Week 1: How Computation Applies to my Interests

Since I have some coding background, I am really excited to dive deeper into computing and to learn new languages.  These new languages will allow me to develop more creative projects that hopefully integrate the physical and computing world.  I also have noticed how powerful and informative interactive mappings and graphics can become.  I would love to use p5.js to develop data driven maps or graphics that convey a message or teach something to the user.  It would be especially appealing to use interactive mapping/graphics in a way that addresses an important cause or issue that faces the world today.  The most pressing issue that would be interesting would be to find ways to express the gravity of climate change and the things we can do to make a positive difference for our environment. 

Along these lines, I envision the projects that I make this term to fall under these categories: combining physical objects with computing and interactive mappings/graphics.  A few months ago, the New York Times created what became a popular graphic entitled An Extremely Detailed Map of the 2016 Election.  I found this project to be extremely interesting and informative.  I spent hours searching and zooming around this map to understand my own district as well as districts in places I have never been.  This map provides a wonderful user experience while informing the user in extreme detail.  While I understood why the political map of the United States is shifted red due to the vast difference in populations of states, it wasn't until I explored this map that I truly felt like I grasped the population disparity and how that impacts elections. Seeing all of this information in this way provides an understanding of the information that really could not be grasped before seeing this map.  Developing maps and experiences like this one would be a wonderful way to explore my new computational skills this term.  Since I am a mechanical engineer, I am also interested in potentially combining my physical computing class with this one to see what types of physical projects I could develop and enhance with my computing knowledge.