NEW.Mech was a first for many things. For me it was my first conference, my first poster presentation, and first real event as an undergraduate in physics. The work for the conference started long before the conference itself, with my own research work. In the weeks leading up to NEW.Mech, I spent many hours writing scripts and code, working through cluster woes, and compiling and analyzing tons of data. All the while, never being too far out of contact with Tim and Chris, who helped me graciously every step along the way. I wasn’t really sure what to expect going into it, but as the final week before the conference approached, I hardly had time to think of it. The last week before the conference was composed primarily of caffeine, late nights, failures, and ultimate success as everything came together just days before the conference. With all the work done it was time for sleep and an early rise for the conference.
The three of us, Chris, Tim, and myself, caught an early morning Uber to Cambridge where we picked up a bus to take us out to UMass Amherst, where the conference was held. After about two hours we arrived to a breakfast of pastries and, what I would soon learn to be a common occurrence throughout the day, coffee. During breakfast, I set up my poster and chatted with the others at the conference before the official start. From there, we were shuffled into the auditorium for opening remarks and the first of the talks, which ran up until lunch. As the conference tailored towards specific fields of research, all the talks we heard were fairly relevant and interesting to me. After the first round of talks, we broke for lunch and I got ready to present my own work at my poster. During the presentation, I had multiple people come up to me and ask me about my own research, as well as some of the people who inspired my own research. To work on a project yourself and then get positive feedback and suggestions from relevant people in the field you are interested in was an awesome experience. It felt as if there was some contribution that I could make to the pursuit of science, and it was a great confirmation of my own desires to pursue physics further in my life.
After the rush of my own presentation, it was back into the auditorium (after coffee), for the next set of talks. Both Tim and Chris gave fantastic talks about their own work. Following the rest of the talks and some more coffee, the day ended and we were moved over to another building for a reception. We spent the time there unwinding from the long day and chatting with others. When evening came, it was time for us to get back on the bus and head back to Boston. A bus ride, a T ride, and a few hours later, we made it back to Tufts. After a long day, far too many cups of coffee, and many interesting and insightful conversations and talks, it was over. For all the effort put into it, I can safely say that I will remember to experience and use it to drive me forward to try and achieve greater things.
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