Alan Luo

Alan Luo graduated from Choate Rosemary Hall, a boarding school in Wallingford, CT. At Columbia Engineering, he hopes to use Computer Science to push the boundaries of human capability and expression.

Alan believes that engineering cannot exist isolated from humanity. He believes that computer science is a tool that allows humans to achieve more and strive for higher goals. For him, those lofty goals come in two forms: to build scalable technologies that can help humans solve problems faster, and to push the boundaries of creative expression through interactive media.

In high school, Alan focused on computer science, interning with QxBranch, a private quantum computing research company, and the Visual Analytics Lab at Tufts. However, his passion manifested itself most strongly through his independent projects, which he always extensively documents online so that others may learn from them. His favorite projects are a glove-based software synthesizer, a Javascript program that generates alien landscapes, and a first-person arcade game using virtual reality. During his classes, he spent just as much time pursuing his love of English, music, and art as he did pursuing computer science. To him, this interdisciplinary approach is what inspired and enabled him to work on so many different projects.

After high school, Alan decided to take a gap year in order to explore the world and gain more experience before entering college. During this year, he worked as a freelance consultant for small businesses, and as a front-end developer for Countable Web Productions, where he helped to build the Smart Inquirer, an app that could use machine learning to help citizens manage court-issued notices and tickets. His experiences in a real-world work environment cemented his beliefs that computer science must be understood in context of humanity in order for it to be applied to its full potential. During that year, he also rediscovered his love of music during a trip to South Africa, where he realized how it could be used as a universal language that allows humans from different cultures to communicate. After a few months of focused study of piano, composition, guitar, bass, and voice with various teachers in the Boston Area, he traveled back to South Africa in order to spread his love of the art at a music development school.

While this gap year was meant to help Alan focus his motivations before college, he only discovered that he had more interests than ever! Between math, physics, English and comparative literature, art, history, psychology, and an uncountable number of other interests to come, Alan felt paralyzed with choice with regards to his impending need to choose a major. However, in the end, he decided that computer science is the only field that will allow him to study all of these fields in an interdisciplinary manner and craft solutions that are scalable and impactful.

Alan hopes that his renewed motivation will help him engage in a productive 4 years at Columbia Engineering. His current aspirations are to enter academia in the field of Human-Computer Interaction, where he would be able to combine his love of the humanities with computer science. In particular, he is excited to be in New York City, where many artists use computer science to create interactive media installations.

In his spare time, Alan loves to study video games, a field which he considers to be at the forefront of art and technology. He once dreamed of becoming a game designer, an ambition that he still nourishes by creating board games and video games in his spare time. On the weekends, he can in be found pestering his friends to playtest his latest game. At least, that is what would happen in theory. In practice, he is more likely to be procrastinating, playing video games with his friends, or going out into New York City to discover new foods and explore the vibrant jazz scene.