Lift off! Columbia two months in.
The morning chill creeped in as I laced up my running shoes, ready to take on the day with my flatmate John. Columbia since the start of classes has been a mad dash upward, and on all fronts from club involvement to studying, there is no completion. Everything scales up to any level one pushes oneself to, and with the classes engineered to provide a wide score distribution and a fairly low average score, finding the right effort is crucial to long term success.
It has certainly been a thin and tricky line to walk, but with my marked success on the midterms, assignments and quizzes so far, my plan and execution seem to be working well.
Alongside the Columbia Space Initiative and Robotics Club, I’ve enjoyed participating in the Columbia University Science Fiction Society and have been able to explore the city and some of its neat geek locations with them.
I’ve been developing the communications system for a CubeSat with the Columbia Space Initiative, and we will be launching it into space within the coming years with several scientific payloads. It will be outfitted with space ready cameras as part of its mission.
The robotics club has been endeavoring into exciting frontiers with many of their projects and it has been very hard to choose which ones to involve myself with, but the development of a “wheel” robot that can deploy four legs and traverse terrain it couldn’t otherwise roll over has been a lot of fun. The system requires not only a very well executed and thought out chassis and mechanics, but also ingenuitive software to handle the diverse environments and conditions it will operate in.
Routines can be powerful tools for hedging success. Every morning between 6:00 and 6:30 I rise to start my day. Regular wake up times are powerful tools for keeping high mental and physical performance in otherwise adverse environments.
Similarly, every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday I brave the early morning with my floor mate John running along Riverside park and soaking in the city and morning air. The intense focus and increased oxygenation has never failed to increase my energy levels.
It is surreal to brave the NYC waterfront with the massive skyscrapers and has carried a feeling that seems truly unreal in its crisp magnitude.
The shift from the previous order of my days and life has been fairly drastic and at times the limiting of time with classes and homework has felt counterproductive when “real” work could be accomplished, but the capabilities delivered and individuals present has always brought me back the truly incredible and useful nature of my time here at Columbia.
Honors Intro to Computer Science has been a class that has perfectly matched the difficulty and informative level I desired. Instead of teaching programming, it teaches how to design great software from how the actual lines of code look to how one's data structures and algorithms should intermix for the best quality and understandability in code. This is at times a somewhat subjective judgement, making assignments, etc. harder, but has been enjoyable and informative. The design skills learned here will be immediately applicable throughout my CS curriculum and in the work force. The assignments have also left me satisfied as every aspect was designed not with the thought “well I think this will be good”, but rather an analytical framework for approaching quality design.
Alongside the CS course, I’m taking a battery of general requirements in Chemistry, Physics, Calculus along with The Art of Engineering. They have all a nice challenge to achieve a high grade (as everything is curved), but so far I have been doing very well and don’t plan to let up. Although at times the problem sets can be a bore, the classes have been genuinely interesting and informative so far. With all the courses, the professors make an effort to expose the reasons behind the material and take it one step further, so we can truly understand and utilize the knowledge.
The winter chill is starting to sweep in and the leaves are changing hue, but the vigor that has pushed me this far continues to propel me.
Along with the University, I’ve made an effort to go on an extended Sunday run through the city to explore its many locations such as Chinatown and its vast parks system.
With my course schedule for next semester largely finalized, it’s been great looking forward at the opportunities that lie ahead and taking the steps to prepare myself for them.
This magical city has inspired and invigorated me and the University has so far sated my thirst for knowledge and self-fulfillment.