When a robot is finally able to navigate a burning building on its own and provide rescue workers with critical information that could save time and lives, Fordham College at Lincoln Center senior Michelle Yee might be the one behind its development.
A mathematics major, Yee spent last summer studying robotics and map modeling, helping to design a robot that could navigate rough terrain without human control. Such a robot would need to be able to adapt to its surroundings to be successful.
“The problem with robots right now is that they have to be connected to a source to operate,” Yee said. “But if one could take information and roam independently, then it would be a breakthrough.”
She developed her passion for robotics, mathematics and engineering at Midwood High School in Brooklyn and flourished at the University. For this, Yee credits the faculty, especially in the mathematics department. “They’ve been so supportive and very accessible to any questions that I’ve had,” Yee said. “And I’m a very interrogative person.”
Yee was awarded the Clare Booth Luce Scholarship, which is designed to support undergraduate women majoring in science, technology or mathematics. “It helps to motivate women by providing them with the means financially, and with advice from people in the field on how to fulfill that dream of eventually becoming an engineer or a mathematician,” said Yee, who hopes to pursue a career in map modeling after graduation. “It really helps to create opportunities that might not have otherwise been available to me.”
Beyond the field of mathematics, Yee said she benefited in the University’s Core Curriculum, which helped shape many or her beliefs. “I have to say, if it was up to me, I probably would not have taken a theology course, or a philosophy course,” Yee said. “But it was part of the Core Curriculum, and I think it helped shape a lot of my values and the way I see the world. I think the fact that I’ve become a more well-rounded person is something I can walk away with.”
Yee said she came to Fordham because she found the University’s friendly atmosphere to be contagious. She made the most of her time at the University, not only through her scholarship but as a member of the Matteo Ricci Society, which admits students based on their academic aptitude, and through Phi Beta Kappa recognition for her lofty grade point average. Still, Fordham was more than just a series of academic pursuits for Yee. At the University she found a culture of compassion, one that inspired her to help others.
“I think the emphasis on having a mission to improve the world was a big part of the Fordham experience,” said Yee. “At a public school like my high school, it’s kind of hard to emphasize giving back to the community. At Fordham, you always heard about new events, new ways to help. And, really, that’s what I loved about Fordham.”
By John DeSio