Cornell University
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Yiwei Li, InfoSci MPS Student

Why did you choose Cornell?
I actually started off as a pre-veterinary student, and the biggest reason I came to Cornell as an undergrad was because it had the number one veterinary school in the country. Another big plus, though, was that Cornell had a ton of courses in a huge variety of fields, and that it was very easy to take a course that was not in your major. Initially, I only saw this benefit as a way to take unrelated-but-interesting classes for fun; later, it also helped a lot in making my switch to Information Science quick and painless.

As for grad school, I chose to stay at Cornell because I knew the Cornell InfoSci program was top notch. In my two years as an InfoSci undergrad, I don't think there was a single class where I didn't learn a lot or a single professor I didn't like. That's a pretty good record that I figured I was unlikely to match elsewhere.

Why are doing (or why did you do) an MPS and why InfoSci?
I switched into InfoSci rather late, and from an entirely unrelated field, so I wanted an extra year of experience and skill-building in order to enter the workforce with a more solid foundation in tech. The MPS program, which focuses very specifically on advanced professional career preparation, seemed to fit my needs exactly.

As for why InfoSci, I wanted to continue approaching technology from an interdisplinary, holistic point of view. While it's definitely crucial to know *how* to build something, I think it's also important to understand *why* you're building it, and why you're building it *that way* (besides "because my boss told me to"). The InfoSci program allows me to pursue both the how and the why, with technical courses like "Software Engineering" and "Introduction to Databases" alongside social and human system courses like "Designing Technology for Social Impact" and "Human Perception: Applications to Computer Graphics, Art, and Visual Display."

Where and what did you do for your Undergrad?
I started off as a pre-veterinary student in Biology and Biological engineering, but switched over to Information Science eventually. I think I made the right choice!

What class have you taken or are you taking that you are excited about and why?

Two courses that I really enjoyed are INFO 4240: Designing Technology For Social Impact and INFO 4400: Advanced Human-Computer Interaction Design. I think that these two classes complement each other very well - the latter teaches you to design well, while the former teaches you to design responsibly. Both these skills are things that future designers really should pick up somewhere along the line. In addition, both classes have a project component, which gives students valuable  hands-on experience, as well as interesting talking points for future job interviews.

Courses that I'm really excited about taking this year include CS 5150: Software Engineering and PSYCH 6420: Human Perception: Applications to Computer Graphics, Art, and Visual Display.

CS 5150 seems like it'll give me the opportunity to further my technical skills through working on an interesting project. In addition, it will help bridge the gap between programming for class assignments and programming in the real world, with actual clients and an undefined, open-ended development process.

PSYCH 6420, meanwhile, seems like it'll provide a fascinating new angle for understanding what makes "good design." In HCI and Advanced HCI we learned to consider usability and the user experience. But, what is it exactly in how we perceive visual displays that makes something easier to understand, more "natural" and intuitive, eye-catching, or visually enjoyable?

What do you like about living in Ithaca?
The public transportation is actually pretty good. There are bus routes that will take you to pretty much anywhere you'd want to go - grocery shopping, the mall, the movie theater, the airport, etc. This makes it very feasible to save money and not bring a car to campus.

What are your plans after graduation?
I'd like to work for a tech company, though I'm not sure yet in which role. Software engineering, product management, and UX design all seem like good and interesting options - I guess this year will be a good time to narrow things down!

What do you think incoming MPS students should know before they come?
This is not related to the MPS program specifically, but I've heard more than one person wishing they knew beforehand, so here goes: Ithaca has some big hills. When looking for apartments, keep in mind that a half-mile walk to campus might feel very differently if you're walking uphill vs walking on flat ground. Just another factor that people might want to consider, besides the usual price, location, quality, etc.

What would you recommend about this program to potential MPS students?
The MPS program is specific in that it focuses heavily on career preparation, but it is also very flexible in that it's up to you to determine what counts as "career preparation." There are no specifically required classes - you can choose whatever interests you from a wide array of information science courses, ranging to Software Engineering to Game Theory to "Revolutions of the Mind: Media, Technology and Epistemological Change." In addition, the program also gives you plenty of room to take courses outside of information science. If you're planning on going into medical technology, go ahead and take some bio classes; if you want to be an entrepreneur, feel free to take business classes at the Johnson School.