Jesse was part of Kinet-X's inaugural Summer '16 program. He's now a student at Stuyvesant High School and plans to pursue a career in either electrical engineering or computer security.
Growing up, I’ve always had a passion for technology. I’d been tinkering with computers ever since I was young, and I always loved visiting my dad’s lab. Every time I visited he’d always introduce me to new tech concepts. It was there that I first learned basic electronics, and began to appreciate problem-solving and creative thinking.
When I first heard about Kinet-X, I was really interested. Everything it offered was what I was looking for, and most importantly it was centered around technology, which I’d been passionate about my whole life. The fact that it was run by people closer to my age made it even better in my eyes; I’d always felt that younger teachers were easier to relate to and could be less of a teacher in our eyes, and more as a friend.
I remember the first day of Kinet-X like it was yesterday. I took the A train, and coincidentally met Matthew, a fellow Kinet-X student. We’d actually gotten lost in the subway station together! It took us a little while to get out, but we got to the space soon enough. Adam and Chauncey, our instructors, greeted us with smiles on their faces and were positively brimming with excitement. Once everybody got settled down, the first activity was a problem-solving design challenge: “How can we create waterproof notebooks?” To me, this was extremely interesting - it was the first time I was told to think holistically about something. How much would making the notebooks cost? What are some potential problems we might face in creating them? How can we implement our plan both efficiently and successfully? I thought, if the rest of the program is going to be like this, Kinet-X is bound to be interesting and fun.
The environment of the program was amazing. Our mentors were energetic and extremely eager to help. Everyone was eager to learn and create more, just like me. The combination of the two made the program fantastic - not only did I end up learning quickly, but the overall atmosphere was lax as well as extremely motivated and productive.
The moment I remember the most vividly from Kinet-X definitely has to be creating my final project - writing my very own, professional website. It was a fantastic learning experience, the first time I’d built something so publicly facing. Even moreso, it was a chance to develop a project not because I was told to, or because it would affect my grades, but because I wanted to make it. This gave me the freedom to really enjoy what I was doing, and I definitely think that freedom made the site better than it would’ve been, had made it for school.
The more I’ve immersed myself in technology, the more I’m amazed by the things I can do. I’ve since gone on to be an engineer on my school’s FIRST robotics team, built systems to send out to manufacturers, and used hardware engineering in showbiz. On the side, I’ve developed my own encryption algorithm with Python and even written a Wolfram calculator-esque program for difficult math. I think it’s safe to say that all of this was built on the foundation that Kinet-X gave me to build upon. Where else would I have been able to learn electronics and Python simultaneously, or design thinking and web development?
The electrical engineering I did at Kinet-X gave me a bridge to consider electrical engineering as a legit future career option, and I’m now deeply interested in computer security. I would advise future students to bring your own knowledge to Kinet-X and develop it with the environment and resources here - just be careful with the resistors!