From: Amir Lopatin
Sent: Thursday, August 15, 2002 4:01 PM
To: Shoshana Lopatin
Subject: personal statement
Hi sho, here is my personal statement. I am not quite sue how to end it. Personal Statement I started programming in high school and fell in love with how it enabled me, an artistically challenged person, to create all sorts of things: pictures, stories, games. It was a natural choice for me, upon entering college, to pursue Computer Science as my main concentration and ever since graduation I have worked in the field of software development. At Teachers college I would like to continue along this path by Pursuing the E.E.D Program in the Department of "Communication, Computing, and Technology in Education". There, I would like to focus my studies on educational software and more specifically on the many possibilities computers present to enhance a child's educational experience through project based learning.
This is a degree course for which I fell I am well qualified. I have been working as a software engineer since graduating graduating Brown University in 1999: first as a software engineer with the Evans and Sutherland Computer Corporation in Salt Lake and since then with Visible World in New York City. At Evans & Sutherland, I worked in simulation systems and was responsible for implementing a head tracking system for tank simulators. At Visible World, I have been the lead programmer for a tool that visualizes and analyzes MPEG-2 transport streams, which is the format by which television programs are broadcast on digital cable systems.
My first exposure to teaching was during my junior year through a volunteer organization in which specially selected children were paired up with college-going mentors. This program, more than anything else, impressed on me the tremendous challenges that the field of education presents. Until then, I had looked at the core problem of instruction as being one of simple articulation: I knew things that my student did not and all I had to do was tell these things to him and he would be fascinated and enlightened. Of course, this turned out to be a naive assumption and Allie Yu, my student, taught me to appreciate just how difficult it is to bring a child to the point where he is willing to just listen. In other words, I learnt that the main challenge of teaching is one of inspiration rather than articulation.
I believe that computers and technology hold great potential in helping teacher's meet this challenge and this is where I feel I can make a contribution. It is my belief that there is potential in modern computer technology to make elementary and high-school education far more engaging [should I remove this last sentence? its kind fo redundant] . At Teacher's college, I would like to use my technical skills to explore these possibilities. I have already begun in my own small way. During college, my senior project was devoted to the development of a piece of educational software that would allow non-programmers to program a computer through the use of graphical widgets. As a Teaching Assistant for the Introductory class in Computer Systems, I helped design the projects and problems sets through which the students learned how computers worked by actually designing small pieces of primitive microchips. Most recently, I have been applying myself in Project Live, a volunteer mentoring program run by the Children's Aid Society of New York, where I have worked with my current student on building small electrical circuits and creating movies of microscopic organisms using the Intel computerized microscope. This work, which until now has merely been my avocation, has turned out to be just as rewarding to me as my main vocation in software engineering. The possibility of merging these two aspects of my life in the doctoral program of the department of "Communication, Computing, and Technology in Education" is extremely appealing to me and ...
In Memory of Amir Lopatin