Meet Perrin. Perrin, a current first year in Columbia Engineering from Saratoga Springs, NY is a prospective Computer Science and Applied Physics double-major also planning to study abroad in his time year. We sat down with him to learn more about him and his unique interests and passions.
What are you current passions? How do you think you’ll pursue them on campus?
I am a hardcore quantum computer scientist. I’ve worked with people in the field already within it. People get taken aback by the world quantum, but I wish they wouldn’t. It’s just a way to make really fast computers that are super useful. I took a lot of weekend classes and attended at the institute for quantum computing in Canada. They built the biggest quantum computer and I took a selfie with it. I learned all this math, physics, and quantum computing in a short amount of time. I was one of 3 from the US who got to attend and I made friends with other students from around the world.
I’m working to get a research position here with a person about to get their PhD. I would be working on quantum computing algorithms and simulations.
Of everything you’ve worked on, volunteered for, and studied, what are you most proud of?
I juggled four paid jobs at once in high school. Since they were all different days and I had my regular high school studies, this was something I was proud of. I lived on my own for about a year so I took the jobs to pay for my apartment and life. I worked at Starbucks, I was a software engineer for two years, IT intern at school, and a paid sound designer at my local theater. There were times they were all at the same time and then they started cycling.
I think I accidentally stumbled on computer science in 8th grade. I think I found a programming site online and started playing with it for fun. And then I really liked physics so I had an epiphany in 10th grade that the two blend together so nicely.
What are you interested in studying here? Why?
I am a double major in SEAS with a study abroad in London. I will be on a theoretical track in computer science and an applied physics major. In this I get to also be an applied math minor just by taking the two majors. I am planning to stay next summer to do my own research through CUSP and I think I will be able to take some classes over the summer so I never have to take more than 5 required classes. There’s a couple of classes that I have some experience in that I can take over the summer to make my life a little easier.
What are you most nervous/anxious about (in regards to college, Columbia, NYC, etc)?
My school was good but not spectacular. Knowing I am going in against people with such an amazing amount of preparation is a lot. And I know it evens out after a semester or two, but it can be intimidating.
What are you most excited about (in regards to college, Columbia, NYC, etc)?
Not being bored.
The people. I came from a town where I never had a class with anyone who was Asian, Hispanic, etc.; I was the darkest-skinned person in classes. After doing diversity programs, I realized I loved genuinely learning from people of other backgrounds.
I am about to live on Broadway [plays/musicals]. I cannot imagine a better school for this. I really want to be a tour guide. I love this school so much and I want to show everyone else how amazing is. I low key convinced 10 people in the Class of 2020 to choose this school over others and I played off all of Columbia’s positives. I am still in awe of this dream place.
Any goals you have in mind?
My biggest goal is to develop quantum computer algorithms that benefit the research aspect (like math could be used by this) but also for medical informatics. These could help with cancer research to compile more data and that would be really cool to work on. Applying it to an area that needs it rather than just building them for the hell of it. So finding the real-life applications for them. I think my dream is to be a professor who does Engineering without Borders (EWB) during the summers and some sound design at theaters between it all. I plan to join EWB on campus and the Columbia Musical Theater Society.
I first came down to visit Columbia and then went to Princeton with my friend as a joke to see how pretentious it was. I came in and went to an information session. It was so Columbia College-centric that I left afterwards. I went to the engineering experience first but I came and fell in love with it. I then applied ED and December 10th I was done. I was laughing as I watched all my friends because I was done.
There are a few professors here working on quantum computing here. One of the professors here passed away after I submitted my application, but I am happy there are still people here working on it.
I also love how small SEAS is. That’s really interesting and nice. I see NYC as the second biggest tech hub. What other schools are we competing against for all these opportunities?
Out of curiosity, what is the future of cryptography in your view?
All of our current cryptography will break, but quantum cryptography research is advancing fast. Knowing that this out there and it’s getting better compared to general quantum computing, I think that might save us (at least for now).