A senior at Episcopal Academy, Mong Hailemariam is the co-president of the Coding Club, and the group is delving into new technological advancements surrounding Artificial Intelligence. He is also on the Code and Build Team (Episcopal Academy Robotics). Last summer, he was a Computer Science Scholar at Carnegie Mellon University where he studied encryption with post-doctoral students, as well as math and Computer Science.
At EA’s fall awards event, he earned the prestigious University of Chicago book award and earned the College Board’s National African American Recognition Award. He is a tutor for 1st and 2nd grade students with ACLAMO (this is his fourth year). He has volunteered serving meals at University City Hospitality Coalition. He is a member of the EA’s select senior student group called EQV (Esse Quam Videri). During his junior year he started working with EA’s theater group, and he enjoys working on set design and production. He is also active with the Black Student Union, the Queen-Straight Alliance, the tennis team, and the spring track team (shot put). Hailemariam joined EA’s Knitting Club his freshman year, and outside of school, he sings in his church choir.
Main Line Media News: Tell us a little about the most interesting activities of the Code and Build Club at EA.
Mong Hailemariam: Our school’s Robotics Team’s code and build teams participate in the First Robotics Competition, which allows students to develop their design, coding, and building skills. In my first two years of high school, I was tasked with building the main drive train of the robot as well as designing various 3D objects. During my junior year, I explored the coding side of robotics. We began by creating a server using an older computer that was available in order to save our work from year to year. Once we learned the task for 2022’s robotics competition, I led meetings to make sure everyone was on the same page about the design of the robot and ensured that everybody worked cohesively. Moreover, I built much of the code centered around driving, in which we used a mechanum drivetrain and the code for the autonomous period.
Main Line Media News: What do you think has been the most important thing you have learned as a tutor?
Mong Hailemariam: As a tutor with ACLAMO, the most important thing I have learned is patience, which allows me to better understand the students at ACLAMO. In turn, my attitude encourages students to open up and allows me to help them with their work. I continued to see this pattern in all aspects of my life: friends, family, and even teachers.
Main Line Media News: Tell us a little about your goals as co-president of the Coding Club at EA.
Mong Hailemariam: My goals with Coding Club co-president Rohan Dalal have shifted toward sharing with the members of the club new information about Artificial Intelligence, such as Google’s new video-creation tool that creates a short video based on a textual reference, and the rise of the ChatGPT from Open AI. Moreover, our meetings have two main ideas of what students can learn: Rohan typically shows simpler AI models, such as a bot that plays tic-tac-toe to near-optimization, while I usually focus on algorithms centered around cryptography and sharing the ideas needed for cybersecurity. Recently, I have started a new series of meetings where we try out different areas of cybersecurity using capture-the-flag tasks from Carnegie Mellon University.
Main Line Media News: Can you tell us a little about the purpose of Esse Quam Videri, and some of its most interesting activities?
Mong Hailemariam: My time with my school’s Esse Quam Videri (EQV) leadership organization has given me the chance to work with people from diverse backgrounds and interests at my school in order to develop leadership within our school. To provide a brief explanation, every year a group of 10-15 seniors is elected as leaders of the community – and election campaigns are prohibited. Typically, people vote for their friends, and faculty vote on students they believe will have a major impact on the community. This leaves a diverse group of individuals from various groups of our school community. So far into our year, we are resources to display what proper leadership is. Along with helping with the underclassmen seminars, we’ve led freshmen orientation, prepared them for their camping trip, held discussions on redesigning classroom spaces to display our school’s values, and organized breakfasts on delayed openings for students who must arrive early to school. Overall, our community has become closer with one another, as we bridge gaps between grades, interest groups, classes and races, due to our various projects to further develop our leadership in a way that represents our name — silently being leaders and making our school home for its students.
Main Line Media News: What is your favorite course at Episcopal Academy and why?
Mong Hailemariam: My favorite high school course was ethics. It has been two years since I have taken this course, and to this day I visit my teacher to discuss brand-new topics that I had encountered, most recently the idea of free will that spurred from a debate during Thanksgiving. I had been reading about the idea of determinism and discussed this with my family, who holds differing views on free will that are tied to religion. Although philosophy typically is seen as a “boring” subject to learn, I had fun thinking about the way these different people saw the world, and how it shaped my own viewpoint on morality.
Main Line Media News: What has been your favorite knitting project?
Mong Hailemariam: My favorite knitting project was an infinity scarf that I made as a junior. It took me a little while to create, and oftentimes I feared that my minor mistakes would eventually make the scarf extremely tangled and nearly impossible to finish due to the errors I made. However, knitting that scarf was a lesson in managing stress and thinking calmly about possible solutions.
(To be selected as Main Line Student of the Week, a student must first be nominated by his or her school.)