September 26, 2014

Be Selfish

Writing about web page Confidence, advice

I used to blog frequently up to about 18 months ago.

Then, life seemed to get in the way. Nevermind that writing is core to what I'm trying to achieve...I simply did not have time to organize my thoughts into 500-1000 word snippets for friends, colleagues and family to read.

It's been a CRAZY 18 months, by the way. A time when perhaps sitting down to write my thoughts for a few minutes might have helped me.

But no regrets now! What's done is done.

Now is time to make a new commitment- to thought organization, to communication, to writing.

To be completely honest, it was more than just being busy that prevented me from writing. It was a period of academic (and probably a bit of personal) depression.

The realization of how lonely (very very lonely) doing a doctorate can be for someone like me hit me...HARD. And I didn't like it.

I love working with people, being a part of something bigger than myself. A common theme has come through all my advice from those who have come before me.

"Be selfish."

Selfish?!?

That word isn't really in my vocabulary. I mean, sure, I've read the Fountainhead and I'm aware of the ideas of Ayn Rand, but it all seems a bit extreme.

I guess I started being selfish last year, when I decided to take my research in an entirely new direction, with a new supervisor. (Yeah, I haven't blogged about that experience yet...maybe soon).

However, in my heart, it always feels a bit strange, to just focus on this one little project that really only I care about (and probably will be the only person in the future to care about).

I've got 15 months left until I am meant to submit the best thing I've ever written. I've got tons of data I need to collect, literature to review, research questions to formulate and critism to take on the chin. It all seems a bit impossible.

However, I've got a few key individuals (I'm hoping you know who you are) who are my support in this. I'm counting on them to remind me, when the going gets tough in this game called research....I'm going to have to be (a little) selfish.


May 28, 2012

Engineering YES! Days 1 & 2

The four of us: Matt, Claire, Nick and myself, all got to the Holiday Inn in Coventry Sunday afternoon, ready to get started with the Engineering YES competition. We started meeting up with the six other teams here, from other West Midlands universities, Loughborough University, University College London, Lincoln, Leicester, Huddersfield, and Birmingham. We started with a discussion led by former Rolls Royce enginner and consultant, John Boyes, who discussed our ideas about networking. We then had a nice dinner and tried to practice what we had learned with the other teams after dinner.

We got up early the next morning for a proper English breakfast at 8:30 for a 9am start of the day's program. We started by listening to a talk on Setting up a Spin Out from Dr. John R Tyrer, a professor of Optical Instrumentation from Loughbourgh University. He discussed types of spin outs from university research and noted that Entrepreneurship was a skill that could be learned. He noted that "Good entrepreneurs inspire, rather than direct, lead rather than manage."

After Dr. Tyrer, we heard from George Rice from the University of Nottingham, who discussed spin out case studies in Engineering Technology around processing of vermiculite and heart rate monitors for babies. He gave a lot of good insight on critical components needed for a good pitch to get investors in on an idea or concept.

Our third speaker for the morning was Jason Teng, a lawyer from Potter Clarkson LLP, who spoke to us about the various types of intellectual properties, most extensively in Patents. We were also able to have a one-on-one with Jason in the afternoon, who gave us a great deal of insight on the way to approach the IP with our idea.

After the speakers, we were given a team exercise that dealt with a series of cards that gave certain bits of information, and from these cards we were supposed to answer two questions. It was much like a logic puzzle that I used to do as a child. We were the first team out of the seven to solve the puzzle and answer the questions correctly. In fact, only three of the seven teams were able to solve it at all in the time alloted. This helped our team spirit!

After lunch, we met with various mentors in our designated syndicate room. We saw five experts on the topics of business planning, finance, IP, licensing and marketing. The feedback for our idea was mixed- we got a lot of challenges to the concept that we discussed in detail before making our elevator pitch right before dinner.

Matt was designated to give our elevator pitch for our idea, which was a bit shaky from the critism we had recieved earlier in the afternoon. However, he did marvoulously, and I personally think that we are in a good competitive standing with the other teams!

Now, we are working on the details of our idea, getting quantitative figures organized and hashing out the feedback we recieved today, but we don't plan on working too late into the evening as we have another early morning tomorrow!

Group in the Morning

Matt and Nick work hard on our idea

Claire and I discuss concepts


March 27, 2012

Creativity

So I read this posting yesterday: http://www.gwarlingo.com/2012/how-creativity-works-jonah-lehrer/

And it has me thinking about how to apply some of these ideas to the start of my research at Warwick. In my previous research, I've tried to adhere to strict guidelines and scientific reasoning. It's safe, it's secure, it's predictable. I make to-do lists, I plan, I set expectations. None of this is "bad." However, I am starting to think, that if I want to be truly successful in this EngD/Msc program, I cannot constantly rely on these security blankets I create for myself. I am coming from a purely science background (physics) into an area that seems to pull from a lot of different disciplines. It excites me, it is a new challenge for brain to contort the way I view problem solving and working with people and ideas. Therefore, I think I am going to pull some points out of this article and try to keep them in mind as I move forward with some research ideas this spring:

1. "Scientists have determined that people in a relaxed state and a good mood are far more likely to develop innovative or creative thoughts."

This means I am going to relish my tea breaks more, stop worrying about what I need to do when I am doing something else and focus on the present. I have a tendency to over-think things, and I am going to work on stopping that. (at times!).

2. "If only the deep insights and epiphanies were enough...but it takes a lot of hard work to realize a creative project"

This may seem counter to (1), but I also want to recognize that I am willing to put the work in to getting something done. Never been an issue for me, but I am excited to formulate something soon that will get the hard work going.

3. "Self-consciousness is an enemy of creativity. To do our best creative work, we must be focused, but also relaxed and at ease in our own skin."

As I have gone through my 20s, I find myself becoming less and less self-conscious and more playful. I think this can only help me in the long run. Am I still afraid of rejection? Sure. But this fear is less paralyzing than it used to be. And now I dance in public more....


Ok, now I'm going to get on creating a research idea that I had last week. If it goes anywhere, I'll blog about it. :)


January 16, 2012

First Post!

Hello!

So I already have a blogspot blog as well: www.iupuigradtowarwick.blogspot.com

I thought I would start one here as well, to connect with more people at Warwick. I will probably double-blog a lot (post the same ideas/posts on both blogs) but feel free to comment on either or both.

I hope to promote discussion of ideas and topics of study, as well as serve as sort of a journal of what it is like to move and study in another country, coming from the US.


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