Bora Basyildiz: "The amount of internships, networking sessions and connections Mines offers, gives students the ability to immediately translate their academic skills into industry experience."
Applied Mathematics and Computer Science
Why did you choose to come to Mines? What have you enjoyed most about being here?
As a native Coloradan, I was always interested in Mines. Being so close to the mountains while having a premier STEM education is such a unique experience. Also, I am very close with my family, so being able to visit them on breaks and long weekends is something that I really value. At Mines, I have most enjoyed the relationship with the peers around me. Being around such driven people makes me passionate about my own work, and the support network that students give each other is second to none. Whenever I get stuck on homework, I can reach out to a friend for help. If I am confused about something, I can post on the class discord. If I just want to study with someone, I can always find a friendly face in the library. The people at Mines are really one of the best parts of the university.
Tell us about something you're working on right now that you find exciting, fulfilling or challenging.
One of the major passions in my life is teaching and being an AMS (Applied Math and Stats) tutor at Mines—it's the most fulfilling part of my day. Ever since I was 11 years old, I have been some form of teacher. Whether it was teaching piano to classes of elementary and middle schoolers or tutoring mathematics for advanced students, I have always been interested in sharing my knowledge with the next generation. It is so unbelievably fulfilling to see a student’s eyes light up when they understand a problem or see a smile stretch across their face when they learn a new and interesting topic. Teaching also gives me the ability to express my own personal interests with other passionate people. I love mathematics and music and sharing that love with people who feel similarly is such a rich feeling.
Have you done an internship or co-op or been in a professional job while at Mines? Tell us who you worked for and what you were doing. What stands out?
I was grateful to have been a part of the Hidden Talents Research Program while at Mines. This was a Google-funded research program, where I worked on developing a machine learning model of a Covid-Morality predictor. Specifically, I tried to make an ML algorithm that would dynamically detect the angle of x-rays so that the x-rays would be able to be processed by other machine learning algorithms. In this program, I worked with a research mentor who guided me through the difficult parts of the project. We also got some further mentorship from current researchers at Google who gave their industry insight on our projects. It was a really great experience to have a hands-on introduction to the industrial research that is going on at high-level companies like Google.
What communities, groups or organizations—on- and off-campus—are important to you and why?
I am a part the McBride Honor’s Program here at Mines, and it is near and dear to my heart. At first, I thought it was just another honor society, but it is exactly the opposite! All of us have our own quirks and irrationalities, and McBride will be excited to see just how unique you are. A good example of this is the ManBearPig night that McBride hosts multiple times a semester. In this event, students are invited to speak about anything they so choose to. After going to a few, I have heard talks on the philosophy of Star Trek, the comedic side of being an RA, and how otters are soulless serial killers. This sort of free expression is what sets McBride apart and is why I really love it. It is such a breath of fresh air from the engineering and theory-focused classes at Mines to have such a free environment. For anyone interested in going to Mines in the future, I would highly recommend it!
What are your plans for the future? What's your dream job?
My plans for the future are to pursue the quantum engineering Master’s here at Mines and hopefully pursue my PhD afterwards. I am really drawn to the theoretical impact of quantum computers. From making unbreakable cybersecurity algorithms to maybe proving the millennium problems that haven’t been solved for decades, I want to be a part of a new age of science. I know that may sound grandiose, but Mines enables its students to dream big and hopefully achieve those dreams. The empowerment I have felt from my professors and peers has ignited a personal passion that will hopefully lead to a future in quantum computing!
What would you tell someone interested in joining your academic program or Mines in general?
While the rigor at Mines is most definitely present, the close interpersonal relationship with your professors makes Mines’ education extremely unique and fulfilling. The small classrooms with passionate faculty enable students to get to know their professors, joke around with them and learn the material in a personal setting. This not only promotes students learning but also gives them the opportunity to get involved with their professor’s personal research. On multiple occasions, I have gotten to know my professor so well that I got involved with their research, and hopefully I will produce a few papers with them! In addition to academics themselves, Mines gives their students many opportunities to translate their academic skills into the industry. The amount of internships, networking sessions and connections Mines offers, gives students the ability to immediately translate their academic skills to industry experience.
What's your favorite thing to do outside of class and coursework? How do you unwind, manage stress, find fulfillment, etc.?
I grew up in the mountains, so I love to ski. Going out with some friends on a snowy day and blissfully cruising through a winter wonderland is the perfect relief after a week of tough classes. In addition to skiing, I love to play with my band! I have had a rolling cast of band members ever since my senior year of high school where we would play at local bars, hotels and restaurants. I find it super fulfilling to grab some buddies, play a few tunes and get paid for it. Thankfully Mines has a great jazz program with a close-knit community where you can find other talented musicians and just have a good time playing music.
Tell us something about you that most people would be surprised to learn?
One thing that people are surprised to learn about me is that I ski bike! As a kid, my friends and I would do birthday parties where we would all rent out ski bikes and have a night ride around Vail mountain. It was super fun, and after a few birthday parties, I decided to buy one! They are very fun to cruise around with, but through personal experience, I wouldn’t recommend any bumps or cliffs. If you are looking for a fun and unique winter sport, I would most definitely check out ski biking!