A Day in the Life: Stanford Computer Science Student

(upbeat electronic music) – Hey, my name’s Harry Melsop. I’m from Auckland, New Zealand. I’m a freshman here at Stanford, studying computer science and economics. When I’m not in class,
I enjoy riding my bike, hanging out with friends,
and working on side projects. (upbeat electronic music) Typical day here at Stanford
starts probably about 10 a.m., and I’ll head off to class. My first class is Quarters at 11:30. From there, I’ll usually
grab lunch with friends over at Tresidder and have
class through to three or four p.m., then after
that, dinner primarily. And then, head off to
go and work on homework, problem sets, or just other
sort of miscellaneous stuff. Because today’s a Saturday, I
don’t have class, thankfully, so I’ll spend a bit of
time working on a drone that I’ve been working on for
the last seven or eight weeks. (upbeat electronic music) Alright, so I live in
Roble, which is the oldest and largest dorm here at Stanford. I live, because I’m a freshmen,
I’m in a three room quad. So I’ve got three roommates in total. We’ve got two bedrooms and this sort of like shared living space that you’re kinda looking at now. So it’s got all of our
desks, that’s where I work over in the corner. Spend quite a lot of time
here, somewhat unsurprisingly. Just doing homework, problem sets, coding, working on projects, as
you can see on my desk, I’ve got a robot car and
a drone sitting there, which I’ve been tinkering
around with last night. And yeah, this is just
kind of the center of the place I spend time at college. – [Interviewer] So tell
me where we are right now. – Sure, so we’re in the Roble Makerspace. It was just finished a
couple weeks ago, actually. This room actually used
to be the game room. We used to have pool tables and foosball and stuff in here, but all that stuff has actually been shifted
out to the lobby now to make space for this. So, I mean, the idea of it is
that it’s gonna become a space so people can come and work on things that maybe aren’t so sort
of academic-focused, right? So they can come and work on,
like what I’ve come here for, the robot car, people will, eventually, there’s gonna be canvases over there. There will be 3D
printers, soldering irons, that kind of stuff here.
– Oh cool. So it’s like a whole workshop.
– Yeah. So I believe those things
are actually coming tomorrow. So we just missed them, but– – Damn.
– Yeah (laughs). – But, so tell me about
the projects you work on outside of class.
– So at the moment, I’m in an electrical engineering class, and we’re, for the first
part of the quarter, we were just working on
more of the theoretical side of electrical engineering, and then, now, it’s culminated in building
some sort of project. So here, we’ve got the robot car that I’ve been working on
for the last couple of days. – Right.
– The idea behind this is that it’s gonna be controlled, or it currently is
controlled through an app on the smartphone.
– And so, besides the car, what other sort of projects
are you working on right now? – For sure, so one of my friends and I are working on building a drone. So from scratch, we’re tryin’
to pull a drone together that will be able to autonomously fly around the Stanford campus.
– So when you say autonomously flying, you mean
nobody was at the control? – Nobody’s at the controls, yeah. (drones buzz) – Spooky.
– Yeah. – How would you say
your engineering skills have been changing through this class and through your own projects? – I think that projects build
a lot of self confidence to go out and just start
working on something. – Mhm.
– Which I really like because previously,
learning sort of physics and chemistry and stuff in school, you learn all about the theoretical stuff, but it’s kinda hard to
know where to even begin if you wanna put something
together yourself. So I think that the
classes that I’ve taken this quarter in particular
and the UIV club has really taught me that
you sort of can go out and look for help online and just start pulling things together. – [Interviewer] Yeah, and
you have this great space to build it all.
– Absolutely. (upbeat electronic music) (upbeat music) Okay, yeah, cool so we’re in
the Huang Engineering Building right now, and there’s a
sort of cafe on this level and everything, but
here, this is reasonably sort of famous place, it’s
a 24/7 video call line through to MIT, so I’ve never
actually seen it be used. But I’ve heard that people
will sit here and talk and discuss ideas and stuff with the guys in Boston all
the way on the other side of the country.
(upbeat music) – [Interviewer] Outside
of academics and stuff, what is social life look like
as a freshmen at Stanford? – Yeah, I mean, you get pretty
close with most of the people that you live with in the dorm. People in my hall, stuff like that, we hang out all the time. Other than that, something
that was a shock to me and probably won’t be to most people who have lived in the
States their whole life, is that sort of the
fraternity and sorority thing. – Yeah.
– So we don’t have that in New Zealand.
– So would you say that Stanford has like
a lot of school spirit? People show up to sporting
games, events, stuff like that? – This afternoon, for
example, my roommate, Blake, he’s on the gymnastics team here, and they’re hosting the
Canadian-Japanese National Teams for competitions.
– Mhm. – So at four o’clock, I’m
gonna head over to that with a few friends and support him. Yeah, for sure.
– So there’s a lot of stuff happening on campus.
– All the time, yeah. – [Interviewer] I guess,
yeah, the challenge is just you got work to
do, as well as like– – [Harry] Exactly, it’s a
constant balancing act, yeah. (upbeat music) – [Interviewer] So academically,
why did you pick Stanford? – Sure, I mean, going into the sort of University application
process, I knew I was quite interested in technology. I enjoyed engineering sort of
related stuff in high school. But I also really liked economics and really interested in entrepreneurship and potentially trying
to do that kind of stuff into the future, so Stanford
sort of stuck out to me as a natural choice in that regard. It’s in Silicon Valley, it’s renowned for it’s engineering department. Good economics faculty, so I thought that would be amazing,
and I just really wanted to come here for those reasons, yeah. – You’re looking for a
major in computer science and maybe a minor in economics. – Yes.
– What would the requirements for that look like if
you’re gonna pursue that all the the way through?
– Yeah. So with the computer science department, there are six classes in particular, which are sort of like
the core behind that, and then, after that, you take
a whole bunch of electives. Because I think I wanna pursue the artificial intelligence
track, that means taking a lot of classes in A.I.
– Right. – And linear algebra, stuff like that. For economics, to be totally honest, I haven’t looked super carefully
into exactly what classes I need to take, I know
what my sort of runway for the next year looks
like in terms of classes. But once I fulfill that
Calculus prerequisite, then I can actually start
really getting through to economics courses.
– Cool, so it sounds like you have a lot of math to do, and then, you’ll be able to branch out and study a little bit more specifically what you wanna study.
– Exactly. And that’s something that
I really like about here is that you really have an
enormous amount of freedom. So there are some prerequisites like math, but really, you can, as long
as you fulfill the requirements before you take the class, you
can take anything you’d like, which is really cool.
– Well, cool. That was awesome.
(upbeat music) Why did you decide to
go abroad for college, as opposed to staying in New Zealand? – Yeah. I mean, in part, it was
because I really wanted to come here in particular. So coming to Stanford was
my dream for the reasons that we went over about earlier. I love the place it’s in. Also, my parents were always
really strong proponents of going away for University. Both of them went to different places
from where they grew up, and they thought that was a
really good experience to have. So I was of and am of the same opinion that it’s a good idea
to go away somewhere. And there’s nowhere much
better than California. – Yeah, so what do you think
you gained specifically from moving away from where you grew up to go for higher education?
– So on like a sort of personal development level,
there’s a lot of independence that you get, so where I’m from, if I’d chosen to go to
university in New Zealand, I likely would’ve stayed in
Auckland where I grew up. And so, that would’ve meant
I probably would still be living at home, so it’s
forced me to make new friends. And it’s also given me a huge plethora of new opportunities that I
probably wouldn’t have had had I’d gone home. I’ve met really interesting people. I’ve gone to places around here that I never would’ve otherwise seen. That class I talked about,
the Space Systems class, and I’ve gotten to go and
visit companies I’d otherwise never would’ve had that opportunity to do so.
– Right, right. – What is really surprising
is that everyone’s very busy. So I before coming here, I imagined myself every weekend going and doing something. That really, that isn’t quite the case. There’s a lot of work to be done, but that’s probably how it
should be, to be honest. – Mhm.
– That’s not necessarily been a bad thing. The people who I’ve met have been some of the most interesting
people I’ve ever met, and that in some senses,
that was surprising to me that these people that I met in any sort or at orientation or whatever,
actually as you sort of get to know them better,
you unpick what they’ve done in the past, who they are, and that’s been really interesting. And that’s been something
that I couldn’t do so much in high school because you
don’t live with those people. – Right.
– You’re friends with them at school and whatever, but really, living with other students and the students here who
have probably done something or another that’s been interesting
and therefore influential in their life and unpicking what that was, that’s been really interesting. (upbeat music) If you like this video
and wanna learn more about other top colleges around the world, don’t forget to subscribe.
(upbeat music)

37 thoughts on “A Day in the Life: Stanford Computer Science Student

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  2. Dang it, I wish I could study in one of these top universities in the world. Anyway, amazing video Crimson!

  3. ive heard the phrase ' balancing act ' a million times over last month, read a book, balancing act, intro into chemical engineering, coincidence

  4. Can you do duke day in the life preferably someone at the Duke Marine Lab? I am really interested in that program and it would be great to get to see more.

  5. Interviewer: so tell me what you're working on outside of class.
    Student: so there's an electrical engineering course I'm….


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