McNair Scholar, Erik Almaguer, a computer science major in his junior year at Eastern Washington University, has been working since Spring Quarter of 2018 on his project, with the help of his mentor, Dr. Shamima Yasmin. Almaguer grew up in Kennewick, working and going to the community college there. He wasn’t too sure on what he wanted to do next. After a year or two juggling work, college, and everything else that keeps us occupied, he moved to Cheney for EWU.
Almaguer, when asked about that time of his life, said, “I came to Eastern because I wanted to try out a university. I didn’t know what to expect till I met Dr. Torres Garcia who guided me by providing different resources through the university. McNair gave me a job opportunity as a web designer.”
That was the hard part: transition. Almaguer’s entrance into the McNair program was unique, since he was working at McNair’s web designer. “Getting to meet all of the students in the McNair office, and just getting to hear their stories as they were applying to grad school; it was really inspiring. It inspired me to apply to grad school.” He felt a connection with the program, and immediately applied. He was accepted.
Almaguer’s research project is about harnessing WebGL to create live 3D graphs and charts to represent data from a windmill. He’s, in essence, documenting the weather for us to examine. Over the summer, as part of his McNair Research Project, and with the guidance of
Dr. Shamima Yasmin, he joined The Alternative Energy Engineering Club. With their help, a windmill was created with weather sensors, Raspberry Pi, Arduinos, and a weather proof box to house the exposed hardware. It was an undertaking that required communications from McNair and the rest of the campus. Almaguer said, “Having the office in Patterson was pretty cool, because they wanted to help me out. Timothy Raver, he was pretty cool because he helped me find a spot that would work, and with setting up my wireless sensors.”
It is through hard work and endurance expressed by Almaguer that inspires the faculty in McNair, and throughout campus, that change can happen anywhere. His programming and 3D models have the capability to change the community at large. He’s taken his research to Hargreaves for Eastern’s Symposium, and to Pasadena, California, where he participated in the 30th HENAAC conference with other students around the country.
“Without the McNair Scholar Program, I wouldn’t have any of the opportunities to develop real world applications or work with computer graphics,” Almaguer said.
There is no limit to what our scholars can achieve. If you were to sit back and watch the weather outside, Almaguer could tell us so much more; according to his model, the wind is gusting this way.