If you remember from Week 9, the nonstandard orders we were using to conduct our experiment were finally supposed to begin production this Monday. I arrived early Monday morning to ensure everything ran smoothly, only to find out that a problem came up over the weekend that prevented us from continuing with the orders. In our attempt to get the orders approved as fast as possible, certain steps in the approval progress were taken out of the proper order, resulting in us having to start over in the creation of our orders. By the time all the new orders were completed, approved, and the product builders had enough flexibility in their schedule to run our orders, it was Friday when we actually ran our first order.
This delay was unfortunately the nail in the coffin in my hopes to be able to present the results of these experiments. It would now take nothing short of a miracle for enough data to be produced to allow me to present meaningful data before my last day this coming Thursday. Nevertheless, the experience wasn’t worthless. The engineers at Boston will still get the information they need to move forward with the equipment validation process, albeit a little later than they wanted. I still gained valuable experience working in a manufacturing unit. While all of my goals weren’t met, this was still a valuable experience for both parties.
This final delay also reminded me of the value of fully understanding a process you work with. This is yet another “duh” lesson, but it’s surprising how often we don’t remember things that seem obvious. Although it was not my responsibility to understand the process in this case (it would not have been a good investment of my time to commit to learning the process, so I just followed instructions of my supervisors), this experience reminds me of the legitimate risk I take when I let getting something done quickly take precedence over getting it done well. Sometimes it is worth taking the risk, but fully understanding the benefits and consequences of your options is valuable in making the best decisions. Remembering instances where I have been bitten in the butt in the past will make it less likely I will underestimate potential consequences in the future.
In the four days I have left at Boston, my primary role is to see to it that our remaining orders will be completed in a timely manner, and that those taking over my role in this project have all the information they need to continue with the process. I will then present all of my recommendations for my production unit to my supervisor, and then be on my way back to Texas.
Looking back at my overall experience in Costa Rica, one of the more surprising things I’ve learned is how difficult it is to live in a foreign culture. Our experience has been relatively easy: many of the people we interacted with spoke English, we had our group of GMI students as a microcosm of familiar culture, and many of the day-to-day worries like transportation were taken care of for us. Nevertheless, at the end of this trip, I’m finding myself much more eager to get back “home” than I would have thought. I think the most draining aspects have been the language barrier and constantly feeling like an outsider. I can only imagine how much more difficult it would be to live in a more foreign culture like those in Asia or the Middle East. Again, I think that this experience will help me in making more informed decisions in the future. I have at times pondered working in another country for an extended period of time. While I am by no means no longer considering living in a new country, this experience will help me to more realistically evaluate opportunities I have to do so.