Junior Year So Far
As I said in my first post blogging isn’t exactly my strong suit, but a lot has happened in these past few months so I figured now would be a good opportunity to just sit down and type about it.
Unlike my high school years, I’ve avoided blogging about my classwork and where I’m standing in terms of academic things while in college (though it’s amusing to think about how I would’ve liveblogged my late night coding sessions for CSCE 313). However, I recently made a decision significantly impacting the rest of my college curriculum; I switched my major from Computer Engineering (Computer Science Track) to Computer Science. It’s one of the less difficult academic decisions I’ve made (especially when compared to things like choosing schools), though it wasn’t easy to give up being able to graduate a semester early. At the same time, some of the classes that I signed up for this semester really opened my eyes as to what I wanted to do in computer science.
I knew as I progressed through some of the electrical engineering courses I was required to take that computer programming would for sure be the main focus that I would look for in my career pursuits, though I figured that the electrical engineering classes would be interesting enough to broaden my skills to encompass jobs that had significant hardware components while remaining heavy on the programming. That viewpoint changed when I enrolled in CSCE 462 (Microcomputer Systems) and ECEN 454 (Digital Integrated Circuit Design). These classes really forced me to realize how disinterested I was in the deeper hardware aspects of computer science and engineering, and that the best path for me to improve my skills as a programmer and developer would be to take more programming courses.
To this effect, I Q-dropped CSCE 462 near the beginning of October; though I had done well in the labs up to that point, I knew that I was thoroughly unprepared for the first test and I felt like I did not have the ability to devote a significan a hardware-focused group project when I already had a group project in CSCE 315 to contribute to along with research to work on. As for ECEN 454, I figured I could do well enough on the labs and homeworks then stay above the class average to beat the curve (I succeeded in beating the class average on the first exam, though whether I can do that again remains uncertain). Fortunately for me, I already planned on taking a more programming-heavy CECN curriculum, so I didn’t have to add too many classes to my revised degree plan.
Other than my switch to Computer Science, my academics have been going about as expected. While my sleep schedule is still pretty skewed towards the later hours, I have yet to pull an all-nighter this semester, so that’s a relief. I’ve just registered for my courses and my planned schedule right now looks like what I would’ve signed up for if I was still a computer engineering major (though my senior year schedule will deviate pretty significantly).
I could probably devote a whole post to my search for internships this past semester, so I’ll keep this section short.
To get to the point of this section, I have decided to accept an offer from HomeAway to work as a Software Engineering Intern this summer. I’m really looking forward to working with them, getting my first taste of coding in the workplace, and learning a whole lot in the process. While I have managed to keep my summers productive, it feels pretty good to finally get an internship and gain experience directly related to my career goals. When I find the time I’ll get to writing another blog post about my experiences interviewing for internships (this sounds like the kind of thing that people like to blog about on Medium, but I’ll stick to blogging on my personal website - it needs more content anyways). (*)
A couple weeks back I gave a presentation to my research group on the paper Achieving Open Vocabulary Neural Machine Translation with Hybrid Word-Character Models. As someone who is particularly interested in learning foreign languages, I was fascinated by what this work achieved and how it happened, though the deeper theory underlying how the model actually works is a little over my head right now. Nevertheless, I read into the paper and tried explaining it to the best of my ability, though I figure that any of the grad students in the audience would have done a better job communicating the information. The slides I developed to give this presentation can be found here.
As for my Undergraduate Research Scholars project, I’m working on the classification of generic expressions using neural networks. My planned model for a neural network includes a step utilizing word embeddings derived from other models such as word2vec to add semantic information to the syntactic information used in previous models to determine whether or not a given expression is generic or not. The bulk of my work will be done over winter break, when I have a month to devote the majority of my time to coding.
Overall things are going well, though I’m definitely looking forward to winter break. Thanksgiving break will be nice, though that just means that when I get back, finals season will be in full swing. Regardless, the rest of this academic year will be quite interesting (and also quite busy!)
(*) Feburary 11, 2017 EDIT: My internship situation has changed for the summer; I will definitely blog about this at some future point when I’m less busy with school.