Friday, March 24, 2017

Research Assistant Tony Wang Asses the Impact of the Mason Innovation Exchange

I'm Tony Wang, currently a sophomore majoring in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Computer Science 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 (mostly 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 like the MIX is very important for helping students realize what they can achieve with their own creativity and hard work.

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. During the weekdays, I help staff the mix and work on improving our data collection. On the weekends, I will take the data collected and analyze it. If there are any issues that need to be addressed I bring them up at the next staff meeting. Two or three times a month, I meet up with a large group of faculty and present my findings to better help them understand the direction of the MIX and future MIXs.

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 public and 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.