Brittney Hill

its the LAST WEEK | WEEK 10(britt)

Tuesday: Today is Tuesday and our last week at VRAC ūüôĀ I will miss all the good times I had while here in Iowa but, we still have work to do. Yesterday, I officially¬†finished the menu which didn’t take too long. Today my main focus is the raycaster and THIS is where the real issues arise. You would think it would be relatively simple to make a laser appear in the game display that can be used to click buttons (and in hindsight¬†it probably is). However, for a person who knows no C# and is using Unity for the first time, getting my laser to work has been a hard task.


After talking¬†to my grad student mentor, I learned that my logic for the way the raycaster in the menu should work is correct. So now, I just need to learn how to code all of the functions I am trying to perform in C# for Unity. I like the Unity docs(kinda) but they lack in variety of examples for the¬†code they provide. It would help me SO MUCH to see examples when trying to figure out where certain¬†parts of the code should be placed and whatnot. But hey- I’m learning a little C# so that’s¬†cool…. yes, it is a major pain but… I’m getting it done.


xx britt

Story-boarding and Justifications | Week 8 (britt)


Week 8 


This week, my group has been working on some pretty important stuff. We’ve been creating a storyboard for all the functions and general flow of our project, justifying all the things we plan on doing within our project(using research articles) and a little writing. It doesn’t sound like much but so far it’s been taking some time to get done. We need to justify things like where instruction text will be located, if we’re pointing a laser to select things or grabbing, and what colors will symbolize in our training and why. Answering those questions can be a little tricky already, but finding research to supplement those conclusions¬†is definitely more difficult. Regardless, I feel like our group is on the right path, I am just hoping we have time to complete all the things we need to get done.

I also caught a little case of home sickness over the weekend. There is a little dispute with my neighbor’s dogs and my dog that my family has to deal with at court and I’ve been wishing I could be there for all that. So, that put a little damper on my mood at the beginning of the week, but it’s Wednesday¬†now and I am feeling a lot better. I am really excited for Kayaking this weekend since I have never been and I know these next two weeks will fly by. So, I am trying to stay focused on my goals and my research so that I finish off this program strong!


xx britt

More Deer & Presenting our MCA Projects| Week 7(britt)

More Deer and Presenting our

MCA Projects

Week 7 started off with the presentation of our MCA projects. I spent time until two talking with Alex¬†to learn more about the 3d printing process while printing my¬†second version of the deer, cleaning the support off and editing the powerpoint presentation we made for the projects. As mentioned in at least three other posts, my deeper dive topic was 3d printing. I printed a deer with flowers, and we got to present our projects, explain¬†our approach, and test out other people’s projects. Then we judged the projects, and I believe the ‘Unity Shaders’ group won?


Regardless, we saw some really cool stuff. One group used Unity to make a game where you go around obstacles with a ball. The other group made a zombie game where you had to shoot the zombies with your controller. The other deeper dive group made C6 programs where you could look inside tractors on a farm or walk through the simulator to a snowy world, then a desert, then grassy plains. All the projects were really impressive. I must say, I have some very talented people in my cohort.


Besides the presentation, my group (we call ourselves BAEs now because it’s a good acronym for¬†Brittney, Austin, Emma) worked our powerpoint for an oral presentation with an REU program via webcam on Wednesday. ¬†Then called it a day.




I spent the time until lunch on Tuesday working on the presentation for the other REU program. Something¬†I don’t necessarily enjoy doing is creating power points that have a professional appearance. I feel like professional and ugly/boring don’t¬†have to coincide¬†but as I learn more and more about a professional powerpoint, It seems like they do. I guess it shouldn’t¬†really matter because the point is to get the information across and not to impress the crowd with your artwork. Sadly, I am one of those people who enjoys making flashy and creative power points and there is just no room for that in the professional world. This is something I am assuming I’ll just have to get used to until I learn more about the subject or become my own boss. But hey! That’s motivation.


After my powerpoint work, It was time for lunch. Eliot was our lecturer at lunch today and I really enjoyed his talk for a few reasons. One, he is a professor, so he knows how to lecture. I wasn’t¬†bored because he wasn’t saying anything that wasn’t relevant to me; He kept things interesting. Two, he stopped and allowed us to ask questions. It was an informal¬†lecture where we were allowed to interject when we felt it was needed and I appreciated that aspect of the talk. I learned a lot about graduate school, which I was already planning on attending, and I learned about starting a business which is also something I plan to do. I’ve had the idea of a startup in my head since I learned about computer science, and Eliot owns three businesses, so I loved that I had the opportunity to hear about the process of working in and owning a startup.


On Wednesday, we had our presentation to the other REU program located in Southern California. We practiced and edited our powerpoints until it was time to present. That’s about a 5-hour span so, of course, that is not all we did. Our group has been working on a storyboard for our project as well. As we get closer and closer to the end of our program, pressure has been rising. Everyone has their own ideas on how things should be and I saw some of that in our storyboard session. However, my group tries to be understanding of one and other which I really appreciate. We try to give each other time to speak and opportunities to express our opinions and ideas. I think now more than the rest of the summer, I have been learning how to work in a team. Learning how to work with different types of people is a very beneficial skill to acquire and I am glad that my group members are all upfront with their ideas so that we can all figure out solutions together.

We had our presentation at two and I think it went well. I enjoyed hearing what the other REU students were working on because they were focusing on virtual/augmented reality like our REU program. The students at their REU were very respectful and asked questions about all of our projects. Overall, presentations were a success.


xx britt

Unity Scripting | Week 6 (britt)

Scripting in Unity 


I started off today by going over some basic scripting in Unity syntax. I know during our project we will be using Unity- so I figured it would be a good idea to get a head start on the coding aspect while our grad student mentors are out of town. I did that for the first half of the day and then for lunch we had an etiquette class.


I remember when I was a kid my mom would occasionally joke that I needed etiquette¬†class. So, it was cool to try it out for once. The plating looked fancy, and there was a ton of silverware and different things to drink. I felt like I was having dinner with the queen. Not going to lie- I was a little nervous to eat because the teacher was making eye contact with everyone and I wasn’t¬†quite sure how to eat some of the items right off the bat. Some of the questions I asked sounded like ” What’s the fancy way to eat bread” and “is the pinky up rule really a thing?”. Nevertheless, It was a cool experience, and the food was great!


After¬†lunch, we sat down for blogging time. Everything was calm then….



the doors slammed shut.

We had probably the most startling¬†fire alarm I’ve had in a while; Fire trucks and police cars came so I am not sure if it was real or a drill, but we weren’t outside long.


Later, we had a meeting with one of our grad student mentors, Adam. He helped us get a feel for what we need to put in our abstract as well as how our oral presentation should be formatted. It was great getting another set of eyes to look over our work for our research symposium this weekend before we send it in. It seem’s like all our grad student mentors, as well as the leader, are absent for this week; So, it was nice to have some person to person help before we start emailing everyone this weekend.

When I got off work, Sophia and I took a cycling class for 50 minutes. At the end of the class, we were drenched in sweat and it was a great workout, to say the least. When we got back to the apartment, It was time for dinner; However, I wasn’t feeling any of the food I had at the time. So, I biked to Hy-Vee and got a plethora of edamame beans (officially my favorite vegetable) as well as a lot of plums (my fav fruit). I ¬†biked back to the apartment in the 91-degree weather and, though I was sweaty and dying inside, I ate my dinner and was very content!


Great Thursday.


xx britt

Getting Organized | Week 6(britt)


Organization and Staying Task



After our 4 day weekend, today I am well rested and back at work! The 4 day weekend was a great way for me to not only get a lot of stuff done but also recharge and think about the¬†direction of our research so far. From this mini break- I realized our project group (WATCH) needed some time to organize and get together a list of task with their respective dates so that everyone is on the same page. So, when I got to the VRAC lab today, I spent the first 30 minutes organizing our Google drive, making Google docs for the things we need to accomplish and adding¬†instructions to the task (found via the REU website). I also created a color coordinated¬†to do list because we have a lot to accomplish and I’ve learned through this past school year that trying to remember everything you have to do is not an effective way of keeping up with task at all.



After the organization, I began to make my powerpoint for my deeper dive topic. For my 3d printing¬†project, I took some designs from Thingiverse¬†and combined the objects and layered them to create one unique design of a deer with flowers. I also added in a chain to hang the design on a keychain or wall. So, in the powerpoint, I’ve just been describing every step of the process from finding the designs and combining them with 3d printing to any issues that came along with this process. The powerpoint is about halfway done, which is good considering I was planning on doing it this weekend. I got a great headstart; So now I am hoping to finish it by Friday- If I have time.




After working on the powerpoint, I decided I should start¬†writing this blog now because for the last two weeks I have been really bad about blogging. Actually, I haven’t¬†been doing to great keeping up with my personal goals these last two weeks. So, I am dedicating¬†these next few days to not only my research (duhhh) but also getting my personal goals back on check.


I got to see my 3d print today and although it didn’t¬†turn out exactly how I expected- it still looks pretty cool! Here is a picture of the design with support left on.

After talking to Alex, I decided that the flowers might print better if they are extruded (made thicker). So here is my design with the thicker flowers and one less chain. I have to say- I don’t know how I feel about the appearance of the deer with thicker flowers. Now I feel like the flowers are overkill… So, this might be updated soon.


I spent the second to last hour of the day taking off the support on the deer and I admit it doesn’t¬†look much different(and one of the flowers slightly broke) but here’s the finished product:



I think I am going to call it a day on working on the deer. Now, for the last hour of work, I am going to review some VR software research so we can narrow down potential software options. Then, I am off to the gym.

Day 28(britt)


Day 28


I woke up extremely tired today and it took me two cups of coffee this morning just to function like a¬†normal¬†human… so that’s¬†fun. Besides the groggy morning start, we had 3d printing today, which I must say I really am enjoying learning about.

Alex has started giving us time in the session to design and look up stuff on our own which has been very helpful for me. He spent the fist half of the day talking about different types of rapid prototyping, then after our mini lecture, he let us design for a potential test print.

During our free time, I researched a lot. I learned in depth difference between FFF(fused filament¬†fabrication) and SLA (stereolithography). Makerbots(the 3d print machine we will be using) utilizes¬†the FFF(or FMD) method for 3d printing. So… here’s a little info about what an FFF entails.

When using an FFF, the printer extrudes material (typically plastic) through a nozzle and lays down consecutive layers of materials at a high temperature. Then, the machine allows for each layer to cool before putting down the next layer. This method works with g-code(computer instructions that position motors/ decide volume of extrusion).

This method is beneficial¬†when you want to print something that doesn’t¬†need 100% accuracy because¬†tolerance ranges from .05mm – .5 mm and because it can be printed will little to no infill, it is more cost effective.


After our first 3d printing session of the day, Kate, Emma and I went to Freddy to grab lunch. I don’t remember¬†if I’ve mentioned this but I loooove¬†freddies¬†meal options. I wish my school had a part convenient¬†store part restaurant part Starbucks by my dorm like Iowa¬†State does :/

We biked back from Freddie then it was time again for our 2nd 3d printing session of the day. At this session, we practiced creating designs. I still don’t know what I will make for my 3D printing project but I have an idea that would take some designing expertise. So, I’ve been trying to practice my designing in Maya. However, if you recall from my post when I was learning Maya, CAD software (and especially¬†Maya) doesn’t come easily to me. That’s part of the reason why I chose to use Maya for my design. I figured, If I figure out how to use the software that gives me the most trouble, the perseverance will allow me to approach more problems later.


I’ll update on progress soon (:


xx britt

Day… Uhhhhh | (britt)


Day Uhhhhhh…..


So, I haven’t¬†posted in a day or two… So I will try to shove all I did this Friday,¬†this weekend and Monday¬†into this post.




Friday we had our 3d Printing class. During our class, we got to start looking for 3d objects we’d be interested¬†in creating. Alex mentioned trying to combine multiple prints into one, and this is something I think I will try to do if I find compatible designs. Our 3d printing session took up most of our Friday lab time.

After the lab, the group went to a concert at the Des Moines Art Festival. The concert was by a band called Saint Motel, and I really enjoyed their performance. Another cool fact about them is they’re working on a virtual reality version of their¬†album. It’s crazy because I feel like ever since I’ve been at VRAC, virtual reality has been causally appearing all around me. Or maybe I am just noticing it more? It is likely the second conclusion considering VR has a projected revenue of 80$ billion by 2025(according to Goldman Sach) ¬†it only makes sense that I’ve seen it everywhere…


Fast forward to Sunday—–>

Our group met up to work on defense for why we should use virtual reality instead of augmented reality for our project. We also worked on our abstract for the conference we are trying to attend. Then after completing the hard work, we went out and played volleyball with our CA – putting an end to a productive Sunday.


On Monday, I had some struggles which I do recall writing about( refer to day 25’s post. I’m not too sure that’s¬†the right day # Oops) So, we can skip Monday’s portion of this post.


Our free day was spent prepping¬†for the meeting we had at 3. If you saw what we went over in the meeting, it might seem crazy that we spent so much time prepping for the meeting (we really only presented our defense for VR¬†paper) but that’s simply because we overestimated what our mentors wanted from us. We were under the impression that we had around four different papers we were supposed to be showing them. They weren’t all necessarily¬†papers that were long, but we still spent a great amount of time on them- then realized we weren’t reviewing them halfway through the meeting. I guess it’s for the better because now we get more time to work on the papers.

After the meeting, our group talked about what we should work on next. Then we headed off to the apartments. At around seven, we had a little team bonding movie night. We watched Moana and it was really cute.


xx britt

3D Printing, An Early Start & Leaning In | Day 19(britt)

Day 19

Today I woke up at seven! I say this in excitement because if you guys remember from my early post(I am sure you don’t) I said I was trying to wake up early every day. That sort of fell off this past week because…. honestly just because I love to sleep. HOWEVER, today I woke up at 7 am after waking up at 8 am every day this past week. Hopefully, I am getting back into the early morning a bit¬†but I can’t be too sure yet.

When I was at Facebook for my Girls Who Code program, I had a mentor named Ashley who was a project manager at Instagram. At our graduation, Ashley gave me a book written by Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg, called Lean in. Despite that being about two years ago I have yet to read that book she gave me. So, for this summer I brought the book with me (and also downloaded an audio version) so that I get through it at some point of the summer. Well, today was the start of that ‘some point’. I started listening to the book this morning while getting ready and on my bike ride and Caribou¬†Coffee stop. Now, it’s only been day one, and I’ve¬†been listening/reading it every chance I get. I must say, like Ashley described in the note she left me inside the book, it is “a must-read for a smart, ambitious woman like me”(and you too reader :P). If you’re a guy, this book will give you great insight on what working women have to deal with, and how you can help put an end to the dilemma. If anyone in the cohort wants to read the book after I am done(probably by the end of the week) let me know!!!!

When we got to the VRAC lab, our first session was our deeper dives. As I told you in the last post, I chose 3D printing. So, my session was with Alex, a 3D printing expert. I crossed out expert because he says he’s not (but I am pretty sure he is). He talked to us about all the history of 3D printing (I honestly thought it was a new thing… boy was I wrong). He also went through the different techniques for 3D printing (like FFF) and different types of printers. We also got some background knowledge¬†on the printers we will be using (Makerbots) but I plan to do more research on that later to share on the blog. So, stay tuned (:

xx britt

Biomass & Conferences | Day 23(britt)


Day 23


Today was our last free day of the week. So, I started off the day reading an article. Then, It was time for our lunch lecture! Our lunch lecture for today was especially interesting to me because the environment is a very important topic and the lecture was about renewable energy(biomass in specific). Our lecturer was an engineer who was working on creating fuel from biomass that was equally as efficient and relatively as cheap as crude oil. I didn’t really know much about biomass and what it uses are so it was very eye-opening¬†for me to learn about.


After our lecture (and a great meal of pasta), we had a craft of research session where we learned about all the different elements we will encounter while writing our IMRD. IMRD stands for Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion and is the general format of our research paper. As someone who enjoys writing(to an extent), I am excited to get to writing with the group soon!

Craft of research ended, and next on our calendar was a meeting with Stacy. During our meeting, we went over an abstract template the WATCH group grad students had sent off to a conference¬†that we are also trying to go to. The abstract was conveniently¬†placed in a template(that the conference requires we use). In the template, there is a section for keywords, contributors, the actual abstract(in 100-200 words) and pictures if you so desire to add them(which we do). I’m really excited to start writing for this conference as well because¬†If we get approved, the conference¬†is in San Fransisco.¬†The last time I was in San Fransisco was when I first learned how to code. So, If I go again, I know it will be a nostalgic¬†experience.


After our meeting, we had an hour more of independent work, then we were done for the day. So, I went to the gym and did some new exercises¬†I had looked up the night before. I am learning more and more about the gym every day and I have heard that switching up exercises is good to constantly keep your body on its toes and keep things interesting in the gym. So, I am going to try to switch up my exercises¬†every few days now because so far I’ve been doing the same machines every time I go.


Around 7, the apartment building we were staying at was having a grill out. So, Sophia, Sushi and I waited outside for about an hour and a half for ONE SINGLE BURGER. It was ok though because we had a great convo in line and I got to meet my CA. She had just come back from Europe and was really cool. She said she wanted to try Sushi’s Occulus, So I am sure you guys will see some pics of her screaming in that haunted house game (like Sophia did) soon. ūüėõ


After the grill, we stayed outside a bit to play cornhole. Then it was 9:30 and the sun had finally set. So, I decided it was about time to get in the mood to go to sleep. Sophia and I went back to the apartment and I surfed the interwebs until I fell sound asleep.


xx britt

Scripting in Unity and Choosing My Fate | Day 21(britt)


Day 21

We started off today with another Unity lesson. We learned about scripting, lighting and button presses. I still like Unity which is good because I get the feeling we will be using it a lot in our project. The scripting was giving me some trouble when we first learned it but I think I am starting to get a hang of C# in Unity and we had a great teacher (VJ) who broke down the scripting step by step. This really helped me grasp each concept a lot better. So if you are reading this VJ YOU ROCK!


We left the unity session slightly early because we wanted to go see a session about user interfaces. The session was about comparing our typical method of passcode interface(the iPhone¬†4 digit passcode model) and 2 other models for passcodes and seeing which interface was most natural and why. The presenter concluded that the iPhone¬†model was most natural but that was likely because¬†of participant’s familiarity with the interface. I was slightly confused about why this study used one passcode system that most people know about and two others that most people don’t¬†know about. It seemed like the fact that most of the participants¬†had already used the iPhone passcode hundreds of times would create a bias to explain why they preferred that system over the other two. If the presenter was trying to test which interface was most natural for users, I feel like she should have chosen three likely unbiased or unfamiliar¬†interfaces instead of two unknown and one really known interface. I can’t be too sure if that was the outcome her research was studying (it seemed like it) but I am still learnng¬†about research so I could be totally wrong. These are just my comments and thought process… and regardless, It was a very imformative presentation and I learned about user data a little more!


After the presentation and lunch, we came back and finished our Unity session. We learned about creating buttons and putting words and text into our Unity projects. After our session, we were asked to choose our deeper dives topic. Deeper dives is essentially a topic that you learn about in 6 sessions. There were three deeper¬†dives: 3D printing, Unity shaders(rendering, materials, textures) and Unity Immersive(creating immersive¬†environments). I got my number one choice, 3D printing, and I am really excited to create something at the end of the 6 sessions and learn more about how to use SolidWorks. I initially was going to choose the Unity Immersive session, however since we will be using Unity in our project, I know I’ll be spending a lot of time learning it in my off time (weekends and after work). So, I thought it would be better to learn SolidWorks because my school just got a 3D printer and I’d be able to make stuff there or, if I get good enough, I could teach a basic workshop on 3D printing at my school. I’d say that idea is a stretch since I don’t¬†even know how good I will be at 3D printing, but I am optimistic.

The lake looked so pretty today (as if it doesn’t always)

After choosing our deeper dive topics, I finished an article I started the other day and then left the VRAC lab. I decided it was a good day to ride around a bit and explore Iowa State; So, I did that for a bit. I didn’t go to the gym today but I did do some at home workouts. After working out a bit, I worked on my conference application more, then cleaned a bit. The guys(Emmanuel, Chris, and Jameel) had made non-alcoholic sangrias and invited everyone to try it. So, Devi and I went up to their room for a bit and chatted. The other day the group found the Youtube channel I costarred in for Girls Who Code, and ever since the discovery, I’ve been hearing ukelele jokes left & right. Regardless, everyone seemed impressed with the series which made me feel good about myself. So, thanks team (‘:



Eventually, I left their room to read a little bit of an article I need to finish for the next day. Then I was off to bed.


xx britt

Lit Review and Group Meeting | Day 20(britt)


Day 20

So fun being at a school where everyone bikes!!

Today was our free day, so I spent most of it doing lit review. We had a meeting with Eliot and our grad student mentors later that day so the group was just trying to make sure we were prepared for any questions they threw at us. In our group, Watch, our mentors/leader always try to throw many questions, comments, and concerns at us and really test our knowledge and limits. This is unlike any other mentoring group I’ve¬†been in before, but I must say, It is very helpful. All the questions and criticism are meant to reflect what we’d come across in the real world so that once were out doing research on our own we won’t make as many mistakes(hopefully). This kind of challenging learning, I think, is the best way for me to learn! So, I am enjoying the obstacles and I am learning more and more about VR/AR every day!!

I’ve¬†gotten a system for lit review that I like so far. I read an article in Mendeley¬†desktop¬†(so that I can add notes) and short notes for every idea/topic. That way if I read the article and forget the specifics¬†on what it was about (which does tend to happen) I can look over my notes for a refresher. This tends to make my notes a little lengthy, but I think that is better than missing information. After I did a few lit reviews on AR/VR, I came to the realization¬†that I should probably be reading about user interfaces and the process of training since there’s potential that we could be creating a training interface.

It was about 2 hours before our meeting when Eliot asked us if we had a timeline. “Yeah” Emma and I responded without thinking much of it. Sure, we had a timeline; We hadn’t¬†really paid much attention to it though..¬†It was more of a guideline. “OK, then have it ready to present at the meeting”


There was no way we were using the timeline we made at the beginning of the program(it wasn’t even updated) so, we decided to make a new one. Emma suggested making a powerpoint, and the group agreed, so she started putting in information. After the general powerpoint was made we edited it a little added in a graph and we were done.


When we got to the meeting, the first thing on the agenda was to present the timeline. Eliot sat in silence as Emma read the details of the powerpoint, then once she was done we got the verdict. The timeline was unrealistic when it came to the development stage (It stated it would only take us 2 weeks to develop when the group estimated at least 4 weeks) and It was lacking in regards to grammar and punctuation consistency. Eliot described to us all the possible issues we could have had if we presented that powerpoint to the audience and the problems were very eye opening. Needless to say, we learned a lot in this meeting! I think it went well!

After the meeting, I went back to reading articles and taking notes. Then, around four, I realized that I hadn’t¬†really done any blogging for this week. So I started writing this post; Then, the clock struck¬†five and it was time to go.

I went to the gym, as part of the¬†workout at least five times a week habit I am trying to create. After the gym, I went outside and found a nice grassy area to edit some videos I am working on. I did that for a couple hours and got to see the sunset (hence the picture at the beginning of this post). Then, I did a little research on high-performance computing because the conference I am applying to is for HPC(and I’m pretty sure we will be using it if we choose virtual reality for our project).


Eventually, It was 10. So I tried to get myself to fall asleep by 11 but of course, I didn’t sleep till 12. Oh well, better luck next time? ūüėõ


xx britt

A Weekend of Family Visits | Day 17 & 18(britt)

Day 17 & 18 


This weekend my mom and aunt came to visit me! They were both visiting my godmother in Chicago and chose to endure the five-hour trip to come see me (: I was really excited to see my mom, even though its only been a month, and I hadn’t seen my aunt since my high school graduation. So, it was great being able to catch up with both of them. On Friday, when they arrived, I showed them the apartment then we went to Jeff’s for pizza. My mom is really picky when it comes to food and at first, wouldn’t¬†trust me when I said she would like Jeff’s. However, after much persuasion, I convinced her to go. And you know what? She liked it so much she said she would eat there again(which is saying a lot for my mom). Moral of the story: Don’t knock it till you try it.


After dinner, they dropped me back off at the apartment and I went up to one of the boy’s room to play Fibbage. This is a game where a narrator asks a trivia question. There is¬†one right answer(obviously) but all the other wrong answers are created by the players. So you’d¬†have to guess the right answer out of them all. It was a pretty fun game and I got the most thumbs up on my responses for one game so that was pretty cool!

On Saturday, the group woke up early to catch the bus for the farmers market at 8:45 am.

Emanuel chose this flower for me because it matched my outfit. A true fashion designer in the making

However, when we got on, we had apparently chosen the wrong bus; The bus driver was


nice enough to drive us as close as possible to the farmer’s market while staying on route and we only had to walk a short distance to get there! The farmer’s market was great! However, I didn’t get many pics of it..¬†but Natalie made a great blog about it!


At the market, I met up with my family and we went to the local mall. After the mall, we went grocery shopping then I hung out with my family at their hotel for a bit. After that, they drove me back to say our final goodbyes(they were leaving Sunday morning). After I got back to the apartment Рthe group was having a grill out so I stayed outside for a couple hours for those festivities.



We also met a friend named Sam whose in a chemical engineering REU. We met him because he was walking around the apartment complex playing a melodica and we were curious at to what the instrument was.

After chatting with him for a bit, we invited Sam to eat burgers with us and had a good time outside playing frisbee, volleyball, and jamming to music.

        Sunday was what I like to call my Recharge Day. I woke up early to workout. Then, when I got back I finished up some editorials I had to right for a conference I recently went to. After I finished writing, I cleaned for a bit and made my first ever meal prep which was really fun and exciting for me. I love food (and making it) but I knew it would be easier for me to stay on track (healthy eating wise) if I premade some meals! So I tried it out, and I am pretty happy with the results!



Sophia invited me to go to the library with her; So, I went for about an hour before I finished reading some articles and decided to go back to the room. Later that night, Emma, Kate, and Natalie made the cohort lasagna, bean dip, and a veggie platter. It was all really good food; I’m really enjoying these family meals and hope they become a regular occurrence. After eating, the group went to see Wonder Women at 10 pm and didn’t get out until 1 am. It was worth it though; I really enjoyed the movie and I didn’t even realize we had been at the theater for that long. My night ended at 2 am when I finally fell asleep.








Austin’s new hair(beard) cut really fit in with the theme of fathers day





xx britt


TIME IS FLYING!!! | Day 16(britt)

Day 16 

Today, I woke up & took the bus to where construction¬†on our road begins. I took a little bike break because working out legs really puts a toll on your biking ability. However, I forgot about the little construction project going on and didn’t realize it would affect our normal bus stop. It ended up being for the better though because now I pass Caribou Coffee every day(not so great for my wallet though).

Today is our independent work day; So, I started off by reading and taking notes on a research article. After I finished that, It was time for our lunch lecture. Today our lecture was about spatial displacement in virtual reality environment. Our speaker¬†showed us his teams research on spatial displacement depending on what type of HMD(Head Mounted Display) a participant used. I liked that we got to hear about his research and see the graphs of how different factors changed the participant’s spatial perception. I also learned quite a bit about spatial displacement which was nice considering I didn’t¬†know what it was before hand.

After our lunch lecture, We had a craft of research session about citations that taught me more about citations than I’ve¬†learned in all my years of school. I feel like in high school,¬†we were just told to use MLA, 12pt, Times New Roman, double space( etc.), and were never given a detailed explanation as to why, what the other types of citation are, and how they’re¬†used. Luckily, In this session I learned just that; The information, In return, made me more appreciative of the different citation styles and more excepting and ready to learn them. Funny how being informed can change your perception.¬†

After CoR, we had more independent time; I spend this time blogging and practicing some SolidWorks. Then eventually it was time to leave for the day.

I walked back to the apartment and made quesadillas and guacamole for dinner. Then I blared my music and had a good ole jam sesh because I was the only one in the apartment and it was really fun.

The rest of the night wass kind of a blur; I rearranged my room a little(ok a lot, I basically moved everything), edited my conference applications more then surfed the web before calling it a night.

xx britt

Gym buddies & An Intro to SolidWorks | Day 15(britt)


Day 15 

Yesterday, I woke up to an unusually dark sky. This could only mean one thing

(Actually, it could mean many things but rain was definitely the most plausible)

As a rain lover, having the morning start off with rain put me in a really good mood and gave me the extra motivation I needed to take on Maya. Although, The quick stop at Caribou Coffee for a turtle latte with an extra espresso shot also probably helped. ūüėõ

We started off our Maya class by reviewing textures and different types of metallic finishes that help give objects a more realistic appearance. However, like I said in my previous post, those steps were kind of advanced for me. I feel like I am still getting the gist of all the buttons and controls.

However, the way Maya is set up, I think if I understand fully where all the buttons are and what they do, I will have a much easier time creating objects that look the way I want them to. I’m¬†just at the slow part right now: learning all the functions.

Luckily, In the group talk we had with Stacey, she mentioned that we won’t be using Maya in our group and will be focusing more on Solidworks and Unity. I still am definitely going to try and learn as much Maya as possible, but It’s nice to know we aren’t using it in our project(sorry Maya).

After our Maya time, we did the usual break time on our own then lunch at UDCC.

When lunch ended, I used my allotted¬†30 minute blogging time to catch up on blogging and after this post,¬†I’ll be all caught up! ¬†Then we started our first Solidworks class with Alex.

Now, I must say I really like Alex’s teaching style. He doesn’t¬†go too fast, shows us how to use the software by actually demoing it, and took the time to consider things that we might not learn in a typical Solidworks tutorial! Now I’m not too worried about learning Solidworks. Also, this program uses modeling AND C++. So I’m¬†excited to see how SolidWorks and C++ will come together to make virtual worlds in the future.

By the end of the day, I was feeling pretty sleepy and was ready to call a quits on my gym plans and head straight to bed. However, I asked Sophia if she was going to the gym and she said she was. Then, I thought: If Sophia can work out after a long day then so can I.On our walk back from the gym, Sophia and I talked about the many benefits of working out with a buddy. Here are a few we mentioned:

  1. Less likely to not go if the other is going
  2. Likely to stay longer if the other is not done working out
  3. Motivation to stay consistent

Also, Sophia said I influence her to eat fewer sweets (probably because I’m not really a sweets person as it is) and our buddy system is a win-win because having a partner continuously motivates me to keep working out!

After the gym, I went back to the apartment and finally did my IRB training. I say finally because I suck and didn’t¬†do it when I was supposed to. Then I made dinner. At the gym, I checked my weight and I gained about 6 pounds from the last time I weighed myself (which was at the doctor’s like 4 weeks ago) so I think I’m going to make a solid effort to eat healthier while I’m here. Not necessarily to lose weight, just so I don’t gain more. Though, I’m not sure if the weight I’ve gained is muscle weight or fat… I’ve been doing a lot of weights so the weight could very well be muscle. Too bad I can’t know for sure. Either way, eating healthy seems like a good next step regardless of where the weight came from.

After dinner & IRB training, I started some applications for conferences. Right now I am applying to the Grace Hopper Conference, and one science one (I cant think of the name right now). I might apply to one more but I don’t want to sign up for too many because I know I will be pretty busy when school starts back up. Speaking of school starting back up, I am actually really excited for my sophomore year of college. I think that ‘ugh I’m so over school & need a break‘ phase everyone goes through at the end of the school year is starting to fade away and I am finally ready to get back to learning. Luckily, I have plenty of learning to do at VRAC that will hold me off until I get back to Georgia State.


After I finished generally writing the applications, I gave myself some free time, then called it a night.

Or so I thought

I was laying cozy in my bed about to fall asleep when I heard “Brittney..”

“Yes?” I replied. It was Sophia.

“We’re going outside”

I had no idea what for but I still had a little energy left. So, I was down. Turns out the who gang was outside doing this weird whipped cream trick where you hit your arm and the whipped cream flys up and lands in your mouth. It took me a couple of tries but I eventually successfully did the trick.

Here’s a failed attempt because it was the only one saved. Enjoy!!



xx britt


Lunch Lectures & Making More Goals | Day 14(britt)

Day 14

Today was another independent work day. I started the morning by updating some blog post because lately, I have been behind on that.

Then, I worked on learning Maya for about an hour before our lunch lecture.

Our lunch lecture was from a mechanical engineer who was really smart, to say the least. I know my major is in a stem field, but I am still kind of new to all the tech jargon and his presentation was definitely jargon-heavy which made some parts hard for me to understand. Regardless, his work was really impressive. His team (I think they’re¬†called IDEA) creates virtual hearts that match the ones of patients with heart problems. They use these virtual hearts to see how a patient’s heart would react to different types of therapy before actually doing it on the patient. They are the first in the field to do this type of work and I found that really remarkable.

During the lecture, I was taking notes on all the things I didn’t¬†know; After lunch, I looked up the words and phrases I wanted to learn. Then, I took definitions for words and other facts about what the engineer was talking about and put them into a Quizlet¬†(online flashcard) for review. So hopefully I’ll know some more jargon by the end of this week!

After the lunch lecture, we had a meeting with Stacy about the direction of our project and we talked about our lit review. From the meeting I got some next steps:

  1. Read 10 research articles/have notes and questions by next meeting
  2. Practice my SolidWorks & C++ (the main programs my group will be using)
  3. narrow down our product of choice(AR/VR)

    the planner is packed for the rest of the week

With those tasks, and my own personal goals, I know this week will be pretty busy!

After work, we did light painting in the auditorium and it turns out light painting is a lot harder than it looks. Then again, the reason it was hard could have been because we had 12 people trying to each draw an individual picture in a comparatively close space. We still got some pretty good pictures and it was a fun bonding experience with the team for sure!!



Here are some of my favs:


P.S. My writing was the “Hi Mom” and the “xx britt” ūüėõ


I left my bike back at the apartment today, so I walked back to the apartments after light painting. Later that night, I made dinner and learned about GPUs, CPUs and core processors till I eventually got tired and fell asleep.


xx britt


A Stressful First Impression of Maya | Day 13 (britt)


Day 13

I got to the VRAC lab at 9 am for our first lesson on Maya and, at first, I didn’t know what to expect. I have never used any type of designing software so I wasn’t sure if it was going to be easier or harder than coding for me. However, now I know..

This software has been a lot harder to learn than coding.

We started off by learning some of the basics of Maya Рthen we were given our first practice assignment: creating a farm. After about three hours of working on the farm, and countless sighs of frustration, I looked around to see that literally everyone was waaaay ahead of me. Then I started to mini-panic.

What was I not understanding?

I stopped and took a stroll around the outside of the VRAC lab for a quick breather then came back in and tried again. My farm did get a little better, but again, it just seemed to come so naturally to everyone else;

This was stressing me out a little. Then it hit 2 pm; It was time to add more knowledge on top of what we learned and I just couldn’t keep up. So, I decided to take notes on the slides he was teaching but stick with learning the basics because I was definitely¬†not ready to advance any further.

Soon, it reached 4 pm and we only had an hour left until we could leave. This is when Emma came over to me and expressed her frustrations with the software, and to my surprise, they were similar to mine. I looked at her project and it seemed like we were on the same level of struggle. We talked about meeting up outside of work to work on it together and this, in return, made me feel a bit better about the situation.

At 5 pm, it was time to leave but I realized I had worked on Maya the whole work day and still wasn’t at the level I wanted to be. So, I decided at that point I definitely needed to work on learning Maya outside of our allotted time at work.

DISCLAIMER: Now, I know I might sound a little defeated in the beginning of this post (probably because I was feeling it at the beginning of the day) but nothing worth having comes easy. Even though my major is CS, I’ve always been into expressing my creativity through technology and I think Maya can help fuel my creativity even more than video editing (something I really enjoy doing) so I am willing to put in the work to learn it! This is just a small setback – but I know I’m¬†onto something great!

Sophia, Sushi and I went to the gym after work then to bubble tea(I wonder how much money I’ve given TJ Cups since I’ve been at ISU) then back to the apartment.

After dinner, I downloaded Maya onto my computer. This software (along with the other software Autodesk provides) cost 3,000 dollars but if you’re a student you get it for free! The software took a while to download, so I surfed the internet waiting for the download to complete. This turned out to be a bad idea because I quickly got tired and ended up going to bed at around 8:30-9pm.


It’s ok though, I got a good nights sleep for sure.


xx britt

Cheers To The Freakin Weekend | Day 11 & 12 (britt)


Day 11 & 12


Weekend 2 was as jam-packed as the last!! So let’s start from where it began:

8 am:

We were up bright and early for a 40-minute drive to DesMoines for the rope course! I am not afraid of heights and consider myself somewhat of a daredevil, so I was really really excited to climb swing, and belay(all which I got to do a lot of)



Continue reading

Fetus Dogs & Celebrating Birthdays | Day 10 (britt)


Day 10 e

So today’s¬†Friday¬†(actually today’s¬†Monday… I forgot to post on Friday but that’s beside the point) and it is also Alfredo’s¬†bday! SOOOO HAPPY 20TH ALFREDO (if you’re reading this) lol

I hope it was a good one.

Today instead of learning more C++ we just reviewed¬†it which I was very thankful for…

I still have a lot I need to learn about C++; During our review, I focused mainly on learning inheritance and the different types of classes. I definitely need to practice more on my own though.

We went over a big no-no of research today. Plagiarizing. All my academic¬†life,¬†I’ve¬†been told not to plagiarize¬†(so it’s like common sense to me now) but what I did not know was all the different possible ways you can plagiarize; That took me by surprise. I’m glad we had a discussion about these different types of plagiarism because we have to write a research paper at the end of the program and if I want to reference¬†other articles, I want to make sure I am giving credit where credit is due.

REU coordinators bought him a cake!





After our plagiarism session it was time for lunch Рbut not before we properly wished Alfredo happy birthday. We all signed a card for him in the morning and surprised him with it before lunch!



The rest of the day consisted of C++ review and independent work. I spent the whole time looking at these C++ videos a YouTuber named Bucky created. The videos describe over 60 topics all on C++. He’s really informative and makes learning new code really easy… so to all my REU fam – if you want another method for learning C++ I highly suggest Bucky’s videos (I used him when I was learning web¬†development too! Sooo¬†helpful).

Link down below:


Fast forward to after work–

We went up to Austin, Sushi and Alfredo’s room and ordered pizza and burritos to have a good ole birthday dinner for the bday boy.

We had a good game of volleyball while waiting for the food to arrive.

After the feast, we played on Sushi/Austin’s Occulus rifts. I was feeling daring, so I asked to play their haunted house game.

In this game your basically in a haunted house with all these scary characters (some of my favs: fetus dog, scary clown looking thing) and once they see you they run after you and you have to try and find the exit. Meanwhile, your only light source is a lamp that you have to consistently fill with oil(that you find in random rooms) for it to stay lit. I probably lasted in the game for two minutes. Once I saw the fetus dog, It was all over.

Here’s a video of some people playing the game if you’re¬†reading this and don’t know what the heck I’m¬†talking about (shoutout to you mom) because it’s actually pretty funny to watch.

learning salsa!!



After we played games for a bit, Sophia (the dancer in the group) taught us how to salsa dance and we had a group dance party!!


We ended the night by surfing YouTube for the funniest videos(which we found a lot of). I left around 11 pm¬†because we had to be outside the apartment at 8 am the next morning for ROPE COURSES!!!! I was super excited because I had never been on a rope course and I got to try some really cool rope courses…





that’s for the next post (;


Until then…


xx britt

7 AM Starbucks Runs & Narrowing Down Our Product!! | Day 9 (britt)

Narrowing Down Our Product


Today I woke up early again (haven’t¬†missed a day yet!!) at 7:00 am.¬†After a nice shower, I had some time to penny board over to the local Starbucks and grab a Carmel Macchiato! This Starbucks¬†is located not even a five-minute walk from my apartment (BONUS!!) and it has a small convenient store inside which is really helpful for last minute groceries… but it closes at 2 pm(and closed all weekend) so the only time I can go is early mornings. ūüôĀ

After getting ready for work, I biked to the VRAC lab myself this time. The seat for my bike is about as hard as a rock and I’m really starting to hate sitting on it when I ride. I think I am going to amazon¬†prime a seat cushion soon because I can’t tell if it’s the extra gym work or the seat (or both) but biking is starting to become a pain.

When we got to work, we had two hours of free time.

I used this time to look up different types of AR/VR headsets that we can use for our project (I also found a few more research articles for review).

excuse the lines – but just a list of some of the AR products we’re looking at and their pros/cons.

We are looking for glasses that specialize in mixed reality as we’re thinking of making a program that can both train a user in manufacturing and help during the manufacturing process. However, a lot of mixed reality devices are in the works right now and not yet ready for commercial use.

One device we are looking at is the¬†Vuzix M300. This product seems to have all the elements we’re looking for but resembles the Google Glass (which is not necessarily favorable) but we’re thinking of giving it a try. On the website, it wasn’t really clear if they were for sale yet.




However, Emma (my group members) emailed the company and got a response about an hour later saying they were willing to send us the glasses and they could be here in 3-5 business days!! So… that’s¬†another option!!

After our free time, we had a luncheon¬†talk with a lady who specializes in human communication and technology. She talked to us about some research she was working on that had to do with how well a person can recognize if an image is CGI(artificially created), slightly altered or completely real. The research results she rendered showed that most people can’t really tell real images from fake ones(which she considered alarming). She described the effects her research findings could have on propaganda and other elements in the real world. Overall, she said she wanted people to question things they see more instead of taking everything at face value and expecting it to be real. It was an overall very informative and eye opening talk! I really enjoyed it (and the food we had) ūüėõ

Also: today we narrowed down the design and color for our REU shirts and it was a VERY STRESSFUL process. Trying to get everyone to agree on a common shirt design, shirt color, font color, and font style proved to be a lot more difficult than I expected. In fact, we are still debating on the color palette. At this point, I just want the shirts to be done!!

Here’s Natalie drawing out some designs for us to contemplate. She was so calm during the whole process (idk how) but she was kind enough to volunteer to make some sample options for review with her graphic designing skills this weekend… So stay tuned for the final results!





After work, Devi, Kate, Emma, Emmanuel, Angelica(our grad student mentor) and I made another boba run(the addiction is definitely starting) and I got Angelica to try my passion fruit drink order!


When I got back to the apartment/dorm(it’s a little bit of both), I made leftover salad and potatoes for dinner because I was feeling¬†lazy and it was an easy meal!


While I was eating in my room, I heard what sounded like someone running their fingers up and down my window. I looked outside to see nothing around the window(which was odd at first but quickly crept me out) and every time I closed my blinds after looking outside(without fail) the noise would start again. Eventually, I was quick enough open the blinds before the noise maker left and the culprit was finally exposed!!


named this one lil jimmy



It was a cute little chipmunk just hanging on to my window. However, by the time I got my camera out he had jumped off and decided he was done playing for the day. I still got a pic of him though…





Then I headed over to Emma, Kate and Natalie’s room (which is directly across the hallway from my room) and we played Codenames for couple hours with a few other people in our cohort!



Once time hit 10 PM, I decided it was time to get ready for bed (early I know). So I said goodnight and got ready for bed. I didn’t end up going to bed until 12 (too busy surfing the interwebs) and this was a decision that would end up haunting me the next morning.

until then….

xx britt

Hissing Geese & Popping Boba | Day 8 (britt) 

Hissing Geese & Popping Boba

So… I started off today by biking to the VRAC lab with Austin. Yesterday, I biked with Chris and it was pretty easy breezy. However, biking with Austin made it a little more difficult to keep up because he is somewhat of a speed demon. Nevertheless, we got to VRAC with a couple minutes to spare…

Our first class of the day was a continuation of our C++ learning. This was fun at first but I quickly got tired of the coding by the second C++ class of the day (ironic for a computer science major). This time we learned abut functions, file types, and loops! Pretty important stuff!

After our C++ class, we went to take more pictures for the REU website! First, we went into the bioengineering building. I pass this building every day to go the VRAC lab (it has a beautiful exterior) but had never been inside because… well…. there was no reason to.

Until today.

When you walk in, there is this huge piece of hanging art on the ceiling above you and these really cool circular outlines of different things (like atoms, buildings, etc.) below you. The circular outline pictured here is a map of Iowa State.


Another thing I really like about Iowa State (that Amy talked to us about our first day touring around) is that 10% of their building funds must go to some type of art in the buildings. So not only are the buildings nicely build and large but they’re also beautiful. What a double whammy!


We took some cool pictures spelling out words and doing actions on the floor. Then, we relocated to a couple spots outside to take more pictures. One being Lake Levern





¬†Here, we took some group pictures and Sophia and I¬†took this really cute picture of us both doing the scorpion (I know mine could be… better).






Another cool thing about the lake: GEESE! There are at least 5 geese that just roam around freely and don’t¬†really care if you get relatively close to them. Key word: relatively.¬†If you get too close for comfort¬†they hiss (something I didn’t know geese did) and when that happens it’s actually pretty terrifying.

Here’s Sushi trying to touch a goose and almost getting his hand eaten. Enjoy!


After work, Sophia, Kate and I went to get bubble tea at a place called TJ Cups. The one I got was a passion fruit smoothie with strawberry popping & rainbow jelly! It was REALLY good (and this will probably be my regular drink) but next time I am excited to try some milk tea!


Last but certainly not least: 




I found out today that I made Dean’s¬†List at my college! When I told my mom, on top of congratulating me a ton, she sent it to a couple of my¬†family members¬†who too congratulated me a ton! All the congratulations messages (and memes) made me realize how lucky I am to have such supportive¬†family members¬†who love me and want me to succeed just as much as I want to succeed! So, to end this post I am shouting out my fam (If you guys are even reading this lol). Thanks for the support & I love you all muchoooooo






That’s all for now folks!!


xx britt

Day 7 | Learning new things & Spicy Mustard (britt)


Learning new things & Spicy Mustard

My little lab workstation (:

Soooooo It’s day 7 and I woke up early again (go me) and biked to the VRAC lab! When we got there we had free time till 11. So, I chose to research some AR gear and found some really cool projects.

Here are some of my favs:

  1. CastAR

CastAR is supposed to be mixed reality (VR/AR) glasses that are used for gaming. They specialize in a tabletop display. This was really cool for me to see because I had never heard of a table top display for gaming (hololens apparently has this too) and it kind of looks like something a wizard would use in some type of fantasy movie. Nevertheless, VERY cool.




CastAR in action!




2. Daqri Smart

This product was mentioned in the research article we got to read over so I knew I needed to learn more about it and I am actually really impressed by this device. The Daqri Smart is a helmet (but also comes in glasses) that is meant to be used in a manufacturing environment¬†to check on many different elements and overall speed up the manufacturing process and make working more efficient. This helmet parallels with what my group is supposed to work on these next 10 weeks a lot, so I’m sure this is not the last I’ll be hearing of the Daqri.



The helmet can describe steps of the manufacturing process, detect the flow of vaults, pick up differences in temperature and so much more! The earliest model doesn’t come out until fall 2017; When it does, It will be a game changer in the manufacturing world.

Side note: The website is super cool and interactive; I would recommend anyone who hasn’t¬†to take a look at it! Link below

After our free time, we had the pleasure to listen to James Oliver, a professor at Iowa State, talk to us about grad school.¬†I learned a lot about what it takes to get a master’s degree and Ph.D.(both of which I plan on obtaining) and how to acquire money through fellowships, RA positions, and TA positions.

Then we had a great meal of sandwiches, pasta salad, huge monster cookies, and dijon mustard.

Dijon mustard is bolded here because that is exactly how it presented itself to me. BOLDLY. At first, I thought it was hummus and completely harmless, so I got a heaping spoon full(or two) because hey- I’m¬†a girl who likes her hummus, but little did I know… that mustard was FAR from it.

My monster cookie and research article of the day!

One bite in and my nostrils started to burn. I have no idea why but it was kinda scary. I tried another bite and my eyes started to water. It was just as worst. Needless to say, dijon mustard is not my thing.

After lunch, my team (WATCH) met with the graduate students and our leader (Dr. Eliott). We were asked a lot of questions to test if we understood what the research paper was actually about and then were given time to ask questions as well. I was a little hesitant to answer at first because, like Emma says in her blog post, it slightly felt like an integration. However, by the end of the meeting, I was a lot more confident in my ability to understand research papers (or at least some of them) because it seems like I got a good overview understanding of what the paper was about!

We got off work at 5 pm per usual. This time Sophia and I decided to switch things up and go to the gym directly after work (which was a bit busier than it was during the weekend) and Jameel joined for a great little REU workout sesh! While we were at the gym we saw Alfredo and when we left, we all walked back together.

That night I made a great dinner of spaghetti/broccoli pasta and Texas toast! It was really good and filling (despite the fact that I made a mess while doing it). After dinner, I took a shower and got on the interwebs for an hour or so before bed!

That’s all for now folks!


xx britt

Day 6.. right? (britt)

Day 6 (but I’m not too certain)

Today I woke up at 6:30 am and for anyone who knew me before the REU program, you would know that is very unlike me. I’ve always been the type to sleep in until 4 pm if left unbothered – but I’m growing up and I’ve realized that waking up afternoon is not the best way to start the day. So, for this summer I’ve made a summer bucket list of things I want to accomplish within the next 10 weeks.. and waking up early every morning is definitely one of them.

and hey- since we’re on the topic I might as well share the 5 main things I want to accomplish this summer (besides amazing research) with you (or future Brittney checking to see if I actually pulled through).

  1. Learn stocks  (gotta start investing soon right??)
  2. relearn Spanish basics (see you soon Spain 2018)
  3. wake up early 4/7 mornings (then increase that number as time goes on)
  4. workout 3/7 days (increase as time goes on as well)
  5. read a book every two weeks (increase like the last two)

I wrote this list before I got to the program and I intend to keep it going until the end (and hopefully beyond). I’m hoping that displaying this list publicly will hold me accountable if I decide not to follow through. So…. we’ll see…………….

Anyways, I woke up, got ready and took the bus to work. When we got to the lab, our first class of the day was learning the basics of C++. This is a language that apparently most people usually don’t like but so far I’m enjoying it… So, hopefully this mentality last.

After our Intro to C++ class, we went to eat at UDCC and worked out a little on the outside gym which was fun but too hot to stay for long.
Maybe better as a nighttime thing?


We’re back to C++! We learned a few more fundamentals (variables, user input, math operators) and so far C++ is pretty similar to Java. So no problems so far!!

Something I forgot to mention that happened over the weekend:

I lost my debit card because… well there really is no reason (it just happened ok!!). Luckily, Jameel found my card the day after I lost it (Sunday) but by that point, I had already canceled the card and It was too late to be restored. It typically takes 2 weeks for a card to arrive(don’t ask me how I know that) but I wasn’t really worried about being left without a card because I knew I could get a temporary replacement card at a local Wells Fargo. Which I did. Or… at least tried to.


I looked online and the closest Wells Fargo closed at 5:30! So that gave me 30 between getting off of work at the REU program and getting to the Wells Fargo (only a mile away). Luckily, VRAC had a few bikes for us to use if we so desired. So, when the clock struck 5 I grabbed a bike and dashed out of the lab. I peddled like I was being chased by a serial killer and my life depended on the speed my bike was going (actually pretty proud of myself and that hustle) and got there by 5:15. I walked up to the door and pulled. Nothing. “Hmmm…” I thought. “Maybe a push?” So I pushed and… nothing. I looked at the daily times, spotted the 5:30 pm closing time, and looked above it to see ‘ Drive-thru hours’.


I was really frustrated for a second but I cooled off and found a bus stop. I was too out of breath to bike back at that moment and all I wanted to do was just lay down. So I got on the bus and… BAM!

another issue.

Bus Driver: “Madam, Your ISU card says ‘intern’ this bus is for students.”

Me: ” Yes Sir- but I’ve been riding this bus all week no problems….”

Bus Driver: ” All right… I’ll let you on this time. *Hands me a pamphlet of bus prices* but you need to talk to your supervisor. That’s not the right pass for this bus.”

I sighed

Me: “Alright thanks”

After A Good Nap and Some Mac and Cheese

I spent the rest of the night editing a video I filmed on my trip in Luxembourg (a week before the REU program) and reading a research article given to my group for discussion the next morning.

Slowly but surely I dosed off…

putting an end to my slightly stressful but overall good Monday.

xx britt


The First Weekend (britt)


A Weekend For The Books

This weekend was jammed packed with things to do! Saturday we woke up around 10 to get to Perfect Games for a couple hours of bowling, laser tag, pool, and arcade games! I hadn’t bowled in so long.. so it was really fun for me to play again.¬†In laser tag, I came in second but had a 3% accuracy when shooting. I think my method of just hitting everything I see ended up working in my favor this time but targets are obviously not my strong suit.

After Perfect Games(and almost leaving my bag there), we got back to the apartment, relaxed for about an hour, then were off back to Target. It was exceptionally hot all weekend (really it was just shy of 90 but hey that’s still hot!!) so walking from Target to the dollar store to Chick-fil-a and then playing volleyball in the parking lot while waiting for the bus all served as a pretty sweaty workout. However, my roomie Sophia and I decided we wanted a little more and right after getting back from our errands around 6 pm…

We went to the gym for my first workout all summer!

Woohoo! Working out with friends is so much fun

Can I just say- the Iowa State gym is wayyyyyy better than GSU’s gym in every aspect

With all the equipment and pools and volleyball nets and bouldering walls, I think working out is going to be a lot more fun for me this summer! So I am really excited to make exercising a routine!


Fast forward to Sunday —- we left our apartment at 10:30 am to go work on bikes that a local nonprofit bike place was nice enough to let us use for the duration of our stay at Iowa State. The only thing we needed to contribute to was the maintenance of the bikes as all of the bikes in the shop were used and broken in some way.

I was excited for this task because I had never worked on a bike before and I am always down to learn something new! When we got to the bike place we met Val, a really nice lady who definitely knows her way around a bike and some tools, and she helped us find bikes for our size. There was an issue with AC and the fan they had working blew a fuse so we were working in a room that was somewhere between a sauna and hot yoga room but I was very impressed at how Val was still willing to help us fix up the bikes though they took many hours and a lot of manual labor.


My bike needed by far the most work of the day and everyone at some point put in the work to get it fixed (which I really appreciate). At the end of it, all the bikes were close to done but not quite there yet and we had a bbq party with the other REU programs at 4:30. So we thanked Val, Mike, and Dan for the hard work and snacks (we’ll be back another day to finish working on the bikes) and were on our way to take showers and get ready for evening festivities.



excuse the messy plate(lol)

We carpooled to the bbq and upon arrival, we immediately started a good ole game of volleyball. There were no actual volleyballs at the park… so we improvised with a soccer ball and had a great game in the heat!



The bbq food was delicious and the company was very entertaining! Emma brought cards and the group played a couple very heated games of slaps, spoons (we improvised with forks), war and bs.

Sophia screamed so loud in our game of forks that everyone around us turned to look at our game and we all shared a good laugh at that. It was overall a fun bonding experience with my REU.



We spotted our third Cy at the bbq… this one was a little more basic but still cute!!




till next time…


xx britt

Day 3 (britt)

Day 3

Yesterday I learned the basics of what my group will be doing in these next 10 weeks. My group is focused on AR/VR and will be working with Boeing to help simplify the manufacturing process. The team’s official name is WATCH which is an acronym that we have to guess the meaning of. Elliot, our group leader, said it’s taken people years to figure out the meaning so well see if we actually figure it out in this 10 week time frame. This is not WATCH’s first time working on this project; In fact, they created a hololens (something I had no idea about until yesterday) to show how they simplified the manufacturing process and we got to try it out which was really really really really cool.

Today we started off the program by looking over the library’s website and the scholarly journal section. After that, we took the famous Myers Briggs personality test. I’ve taken this test at least five other times so I was pretty confident I’d get the same results and when I got my results (as expected) I got ENFJ. ENFJ stands for extroverted, intuitive, feeling and judging. We make up 2% of the population and are known to be great leaders and teachers.

After the Myers Brigg¬†test, we got a technology tour around the lab and we got to see a lot of neat gadgets and expensive technology. One was the C6. Now, I noticed the C6 the moment I saw the VRAC lab but I didn’t know what it was or that it was even called the C6. I say this because the outside of the C6 is an art structure that is very large and holographic and all around very impressive…. and that’s only the outside. If you don’t know what the C6 is I will post a snipit of a description that I found from the VRAC website here:

The VRAC’s C6 is the world’s highest resolution, fully immersive virtual environment.

When you go into the C6 its like another world. You’re in a closed room with white plexy glass floor and you are surrounded by 48 4k computers. Talk about expensive and impressive. We got to try an apparently old project that some students had completed for Boeing in 2 weeks(?!?!?!) It was an extremely realistic setup of a flight landing pad. Like so realistic that when we moved up in the air my body made up for the lack of gravity by making me feel like I was actually moving. It was so surreal. Not to mention the scientist who was describing the C6 to us sounded like a super genius while describing how it worked and all the moving parts that came together to make the image such great quality.


After seeing the C6 (and playing with some cool VR technology) we were off to lunch at Iowa State’s dining hall (I think it’s called UDCC or something like that?). Yesterday Emma, the girl I met first at the airport, and I decided there are wayyyyy to many Cys (the Iowa state mascot) around campus. So, every time we see one we made the vow to stop and take a picture with it to see how many we could get by the end of the program. Here’s the one that we found today in the dining hall:




We also went to an art festival later that night and got another picture with probably my favorite Cy that I’ve seen so far!

So, that’s two down and many many more to go!

xx britt

DAY 1/DAY 2 (britt)


The flight to Iowa was not bad at all. When I got to the airport I was greeted with one graduate mentor, Anna, and two girls that also flew in. Sophia, who would end up being my roomie, and Emma, my group member.



Sophia and I on the second day!

We all shared the excitement of what’s to come in the next few weeks during the 40-minute car ride to our new home and talked about Iowa’s main crop corn (which I got mixed up with Idaho’s crop potatoes). When we got to the apartment we met the rest of the group and headed off to dinner to meet the people in charge of this REU program. I finally met the main person I’ve been communicating with over email about REU, Amy, and the main person in charge of my group, Elliot, along with Stephen. After dinner, we went to Walmart to purchase a plethora of food. We told the other graduate mentor, Angelica, we’d only be at Walmart for 20 minutes. However, after we hit our 19-minute mark and I walked past a group with no food in their cart at all I knew we needed a time extension and Angelica was very nice to give us another 30-40 minutes. That night we unpacked and I decorated my room(yes I brought decorations) with lights and tapestries and all that good stuff. Then I settled into bed so that I was well rested for my first day of the VRAC REU program!

The first day was an exploratory experience. We were shown around the VRAC lab where we would be for the summer and got to see a few of Iowa State’s 160 buildings. We played Frisbee in a wide stretch of grass and got our id’s in a very fancy/castle-like building. From touring around Iowa state I learned that the campus is VERY beautiful and has a wide range of buildings.Some with modern finishes, some that look like they could be a really important government building, and some that look like they’re straight out of some 17-century medieval fantasy fiction book.

Our group picture on the Iowa State sign!

I was impressed, to say the least. We came back to the classroom to have an introductory discussion about the program, why were here and what HCI is. After that, we were dismissed and I went back to the room to change before my roomie, Sophia, and I made a run to Walmart.

We left the room at around 5:50 to make the 6:06 bus to Walmart but we made the mistake of waiting on blue north’s side of the street instead of blue south(which is the bus we needed) so when blue south drove past on its normal route we ran flabbergastingly trying to catch it. We failed. So then we waited about 40 minutes for the next bus to come and were on our way to Walmart. The Walmart trip was like any other Walmart trip; We grabbed Panda Express then were back on the bus. However, this bus ride was a bit more interesting. We were greeted by a friendly homeless man who serenaded us the whole ride with folk songs about some girl named ‘Sally’. I definitely got good Snapchats from that experience and when I talked to a grad student in our group about the experience she said she knew of him and he does this type of bus singing on the regular!

Overall, Iowa has proved to be an exciting place with a lot of opportunities for fun and learning! Can’t wait to see what’s next!