to explore the universe—and puzzles
Tyler Holland-Ashford ’15 has clear goals for the future: study astrophysics in graduate school, become a researcher with NASA or a national laboratory and create a hover board like the one in the Back to the Future movies. Though the hover board has been on his mind since high school, the physics major’s more recent goals are inspired by his professors and courses at Harvey Mudd.
“Professor Ann Esin taught my Introduction to Astrophysics class, which convinced me to go into the field of astrophysics,” Holland-Ashford said. “She was always so enthusiastic about the subject and willing to discuss interesting tangents. I signed up for an astrophysics lab course the following semester, which only reinforced my decision.”
Of course, Holland-Ashford’s classes also allow him to explore interests outside physics. For example, he said, “I enrolled in the Puzzles Choice Lab for one reason: I like puzzles.”
In that computer science course, Holland-Ashford and another student used the Prolog programming language to develop a text adventure game based on the Harry Potter series. He said, “I learned about the difficulty of creating puzzles that are both interesting and fun. There’s a fine balance between making something challenging enough to be interesting yet not so difficult that it becomes frustrating.”