Ripon education gifted Michael Gableman ’16 with personal, professional advantages
Michael Gableman ’16 of Greendale, Wisconsin, credits three major factors for his decision to attend Ripon College: the vast range of courses available, the natural beauty of the campus, and the people.
Gableman had known he wanted to study something related to mathematics or science, but he also wanted to study disciplines unrelated to his majors, such as history. Ripon’s small-town feel and local nature reserves such as the Ceresco Prairie Conservancy appealed to him as well. It was the care exhibited by professors and students alike, however, that sealed the deal for Gableman.
“On my first visit to campus, (George “Skip”) Wittler, now professor of biology emeritus, took the time to show me around Farr Hall of Science. During an interview I had with Andrea Young, who then was teaching mathematics, she was interested in who I was as a whole person — not just who I was as a student,” he says.
“The energy and time the professors of Ripon seemed willing to put into their students was unequaled when compared to other colleges I visited,” Gableman says. “After attending Ripon, I can say without a doubt the professors do care.”
At Ripon, Gableman majored in computer science and mathematics and minored in physics. He is currently a Ph.D. student at Purdue University, studying computer engineering in the school’s robotics vision lab. His research is in the field of computer vision and focuses specifically on analyzing images taken from cameras.
After graduating, he will work for the Air Force research lab at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.
“My work could be summed up as the question: ‘How can we make a computer do X in the best possible way?’, where X is some task and best possible way refers to some constraints placed on the problem,” he explains.
Gableman credits his early computer science courses at Ripon with showing him techniques to answer the part of the question concerning how to “make a computer do X,” and his later education focuses on the “best possible way” portion of the question. He also finds his other areas of study beneficial in his current work. “Besides teaching me the theory behind a non-trivial swath of mathematics, my courses at Ripon taught me how to learn about mathematics,” he says.
He adds that mathematics also allow him the ability to expand his knowledge to best apply to the problem at hand, instead of the reverse. Physics, he says, “provided a bridge between the world of pure mathematical ideas and the world we observe with our senses … (and also) helped me better understand the physical devices I work with.”
Knowledge, skills and friendships all top the list of rewards he gained at Ripon College. “Ripon has rewarded me with the means of providing food for myself and others through the process of education,” he says. “Ripon has also rewarded me with many great friendships and has given me the ability to create new friendships on my journey. I cannot say which gift is greater, as they are both essential to who I am today.”
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