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World Mag > WM Summer 2015 edition > Interview with Alex Wallar

Interview with Alex Wallar

“It is important to be interested in what you would like to succeed in. You must be interested in the road that leads you to your goal.”
Alex Wallar and Jessica Kendrick
Alex Wallar and Jessica Kendrick
"It is important to be interested in what you would like to succeed in. You must be interested in the road that leads you to your goal. If you are thinking big, then the road will be long and it must be in some way enjoyable to you along the way. ”

Alex Wallar pictured here with his wife and AISB Alumna, Jessica 


 

WM: What year did you graduate in? AW:

I left AISB in 2011, graduated from George Mason High School, Virginia, USA in 2012, and from the University of St Andrews, Scotland in 2015.
 

WM: What led you to pursue a PhD? What has inspired you most?
 

AW: I really love being part of research. It is such a great feeling to create something that has never been done before. Pursuing a PhD will allow me to continue conducting research in a more structured setting and it will set me up for getting a good research job in the future. 
 

I have been inspired the most by my wife, Jess, who has always pushed me to be the best that I can be.
 

Also, the competitiveness of research has really kept me on track. Once you start conducting research, you realize that your peer group is every professor, researcher, and PhD student in your eld. You are competing and collaborating with everyone, and that really inspires me. 
 

WM: Why Robotics? What interests you most about this field?
 

AW: I like robotics because it has always clicked for me. I started doing robotics in 10th grade with Mr. Hester and Mr. O’Brien. They sponsored / coordinated the robotics club at AISB and that is when I started programming and playing around with electronics and computer science. Since then, I have competed in competitions, participated in internships, and have worked in jobs centered around robotics.
 

I currently conduct research concerning surveillance and persistent monitoring for multi-agent systems. I know that sounds boring, but it is actually quite fun. 
 

I create algorithms that allow robots to collaborate to gather information about the environment.


WM: How did your time spent at AISB help set you on this path to follow your passion and reach academic excellence?


AW: AISB really changed me. I did so poorly from 7th grade to 10th grade, I should not have passed. This was a turbulent time for me. My family had just moved from the US to Korea and the academic environment at the on- base high school there was horrible. It demotivated me and made me nd school boring. Once I moved to AISB, I still felt this way, until Mr. Hoggatt took me under his wing. He showed me that science, technology, and mathematics could be fun and easy to learn. Once it clicked, I became more focused on my studies, ended up with Honor Roll, and won the IB Learner Pro le Award. 
 

WM: Is there anyone you met at AISB who you feel contributed to your drive for success?


AW: Definitely. I have so many people to thank at AISB. Particularly, I met Jess who probably contributed the most to my success, Ms. Malina, Mr. Hoggatt, Mr. O’Brien, Mr. Hester, Ms. Marcela, and Ms. Siemens. I am probably forgetting somebody. The entire AISB community was incredibly supportive and helped push me to where I am now.


WM: What is your fondest memory of your time at AISB?


AW: There are truly too many to choose from, but if I had to pick one, it would probably the FTC robotics competition in 2011. That was a
great day.


WM: You are from the United States. Does it feel like you are going home, or has that concept changed after all these years of studying abroad? 
 

AW: There is no home. There is the place I live, the places my friends live, and the place my parents live. I don’t feel like I am going home, I feel like I am moving the United States. I have never lived in Boston so it will be a new adventure. It will be nice not to have an accent anymore in the eyes of some of the locals, though.


WM: There’s a challenging road ahead! What do you think is important in order to succeed at the highest level?


AW: It is important to be interested in what you would like to succeed in. You must be interested in the road that leads you to your goal. If you are thinking big, then the road will be long and it must be in some way enjoyable to you along the way. 


Read the entire WORLD Magazine Summer 2015 here. 


 

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