By Anabel Pasarow
Cybernetics researcher and UCLA engineer Michael Lake has been working with the Rocketry and Robotics Clubs for the past three weeks. He supervises the clubs’ meetings and assists them when needed, whether by helping the robotics club design algorithms to orbit asteroids or by helping the rocketry club fix a parachute cord.
The students’ independence is characteristic of advanced engineering environments, he said.
Lake double-majored in physics and cybernetics as a student at UCLA and received a master’s degree in virology. He now works in the UCLA chemistry department to develop magnetometers and uses MRI technology for applications in regenerative medicine and super resolution cellular imaging.
“Working on projects with both clubs is right up my alley,” Lake said. “I am there to do anything from opening the door and observing to helping them with particularly tricky problems that come up in project development. I really enjoy science and appreciate the power that it holds to accomplish huge goals.”
Without last year’s club sponsors, physics teacher Karen Hutchison, who is teaching at Eton College in England, and former chemistry teacher Stephanie Quan, rocketry club leaders Charlie Andrews ’13 and Austin Chan ’13 approached upper school math teacher Paula Evans. She enlisted the help of Lake.
“He’s been very helpful to rocketry so far, and although he is over-qualified for the position, he’s a nice guy and always willing to help us out,” Andrews said.
The Rocketry Club meets on Saturdays to build rockets that are entered into contests like the Team America Rocketry Challenge. The robotics club, led by Matt Heartney ’12 and Julie Ko ’12, shares meetings with the rocketry club, and many students are members of both clubs.
“Contributing to younger students getting involved in science and doing something meaningful and memorable with their free time is highly rewarding for me, plus I love a good project,” Lake said. “I hope to learn by participating or observing just like any member of the club as well.”