Here are a couple of activities I like to do in my spare time outside of programming.
Track and Field
Athletics has always been something that I enjoy, and I will likely continue to enjoy them in the future. During my time at WPI I competed on the Worcester Polytechnic Institute Varsity Track and Field Team. WPI is a relatively small university, so we compete in the Division III circuit. Competing in both the indoor and outdoor season, the events I ran were the 200m, 400m 4x400m, and 4x100m. There is a lot to learn from competing on a track team besides the purely physical skills you gain. Sports teams are dynamic and the interactions you have with each other can be applied to numerous other situations as well. There are many times were I've had to make difficult decisions, mediate conflict, and step up to fill empty roles. Coming onto the team as a freshman, I pushed myself to be as competitive as possible while also learning as much as possible from my teammates and coaches. I eventually was elected to be a team captain my senior year.
During my collegiate career, I broke seven school records. I broke the indoor 300m, 4x200m, and 4x400m, as well as the outdoor 400m, 200m, 4x100m, and 4x400m. When I broke the outdoor 400m and 200m school records, I was competing at the 2018 NEWMAC Conference Championships which consists of Babson, Springfield, Smith, MIT, Wellesley, Emerson, Coast Guard, Clark, Wheaton, Mount Holyoke, and WPI. In addition to my 400m time of 48.17 seconds being a conference championship record, I was also named NEWMAC Athlete of the Year.
I have been fortunate enough to compete at the New England Championships and NCAA DIII National Championships 3 times respectively. Track and Field has been a really important and educating experience in my collegiate life. Sadly, I did not get to compete in the outdoor season of my senior year as the COVID-19 virus caused the NCAA to cancel all athletic competition in March of 2020. It is sad that I do not get to compete in my last eligible season; however, the experiences and lessons that I can take away from the sport have been grand, and I hope others can learn to see the benefits of sport competition.
Blender is free 3D modeling and animation software. When I started 3D modeling, I used Autodesk Maya; however, I thought I would give Blender a chance after hearing about all of its accolades. Blender allows for seamless 3D modeling and animation, so it is not too challenging to pick up and start learning.
I myself am still a beginner with the software, so I haven’t been able to make anything particularly grand yet. So far, by following a tutorial, I have been able to create a simple donut animation, and a physics animation. Once I have more free time I would really like to work in the code editor of blender. Blender actually has a built in python console which allows users to model and animate using lines of python code. I think this coding capability is really cool, and could be used for some really interesting animations and simulations of different machine learning and pathfinding algorithms.
Though digital sculpting is a lot of fun I actually tried my hand at real sculpting once. Using red non-drying modeling clay, I attempted to sculpt a bust of Santa Claus. This sculpting project was the final project in my Practicum 2D Design to 3D Sculpture class. We were tasked with sculpting any character we wanted, real or fictional; thus, most students sculpted video game characters, mythical creatures, or super heroes. I ended up going with Santa, as he seemed like a safe option and exists somewhat as a mythical creature himself. I started with some reference images, and worked towards making a frame and filling it with tin-foil.
I then gradually added clay until I had a kind of gourde object. At the time I wasn't really sure how I was supposed to make this into Santa, but I continued to sculpt anyway. I continued to add clay and remove clay until I had a rough look at what his form looked like.
I then added the finer details to his eyes, hair, and beard. I really wanted to his features to pop, so I made sure to add extra detail in how his hair flows and extends outwards. I am rather pleased with how the final product turned out, and I am glad I put in the extra effort.