John Smith

John's College Essays

I'm a fifth generation Californian who's picked up a few of the habits of the region, among them surfing and computer programming. What does this mean? Having a foot in both worlds gives me a sense of balance and perspective. Beyond that, surfing has influenced my software coding and future ...

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"Place yourself in the middle of the stream of power and wisdom which animates all whom it floats, and you are without effort impelled to truth, to right and a perfect contentment." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, Spiritual Laws

As a transcendentalist, Emerson found inspiration in places where "the str...

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Each weekend, I teach karate to kids ages 3-12. As I show the "Little Ninjas" how to position their hands to do a clean shoulder roll, or I help the "Young Tigers" break down a tricky section of the Two-Man Bo Staff form, any frustration or tiredness I might have felt before ente...

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Last Sunday I realized, again and more fully than ever, why I want to immerse myself in engineering. I awoke in the midmorning, still drifting yet well-rested. In those dreamlike moments before opening my eyes, fragments of thought, old and new, began to coalesce into ideas that I immediately felt a...

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It is my belief that paddling out into the lineup through a bank of heavy mist and suddenly finding yourself unable to see the shore is among the most surreal and inspiring experiences a person can have. As fellow wave riders – strangers and friends – wink out of your sphere of sight and...

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I never intended to hire anybody. In fact, I never sought to obtain employment myself. I was too busy having fun with computers to be bothered with any of that. But as soon as you know how to hit "ctrl-alt-delete," it seems everyone wants tech support, and one thing leads to another.

All I&...

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Over the phone, my dad described what was happening as he lifted the cover off of the viewing portal. Suddenly, he began to laugh uncontrollably: the robotic mousetrap I had built out of LEGO Mindstorms had actually caught a rat! On the other end of the line, my 8-year-old self also collapsed in lau...

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Lord of the Rings/The Silmarillion - Tolkien; Gödel, Escher, Bach - Hofstadter; Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman - Feynman; The Code Book - Singh; The Elegant Universe - Greene. Films: Gattaca, Chariots of Fire. Music: Simon & Garfunkel, Basshunter.

NYTimes.com, ScientificAmerican.com, ...

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Double-period AP Chemistry at my high school was notorious for its brutality. Come the spring, my grade in the class was hovering at an 89% for the first time ever, in any subject.

When someone found the answers to the textbook problems online, there was a rush on the part of many students to use the...

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Every weekend after my karate class, I volunteer for an hour and a half teaching kids ages 3-12. The first class is the "Little Ninjas," who are just 3-5 years old. These are among my favorites to teach because they have no preconceptions or attitude. They look at you unjudgmentally and li...

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My Intel STS project originated while I was hiking during a thunderstorm. I was pondering, with some trepidation, what determines the paths of lightning bolts; I reflected that they must take some course of least resistance. Suddenly I was struck (by an idea): could an electronic hardware model of t...

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The most important research project I have worked on is the massively parallel propagation-delay algorithm and FPGA (field-programmable gate array) microchip I independently designed for the Intel science Talent search. The chip was demonstrated to solve certain computationally difficult problems - ...

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