My junior year was, by a fairly arbitrary margin, my favorite year at Penn. As someone who hasn’t experienced the charm of senior year yet, please take my opinion with a healthy dose of discretion.
There were three hallmarks to this year and I would like to share them with you!
Semester 1 – Study Abroad
It is rare that I meet someone that genuinely disliked studying abroad. In fact, it is so rare that I haven’t actually met anyone who has disliked it. In the fall semester of my junior year, I attended the University of Edinburgh where I took three CIS courses and a development ECON course.
The British “tutorial” style of teaching resonated really well with my learning style and encouraged me to delve deeper into my courses. The close relationships with my professors along with simply more time (four credits, woo!) helped me explore interesting computer science problems in a way I never ended up doing at Penn.
In terms of “personal” growth, being in a new continent motivated me to travel, learn fun new accents and partake in age-old traditions (like Oktoberfest). If you plan to study abroad in Europe in the fall, you should definitely visit Munich for Oktoberfest. I didn’t know quite what to expect when I planned my trip but by the end I was riding on a fairground roller coaster with a group of festive Wharton MBA students who recognized my Penn T-shirt. I’ve never loved Penn so much!
Semester 2 – Interdisciplinary Education
In the spring semester, I took my favorite course at Penn – Microcontrollers & Embedded Systems (ESE 350) – with fellow M&Ts Patrick W. and Steven X. I developed a strong practical appreciation for the scientific process through this class as I was routinely exposed to problems where the answer was outside my domain of knowledge.
That semester, my friend Aadithya and I built a device, the Braille-O-Matic, that converted digital text into Braille at the pace at which blind people read. We also built a device, the Running Gait Rectifier, which dynamically helps runners prevent injuries by warning them when their metrics at run-time deviated from healthy running standard.
Summer – Startup Experience
Finally, I closed off the year by doing a software development internship at an adaptive learning startup. Being an M&T was extremely valuable here because although I was building the startup’s core products, I was also able to help the team develop pricing strategies, marketing strategies and even partnership opportunities. Being in the startup environment was great for keeping up with tech trends, understanding the foundational components of any (CS) tech-enabled business and, most critically for M&T, understanding how good management helps technology prosper and vice versa.
Hopefully, by this point, I have persuaded you into taking a European holiday, signing up for courses outside your comfort zone and trying something new and exciting! If I haven’t, I’ll make it a priority to do so when we’re back on campus later this month. Can’t wait!
Sunny is a current M&T senior in the Class of 2014 who hails from Parsippany, New Jersey. He studies Computer Science within Penn Engineering and Operations and Information Management in the Wharton School.