My name is Michelle Fast. I am a junior at Texas State University pursuing a B.S. in Computer Science specializing in Computer Engineering and a minor in Mathematics. I am currently a member of EXE, Texas State's Computer Science Club, where we work on team projects such as game development and Android/IOS app development. I have helped develop a space shooting game optimized to be played in the Oculus Rift, but I will hopefully be assisting in starting a robotics group in Fall 2015.

Through REU IoT, I hope to learn new skills and expand my abilities. I believe participating in this program will help me become more valuable when I start seeking employment.

During this program, I will be working with Mario Gutierrez on a project he started and mentored by Dr. Gao. We hope build a system that will use data from the sensors in smart-watches to predict the user's blood alcohol concentration. This project will also involve developing an Android framework to store sensor data and a machine learning model.



Blog posts:

June 1, 2015

Starting off the program strong! Getting everything set up so everyone can get started with their projects. Checked out my computer and cubicle and getting the computer set up with everything I am going to need. This is going to be pretty great. Dr. Gao assigned me to work with the student mentor, Mario, on his project. I am now left to look at various databases and decide which one to implement for the project. I believe mySQL will be good and now time to learn how to use it with an Android application. I also have a lot of reading I need to do. 

June 2, 2015

Today we had a small class on research and research ethics which was really interesting.

June 3, 2015

I spent the last two days reading various research papers about alcohol's effect on heart rate and also learning how to use mySQL. Staring to get the hang of it. 

June 10, 2015

The android application is still being developed by Mario. Once he is done, I will be able to get the app set up so it can connect to the mySQL database. I am currently working on the PHP scripts on the web server and getting the database tables all set up with the information we will be collecting. 

June 12, 2015

Today was our first project presentation. I don't do well talking in front of groups of people but I think it went pretty well. Last night we slightly modified the database, using IDs to mark the samples among the various tables so there is less redundant information. We are still trying to figure out exactly how we are going to send the data to the mySQL database. We can make a JSON file that will upload to the web server and then be processed by a php file to upload it to the database. This is probably the best idea, but I am not totally sure how to implement it. There is also using GET which is a lot simpler to execute but would require doing so for every single sample, which will be coming in twice per second, so not very practical. We'll see what happens.

Once we finish this app, I am moving on to making a web interface it show the collected data. Only slightly looking forward to that. Web design isn't exactly my strong point, but maybe this will be give me the push I need in order to learn and get good at it. 

Anyways, I am off to modifying the php scripts to the new tables and looking into using JSON files.

June 17, 2015 

Yesterday we went to IBM where several researchers talked to us about the projects they are working on and their experience with working at IBM. We also toured the research labs and the design floors to give us an idea of the work environment. The most interesting part was learning about IBM's Watson super computer and learning the details of how he worked. As in, how Watson translated a spoken question and found solutions and then determined which solution was likely corrected. I think it was a good day, although it left my exhausted by the end of it. I am excited for the tours of Emerson and SWRI!

June 24, 2015 

We went to Southwest Research Institute (SWRI) yesterday and we were given tours of the campus's various division. We saw Production and Simulation Technologies, Intelligent Systems, and Applied Sensing divisions. People in each division gave us tours of the research labs and examples of projects they are working on. They went into details on many of the projects and we were given demos of the various simulations they have. All in all, it was amazing to see and encourages me to apply to SWRI for an internship. A encouraging aspect was that SWRI hires many people with bachelor's degrees. It showed me that I don't have to go to graduate school immediately after completing my undergraduate in order to move into research. While yes, I wouldn't mind getting my masters, I plan on waiting at least a few years after graduation before pursuing one. I want to work in the field for some time first. 

Overall, the trip was inspiring and provided Mario and I with many ideas for our own project. We slightly modified the approach to how the web server and the smart phone communicate that should be a lot better. I think yesterday was a good day.

While Mario finishes up the Android application, I started working on the web interface (**old link, no long the current site) that is meant to visualize the data and predictions. For the most part, I am just getting the basic design and some navigation aspects set up. I am also making the webpage mobile friendly so that way users can do nearly everything from their phone. The more difficult part is getting the geo charts on the web page to show the type of information that we want. As of now, I am able to pull the data (such as Latitude, Longitude, and the skin temperature) and have it appear on the chart. But now I am trying to find a way to use reverse geolocation to separate the data into regions and then organize and average the data from there. That part is proving to be very difficult. Well, hopefully I will figure it out.

June 29, 2015  

Mario finished the main part of the android application so all that is left it to get it connected to the web server and uploading samples to the database. Once that is talking all nice, we can progress to the actual experiment where the fun part will begin. Wednesday is our next presentation, so in order to prepare for that I am working on the introduction for the research paper. Dr. Gao and Dr. Ngu say that is going to take a lot of time to write, so best of luck to me! I have never written a paper like this before. I also have never user LaTex before so this is an entirely new experience for me.  

I am getting back into reading all the related works we have found and also working on finding more. The web client is getting to a point that is worth being proud of. Instead of pulling all the data on the database and displaying it, it now only pulls the most recent sample for each user and plots those point on the graphs. Whenever I find some free time, I am going to add a page where users can see their own personal information in a nicely formatted way along with creating a graph that displays general information about those who use the app (age range, female:male ratio, stuff like that). That is however of lesser priority.

Anyways, back to writing the research paper! /end{entry}

July 1, 2015 

It has been a month since REU has started and today is our second powerpoint presentation for our project! Hopefully it will go well! I am a bit nervous presenting, but I am starting to get better with it. Our project is showing some interesting progress so we should have a lot to talk about.

Afterwards, all the REU students are going to the pool which should be a lot of fun! It'll be nice to get out and do something.

July 17, 2015  

So I realize I am horrible at keeping up with the blog.

On July 9th, we went to Emerson... which wasn't too great. It was the farthest away, but it was the least interesting and told us the least. Aside from a small tour of a lab and a few people talking about their projects, nothing else happened. The most interesting thing we saw was some control loop diagrams. They are also linked to a few things that I do not agree with (such as fracking). But oh well, that might just be me.

On July 14th, we had a graduate life panel which was really interesting. We got a bunch of tips about applying for graduate school. While I am still on the fence about if I really want to go, but we shall see.

In terms of the project, Mario and I have FINALLY started collecting data from our volunteers. Which is proving to be super cool. Anyways, back to work!

July 24, 2015 

We are starting to close up the project. Today is our last presentation, next week is the last week of REU. Mario is probably going to continue the project until the end of August, but for me this is it. I am trying to get the web client to do what I want, but that is proving harder than anything else in this project. I am not a web developer in any way. But hopefully I will get it to do something. 

I need to finish up the research paper soon, because that is due in a week. We also need to work on the poster for the poster presentation on Thursday.

It has been a fun summer, and it is sad that this is ending. But I am leaving with a lot of good things.

Back to work I go! I have a lot of stuff to do.

Also, here is the new website domain! (Domain is down now, use old website to see)

August 1, 2015 

Well, REU is over. Our poster presentation was 2 days ago and yesterday we finished up everything. Mario and I's project got second place ^_^ I am proud of what we have done, but it is nice to finally be home. Mario will continue the project but I have left everything I have done for the next group of students.

This summer has been amazing, I have worked with amazing people, I have learned so many new things, and now I have a desire to work in research. Despite all the stress and difficulties, I can see how addictive it is to work in such an area. I hope this experience will allow me to grow and make my way into the workplace.

Thank you to those who are responsible for this amazing program and to those who chose me to be a part of it. I am so grateful for it.

Good luck to all those who get to do it next.