During this summer I worked on my personal laptop and on the desktop computer located in the Penn State lab affiliated with my research adviser. I utilized Twitter data provided by the Department of Geography and visualized it in the Unity Engine. I programmed and placed the tweets on a rotating globe, before proceeding to make the tweet points interactive to display the tweet and their specific environment.
Personally, this experience was particularly important to me because it was my first experience designing my own research project. In the summers that followed my freshman and sophomore years here at Penn State, I was an undergraduate research assistant for the University of Hawaii and Penn State. I was able to learn about different types of research and explore various future career options. After participating in other projects, I began to generate ideas for research projects that I wanted to conduct. The SEN grant gave me the opportunity for an experience that very few undergraduates are able to have. With my project, integrating social media in immersive virtual environments is further explored as a means of augmenting user experience. Through this research, the Chorophronesis lab was able to observe how they could combine social media data and virtual reality for awareness of emergency crises, communicating about climate change, etc.
In the College of IST, specifically in the Design and Development option of the IST major, we have a solid course load of programming classes, ranging from beginner to advanced. We learn the basics of object-oriented programming and then take upper level classes that expand our skills. We also are required to take at least 1 studio class, in which we have the opportunity to design and create an application of our choice. Because of this foundation, I was able to quickly pick up C# very quickly in my research last summer and this past summer. My existing experience with object-oriented programming prepared me extremely well for the programming that this project required of me.
Through this experience, I came to realize that although it was unforgettable and challenging, I no longer believed that doing research for a future career was something that I wanted to do. However, I was able to further expand on my time management skills and learn to set weekly goals. This experience was truly an experience of personal reflection. I acquired new technical expertise, while learning how to work and communicate with a team that included only graduate students and professors. This experience exposed me to doing technical work in a more professional atmosphere versus what I had been doing in my academic setting. I came to realize in this experience that I enjoyed programming above all else. Because of this experience, I hope to attain a full-time job at a company as a software developer that works with large amounts of data to improve user experience.