2011: The Year in Projects (Part 1)

Last year, I decided to try to do a project every month. Projects are the little journeys in life, the real learning experiences, the realization of an idea. They result in gained skills, friends, inspiration, and sometimes, an improved world. They are technical and they are non-technical.

I quickly realized that projects don’t take a month. They either take a few days or much longer, but the idea is still valid. I did my best to focus my efforts on a particular project each month. Here are the results.

January: Maslab
Mobile Autonomous Systems Laboratory (Maslab) is MIT’s most intense IAP robotics competition. There are 4 weeks to build a robot from scratch to compete in a game requiring computer vision, navigation, and ball launching. Last year, Dan, Stan, Leighton, and I built, coded, debugged, tested, and didn’t sleep too much, but then we won! Check out our paper and the competition highlights.

February: Machine Learning Pilot
Alongside Chenxia, Diyang, and Stan, I ran a couple undergraduate machine learning reading groups (sponsored by IEEE/ACM), with the intent of gauging interest and appropriateness for a larger program with more technical topics. The idea was to experiement with this way of making friends while better learning technical material. We had a more applied group, as well as a more general group. Having never started an organization of my own, it was an incredible experience running the pilot program, and the results were very encouraging.

March: Kinect Symphony Conductor
I hacked up a symphony conductor demo using the Microsoft Kinect, with thanks to Brian for choice of music. The tempo of the music changes depending on how fast your arms move. I demoed this at the MIT 150th Open House, alongside other IEEE and EECS department booths.

April: Everything in the Kitchen Sink
My solution to the problem of dirty dishes piling up in communal kitchen sinks is to use cameras to detect the addition of dishes to a sink and who is using the sink at the time, and then to yell at them or blast out shaming emails. For 6.869 (Advances in Computer Vision), I worked on the dish detection portion of this solution.

The Undergraduate Reading Group Experience (URGE) is the program that grew out the Machine Learning Pilot of Spring 2011. With an amazing staff and support from IEEE/ACM and UMA, I directed this larger technical reading group program in Fall 2011. We had 8 groups this time, spanning EECS, math, and physics. The idea is to help create a cohesive technical undergraduate community at MIT, so that even more awesome productive things can happen. We recently got recognition from the The Institute, the IEEE newspaper!

June: Selling Maslab
I am Maslab‘s Sponsor Coordinator, so I had a lot of fun working with sponsors new and old to make Maslab 2012 possible. Having never done any kind of sales before, it was grand adventure of making brochures, designing sponsorship packages, writing emails, pitching Maslab, handling finances, and organizing events. Thanks to the sponsors of 2012, Maslab is going great!

Next up: July thru December!