Posted March 26, 2012

Pieces come together at Temple for speedcubing medical student

Stephanie Chow has some of the fastest hands in Temple’s School of Medicine. And while she has just begun her formal medical education, the first-year medical school student is already a master of the Rubik’s Cube.

Chow began toying with the six-sided puzzle while in high school after receiving her first cube as a gift from a friend. Her interest increased, and during her undergraduate years at UC Berkeley she improved her solving skills, becoming part of the university’s active cubing community.

“Solving the cube is like building a house,” she said. “First you have to start with the base and then you build up by layers. So once you have the first floor, you build up the walls, which is the second layer, and then you build the roof, which is the third layer. And that’s basically how you solve the cube.”

But Chow doesn’t just solve the cube — she solves it fast, sometimes in as few as 10 seconds. She is a former speedcubing world-record holder, once named the World Cub Association’s fastest female to complete the square one, an atypical Rubik’s Cube that doesn’t stay cube shaped when scrambled.

Although she began the pursuit as a hobby, Chow says the skills she has honed through solving the cube have helped in her medical school classes.

“Working with the Rubik’s Cube, I have a good sense of 3D perception,” she said. “That’s definitely helped in courses such as embryology, where you need to figure out which parts fold inward and you have to imagine how all these skin foldings are being manipulated as an embryo develops.”

The California native says Temple’s School of Medicine has been a place where all the pieces have come together for her: excellent faculty, great facilities and city living.

“It’s really hard to explain,” she said, “but it’s like that click, that instant feeling that you know you belong here. That’s what I felt when I came here.