Career Portfolio Reflection

The career project has enabled me to reflect on my experience, activities, and skills and organize them together into a resume and digital portfolio. I learned how to properly express my academic and extracurricular accomplishments. Before, my career portfolio consisted of a single, simple activity list with no descriptions. I have also realized the necessity in creating a proper resume and establishing a professional profile on the web. As I go on to college next year, the skills that I have developed in the career portfolio project will give me a competitive advantage over other students who are not prepared. The career project has also contributed to my digital footprint because they will enable to me to network online with individuals with similar interests who could potentially help me land an internship or career in the future.

By creating a LinkedIn, Re.vu, and About.me, I have been able to establish a digital footprint that I can leverage into an advantage. Future employers could search for my name and encounter a positive digital image of a student who has aspirations and is hard-working. The career project is important because helps me prepare for the professional world, which is especially timely as I am graduating high school soon. The career project is unique as I have not had a class where we had the opportunity to create a career portfolio. Finally, the career project gives me a competitive advantage because many students do not already have resumes or understand the valuing in networking. Not every student has the advantage of having a professional instructor help his or her students construct a career portfolio. By being able to network with professionals, when it comes to finding an internship or job, I would already have people who could refer me. Just as the competition for jobs is increasing, the career portfolio project is a great way to stand out in the sea of graduating students. However, it is not only enough to just “be” on LinkedIn, Re.vu, and About.me. It is necessary that I maintain and update my digital portfolio over time and continue to make connections with others through networking.

 

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Teacher Profile: Mr. Wood

As a junior in Mr. Wood’s class, I was enlightened to the possibilities that biology had to offer in various subjects like microbiology, taxonomy, and especially genetic engineering. When Mrs. Scheffer gave me the assignment to write a teacher profile for a teacher who is integrating technology in the classroom, Mr. Wood was the perfect choice.

What Mr. Wood loves about teaching is teaching in general. He mentions that “both the high school administration and the school board support education here which makes life a lot easier for teachers.” In teaching Advanced Placement Biology, he often asks for a lot of equipment and materials for labs and the school district has always been supportive. Besides the administration, Mr. Wood has full confidence in the student body. After visiting other schools over time, he concluded that Burlington certainly has the best students. Mr. Wood also values the availability of technology to enhance education in his classes. Whenever a student needs to look up a term, the answer is at his or her fingertips through the internet. He also recognizes, however, that technology comes with its learning curve, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Mr. Wood explains that “there is a learning curve for everyone like teachers and students but it certainly has helped and given us a solid different perspective in how we teach and how we learn.”

A superficial glance into Mr. Wood’s classroom may lead to you to conclude that all he uses is the chalkboard and overhead projector. However, there is more that meets the eye. Mr. Wood utilizes technology in a variety of aspects. Mr. Wood primarily integrates technology in the labs for documentation through pictures and videos. He finds that students have an easier time writing lab reports with visual documentation of what they did. Mr. Wood also has his students submit lab reports via Google Drive, which allows for collaboration and better organization. Through collaboration, students can improve their lab reports by catching errors that one may not find on their own. Also, having all your lab reports in Google Drive keeps them in one place so that you can easily refer back to them. For example, he utilizes Edmodo to help students keep track of assignments. Edmodo is also a great way to upload and distribute lecture notes. The biology textbook also has an eBook so that students no longer have to lug around their giant biology book. Students have learned to integrate technology from Mr. Wood, but Mr. Wood also has learned new ways to integrate technology through the students (what a great example of mutualism). For example, students in Mr. Wood’s classes have utilized the eBook in apps like Notability to annotate chapters and take notes. This year, Mr. Wood has also encouraged his kids to write posts for the help desk blog. The incorporation of Google Glass in Burlington was utilized in the labs. While Mr. Wood prefers using paper and pencil, he is still open to technology.

Out of all the units in biology, his favorite is biotechnology. The labs in the unit are challenging and modern like the DNA fingerprinting and transformation lab. Biotechnology today is incredibly important and has real-life applications . Mr. Wood believes it would be good to have a semester course in only biotechnology. DNA restriction enzymes, and GMOs for example. The course is so modern that it would not require a textbook. He mentions that “students nowadays have the genetic-biotech bug in that they like these new things.”

 

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Third Quarter Reflection

Here is a link to a Haiku Deck I created that summarizes the skills I learned.

In the weeks concluding the third quarter, I accomplished several goals. While accomplishing goals is great, the skills I developed in attaining these goals were more important. My first goal was printing out a three-dimensional card holder for help desk. After hours of messing around and learning how to use Sketchup, we were finally able to produce a finished product. I incorporated problem-solving into my endeavor by learning how to work with 3D modeling software and learning to import and export STL files for 3D printing.

devilscoutz

In addition, I worked on my Individual Learning Endeavor by developing a scouting app for Robotics. At Robotics competitions, scouting is when one keeps track of how other robots are doing in their matches to potentially select them when it comes to the alliance selection process if one’s team finish’s as the top eight seed. Although we did not expect to finish top eight, in the event that we did, it was integral that we had data ready to interpret that could land us with a powerful alliance and first place victory. In less than 24 hours, Harsh, Shams, Lynn, and I set out to develop a app that would collect match data, save it over time, and sync it to a database for later analysis. One problem we had to overcome was to make it usable on all devices, whether it be iOS, Android, or a PC. Another problem is that we were unsure whether we would be given WiFi in the arena at Northeastern so we had to prepare for there not to be WFi. We decided to create a web application using AngularJS for the front-end development and set up Parse to be our back-end service provider.  AngularJS is used to develop single-page applications. AngularJS was the perfect solution for a framework that would work on all devices, and also solved our issue of the potential of having no WiFi at competition.

In order to collaborate on this project, we initially utilized JSFiddle. As our application became more advanced, we had met issues with JSFiddle and moved to JSBin. Eventually, even JSBin would cease to function with our code so we resorted to using an offline text editor named Sublime and had to keep our code stored on GitHub. Sounds easy? Well, not quite. We had little previous experience in using JavaScript so we had to had to learn as we went along using AngularJS tutorials and Parse documentation. However, data is data. It cannot tell one something meaningful if it is not interpreted correctly.

That’s where we called Xin Zhang, the statistician, to construct a rating system based on the different contributions robots make on the field. He developed his own system of rating robots titled RNL. A brief excerpt of his contribution and work can be seen below.

A much talked about statistic among FRC teams is the OPR rating – the expected contribution of each robot in a match (an OPR rating of 60 means the robot is expected to put up 60 points in a match). After the Nashua competitions, we were 5th in OPR among the ~40 robots that competed. While that is something to be proud of, a number of members, including myself, and this guy who is much smarter than I am and crunched a bunch of numbers, found that OPR is not a great predictor of success, especially in the tournament:

  • Team 131, with the highest OPR of any team at the event (76.02), was eliminated in the final round. (probably not a strong case for my argument but this team is a huge outlier)
  • Team 811, with the 2nd highest OPR (44.44), did not make it out the first round.
  • Team 4909 (hi Billerica), with the 3rd highest (42.97), did not make it out the first round.
  • Team 182, with the 4th highest (42.44), was eliminated in the quarterfinals.
  • And of course, Team 2876, with an OPR of 41.09, did not make it out of the first round.😦

What does this mean? While teams with high OPR are often drafted by the top eight, or are one of the top eight themselves, OPR is horrible at predicting the outcome of a match. The previously linked study also concluded that OPR is only useful about less than half the time, a horrible rate for such a widely distributed statistic.

Why does OPR fail half the time? Here are some hypotheses:

1. OPR is derived without team-specific statistics and instead rely on alliance statistics, and therefore it is dependent on a team’s alliance members. Some inaccuracies are bound to occur.

2. OPR admittedly does not factor in defense. Alliances in the tournament like to get defensive, and that might have something to do with the early exits of the top OPR teams at Nashua.

3. Matches simply are not predictable. The Red Sox finished with 93 losses in 2012 – they won the World Series in 2013. The Celtics can’t start a winning streak to save their lives, yet can’t lose to the Miami Heat. Same goes with robots at FRC competitions.

I set out to create my own statistic, something that will hopefully eclipse the paltry <50% prediction rate of OPR. Because I am not creative and therefore cannot invent a cool name for this statistic, I have settled with “Rating to be Named Later”, or RNL. Voila:

Inline image 1
H = number of high goals made
L = number of low goals made
T = number of truss assists
AU = number of autonomous goals (this will usually be just 1, but there are teams capable of scoring two)
AS = number of assists in-game
C = constant (for giggles)
According to some scattered posts floating around on Chief Delphi, OPR is calculated through a system of 160 equations, 40 variables, with matrices involved – complicated enough that even Microsoft Excel could not calculate these values without the use of macros. Compared to that, RNL looks dead simple – this is because team specific data is used. While this doesn’t completely kill the dependency of this statistic on other alliance members, it does a better job than OPR.

RNL does not set out to predict a match score, because that is a near impossible task, and I am not a clairvoyant. Instead, RNL attempts to quantitate the ability of a robot: the ability to score high and low goals, work with other robots, etc. It can be assumed that a robot with a high RNL finishes more cycles or more meaningful cycles than a robot with a low RNL.

It will not be easy to explain the coefficients with simple sounding English words. Everything is based around the value of low goal: 1. For example, a high goal is 1.21x more valuable than a low goal. Why isn’t it 10 times? While a high goal counts for 10, and a low goal counts for a measly 1, these are one-assist points. The weights in this equation takes into account different scenarios involving goals, assists, truss assists, and autonomous mode performance.

The highest weight is given to assists. This should be a no-brainer – assists, or the racking up of, is the key to winning games. Then comes the high and low goals. Autonomous mode goals are given less weight than low goals, because failure in autonomous mode won’t cripple an alliance’s chance of winning, while the failure to score during tele-op will. Truss assists get the lowest weight out of the five, because while it accounts for a nice 10 points, too many teams try to do it, fail, and end up with lost time. Time is important.

(Foul points and truss + catch are left out completely, because they are too gimmicky and rely on a good bit of luck, and therefore mess up the data.)

The weights are subject to change depending on the in game results at the competition, but it won’t deviate much. Hopefully RNL is better at its job than OPR is. Once I get sufficient data from the scouting team, I will post some RNL leaderboards (assuming I still haven’t come up with a better name for it yet), and maybe even share it with other teams at the competition.

Keep in mind this is not an attempt to replace the quantitative aspect of our scouting. As useful as statistics may be, numbers do not answer every question. But the hope is there will be a strong correlation between the RNL of a robot and the scouts’ opinions of it.
Best,
Xin Zhang

Through a combination of hard work and interdisciplinary research, we were able to develop a scouting app under impossible time constraints and construct a custom rating system in time for competition. Had we placed in the top eight, we would have came prepared to draft the best possible alliance. The final product can be seen here.

Besides the 3D card holder and the scouting app, Harsh and I hope to kick start our new podcast series called 1:1 Edu Tech Talks in the coming weeks. We hope to keep track of the podcasts through SoundCloud and embed them into the main help desk site in a similar manner to Help Desk Live. At the current moment, we are not exactly sure what our first topic will be centralized on but it will certainly be exciting.

 

Posted in Weekly Reflections

Google’s Project Tango

Imagine if you could reverse 3D print. But wait! Isn’t that what taking a picture accomplishes? Well what about capturing video? Isn’t that an even better example of transporting the physical world into the virtual world? But what if there was another piece of technology that truly bridged the physical and virtual world together. Meet Google’s Project Tango.

In simple terms, Project Tango is an advanced smartphone that can map out the physical environment around you using 3D sensors. These phones have typical sensors like a compass and gyros, but they also feature Kinect-like visual sensors.

“The goal of Project Tango is to give mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion.” – Johnny Lee and the ATAP-Project Tango Team

The prototype for Project Tango is currently a 5″ android mobile phone designed specifically to track the full 3-dimensional motion of the device. Using the data the phone collects around the environment, it can generate visual maps of rooms. Project Tango prototypes are being distributed similarly to how Google Glass is being distributed. Google wants potential users to fill out a form asking “What would you build?” with Tango. Unfortunately, not just anyone can apply. At this current time, only corporations or institutions can apply to receive the development units. Developers who do want to write applications for the device may do so in Java, C/C++ along with the Unity Game Engines.

Wondering about some of the functions you could utilize using Project Tango? Here are some ideas!

  • Shopping
  • Directions
  • Aiding the disabled
  • Augmented reality gaming

But in reality, the possibilities are endless.

Posted in Tech News

ILE: Round Two

Here is a link to a Google Doc summarizing my tentative ILE.

The way we will implement this system is first deriving a rating based on automatic match data that includes how many assists per alliance scores, points scored during the autonomous period, number of goals scored, and more. However, with every rating system, it has its flaws. FIRST uses a Twitter account to update match data immediately after a match completes. There is also another source we will use that also keeps track of foul points. This automatic system would have its flaws however. For example, it is possible that a team may have high scores simply due to their teammates carrying them through the matches. Therefore, we hope to collaborate with our scouts and help develop a scouting application to streamline the process of scouting. Scouting is simply recording data on robots at competition to see who is doing well and who is not. I won’t be doing this entirely on my own however, I will have some help from the great Harsh Dedhiya and Xin Zhang the magnificent.

As a side ILE per-say, I also hope to develop my skills with Sony Vegas and help film at competition in order to create a top tier production video after our competition at Northeastern.

 

Posted in ILE

Reflection 1: Semester 2

Over the course of the last three weeks, I have helped produce the first Help Desk Live broadcast as well as two blog posts.

Here are some of the skills I developed over these past few weeks:

Initiative and entrepreneurship: Moving forward with Google Glass and 3D Printing, Google recently unveiled Project Tango, which is a new cutting edge technological innovation to transform the physical world into the virtual world.  I hope to write up a post on this new technological development in the coming weeks.

Curiosity and imagination: One new app that I investigated was Snapguide. Snapguide makes it incredibly easy to make guides. I was able to learn to take complex tasks and simplify them through Snapguide. In addition, I began making videos for the Robotics team using Sony Vegas which can be seen over here. I tried to make the videos showcase what we had been doing during those weeks in build season. The two videos I produced thanks to footage from Joe Sateriale were simply made from just cutting clips to match an overlayed song. I learned how to use the marker feature in Sony Vegas, which greatly reduced the time it took to make the second video. I hope to create a higher quality production with our footage from the Granite State District Event we competed in last weekend and also at Northeastern University later in the month.

Concise Writing – In my 3D printing post with Harsh, we aimed to make our post slightly shorter, trying to hit the major points about the emerging technology and explain its benefit to education without dragging on. We did so by reducing the amount of links, and also adding videos to engage our audience in more than just plain text. It’s cool and all to write about 3D printing, but what is the fun in that? Mrs. Scheffer suggested to us that we design and print out a 3D business card holder for the help desk business cards. We initially had absolutely no idea on how to design 3D models. We went over to Thingiverse to find a base model to work off of. Our plan is to engrave the words “Help Desk” into the card holder, and also create a pen holder.

 

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How to Snapguide

What is Snapguide?

Snapguide is a free web and iOS application that allows you to create basic “how to” guides. Here is a link to the Snapguide that I easily made on separating differential equations.

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 12.39.28 PM

Homepage of Snapguide

The key to Snapguide is its simplicity. After you create an account, it is easy to create Snapguides. Once you settle for a name of the Snapguide, the editor page comes up.

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 12.41.15 PM

Editor page where you modify your Snapguide

By adding a few pictures and slides, I created a simple guide in no time. Once you tap “Add Steps”, you have two options: Photos or Text. If you have a slide with a photo, you can add captions and a text slide only has text.

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 12.44.19 PM

A few steps later we have a complete Snapguide.

Screen Shot 2014-02-06 at 12.43.16 PM

Some of the issues with Snapguide is that it may be overly simple. For example, photos can only be added as a background to the slide rather than a sizable image box on the slide. Snapguide. There are also no ways to customize the text on a slide. However, Snapguide’s simplicity is what makes it a great application to use to make guides. Snapguides can be linked to and embedded on certain blogs.

Click here to learn more about Snapguide and make your own guide today!

Posted in Tech News