Ready, Set, Compute! SHINE 2021 Cohorts Begins USC Student-Led MATLAB Training

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Ready, Set, Compute! Data visualization and simulation are now common tools in engineering research, yet these skills are rarely taught to high school students. Every year, USC Viterbi School of Engineering encourages high school students to use these tools in their contributions to research as part of its Summer High School Intensive in Next-Generation Engineering (SHINE) program. On Monday, June 21, the 2021 cohort of SHINE began this year’s training with Mathworks’ MATLAB Onramp. 

MATLAB which stands for “matrix laboratory” is a computing program capable of communicating between various coding languages like C++, Java, and Python. The software has become a staple in engineering fields spanning multiple disciplines due to its simple yet productive computing potential. 

Close partnership with industry providers of professional tools like MATLAB is another important part of SHINE. Each year, the K-12 STEM Center works with Mary Dzaugis, Education Program Manager at Mathworks to see what's new in their educational tutorials and software. Regardless of whether engineers are using MATLAB to chart functions or write code, the system requires precision, creativity, critical-thinking, and perseverance. And learning such skills have become a staple at SHINE.

This year’s cohort shines a spotlight on MATLAB as its relevance in the program hits an all time high, as 81% of SHINE students will be working with the software this cycle. The session, led by returning leader Kendall Work, a senior at the University of Southern California studying Mechanical Engineering and intern at Microsoft, provided examples of how MATLAB is used in both the academic and professional sense.

What makes MATLAB different from other programming languages is its emphasis on data analysis. MATLAB can crunch large datasets with little effort, making it easy to understand trends and make sense of the information one might collect in a research experiment. The variety of online training, active communities, and detailed documentation make it a great tool for high school students starting to conduct their own experiments", explains Work.

"MATLAB is important to me because it allows me to quickly implement solutions for engineering problems. You can translate data into tangible analysis in a swift and relatively simple manner that's easy to pick up with minimal coding experience.” he continues. 

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Left: Topology of the map in 3D

Right: A topographic map 

Yiqi Yuan, a former computer scientist who will be teaching physics to high school students this fall, from the USC Viterbi K-12 STEM Center says, “This year, because of the uncertainties brought by the COVID-19, many experimental science or engineering labs chose to orient their SHINE projects computation-based. SHINE students will explore new materials, fluid dynamics, and chemical structures through simulations and data analysis, and MATLAB is one of the best platforms to run these simulations”, she says.

With a pledge to these qualities and a ton of persistence, the SHINE engineers of tomorrow will be able to take their career endeavors to the next level. 

Published on June 24th, 2021

Last updated on June 24th, 2021

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