In my four years at Iowa State University I have grown as a person, an engineer, and as a thinker. I’ve learned how to work as a team, how to lead, how to interact with people of all different backgrounds, and more. I’ve had the opportunity to lead teams of non-engineers, to lead teams of engineers, and lead teams of young children. As a person, I have become more understanding, more inquisitive, and more passionate about the things I love. Through my experiences outside of engineering, I have learned to challenge popular beliefs, to write, to do my own research, and to never stifle my own creativity.
The most important part of my education at ISU has been the ability to go hands-on. We had the opportunity to design our own systems in near every lab I took. Whether it was a mars rover, a digital circuit, or a remote control, I was the one designing it alongside a team of other engineers. When problems came up, I had established a tried and true problem solving methodology through my coursework. No problem is too big when you’ve been prepared to solve it in an organized manner. In our world today there is no doubt that every bit of engineering can have a massive impact on the globe. We talked extensively about ethics (specifically the Challenger explosion and the VW Diesel scandal) and my professors always made an effort to relate what we were learning back to a view of the world we live in. If I am going to make an impact, I know what I must do to make sure it is a positive one.
ISU has also prepared me to research issues from a variety of different sources, perspectives, and mindsets. For some problems, simply learning the equation is sufficient. ISU has taught me that sometime it is worthwhile to trace a piece of knowledge all the way back to the origin, i.e. to learn everything I can. In a complex project, deep knowledge is invaluable. I learned to search our library and our collection of databases through our online search tools. I was able to find scholarly references of all kinds that I could trust to be well researched. In the more cutting edge areas of my major, I learned to vet online tutorials and resources to ensure I wasn’t cutting corners or putting anyone in harm’s way. I also learned how to communicate with professional engineers. Engineers prefer to be direct and to the point. After a couple of interactions, I learned how to get the most out of every interaction with a professional engineer.
Outside of the classroom, I’ve had the opportunity to lead a mars rover team on campus. There, we taught ourselves board design, circuit design, how to choose integrated circuits, how to machine metal, and how to design an electronic system. I learned a lot about technical leadership and development as well. Thanks to Iowa State, we had the funds to realize our goals and create our control system. The learning I achieved in this extracurricular activity gave me the confidence to learn anything I set my mind to as I continue on in life as an engineer. Since then, I’ve learned software development, piano, and photography because of the learning skills I developed.
Currently, I’ve been following a self-regimented study plan for investing in the stock market. I find the mathematics to be fascinating and the underlying factors of the market to be an incredible topic. I’ve heavily utilized online resources and books to gain a baseline of knowledge to start trading someday. All investing involves risk, but I’ve learned that all risk is manageable when you learn what you can and cannot control.
If I could change anything about my undergraduate career, it would be to develop more personal relationships at school. I’ve bonded closely with my coworkers and my friends but not with my professors, TAs, and many of my classmates. Not only do they all seem very interesting, but maintaining a relationship would be mutually beneficial to our professional networks in the future.