In 2019 my goal was to become more adventurous and explore. At this point last year (1/1/2019) I was in my last semester of undergrad and was incredibly nostalgiac of my time at Champaign-Urbana, so I had decided to invest more time in friendships and grow a bit more as a person.
In previous years my goals were more technically-oriented or concrete, such as “complete x project for my professor” or “set timers for studying”. While I do not remotely regret the technical experience I gained from research and work, I wanted to try focusing in more non-technical ways as well. Having finished/finishing up undergrad, I didn’t feel full-time pressure to “be a student” and learn. 2019 was a good a time as any to explore non-technical growth.
While I find any vague New Year’s Resolution to be failure-prone, here still are some things I did to “become more adventurous” in no particular order:
- Went to several SoFars at school
- Spring break roadtrip from Denver to Las Vegas
- TA’d for a class (ECE411) at school
- This helped my technical knowledge since the best way to learn is to teach, but also helped me learn social skills such as patience or concise explanations
- Started snowboarding (though still very bad at it)
- Playing tabletop games such as DnD
- Organized several events and parties with friends
- Camped and hiked in Death Valley and Sequoia (click for pics!)
- Since coming to the bay, I’ve hiked almost every week!
- Swing dancing
Forcing myself to do these things has vastly impacted both my social and work life– conversations come naturally, and I find myself taking much more initiative at work. It greatly surprised me that vague work-unrelated interests (e.g. being first-to-contact and organize many social events) may benefit other parts of my life (e.g. being first to plan a project and reach out to other engineers).
Goals for 2020
Despite the fact I no longer have that external pressure to learn from school, I still have the deep desire to do cool projects and learn from them. I had purposely focused on growing personally in 2019, yet I still feel that 95% of my technical knowledge has remained the same as 6-7 months ago when I graduated. I want to learn more in 2020.
To be a little more concrete, here are some projects I will be doing.
- Translate the Elliptic Curve accelerator I wrote in SystemVerilog into Chisel using the Chipyard framework.
- I have many wish-list items for my accelerator, and I honestly feel that I can accomplish it faster in Chisel. Furthermore, I’ve been meaning to learn Chisel more and Chipyard can certainly provide more insight into chip development (especially at SiFive).
- Implement a debian package for Shamir’s Secret Sharing Scheme.
I find these two goals to be a nice balance between fun and realistic. Fun, because I love cryptography and potential hardware applications of cryptography/security; realistic because I have some prior understanding of these algorithms as is and may provide me insight into 1) chip development and 2) debian packages. Also, if I may be frank, I feel that my programming skills have gotten rusty and a good project would help me stay sharp!
In any case, stay tuned! I hope to reference this post in a year and point to these projects again, or any other projects that I may come up with.
On the other hand, lots of psychology research points to not telling people prematurely so we’ll see how it goes :)