Junior Year Goes By

By Eric Lam on Sunday, May 22, 2016

My third year at RPI has been such an amazing year. Though it was super busy, it was also extremely fun.

The Fall 2015 semester had my junior year off to a running start between ballroom, classes, and friends. Though it was only an 18-credit semester (the fewest credits I've had since my first semester), I took six courses. Let's see the highlights:

  • Digital Signals Processing - Not a terribly fun course, but I definitely learned a lot that was useful and interesting.
  • Introduction to Engineering Design - So much work but my group mates and I pushed right on through.
  • Machine Learning - What a rigorous course, but so amazing. It was one of the most fun courses I've taken ever.
  • Distributed Systems - It was incredibly interesting to learn about the theory behind what we can and cannot do in distributed systems and how we can accomplish certain things.
  • Professional Development II - Yay, it's done!
  • Engineering Processes - I have finally learned how to use a Mill and a Lathe, making a small train.
On top of classes and coursework, I started as Membership Chair for UPE, the local computing honor society. I helped organize Induction as well as the Student-Professor dinner. And of course I continued on as Vice President of Ballroom/Latin for the Ballroom Club, also taking on the role of Competition Coordinator, learning the ropes for how to run our ballroom dance competition. I had gotten internship offers from multiple companies, having to make a hard decision to work for Microsoft in Seattle over the summer (I cannot wait!).

Spring 2016 offered a much lighter course load.

  • Introduction to Image Processing - What an amazing course. So many times we did "simple" operations on images that blew me away (sharpening images was cool, but then things got more complicated and even cooler as the course went on).
  • Database Systems - I feel comfortable with how to properly use a database and cannot wait to use that skill (watch out Ballroom website!)
  • Programming Languages - Tough at times, but now I understand some of the magic behind compilers and different programming language concepts.
  • Introduction to Artificial Intelligence - I have had better courses. At least I learned A*.
I organized another Induction for UPE on top of the course load, but the biggest thing was organizing the ballroom competition.

For many years RPI has hosted a Ballroom Dance Competition. Competitors from all around come to our competition and dance at different levels. It was my job to get officials, invite other teams, get all sorts of paperwork done, get supplies organized... the list goes on. I would not have been able to do it alone if not for my team, especially my dance partner Karen, RPI Ballroom's president this last semester. In the end, the competition not only ran well, but it was a ton of fun and we had over a hundred competitors from schools such as Boston University, Holy Cross, RIT, UVM, UMass Amherst, and Stony Brook.

Of course this leads into my ballroom career. I have definitely become more serious and competitive over this last year, training hard with my dance partner, Karen Baltazar. We have improved so much over this last year, it's simply amazing. Of course, I must thank our coaches Jennifer Volpe and Blaise Hartley for all of their help. I love dancing and I am glad that they help me get every ounce I can out of it. And of course, I must give so much love to my partner, Karen, who deals with my weirdness on a daily basis. Wonderfully (sadly?), she will be on co-op next semester at Hasbro, but we will still make time to dance, train, and even compete. Good luck and have a blast, Karen!

Here's to a great summer in Seattle and a wonderful next year!