Feb 2007 - Feb 2013

Student Testimonials

Before the FOCUS program, I was doing other research in Electrical Engineering. I learned a great deal, but the research was not very fulfilling. Through the FOCUS program, I was able to secure funding for Computer Science research that has greatly influenced my career trajectory. I was able to discover & innovate on the cutting edge of computer vision research, and integrate this technology with the real needs of the medical community.

I worked under Dr. William Kaiser, developing a feedback system for stroke patients practicing their grasps during recovery. I tackled some of the great challenges of computer vision (changing viewing angle, obstruction of subject, computing efficiency, etc.) while still keeping in mind the end user. I was given much more autonomy than I originally expected; allowing me to make my own mistakes & accomplishments.

The research funded by the FOCUS program not only helped me gain coding experience, but it also gave me a great taste for MS and PhD research, while introducing me to the expansive world of open source software. Dr. Kaiser was extremely supportive and helped guide my research; teaching me to set reasonable goals while maintaining healthy ambition.

--David Herman, Winter 2013, B.S. Electrical Engineering 2013

The direct benefit of the FOCUS program has been my expanded understanding of a major problem in computer science, that of information retrieval. As a result I find myself trying to fit the methods and techniques I learned to other topics; in a sense it has encouraged me to look beyond my research and into new domains. However, I have also found that it has made me a better student by sharpening my problem solving skills. Research requires investigating a problem that may have no optimal solution, and as such you are required to think in creative ways and change your approach when you are not making any progress. This also requires a steady resolve and discipline, and not to mention a great deal of organization.

The benefits of the program are not limited to expanded technical knowledge. My interaction with professor Cardenas and his constant feedback challenged me to look at my research problem and show results. I particularly value my interactions with the professor and the research group, as it has improved my interpersonal skills. I think being able to communicate technical concepts is very important in order to be a successful student and a successful software engineer in the future.

--Alfonso Roman, Winter 2012, B.S. Computer Science 2012

jose rodriguez

Since the beginning of freshman year with the Computing Immersion Summer Experience(CISE) Program until today, FOCUS and CEED have been important stepping stones in my career. Both of these organizations have provided me with the resources and the motivation I need to keep moving forward toward a computing degree.

I never believed I would be able to do research as a freshman, specially because I was new to many of the paradigms that surround Computer Science. However, CEED wants for students to succeed since day one by boosting their resumes with the technical experience that almost every student lacks as a freshman. This opportunity tied along with the Academic Excellence Workshops (a 2hr session twice a week that encourages students to study in clusters and to challenge themselves as a way to be proactive at lower division courses) have truly made an impact in my career both professionally and academically.

By getting involved in research through FOCUS, I have been able to work with Dr. Alfonso Cardenas in the field of Database Management Systems. This opportunity has been more than scholarship, but a way to extend my knowledge and become aware of some of the cutting-edge technologies currently being used in the computer science industry. I have been intrigued, impressed, and challenged by concepts that, before joining Dr. Cardenas research group, were totally unheard of for me such as data mining and information retrieval. I believe that this opportunity has helped me mature as a student, but more than anything, as an engineer.

--Jose Rodriguez Salinas , Winter 2012, Computer Science & Engineering

jose rodriguez

"Through the FOCUS program I was able to secure funding for my credit-earning research during junior year. I was able to see how research is conducted differently at the BS, MS, and Ph.D. levels and see a preview about grad school, and was exposed to modern data mining techniques using the newest strategies published. I was also able to join an active group and see what I could contribute."

--Rick Vargas Delman , Winter 2012, Computer Science


"CEED was a very influential factor in my decision to come to UCLA. Through its transfer-focused events I was introduced to opportunities I did not know existed and met a group of friends that I would have struggled finding otherwise. Because CEED introduced me to a big group of people to study with and plenty of staff to get advice from, my transition as a new student was a lot easier than it would have been otherwise. In particular, BREES helped me to really bond with the other students and get a feel for the UCLA quarter system."

"After my first quarter in UCLA, I came to realize that the CS program is a lot more demanding than what I had thought; but CEED puts together Academic Excellence Workshops (AEW) every quarter so we can get extra help in some of our lower division classes. Also, I can honestly say that if it was not for the CEED study center, I would have struggled trying to find a place to do group-studying late at night. Perhaps I would not have found a place. I have spent late nights in that room and can say that it is a safe place to study."

-- Lorena Topete, Fall 2007 Transfer, Computer Science

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