Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Reflections in my last week at the UofA

I can't even begin to explain how good it feels to write "last week"....ahhh....so nice. I have a lot of fun times at the UofA in my research lab, but there have been a lot more stressful, time consuming, and not enjoyable moments.

My first year was the most trying. I had already worked one summer in the "Lab" (which is mostly just computers) and my professor was confident in my skills and work. So when I started full time, he dropped me right in the middle of things. This was great because it enabled me to finish in 2 years but it felt like I just got thrown in to a hurricane. Although I learned a LOT, there were many nights of tears and doubts wondering if this field was really for me. I really felt so lost and inadequate in the depth and breadth of knowledge and how fast I was asked to come up to speed on it.

Then came my internship with Texas Instruments. I was so nervous about starting, but it was really a fantastic experience. I came home almost every day saying, "I really enjoyed work today." Of course there were the boring days, but I loved what I was working on and the people I was working with. I was blessed to have TI offer me a job at the end of the term in spite of the beginnings of the economic downturn.

I began my second year of the master's with the "get it done and get out" motto. I wanted to lie low, finish what I had to, and get back to TI and actual work that I liked. However, my research group was rocked with the sudden death from aggressive brain cancer of one of our PhD students. He had been the lead on our most important project (at the time) with our NASA Space electronics project. My professor asked us all to step in a help pick up where he left off.

This project was more of a big picture, top level design than the one I had spend my 1st year on. The more I learned about it, the more I was intrigued by it. Once again I was completely blessed to emerged as the new leader on this bigger project. Even though it was complex it was much more up my system-minded alley. As the months passed, more and more issues started to come up which I had to figure out and come up with solutions. The result was a better system which was the focus of my Master's thesis.

Even though that 1st year was really tough, my second year was such a blessing. I can say now that I'm truly proud of the work that I have completed in my Master's. Everything seems to be falling into place as I look at starting my engineering career.

Thankfully, I've got a couple of months to do some serious de-tox before starting in July! Sun and pools here I come!

2 comments:

Silvy said...

great post. good luck at TI! i'm sure you will enjoy being together in texas and hopefully relaxing a little bit!

Jenn Eastman said...

again, very proud of you. you are awesome. and i'm so glad you will have a break to relax. miss you.