Summer at Olin 2021

Here at Olin, we have a group of about 60 students on campus this summer doing research and supporting different offices in a variety of ways. For many of these students, this is their first summer as an Oliner. I got the chance to interview three of these rising sophomores. Below, you can hear about the amazing work that each of them and their teams are doing this summer! 

Jaclyn and her team this summer

Jaclyn Ho (she/her ‘24) is working with Professor Yevgeniya Zastavker (Zhenya) on a project centered around “game-based learning.” 

Northeastern University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), and Olin are working on developing an application called “GeoExplorer.” It is meant to teach students about Cone Penetration Tests (CPT) by allowing them to run simulated CPT on a virtual landscape. GeoExplorer aims to be a cheaper and more accessible way of giving students experience with CPT. 

In this project, Olin’s research team is responsible for analyzing the effectiveness of GeoExplorer by conducting interviews with students who used the app as a part of their studies. Ultimately, they want to figure out whether or not it aided students’ learning. Jaclyn and the other student members of the team take notes during those interviews then use that and other data collected to compile it all into narrative and comparative memos. 

Jaclyn was drawn to this research because she has always been interested in psychology and gaming. The interview subjects, “open their world up to you. It’s like reading a book.” After that, it is “like a puzzle,” analyzing their responses, trying to find any links, and drawing meaningful conclusions. She plans to continue with this research during the year, building off of the summer work to write full academic papers as a part of a larger team. 

Sofia and her team on a boat in Maine

Sofia Goldberg (she/her ‘24) is working with Professor Jeff Dusek on the Olin College Aquaculture Profiler (OCAP) team. 

The team’s goal is to make a moored profiler for use in the aquaculture industry. Their moored profiler would be deployed in or near an aquaculture pen and “sample the water column to monitor water conditions and fish health.” The data collected by their device could be used by farmers and researchers to better understand the effects of aquaculture and take better care of the fish. They hope to create a device that is able to be attached to an existing infrastructure. 

Sofia gets her hands dirty with the mechanical aspects of the project. She has had a big part in making the prototype body for the profiler. That body houses the electronics and is used to test thrusters, rope guide mechanisms, and buoyancy, among other things. For Sofia, this research project has been a great way of developing her mechanical fabrication and design skills as well as gaining more experience working on a fixed team. For most first-year courses, team groupings change from project to project, which each only last a couple of weeks. Sofia has enjoyed having a stable group to work with every day and feels that she is learning a lot as a result. 

The POSE Team at Olin

Grant Goodall (he/him ‘24) is working on a brand-new project called the Pre-Orientation Summer Experience, or POSE. 

POSE is a huge undertaking involving many staff and faculty members from many different departments. The overall goal of the project is to make sure that the incoming class of first-years has an easy time adjusting to college life and specifically, life at Olin. 

The pandemic has made the need for POSE more important than ever due to the fact that students around the world had their high school instruction disrupted. This class will help bridge the gap from remote-learning in a high school setting to on-campus, in-person college classes while living away from home. 

To help with the transition, the POSE team is helping students that elect into the program with some academics. They will be reinforcing core physics and math, as well as introducing them to the Olin culture. 

Olin “has an extremely strong methodology for teaching.” As a part of the initiative, Grant and the other members of the team took a week to learn about pedagogy, education theory, and Olin specific methodology. Using what they learned, the POSE team is constantly developing and then delivering the program. For Grant, “being able to lessen that “culture shock” if even just for a chunk for the incoming class feels good,” and is the most exciting part of the project for him. After this experience, he is excited to meet the incoming class in person with the start of the fall semester.

Jaclyn, Sof, and Grant have gotten the opportunity to be a part of such great work in their very first summer. As an Oliner, having only a year of school under your belt doesn’t preclude you from internship, research, or job opportunities. These are not the only opportunities for students on campus. Other students are doing things such as website development for professors or working for the Post-Graduate Planning or Marketing and Communication offices. While summer is an exciting time to be at Olin, the fall semester is fast approaching, and I can’t wait to see everyone in the fall!

Posted in: Life @ Olin; From the Staff