My Potential to Contribute

UC welcomes the contributions each student brings to the campus learning community. This question seeks to determine an applicant’s academic or creative interests and potential to contribute to the vitality of the University.

Question: Tell us about a talent, experience, contribution or personal quality you will bring to the University of California.

My personal interests range from physics and math to the martial arts, but I would particularly like to address my interest in robotics and creative design. This interest alone has enhanced my creativity and problem solving skills, to the extent that others now seek me out as a capable problem solver. I also work well alone, and have come up with some of my best creations in this way. My entire life, I have always been interested in building things, from creating towers by stacking creamer cups in restaurants to building vast Lego structures and vehicles. Legos have always especially interested me, as the toy’s many parts and combinations allow for the creation of almost any building or vehicle. I first stumbled upon Lego Mindstorms – a system that allows for the creation and programming of robots entirely using Lego parts – in middle school. Ever since I received my first set for Christmas, I have been creating robots and machines that surpassed anything I have ever built before. In fact, I’ve progressed to the point where I seek out and purchase specific sensor and motor parts to enhance my collection and allow for more capable creations. One problem I’ve faced in this process is that my first RCX, a programmable micro brick that acts as the “brain” of the robots, was damaged beyond repair in a submarine accident. This occurred when I built a submarine that was supposed to fall to the bottom of a body of water, release a weight with a magnet, and rise to the surface again. During the first test, however, the submarine leaked due to increased water pressure at a greater depth, and the submarine failed to rise, soaking the electronic pieces. This mishap didn’t stop me for long, however, and soon I was creating more capable robots than ever before, due to a new touch sensor, temperature sensor, and rotation sensor that I bought along with a new RCX. One creation of which I am particularly proud is an aerial tram I built a few months ago. Originally, the purpose of this tram was to travel to different locations around my neighborhood and take temperatures with my newly acquired temperature sensor. The tram would travel along this string path until a touch sensor on the front end of the tram sensed the end of the string, at which time the tram would stop, take the temperature, and turn back. I soon faced two problems with my plan. The first problem the tram faced was that it could easily get stuck on steep inclines. I solved this problem by adding a rotation sensor that would be able to tell when the tram was slipping on the string, letting the tram know it should turn back because it wasn’t getting anywhere. The next problem was that of attaching a string from my balcony to a street light. To do this, I threw a ball with the string attached to it over the street light, tied the string back to itself, and attached a clip at the knot so that the touch sensor on the tram could easily sense this joint. These solutions worked wonderfully, and the tram was eventually able to reach a faraway street light and return to my balcony without mishap. I believe that my experiences in robotic creation will enable me to contribute to the University, greatly enhancing my problem solving skills and helping me better deal with inopportune circumstances. I plan to continue my creative journey at the UC campus I attend, contributing to this campus in a positive way as I learn the technical skills required to create solutions to “real-world” problems.

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