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PRIMES: Alex Sekula's Story


I developed an interest in computer science when I took my first programming course in 6th grade. Since then, I have enjoyed programming, developing algorithms, and using computers to solve problems.

PRIMES has been a unique and exciting experience for me. I was tasked with improving natural language processing capabilities of an assistive technology device. PRIMES gave me an opportunity to not only work on a project that was very interesting, but also I was working with a mentor that helped improve those ideas and offer new ones. Actually, some of the most exciting times that I had while working on the project were my meetings with my mentor: I would come to these meetings with several new ideas for the direction of our project, and we would then use them to form new ideas to better tackle the problem. Sometimes, some of these ideas wouldn't work but at some other times, they would lead to a key progress in our project. Regardless of the outcomes though, I was always leaving our meetings with so much energy and enthusiasm to code and see an impact on our project. Also, the project had no distinct solution: I was able to think outside the box on ways that we would reach our goals, and in doing so, I developed many more ideas to consider, and was not restricted to a select few options. At the end when our project was done, it was very rewarding to see how all the code and ideas came together to the end result that improved the performance of the device.

I had a great time at PRIMES this year and look forward to being a member of PRIMES team in 2013!

Alex Sekula worked on the project Natural language processing for spoken dialog under the mentorship of William Li.

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