Future Leaders Forum

A few weeks ago I spoke about my trip to New Orleans to participate in the newly formed Future Leaders Forum, which brought close to 300 students together, from across the country, to learn lessons from a world class panel of speakers.

I’ve been excited for this trip since I was still in Shanghai; It was the grand finale of the IEEE SPA (Student Professional Activities) re-branding that Jonathan and I have been working on since 2013. The SPA-Committee has been hard at work for over a year to pull this event together, and the line-up of speakers was truly world class. So when Guru and Jonathan asked me to present at the forum, I immediately took their offer.

It was clear from the beginning that this wasn’t a typical IEEE conference; Keeping with the themes that the team has been discussing for the past 3 years, Guru and Nicole created the event from the ground up, incorporating design thinking at every level. By thinking from the perspective of the students, the event was engaging, diverse, and most of all, a complete experience.

The idea of a complete experience is worth expanding on. Many conferences from professional groups tend to be a very dry affair; You fly into whatever hotel the conference is held at (typically the hotel next to the airport, if possible), and spend all day in meetings and talks. There’s a few breaks in between, and if you’re lucky, there’s a nice dinner included with it. Seldom do you get to actually see the city (despite the fact that you’ve traveled), or have a chance to experience the local culture (since the food will be safe and generic to accommodate everyone).

The Future Leaders Forum achieved what many of these conferences don’t do; It incorporated the location as a meaningful addition to the event. Over the course of the weekend, I had the chance to experience a steam boat ride, eat plenty of New Orleans food at Mardi Gras World, and even got to hear an inspiring talk by Chris Washburne on Jazz Leadership. How cool is that?

Chris Washburne and his band performing during their talk on Jazz Leadership

Over the entire course of the event, I couldn’t help but think that this really was something special and spectacular, from the students that attended, to the many awesome speakers that attended the talk.

Tenaya Hurst from Rogue Making, who works for *gasp* Arduino (As I’ve found out)

One of the most exciting things I got to do at the Forum was to work with Jonathan again on a talk. After a long Shanghai-Induced hiatus, I was itching to get back into presenting to eager students state-side, especially with Jonathan at my side. We spoke about the Circles of VICtory, and how to incorporate creativity into engineering. We had a fantastic turnout of over 60 students at our talk!

Overall, I’m super, super glad to have attended the FLF, and excited to attend again when/if another one is planned!

The story so far: My Journey as a public speaker

Coming back from Shanghai, one of the things I was looking forward to was getting back into doing more public speaking. Although I’ve had the chance to speak in China, I’ve generally found the audience in the US easier to engage, especially since language is not an issue.

Volunteering as a public speaker has really been a fantastic experience. It has helped me come to grips with navigating adulthood and have pushed me to learn new concepts so that I can be more effective as a speaker. Although I started out exclusively speaking with college level engineers, I soon found myself being invited to speak at other audiences, which required me to adapt to different styles to keep the audience engaged. In April, I was asked to speak at a TEDx hosted by a Shanghai international school, where I spoke about following your childhood dreams.

Having worked with IEEE-USA through and beyond UCLA, I have been invited to host a “Creativity Lab” with my friend, Jonathan Chew, at the newly formed Future Leader’s Conference at the end of July. This will be the first time I had a chance to speak in the US since 2014. Looking at the lineup of speakers they’ve booked, it’s shaping up to be the most prestigious event that I’ve had the chance to participate in. I’m incredibly excited to be a part of this event and am looking forward to the new ideas and inspirations that’ll come from my time there!

Learning Blender – Week 1

Having been interested in designing and making games my whole life, I’ve finally had the time recently to delve into some of the aspects of what it takes to make games.

Although I’m primarily interested in the design of games, I believe it’s critically important to at least understand the core aspects of each discipline so that I can at least be competent in the subject. Since 3D modeling has been a major obstacle for me, I decided to dig in and purchase Ben Tristem’s Complete Blender tutorial in order to learn the ins and outs. I’ve used Ben’s course before with his Unity course (also on Udemy) and admire his excellent pacing and structure in teaching.

Having gone through the first week, I was able to go from knowing just basic CAD design from my AutoCAD courses in college, to making this:Bowling Scene

which covered creating complex geometry from both solid extrusion and bezier curves, and then this:Chess Scenewhich was a great tutorial on building low poly shapes using reference material, as well as rendering a scene using textures and lighting.

Moving forward, I’m really excited to see how I can use Blender to empower my future projects!