January 16, 2019

Reflections: 2 months later (Part II)

In this post, I would like to share my reflections on the two things that surprised me the most during the PIUSS lecture week.


Everybody knows how common variation is. It doesn't take you always the same time to go to work, you don't wait the same time at the supermarket queue everyday, your phone calls with your friends don't last always the same time etc.

During my undergraduate studies at the electrical engineering school, I had been taught about statistics. I knew that when designing a robotic hand or a signal processing application, I should bear in mind that processes follow probabilistic rather than deterministic models. But I had never imagined how frequent this variability is in manufacturing processes where the procedures taking place are identical every time.

When we did the aeroplane competition in the class, I expected that there would be variation in the process outcomes because our hands are not as reliable as machines. But when Graeme presented his project in the candy company, Ι didn't expect to hear about the huge process variation and its consequent cost. This is something that had never crossed my mind!


Team work

One of the pillars of SS projects is the cooperation within the teams. At the beggining of the year, I was really scared about having to work in groups. I was afraid that the language barriers and the cultural differences would inhibit our communication.

During this module, I think that I joined five different teams. And it was by far, one of the most enjoyable experiences I have had so far. It is so amazing to see how a team can build on an idea step-by-step. In teams, everyone is useful. Even if someone doesn't understand what is going on,it is not a problem! You just have to slow down and explain to him/her the procedures; but in this way, you can resolve latent misunderstandings.

Sometimes, there is stress and you might become more aggresive. For instance, when he had the aeroplane competition, there was a lot of pressure because if we lost, we wouldn't eat cake! As a consequence, some arguments arose. But when we were calm, we approached each other in order to apologise. And then it was so nice to leave all the bad feelings behind, embrace the other person and work as a team again. As Helen Keller used to say ''Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much''.


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