It’s hard to believe it’s already my third year in college. I think it’s because each semester, classes and the activities a student participates in change enough that college seems a like a whole new world, and by the time the student gets used to the new experiences, the semester is over! I know this semester looks a lot different for me, in a great way. Intellectually stimulating classes, crossroads in my career path, and potential for personal achievement abound!
On my academic slate this semester, I have EE450 (Computer Networks), CSCI 303 (Design and Analysis of Algorithms), CSCI 460 (Introduction to Artificial Intelligence), EE 328 (Analogue Circuits for Computer Engineers), and ITP 125 (Introduction to Information Security). I won’t spend too much time on each class, but I’ve got to mention how cool Computer Networks has been. In just three weeks, we’ve already gone over the entire structure of the Internet, a fascinating topic. Also, for the mischief loving Trojans out there, Introduction to Information Security has provided some fun little pranks you can play on friends. For example, you can set your friend’s laptop to go to bing.com any time they try to go to google.com! Of course, the class on a whole is about keeping computers secure and how hacking works, but it’s useful to see how simple it is to mess with a system and thus why computer security is so important.
And speaking of computer security (I hope you realize what a great transition I just set up), that is exactly what my research is about! I have built a tool that analyzes a piece of malware code and tries to predict something about its author, i.e. nationality or programming experience. Now that the tool is all finished (minus some refinements), my research has entered a new phase in which I have to do formal analysis and write an academic paper on it! It’s a mountainous task, but is extremely exciting since the goal is to have a completed paper by the end of the semester. Luckily, I have Viterbi’s extremely supportive staff at my back. In addition to the professor that I work directly under, my AI professor also has graciously met with me and given me advice. A lot of work remains ahead, but stay tuned for the final product!
In addition to my research, I’ve taken on another personal project that has some exciting prospects. Another brother in my fraternity has been working on a start up business called Sustainable Microfarms, and I’ve been asked to develop an Android application. Basically he will be selling automated small-scale farm units that will make it really easy for families to grow their own soilless, pesticide free vegetables at home, and the application would basically make it even easier for people to interact with the system. I’ve never developed an app before, so it’s a huge learning process, but hey, that’s what college is for! It’s also extremely exciting to be part of the amazing tech start-up movement in Los Angeles (if you didn’t know, some observers have started nicknaming the area “Silicon Beach”- read about it here).
And as always, there’s my fun involvement side. Asides from joining the newly formed Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) chapter at USC, I’ve been as busy as ever being the president of my fraternity, Theta Xi. Greek life is an excellent way to hone your leadership skills, but as they say, no pain, no gain. It’s a tough job, as is leading any student org, whether it be an intramural team, an academic club, or an outreach organization.
Well, that’s about it for me. If you haven’t been following Trojan football, you should! Our team is amazing to watch. Most of my house (which has 45 people living here) is actually empty now, because anyone that’s not sick is on their way to the bay area for the USC/Stanford football game!