I'm Tony Wang, currently a freshman majoring in Mechanical Engineering here at George Mason University. My current OSCAR project focuses on assessing the impact of the newly created Mason Innovation Exchange with Dr. Patrick Vora and Dr. Colin Reagle. The Mason Innovation Exchange, better known as The MIX, is a place where students can work together on projects spanning science, engineering, art, and entrepreneurship. Staff members help guide students in their projects and work to gain access to resources, equipment, and space.
I work with the MIX staff members (all undergraduates) to coordinate the best ways to make the MIX achieve its full potential. My research focuses on data-driven assessment of current demand for the MIX, the types of projects students work on here, operational areas that could be improved, and the overall impact on the GMU student body. Using this data I hope to quantify the positive impact the MIX has had thus far and emphasize that establishing additional facilities similar to the MIX is very important for helping students realize what they can achieve with their own creativity and hard work.
Each week I collect relevant data regarding the operations of the MIX and also help with some staff work and marketing. Usually before staff meetings or towards the end of each week, I will sift through the collected data and analyze it, finding issues and making remarks on how the MIX is doing. My analysis has recently discovered MIX operations and procedures that needed to be optimized to ensure proper documentation of student usage, which we are currently working to address.
Working with Dr. Vora on the MIX has allowed me to expand my horizons. It has allowed me to work towards bringing STEAM to the general public and also hone my personal skill so that I can be better prepared for the professional world and future research opportunities. From learning how to 3D print to figuring out how to organize and analyze varying types of data sets, to getting first hand experience on how difficult it is to start a new program and keep it running. The MIX is a great opportunity for all students to expand their horizons and this OSCAR research position has allowed me to be a part of this amazing opportunity to help make that happen.