High Tech High has prepared me in many ways for my externship with Dr. Ian Purcell MD, Ph.D. From presentational skills to critical thinking, and most of all problem solving, I've been well prepared for this experience throughout the past three years. Of all these skills, problem-solving has been the most prominent. Let me break down what I mean by problem-solving - because that's super vague. Problem Solving: Walking into an unknown task, of which you have no knowledge, and actively figuring out and executing a solution through its environmental clues.
All of the projects we've done throughout these years has helped sharpen this skill. Engineering a wooden mountain, building an escape room from scratch (one of my favorite projects to date) and all of the presentations associated with exhibiting every semester has taught me to think on my feet even under pressure.
Externship has been an experience where problem-solving is essential. Walking through the streets of San Francisco, Darian and I needed to plan ahead of time to avoid potential problems. But when you find yourself trying every key to the apartment door and none of them are working, you've got to think outside the box, walk around to the side, and try the lower door. This is a simple example, but I believe it illustrates my point well. On top of this, setting up a wireless virtual reality system from scratch without instructions takes some problem-solving. So does setting up flowcharts in Photoshop for the FDA, running backend software tests on an actual IOS app to diagnose problems, and traveling alone.
Problem-solving is in our everyday life and it's essential to harness this skill. High Tech High has already put me miles ahead of other people in being able to think on my feet and apply that knowledge to real-world situations.
Week 2 is off to a fantastic start! Everything has been going very smoothly, but one specific task popped up that was more challenging than the rest: setting up the VNG Machine.
Now you may be wondering, "Matthew, what's a VNG machine?". Great question. Basically this is a $26,000 machine that tracks eye movements and displays the data in graphical form. The old one broke and we needed to set the new one up for patients coming in the next couple days. The whole kit comes with a a laptop and the necessary software. Myself, another intern (Darian), and our coworker Adam were confused as how to set everything up. To solve this we read the manuals, toyed around with it, and consistently tested the machine/buttons until we got the thing working.
Since I don't have photos, I'll post some videos from this experience: