We're a little crazy, about science!

Posts tagged “education

Day 316: Internships in the pandemic

Distance learning

For those of you not in academia, summertime means we get interns in the lab to learn about how research works in a real-life setting. We typically have them help with things that require basic skills, but lets them see how research really happens. This year, we are doing everything virtually thanks to COVID-19. This is a great thing because it really means we’re doing what we can to stop the spread while still giving students a chance to experience research.

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Day 315: Neural Engineering in a pandemic

pandemic PPE

For the past week or so my PI has been away, so I’ve had the chance to work on other projects from home. Unfortunately he returns this week so I’ve got to switch gears from protests, working from home, and undergrad mentoring back to experiments and experimental setup. As the senior student in the lab, I’ve got a lot of responsibilities.

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Day 314: It’s all part of the act…

Ringleader

Step right up boys and girls! Hurry, hurry to the greatest performance you’ll ever see… Who doesn’t love a good show, right? I mean you get to escape reality for a moment, forget your troubles, and see a whole different world. Unfortunately, once the show is over, it’s business as usual and that can’t happen, not this time. So why are the people in charge doing the same song and dance?

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Day 313: Solid Modeling – Week 3

 

Sketchup planes

This course will all be taught using free software so have no fear, you can do it too! For those just joining us you can find all the posts in this series in the handy Solid modeling for beginners category. For the past two weeks I’ve been going over best practices. The reason is the tools are straightforward to learn, but how we use them is what separates someone who is learning from someone who is a pro. I have had some thoughts about what I wanted to cover this week for that reason, but this week we’re making something and by me we, I mean you! First, let’s do a quick recap of what we’ve learned and we can get started.

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Day 306: Solid Modeling – Week 2

part 18

We’re back again with week 2 of solid modeling for beginners! For those of you just joining in, you can read the introduction (pre-week 1) in this post. You can also find all the posts in this series (including week 1) in the Solid modeling for beginners category. Solid modeling isn’t too difficult, but it does take time and it does mean you need to learn to think about objects in different ways. Week 1 did a great job of introducing this type of thought process and today we’re going to continue from where that left off. Let’s just dive right in!

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Day 299: Solid Modeling – Week 1

Full render

Welcome to solid modeling for beginners! Each week I’ll post some new and exciting things so you can try your hand at solid modeling. It’s easier than it looks to get started and once you do, you’ll be able to create amazing things that you can 3D print, plans to build something really cool, or maybe you just want to create some art! You can do anything you want with solid modeling, that’s the beauty of it! Let’s get started.

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Day 298: A slight delay

Delay

Well today I was planning on posting a quick tutorial for everyone who wanted to learn solid modeling. Have no fear! We’re still going to do it, but that will have to wait to tomorrow. I’ve got a lot going on at the moment and creating a good tutorial from scratch will take a bit of time. What am I doing now? Well, I’m glad you asked. 

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Day 297: Solid modeling classes, free for all!

Teaching online

Luckily teaching my course online makes it easier, not harder!

Today marks the start of my summer class. It’s a small group and while it doesn’t directly have anything to do with brain-machine interfaces (frankly none of my research in the lab does) in the age of commercialized 3D printing knowing how to solid model is an important skill that can be applied to basically anything, yes even brain-machine interfaces! Best of all, you can learn with us for free (software included)!

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Day 295: Back in the lab

whole brain and spinal cord dissected
whole brain and spinal cord dissected

“What do you mean, I look nervous!?”

Well it finally happened. We’re doing experiments again. It’s kind of scary to be honest to be working in a hospital again when the pandemic is going on and we have protests still happening. While I could do without the pandemic, I hope with all my heart that the protests don’t end until the corrupt system that caused them ends first.

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Day 292: Thoughts for the day

CS gas

Yeah, totally justified…

Well would you look at that, Seattle issued a ban on CS (tear) gas for 30 days. Yeah, you read that right, 30 days. Why 30 days? Well if I had to bet, I would bet that is exactly how long it will take before they get more. In other words they ran out. They’ve been using so much CS gas that they ran out of it. I have a lot of thoughts today apparently, so let’s just dive into a small stream of consciousness.

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Day 289: Classes started today

protests

Well today we kick off our summer internship courses. It’s just a little hard given everything that is going on in the background, but here we are. It’s tough all around for the black and minority communities, but as an institution we press on to teach. I’m still disheartened that we can’t even pause in a moment of turmoil like this, but institutions like this are part of the system so they can’t meaningfully acknowledge what is going on.

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Day 279: Juggling (a lot of) tasks

task juggling

Since the pandemic hit I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on what I’m doing in school and things that I need to finish. Turns out I’m juggling a lot. I’ve touched on this before in other posts that I have a lot going on, but it never really hit me until recently that I have all these things and none of them seem to be ending. It’s kind of frustrating and extremely anxiety inducing.

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Day 278: Teaching… virtually

virtual teaching

We are about to start the big summer internship program at school. I’m actually kind of excited about it. I enjoy teaching and mentoring and this is just as much a chance for me to learn as for the people I work with. However, this year we are doing it all virtually, so there are some growing pains and a lot of challenges that come along with this. Let’s look at what I will be teaching this year and how I’m going to deal with the need to teach virtually.

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Day 275: Summer Mentorship

planting a tree

It’s summer, so we’re taking a break from my DI…why?! series to talk about my favorite thing about working over the summer. We get to do mentoring! As you may recall, mentoring is my favorite part of the job. Over the summer we get students from high school, international students, as well as undergrad students from all over the place to visit our little lab.

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Day 270: The to-do list

transam

When I say I lived in my car, I really did. This was my 84 trans am, I bought it for $600 after I got out of the military and immediately drove it cross country (like >3,000 miles). It doesn’t look like much, but it kept me dry when it rained and I absolutely loved it.

Well I’m making a list… and checking it… twice? Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. Well here we are at the precipice of something interesting. I want to show everyone that you can have a life and a PhD at the same time. Or in my case a hobby or two, maybe not a life, I don’t have one of those, but that wasn’t because of the PhD. Anywho I digress. Buying a home is a lot like buying a used car and today I will explain why!

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Day 269: A preview of the weeks ahead

two old school box style robots on a table near the beach looking at the water in the distance
two old school box style robots on a table near the beach looking at the water in the distance

Robots don’t need to social distance, but we do, so no beach trips for me this summer.

Well we’ve officially transitioned to the spring/summer break. Since I am doing my own little 365 days of academia challenge, it’s important to point out that there will most likely be a marked change in the content. So let’s look at what we’ve done to this point and what will be coming up! I’m excited, are you excited? I’m excited!

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Day 267: The problem with exams

test anxiety

I like to take my anti anxiety medication with a light snack thirty minutes before the exam. That way I get the full effect from the meds at about 30 minutes into the exam. The effects don’t last long enough to make it the entire exam, so I split the difference and this gives me the best result since I can’t stop half way and take more. Unfortunately, they don’t help, they never really do. I feel jittery, like I had too much coffee. I can’t remember the things I need to know and screw up even the simplest parts of the exam because I’m more focused on keeping my heart from exploding out of my chest!

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Day 266: Pandemic research pressure

Pandemic

Think of research like the post office, nor rain, nor sleet, nor snow, nor pandemic, we will be there working. My dumbass had to make the transition from design to human experimenting the year before a pandemic. I could be safely at home designing cool robots in solidworks, but no we need to collect human subject data and despite the pandemic, I’m feeling the pressure.

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Day 265: The lazy goals

prototyping a microcontroller on a breadboard. Random bits of wires can be seen around the black table.

prototyping a microcontroller on a breadboard. Random bits of wires can be seen around the black table.

A “for fun” prototyping project, I thought would be appropriate cover art for the topic at hand.

It’s the end of the term for me. This will be the end of the second year of my PhD program, we have officially started the big countdown to the end of 365 days with (depending on how you want to count) 100 days left, and despite the pandemic, I am making my lazy goals. Mental health is important and my lazy goals help with that, I’ve mentioned lazy goals before, but let’s talk about it in detail.

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Day 264: Summer Research

EEG cap

Pay no attention to my messy desk… instead look at the cool EEG cap I set up.

It’s supposed to be a busy summer for me. With the pandemic going on, I’m not sure how that will play out. Since we don’t know yet, let’s talk about how it was planned and then we can discuss how that changed thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. This may be bad as far as my research timeline… maybe.

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Day 263: The Reliable Narrator Fallacy

tell tale heart

True! –nervous –very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses –not destroyed –not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily –how calmly I can tell you the whole story.

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Day 262: A Brief Repose

Legion

A project from a few winters ago in my old home. My workshop was so organized!

A friend once described me as, “a maker if there ever was one.” If you ask me, he was being overly kind, but it’s true I enjoy making things. I’m always looking to learn new skills or sharpen old ones. In fact, I’m taking up some “light” woodworking over the summer to do some custom pieces for my home. It will be a fun task, if not a bit tedious and time consuming. I have a list of projects you see, but not a lot of time to do them.

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Day 261: On Being a Mentor

Tree

One of the many hats I wear as a PhD candidate is my mentor hat. It’s probably one of my favorite jobs and I get to work with some truly brilliant people from all types of backgrounds. I’ve had the chance to mentor a small handful of people and I always look forward to learning from them and through our interactions, in that sense, it’s a mutually beneficial relationship.

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Day 260: The thing about endings

The end

…and thus our mighty hero slay the beast and rode off into the sunset to live happily ever after. But why? Have you ever really thought about the way some stories choose their endings? Our hero goes through live altering and extremely daunting challenges only to brush it off like he caught the wrong bus. Pardon me, but what the actual fuck?

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