. This is one of the beauties of a small business or startup. I’ve since become hooked on startups. Knowing that I had this interest and passion for working at a startup, I decided that I wanted to get involved with entrepreneurship and make my way into the tech startup scene.

    As an engineering student, I still had/have the desire to make cool things, so I made my way into more of a software development direction. However, I also really like some of the business aspects of startups like marketing, communications, and building partnerships. To most, it might be obvious that there’s not a major within engineering that covers this range of topics that are broad, yet extremely interesting to me. I considered switching out of engineering, but ultimately, my need to build things won out, and I decided to go down a lesser known path within the College of Engineering. So, this is my first semester in my new major, which I created. I’ve chosen an Independent Major focusing on Information Science and Entrepreneurship. The semester’s only a week in, but I know that I made the right decision to switch majors when I did.

    What I’m trying to get across here is the importance of following your passions in school. In my case, this involved switching majors, but it doesn’t have to. Some might argue that I should have just finished up my last year in Materials Science and then made my way into tech startups. I definitely could have done that, but taking classes that I wasn’t excited about wasn’t easy for me, and I needed to do something about it. If you ever feel trapped in a major or job that you’re not excited or passionate about, do something about it. It may not always be practical to leave your major or job, but there are other ways like working on side projects or starting a Meetup or club on campus that can help you follow your passion.

    “Your passion projects are the things that set you apart. They’re things that you could talk about for hours.”

    For me, my new major is like a passion project. I could talk about Information Science and Entrepreneurship for hours, and that’s how I know that I’m on a better track.

    How are you following your passion while in school? Let me know in the comments.