I will, in the upcomming months, change the content of my website to include more of my outdoor activities. I want to transition my site into something similar to Brice Pollock‘s web site, which showcases both his personal and professional sides.

Reflecting upon the past 10 months I have spent in California, I have been to and seen many experiences that I would like to document and share with the rest of the world. Stay tuned for upcomming updates on:

  • Yosemite
  • Castle Rock
  • Los Angeles
  • Las Vegas
“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” Soren Kierkegaard

It has been a while since I have posted. I figured it would be time to talk about my 2015 resolutions and update everyone on how my 2014 goals went.

The Past

These are the goals I had laid out for myself in 2014. I managed to complete most of them!

  • Graduate!
  • Determine where I will be in September 2014. Hopefully I will be starting my Masters/PhD, or working in company where I truly enjoy my work.
  • Reconnect with my high school friends. It is time to start networking. As most of us have graduated or will be approaching graduation, it will be nice to get back in touch with my friends and see what their plans, goals and career aspirations are for the next 5 to 10 years.
  • Continue developing and improving my website. Spend a minimum of 2 hours improving the site or writing tutorials per month, with a minimum of one blog post every 2 months. This one did not happen. I’m not happy with the progress of the site, I was hoping to have more content up, and a better design by now. I’ve not prioritized it as highly as I originally planned, and don’t foresee myself putting major time to develop it at the moment.
  • Complete 2 puzzles of 1000 pieces or more This one surprisingly worked out well. I started to stress during Nov/Dec, so completing the second puzzle gave me a chance to relax and spend some time alone with myself.
  • Read 5 new books before the end of the year Also did not happen. I’ve managed to finish two during my summer travels, but I did not reach my goal of 5.
  • Increase website traffic to 5 recurring and 1-2 new users per month Hard to define. I’ve got new traffic, but I guess without new content and posts there is no incentive for you readers to visit monthly 🙁 I will try to improve this point for 2015.
The Present

I am currently pursuing my PhD in Electrical Engineering at Stanford University. I’ve changed focus since arriving at Stanford, taking more courses with focus in biomedical and medical devices. Last quarter I look a Light in Biology course, which covered all sorts of microscopy techniques from simple bright-field to super-resolution (FRET) and two-photon fluorescence imaging. This quarter I am taking the Biodesign Innovation course which is a collaboration between engineers, medical students, and business students to work collectively on designing a medical technology, from the needs finding stage to brainstorming and prototyping. The second course I am taking is on bio-chips and nano-medicine.

The Future

I’m looking forward to the next few years. I think they will be the best and most interesting years of my life here at Stanford. The number of motivated people is amazing. Everyone is driven, and looking for the next big start-up idea. The connections I make over the next few years will be pivotal in my life.

Goals of 2015

By announcing my goals of 2014 publicly, I hope to be able to keep true to them. It will serve as a constant reminder to myself about my goals and keep me in line and focused towards achieving them.

  • Keep expanding my knowledge in medicine. One thing I was not able to focus on in undergrad is medical aspects of engineering (eg. medical imaging) because the facilities (hospital) was not there. Now that Stanford Hospital is across the street from my department, I hope to take courses, collaborate, and network.
  • Stay in touch with my undergraduate friends. We are all in awesome places now (some in graduate school, others working) and each one has their own expertise and areas of interest. I would like to keep in touch to know their interests, locations, goals, as the years progress. I will make it a goal to talk to (call/chat) at least two friends a month, and at least 15 different people over the year.
  • Complete my newest 2000 piece puzzles.
  • Complete the website. I want to create a travel/photo section, EE Quals, and other thoughts on my mind before I forget them, so that I have a permanent record in the future.

In the same theme as last years post, I will leave you with a picture of the current puzzle I’m working on. I got started over the break, and hope to complete it soon. Can you guess what it is?

 

Today I found a prime number!
9155 · 2^1311239 + 1 is prime, and is 394 727 digits long. It enters the database as the 2036 largest prime known to date.

In my efforts to meet my goal for posting 6 articles this year, I will write about idle computing. PrimeGrid, which I used to find the prime, uses the idle computing time on your CPU to look for the next largest prime.

My original interests in idle computing started with the World Community Grid back in March 2012. One of my friends introduced it to me, pointing out that most computers around the world are never used to their full capacity. World Community Grid (WCG) harvests that idle computing power in search for more effective treatments for cancer, HIV/AIDS and neglected tropical diseases. The way it works is that research teams around the world submit their project to WCG, and WCG distributes bits and pieces of the project to volunteer hosts around the world. Each host is given a piece of the puzzle to work on, called a work unit. Most of the time these work units take anywhere between 10 minutes to 10 days to complete. When the host completes a work unit, the host will announce it to WCG and returns the result and is issued a new work unit. You may wonder: How can you trust that it is good work? Well, initially WCG actually issues two copies of the work to it’s users and compares the results obtained. Once the host passes the test; that is, it returns results that are properly computed, then it is moved into the trusted section and less verification is required. It will still randomly check certain work units for accuracy; and also to compare it against new hosts joining the grid.

My reason for starting WCG was because my computer was on for the vast majority of the day already, mining bitcoins with my GPU. Hence I figured that I should but my CPU to use also. It is important to note that while it making use of idle computing power, running WCG will increase the power consumption, and generate a lot of heat. Living in Canada, the generated heat is welcomed during the winter months; and using power to compute problems while generating heat is a better idea then simply using an electric heater to heat the house. Usually I scale down or stop computing over the summer months as it is too hot to be generating extra heat!

I stayed loyal to WCG for over a year; donating over 5 CPU-years towards various projects that I deemed worthy, such as AIDS and malaria, which each got 1 a little over a year of computation. Note that the computation time is calculated per CPU – hence a quad core can provide 4 CPU years in a regular year if left on all year. In early 2013, the project pool diminished significantly, as most projects were completed in late 2012. I could not justify computing for the other available projects, so I started my search for other projects worthy of my CPU time. I tried different projects until I discovered PrimeGrid. Since then, I have mostly redirected my computing power towards finding new prime numbers. After breaking for summer, I found my first prime in December 2013, and the second one in March 2014. Today marks the day which I found my third prime number!

 

Image taken from http://wall4all.me/wallpaper/1011299-Matrix-binary-black-background-numbers

It has been a while since I’ve posted an update; so I decided today that it was time to let you know what I’ve been up to.

I would first like to announce that I accepted my offer of admission to Stanford to complete my PhD in Electrical Engineering. The process of applying to graduate school is daunting; needing to balance school work to maintain the grades, performing research and obtaining publications as well as good reference letters, all while completing the application, essays, and studying for the GRE. It was a stressful period for me; I cut my ties with many organisations I used to support and be part of, I quit the amazing start-up I had joined a few months prior, and I stopped my involvement with many extra-curricular activities. This happened gradually between October and January, after sending off waves after waves of applications in November and December. During that time, I felt like I might have been burnt out, but thanks to my supportive friends I pushed forward everyday. Looking back on those dark times, I wonder if I would have been diagnosed with depression.

Eventually good news arrived, and broke the mental chains that had me enslaved. I remember the day clearly. It was a cold, snowy day in the middle of February when I heard back from Stanford. It was late in the evening, and I had just finished a long day, and I was standing under the bus shelter waiting to go home. I heard my phone go off-I had a new message. I opened it, and to my surprise, the subject read: Stanford Electrical Engineering – Michael Leung. My heart began to pound, and I quickly opened the message:

The Graduate Admissions Committee has reviewed your application to the Electrical Engineering department at Stanford University. Please see the attached document for their admissions decision regarding your application.

At that point the bus had arrived, so I hoped on the bus, and sat down. I wasn’t sure what to expect: Was it the dreadful rejection letter I feared? Was I admitted to PhD or Masters program? Was I admitted with a fellowship or without funding? At that point I decided that whatever the outcome; it didn’t matter. I had done my best, wouldn’t have done anything differently, and was proud of it. To my great surprise it was an admission to the PhD program. I sent a quick text to my best friends to let them know of the news, and got off the bus at the next stop so I could call my parents. I knew I had a cold long walk ahead, but it seemed insignificant at the time. As soon as I got off the bus, I called my parents to tell them the news. At first, they did not believe me; after all, I had only briefly mentioned the idea of going to the States; without mentioning specific universities in mind. After that, I was questioned about how I was able to get into the PhD program without having completed my masters. Anyhow, they where proud and happy that I got in where I hoped for; and told me to keep working hard at school. I had an urge to cry; let my emotions run free. After hanging up, I hurried home and quickly wrote a thank you letter to my referees for their support and to let them know of the outcome of my admission. I was relieved. All this pressure that I hag built up in the past months was finally let free, and my worries disappeared. I now knew where I was headed in the fall.

A few weeks later, I had the chance to visit Stanford during the Admit Days, and that further confirmed that it was the right school for me.

Today, I stumbled upon an interesting article from Stanford Engineering that reflects strongly upon my views, and that I urge you all to read. It has been the inspiration of my post today. I’ve been a supporter of open. Open source is the way I believe that the world should progress towards. Arduino, RepRap and Python are just some examples of free, open source hardware and software that are available to everyone.

Most recently, there has been a shift in education also, going towards an open community. I believe it started with Wikipedia, and then Khan Academy. Sal Khan, from Khan Academy got the ball rolling on free education by offering video lectures and classes online, for free, available through his Youtube account. Then in 2011, the first major event occurred, with the offering of three online courses: Introduction to Artificial Intelligence (www.ai-class.com), Introduction to Machine Learning (www.ml-class.com) and Introduction to Databases (www.db-class.com). Luckily for me, I was on a co-op term, and thus had spare time during the weeknights and weekends to dedicate in completing the Intro to AI class, which I finished with high distinction. It was an interesting class, which led me to taking more classes in AI and Robotics, such as CS373 Artificial Intelligence for Robotics when I heard Professor Sebastian Thrun was teaching it. These massive online open courses, known as MOOC, have drastically changed my career goals when I realised how cool it was. This led me to take SYDE556 this term, which I am loving so far. Here is just a short example of what it can do. Hopefully by the end of this course I will have also developed my own smart machine that is able to achieve similar results!

The second point mentioned in the article is on 3D printing. More on that later 🙂

On a personal note, I finished the puzzle! That was much faster than I anticipated. Today I went and got a 4000 piece puzzle. Hopefully it takes my longer to solve then the last one!

“Life is like a puzzle. You don’t know what the big picture is, but every day you solve one more piece. Only at the end will you understand.”

It has been a goal of mine for quite sometime now to create my own website and to blog about my various interests.

The Past

I first started an investment blog in 2012 where I talked about the stock market, companies, and also educative topics such as share structures, bonds, investment strategies and tax efficient investing with various registered accounts. It was an interesting learning experience, as it allowed me to deconstruct complex notions and structures into simple terms the layman could understand. The second thing that I developed was the ability to take a position and defend it. The wonderful advantage of the stock markets is that at the time of your opinion, there is no clear cut right answer; however over the next few months the hypothesis is put to the test and a conclusion can be drawn. It allowed me to look back and see if my positions were correct or erroneous, and try to find out which assumptions or interpretations led to the faulty conclusion. My posts on that blog will diminish over time, as I refocus my writing to this site, my personal web page, and establish my online presence.

The Present

I am currently finishing up my degree in Nanotechnology Engineering, Economics Minor at the University of Waterloo. This term I am taking very interesting courses. For my technical electives, I am taking SYDE556 (Simulating Neurobiological Systems) in which I will be programming neurons, and combining a system of neurons together to form a neural networks, and finishing the course with a project. Speaking of projects, my second technical elective is NE459(Nanotechnology Engineering Project). I will be working with Professor J Yeow working on capacitive micro-machined ultrasound transducers (CMUT). It’s an interesting project for me as I had developed COMSOL simulations for the CMUT in the MEMS course I took at the Technical University of Denmark last year. The ability to actually get hands on experience with this technology and hopefully create a working device will be an interesting challenge that I look forward to. On the elective side, I am taking three ECON courses in order to complete my requirements for my economics minor. They are ECON 301, ECON 361 and ECON 220.

The Future

I’m not sure what the future has in store for me. Hopefully it will be like the puzzle where the further along I go the picture will get clearer. I will be graduating in April, and still have no idea where I will be or what I will be doing at the end of this year. I’m hoping for admission into a PhD at one of the top universities for Electrical Engineering. I have completed my applications in December to 4 of the top 5 universities (in my opinion). As my interests lay in the bio-medical field, I ensured that the university had access to or collaborated with a hospital, as well as professors that where researching in my areas of interest. Second criteria was the emphasis on innovation at that university. The ability to participate and get involved with the start-up community here at Waterloo through Velocity has been spectacular. The knowledge retained through practicing what you learnt, as well as self learning is important for me. While some learn well in the classroom setting, I have discovered that although I develop much faster by using my hands and applying  my knowledge.

Goals of 2014

By announcing my goals of 2014 publicly, I hope to be able to keep true to them. It will serve as a constant reminder to myself about my goals and keep me in line and focused towards achieving them.

  • Graduate!
  • Determine where I will be in September 2014. Hopefully I will be starting my Masters/PhD, or working in company where I truly enjoy my work.
  • Reconnect with my high school friends. It is time to start networking. As most of us have graduated or will be approaching graduation, it will be nice to get back in touch with my friends and see what their plans, goals and career aspirations are for the next 5 to 10 years.
  • Continue developing and improving my website. Spend a minimum of 2 hours improving the site or writing tutorials per month, with a minimum of one blog post every 2 months.
  • Complete 2 puzzles of 1000 pieces or more
  • Read 5 new books before the end of the year
  • Increase website traffic to 5 recurring and 1-2 new users per month

With this I’d like to end by wishing everyone a Happy New Year, and a picture of the current puzzle I’m working on. I got started over the break, and hope to complete it soon. Can you guess what it is?