Ben Ma first realized the power of music to connect people as a volunteer DJ.
“I used to DJ at retirement homes, at food kitchens, at rehabilitation centers,” he says. “As a 15-year-old, I couldn’t really relate to a 70-year-old in a retirement home. But I did some research and listened to requests and realized that playing music that we both enjoy is something that creates the seed of a personal connection. And we can expand on that.”
As Ma grew up in San Jose, California he was simultaneously discovering his love for technology. After joining coding summer camps in the hopes of being able to make video games, he discovered the multitude of uses of programming languages and enrolled in computer science classes in high school.
Upon his admission to the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, Ma hoped to combine his passion for music with his interest in technology. In the laboratory, Ma assisted with creating algorithms to analyze the body’s physiological responses to hearing music. Data obtained in this way can have incredible applications in understanding exactly how music manipulates our emotions, and how it can be used to bring people together.
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