Course Wrap-ups

As the end of semester approaches, GMI and elective courses begin the dreaded closure process which usually entails an onslaught of final exams, presentations, papers and whatnot. I personally prefer any type of final evaluation as long as it is not an exam, and fortunately for me none of my courses require one this semester.

For my Team Leadership and Innovation course, one of the heaviest elements that contribute to our grade is the Reflected Best Self (RBS) paper. Even though midterm and final exams were replaced by biweekly quizzes due to student feedback (and professors who listen to it!), this assignment proves challenging if one has not prepared enough throughout the semester. The RBS paper consists on a handful of chapters that help develop self-awareness through a series of self-evaluations and their results that come from the lectures and readings given to us during the semester. It is one of the most interesting assignments I have come across so far since there is no expectation for a “correct” answer, but rather we must prove that we have acquired the necessary tools to understand ourselves and propose a series of objectives that will help us improve as individuals. Even though I started my RBS paper, the myriad of self-assessments I did over the semester were not enough to avoid having to spend a couple of nights before the deadline setting up my personal goals for the nearby future. What I enjoyed most about this assignment and this class overall is how even though there is a theoretical approach to a lot of the topics being brought up such as leadership, innovation and teamwork, the main outcome the professors sought to achieve was making sure we can apply what we learned in our daily life in an integral sense, encompassing our career, our principles and our own personalities.

The other assignment I have been working on comes from my Principles of College Teaching class. The main assignment for this class is coming up with a Syllabus for a class that you may end up teaching in your discipline at a 100-level (freshman course). In my case, since my only teaching experience comes from Costa Rica, I decided I would reimagine the introductory course in my own major: Introduction to medical technology engineering. For this assignment, we are expected to create a sense of engagement with the student that goes beyond setting up the requirements to pass the course, but rather to guarantee that the experience will be memorable, enjoyable and useful. It is not as simple as describing what must be taught in the course, we must also elaborate in how this is going to be done, describing our teaching method with as much creativity as possible (In consideration of what current teaching expectations are – ie: not proposing going on field trips every class). While writing this assignment, I realized the congruency between the material we are being taught and the way my current courses are set up. The GMI courses under Dr. Richardson are unquestionably engaging, adaptable and always places my interests as a student first. The Team Leadership and Innovation course also had this strong sense of engagement, seeking to provide a more pragmatic learning experience that will allow us to apply our knowledge instead of simple memorizing it. To be fair, it is much easier to engage graduate students like us since we are certain of our interest in the program we are part of; however, it may be harder for undergraduate students to engage in subjects they have yet to understand how they relate to their future field of work.

Finally, my assignments for GMI are more consistent with what we have blogged about collectively in the past. For my implementation project (VisRefr), pivoting to a more user friendly platform as opposed to programing a raw cross-platform application from the very beginning has proven to be a workload relief. Not only is it more enjoyable, it gives me a sense that the task can be completed in the current timeline. In all fairness, it was my own mistake since I miscalculated the amount of work it may take a single-person unit to program an entire app without using anything as baseline. With the current solution – Microsoft PowerApps – it may be easier to meet my sponsor’s demands in a more reasonable timeframe. However, communication with international sponsors may at times be slightly difficult to maintain as we can only schedule phone calls and these tend to be somewhat harder to commit to when compared to a face-to-face. All hurdles aside, the project is turning out to be successful albeit if the timeline may be slightly shifted towards the Spring Semester.

When it comes to the Design Project, this one is more about our capabilities to work as a team; nonetheless, balancing workloads between our individual projects, our electives and extracurricular responsibilities sometimes get in the way of the most effective teamwork. We are aware we took longer than expected in finding a <Need> that we are all passionate about, but most importantly that it is feasible within our current resources and timeframe. By now we have narrowed it down to three, considering we have pivoted considerably since we last thought we had locked in our top needs. We now face the challenge of meeting our deadlines without stressing out too much and taking it out on each other. I honestly believe that one of the most challenging aspects of the GMI program is not related to practical knowledge, but rather the soft skills required to successfully perform as an engineering team.

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