tjSTAR Symposium & Reception Highlights
tjSTAR Brings Alumni, Parents, Other Professionals to Campus
Amazon: New Gold Sponsor
By covering the costs of lunch for visitors, faculty, staff, and seniors, and providing t-shirts, programs, and more, our generous sponsors make tjSTAR —TJ’s conference-style symposium — possible. Amazon, tjSTAR’s lead sponsor, not only provided $10,000 to support the event but also sent its VP of Global Public Policy, Dr. Paul Misener, Parent ’20, to speak about the company’s latest innovations (see June 2016 issue).
In the Exhibit Hall, Silver Sponsor Grant Thornton showed how its key metrics deliver rapid software functionality to federal agencies while Bronze Sponsor Leidos displayed its innovative solutions in national security, health, and engineering. Leidos also sent Senior Scientist Dr. Ananthakrishna Sarma, Parent ’10, to explain the company’s computational weather simulator (see August 2015 issue). Jane Street returned for their sixth year as a tjSTAR Bronze Sponsor, and Booz Allen Hamilton provided additional support.
SpaceX: Scholarship Sponsor
SpaceX Government Affairs Manager Stephanie Bednarek returned for her third symposium to bring students up-to-date on the latest news about the company’s advanced rockets and spacecraft. Bednarek also presented the SpaceX $3,000 Women in Engineering Scholarship, to senior Ava Lakmazaheri (pictured with her robot, above) in recognition of her outstanding work at the intersection of robotics, computer science, and neuroscience (see June 2015 issue). Ava, who will be attending Olin College of Engineering in Needham, MA, will also be pursuing an internship opportunity at SpaceX next summer.
Alumni Tell It Like It Is
Rahul Singh, TJ ’00 (right), has always been an entrepreneur. Moreover, he believes that everyone else can and should be one too. While at TJ, he set up a primitive cloud computing cluster in his basement that grew to 40 computers. Now he’s CEO of his third company, Anant Corp., that helps organize customers’ cloud information with indexing and database management services. Singh encouraged students to see themselves as entrepreneurs, and to consider setting “inexhaustible” — even “unrealistic” goals — to keep themselves motivated. The company participated in TJ’s first Internship Fair (see March 2016 issue) and hired three interns for this summer.
Sean MacIsaac, TJ ’98, CTO of Yext (with a student, right), shared some lessons he learned during his career as a tech entrepreneur:
- Keep in touch with your TJ friends. They’re not just smart people who can help your career, they’re also just great people.
- When you stop enjoying what you’re doing and stop learning, leave.
- Learn to work with others. You can’t do it on your own.
Yext, which started out ensuring the reliability of companies’ online location information, is now the leading provider of Digital Location Management software and solutions that drive customers to retail and service stores. The company recently became the first alumni-founded company to sponsor a TJ research lab (see June 2016 issue).
Using college admissions data as a familiar example, Dr. Kevin Gormley, TJ ’95 (right), Lead Simulating & Modeling Engineer at MITRE Corp., demonstrated how he applies analytical and statistical tools to healthcare industry data to increase efficiency and discover evidence of fraud. One important takeaway from his talk — Dr. Gormley actually wrote his Princeton undergraduate thesis on the USNews college rankings — is that the USNews rankings would change significantly if certain factors were weighted only slightly differently. Therefore, such rankings are more useful for distinguishing between large clusters of schools than for distinguishing among closely ranked institutions.
Everydata Book Tour
Economist Dr. John H. Johnson, author of the new book, Everydata, found that rooms full of statistics-savvy students made tjSTAR one of the most enjoyable stops on his book tour. After running through some egregious examples of statistical misinformation, he told students that if they keep their eyes open, they can find such examples everywhere: “Look at units, look at axes, check to see all the data is there. It will improve your decision-making,” he said.
Two Educators Receive Tommy Awards
This year, the Partnership Fund’s (PF) tjSTAR Reception served as a warm-up for tjSTAR, and the student researchers were full of enthusiasm as they explained their projects to the event guests. Held for the third year in a row at the Tysons Hilton, the event drew a capacity crowd that included many past parents and a particularly large number of TJ Lab Directors.
The highlight of the PF’s annual signature event is always the recognition of our Tommy Award winners. Following a warm tribute by Suhas Sastry, TJ ’17, son of PF Board Chair Srikant Sastry, who thanked his former 5th grade teacher for having such high expectations of his students and devoting so much time to their development, Mr. Randy Adams accepted his Tommy Award.
Mr. Adams explained that having spent his first career working with adults in the Air Force, he simply assumed that his class of bright youngsters was capable of writing and speaking on an adult level. He assigned two oral presentations per quarter and required his students to hone their written work until it was polished prose. Mr. Adams, who retired this year after 16 years as a 5th and 6th grade gifted education (AAP) teacher at Hunters Woods ES, said that it was his students — a cohort that includes about 80 TJ students and alumni — who should be recognized because it was they who actually did the work.
Phoebe Whitmore, TJ ’16, who conducted her Astronomy Lab senior research project at NASA through TJ’s Mentorship Program, introduced former Mentorship Program Director Matthew Pearce. Pearce, who led TJ’s Mentorship Program for eight years, serving as Science & Tech Division Manager for three of those years, now leads a new international STEM school that aims to combine the best of Chinese and American educational models.
Research Lab Project Displays
ASTRONOMY & ASTROPHYSICS/MENTORSHIP
AUTOMATION & ROBOTICS
BIOTECHNOLOGY & LIFE SCIENCES
Karl Keat & Ming Ray Xu
CHEMICAL ANALYSIS & NANOCHEMISTRY
Aneesh Susarla & Nirmaan Shanker
Jade Traiger & Anya Owsenek
MOBILE & WEB APPLICATION DEVELOPMENT
OCEANOGRAPHY & GEOPHYSICAL SYSTEMS
Kaila Stein, Cynthia Zhuang, Rishab Negi, Charlie Lertlumprasert , Helen Ngov, Cheryl Mensah
PROTOTYPING & ENGINEERING MATERIALS
Dean Gumas & Neil Chiruvella
QUANTUM PHYSICS & OPTICS
Andrew J. Charbonneau
“JUMP” (UNDERCLASSMEN PROJECT)
Ishaandeep Lubana, TJ ’19
SPECIAL INVITE: CONRAD WINNERS
Rahul Rajan, ’18, Alex Peng, TJ ’18, Naman Singh, Westfield HS, and Kavya Kopparapu, TJ ’18