The robotic arm moved from side to side, as if waving hello. My friend Tim was running some final tests before the MATE ROV competition, which he had been working towards with his team for months. Together they built a submarine Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) and I had the incredible opportunity to participate! The goal of the competition itself, every year, is to complete a series of tasks underwater and in a limited amount of time. Each year, though, has a general theme that is applied to the competition, such as “fixing the BP oil spill” or “detecting sunken World War II ships”. Although the robot encountered problems before and during the competition, we were pretty successful in our endeavor. Most important, for me, was that the project sparked my interest in computers, robotics, and programming.
I had dabbled in programming before, but seeing my friend control the robotic arm made me realize the various potential applications of programming. Although programming may appear to be nothing more than random characters to those foreign to it, those who look more closely begin to notice a whole new language. Whether it’s C++, Java, or another language, these languages allow people to communicate and interact with computers of all shapes and kinds. Even our phones have to be programmed in order for everything, from calling to surfing the web, to work. Thanks to my programming experience, I can appreciate all the hard work that goes into these transactions, each of which took many people a lot of time and countless lines of code.
Personally, I love using phones as an example because I used a lot of my own programming knowledge to alter my Android smartphone. I chose to customize everything, from file system access, to interface, to general user experience, in order to tailor the technology to my own specifications. Using a process known as rooting, I obtained “root”, or system, access with simple online tools. From there customization can be relatively simple: different versions of the android operating system can be “flashed” or installed onto the device and then themes can be installed. However, I also enjoy the more challenging aspects of the process, such as complex modifications that require “kernel” tweaks and are difficult to install. Though each additional change I make, at this point, is mostly superficial I still revel in the accomplishment.
Through my experiences with Tim and his team, I learned a lot about how much there is to learn from opportunities all around us. Being highly efficacious and fervid about what I plan to make my life calling, I believe that quality education is the basis of every successful professional. This, in combination with an inventive and prolific mind, nurtured to extract the best out its surroundings is certain to create a person with valuable input into his chosen field. Just as it was with us forming a small, closely-knit group that enjoyed discussing personal experiences, the latest technology, and possible projects, I am of the opinion that college will provide me with a similar atmosphere. There, my curiosity and a fervent desire for further personal and professional development will find an outlet in a larger community of like-minded students, where I will be able to learn from both professors and other students. And finally, it is this interaction with great minds that is bound to lead me towards the next revolutionary invention of the modern world.