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Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: A Year in Review

non-technical: suitable for any reader

It is that time of the year again! The end of it. In retrospect, I've added quite a few kilobytes of text over the past 12 months!
Oh, also! My apologies for the 1-month blog hiatus. Exam season comes by storm, much like winter in Canada. The last 3 weeks have been spent portaging to Uni. Alas, I am on winter break until January 2nd, and 2017 has an exciting lineup of events I'm preparing for.

Year in Review
This year has been heavily lab oriented, from ted talks to taiwan, Robocup in Leipzig, and robot magic in Daejeon.

My yearly goal was to explore as much as I could, opening my mind to the broad spectrum of cultures, ideas, and experiences. To say "I reached this goal" would be an understatement. I never fathomed partaking in such events so early in my career. Thank you everyone, who invested their time, patience, and wisdom with me.

Obtaining Focus and Identity: Insights of 2016
Establishing an identity is difficult. When someone asks where you'll be in 5, 10, 15 years... a common inner monolog often follows:
*How old will I be in X years?*
   *Is there something I am doing now that I will still enjoy in the distance future?*
      *What do I enjoy now?*
         *Why do I enjoy it currently?*
            *Do I truly enjoy what I do, or is it an illusion created by false ideals?*

More often or not, we further craft our monolog based on others:
  *They love what they are doing, I don't know if I would enjoy it as much...*
     *They started earlier than me, it's already too late to get started...*
        *I need to find something unique, and influential I can do*
           *Am I even capable of such a thing?

This mindset was me in grade 8.
One may say: "Oh... well I still feel that way now.. and I'm 18...20...24... I don't think I like anything as much as you do...".
Do not fall into this trap. Do not allow the passion and zeal of others to dull your perception of you. Behind every vision and goal, there is doubt and uncertainty. Behind every success, there is an endless struggle.

I believe motivation comes from experience and reinforcement. What we love, is unknown until we live it. I spent several years thinking... simply thinking, about all of the questions posed above. The crucial part I was missing was the act of DOING things, TRYING things, exploring more and thinking less until I gain more to think about.

That is what 2016 was all about for me. When an opportunity presented itself, I took it. When someone taught me, I learned from it and internalized it. This year was about removing bias about myself, thinking less, and doing more. Among all of the different values, personalities, and identities I mimicked, a small collection of characteristics remained separate from them... and these are what define me as an individual. Now is the time to think and reflect on this, and expand on the me I have found.

kyle morris focus progression diagram

At each stage in my focus, I would charge full speed in my direction of choice, exploring as much as possible. Much like that of simulated annealing, the noise settles, and I begin locking in on a focus... What will I be doing in 10 years? I don't know exactly; but I've honed in on a domain, a set of possibilities, and my full energy will be put towards them.

The Future: 2017
Winter Work Term
As a result of my interest in multi-agent systems, I have arranged to work in the Autonomous Agent's laboratory this winter term with Prof. John Anderson. My goal for this term is to embrace an academic experience, focusing on skills directly pertaining to research and academia, with the end goal to publish at least 1 well-rounded research paper.
I've been given graduate material to study, and readings to explore. This blog will be updated with my progress on research, as I search for, and propose a topic... and then do something with it.

Aside from the work term, I will be a teaching assistant for Comp2280 (Introduction to Computer Systems), and also taking a course (comp2080) which I never had the chance to take last summer. Balancing research with studies and teaching is exactly the type of rigorous academic experience I am looking for!

Summer 2017
Looking into summer 2017, there are a couple of pending opportunities I'm shooting for.

CMU RISS Internship

This is a robotics internship held by Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. I found it a while back and quickly emailed a couple of the professors that peaked my interest. The results of this come in a couple of months from now. It would be an invaluable experience for me so I'm really looking forward to hearing back.

Google Summer Internship
I've also got my final interview with Google coming up on January 5th. I cannot reveal details, but I've been preparing a lot for this. This is a good way to get my foot in the door, in case I wish to pursue industry research further.

Happy Holidays!
Anyway, that was a long post. There will be more regular updates coming in January. Happy holidays and have a great new year!

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