Freshman Summer: Simulations, Synthesis Reactions, and So-Cal

Jacob Toney Chemical, Jacob, Research, Study, Viterbi Summer Leave a Comment

Hey there everyone! Hope you’ve all been enjoying your time off school, and making the best of your summer! Now that the new school year is right around the corner, I thought it’d be a good time for me to catch you all up on how I spent my past three months, and give you a sense of what a Viterbi Summer is like.

Last day of McCarthy, but my first day of summer!

After heading home, I started out my summer by just having fun at home – hanging out with my family and catching up with friends, going to all my old favorite places around my hometown, seeing some movies, and so on. It was a great way to detox after the stress of finals, and get back into the swing of things back home. I was also lucky enough to be able to see several great concerts, including the final Vans Warped Tour, and visit the annual San Diego Fair.

Me trying to be a cowboy at the San Diego County Fair

A bit later into my break, I started having some serious flashbacks as I accompanied my sister, a rising high school senior, on the trek to visit potential colleges, which took us from San Diego to Northern California, and gave me the opportunity to visit many places I’d never been to before, including the State Capitol.

After a while, though, it was time to get down to business. While I didn’t have an internship this summer, I kept myself busy by continuing to work with the campus research lab I’m a part of. Since my work involves computer modeling and simulations, I was able to keep working on it all throughout the summer. The fact that I wasn’t nearly as busy as during the academic year also afforded me some time to play around with the nuances of the quantum chemistry program we use, and gain a deeper understanding of both the theory and inner workings of the software. Since I was spending plenty of time working on my computer anyway, I decided to increase my own knowledge of coding by completing several online courses in Python, HTML, and CSS – several of which should be helpful in my future as a student and engineer. My most time-intensive and rewarding summer activity, however, was taking Organic Chemistry at a local college in order to clear up some extra space in my course schedule.

Afternoon teatime in Chem Lab

Though definitely at an accelerated rate, this course was both manageable and incredibly interesting, as everything I had learned in the past two semesters of General Chemistry came together and was applied in useful reactions and very practical lab techniques. The class gave me a bit of a warmup before returning to being a full-time student in the Fall, and I came away from it with textbook knowledge and lab experience that will definitely prove useful in my coming science and engineering courses.

As my summer comes to a close, and I’m getting ready to start school again, I’m realizing just how packed my freshman year and summer have been. USC provides no shortage of ways for you to get involved right away, and stay connected over the summer. Though I can’t wait to be back, and I feel more than prepared for my sophomore year, I’m also aware it’ll be difficult. Not because I’m taking one of my major’s most difficult classes (looking at you, thermodynamics), but because I’ll soon be faced with the most challenging task of all: figuring out how to cook for myself in an apartment with 5 other guys.

About the Author

Jacob is a sophomore studying Chemical Engineering. Click above to find out more!

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