Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Summer of Jeff - The Visit to Stanford

The Summer of Jeff is a recurring segment detailing the exploits of my summer off between Waterloo and Stanford.

At the end of May, my girlfriend and I took a trip down to San Francisco to meet with a professor and to see the campus. Boy, was I in for a treat!

First off, the campus is gorgeous. The colonial architecture and ubiquitous palm trees form a combination that to me is emblematic of what I see in the school. The building style is a nod to the past - history, money, establishment - while the arboreal choice is an acknowledgement of the present. This is California. Things are different here than on the East Coast. We can save the world AND wear flip flops doing it. Maybe it's because at Waterloo the campus looked like this, but I have the feeling that I'm going to like the change.
Photocredit: Katrina Koo
Forgive me for being pretentious, I'm just really excited. Besides the campus itself, the building where I'll be having most of my classes, the Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki Environment and Energy Building (affectionately known as 'Y2E2' on campus) is almost brand-new and is a dream to behold. It was designed to be a multi-disciplinary building, housing research groups from many faculties (Fun fact: Stanford has more graduate students than undergraduates!). You can really tell they put a lot of thought into the design as the building isn't segregated by department, but by world problem:
"Five focal areas define the building’s layout, reflecting the themes of the environmental initiative—climate and energy, freshwater, land use and conservation, oceans and estuaries, and sustainable built environment."
(Quote from The Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki Environment and Energy Building, Laying the Foundation for a Sustainable Future)

There are four atria that allow sunlight to illuminate both the ground floor and the adjacent, glass-walled meeting rooms. It even has this funky meter that tells you how energy efficient the building is at the moment. Needless to say, the facilities, in line with the overall campus, were top notch.

Having gushed enough about the physical facilities (and I didn't mention the world-class athletic facilities!), I was most impressed by the calibre of the students. I was able to sit in on the professor's research group meeting and the first guy (a student in the group) who presented was detailing his research project for a Gates Foundation research grant of $100,000.
Bill Gates, after pimp slapping the shock off my face.
The student was a Masters student, probably at the same level I'm expected to be in a year. And he's designing a new product that can be used for hygienic disposal of fecal waste in the urban slums dominated by the world's poor. I was floored. I was overwhelmed. I kept thinking, "I'm in the big leagues now. This is what NHL players must feel like when they finally make it to the show." (I'm pretty selfish like that).

But regardless of how I felt, I knew I was in the right place. The campus, the building, the students...Yes, it overwhelmed me, but how many small kids from East Van get a chance to be somewhere like this? And as I followed that train of thought, I arrived at the inevitable conclusion. This is my time. I've got my one shot.

I better not blow it.


  1. haha, thanks for the photo credit. as i was scrolled, i thought, "hey! i have a photo just like that!"

    i hope you keep blogging when you start school. Can't wait to see/hear about all your Cali adventures. :)

  2. p.s. i really Really REALLY like this argyle background. Suits you well!

  3. Thanks Katrina! I hope I have the time to keep blogging. It's always nice to update people who I can't talk to on a regular basis.

    Haha the argyle just happened to catch my eye! I've never been too much of a web design buff, so if I like it, that's good enough for me!