We are engaged in and affected by group decision-making every day. Senior executives meeting to decide the future direction of a company, members of a jury trying to decide on the conviction of a potential felon, or groups of friends trying to decide which party to attend on a Saturday night. All of these situations are affected by social status, subjective respect, formal social structures, and personal beliefs; but sometimes these factors lead decision-makers to irrational conclusions. In the case of executives at a company or jurors deciding on a case, the consequences of an irrational decision could result in the wrong conviction of an innocent person or millions of dollars in losses for the company.
In summer of 2015 I participated in a program called Washington Internship for Students of Engineering. I was sponsored by IEEE-USA to live in Washington DC for two months and write a paper on a topic of my interest related to engineering and policy. Because I’m interested in the Social Sciences, I chose to focus on operating procedures of USAID: the primary government organization for international development. This is an area which may be more closely associated with engineering management or business, but it provided a good transition project for me coming from an electrical engineering background. While I was in DC I was able to attend numerous events by the Washington Chapter of the Society for International Development. Because I’m new to the world of international development, the ability to meet with and learn from experts was instrumental in my ability to complete this paper. As a future social science researcher I found international development to be a really fascinating topic, and I hope that at some point I can get involved with this kind of research again!
This presentation and paper were the result of my work in DC that summer. You can also find papers written by other WISE interns on the WISE Journal of Engineering and Public Policy.
My group and I worked with Dr. Matthew Thimgan in the Missouri S&T biology department to create a light stimulation apparatus to support sleep research on drosophila flies. The apparatus stimulates electrical channels in a genetically modified fly to induce sleep, a type of research called optogenetics. In addition, we also created a humidity measurement apparatus to ensure the flies are breeding in an environment that is not too dry.
One of my most exciting research experiences at Missouri S&T was getting to fly aboard NASA’s Weightless Wonder (also known as the Vomit Comet) to test Active Compression-Decompression CPR for long-term space travel. For three years I was on a team called Miners in Space where we would design and propose an experiment to the NASA Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program. We were accepted into the program three times, and I flew aboard the Weightless Wonder for two of those years. We successfully demonstrated that this form of CPR could in fact be used on a spacecraft if the need arose. I created an outreach program that reached over one thousand students in five states each of the three years that I was on the team. I also performed electrical engineering design and fabrication, post-experiment data analysis, and helped write the proposals, safety reports, and final reports every year.
I performed EEG research as part of the Missouri S&T program Opportunities for Undergraduate Research Experiences (OURE). I worked with Dr. Donald C. Wunsch and the Missouri S&T Applied Computational Intelligence Laboratory for this project exploring the possibility of using wavelet or convolution neural networks for motor-imagery classification. These types of neural networks are becoming very popular in image analysis for object tagging or facial recognition, so I though to apply them to the challenging problem of the EEG brain-control interface. In the end, these algorithms did not perform better than the best work out there, but I provided a few ideas I had moving forward with this approach.