Engineering Education for the Future

I’m sitting at my desk in my room, listening of an audio message from a friend comment on my other friends weekly Writer’s Guild writing submission, a group of us who discuss and exchange literature and writing. We’re all aspiring writers, and we decided to start a group chat, and meet every Sunday to read each others writing and provide feedback.

How is work? Work is great. I think. I’m happy. It’s challenging, and I appreciate the freedom and flexibility it provides.

My girlfriend is touring with her ballet company in Washington DC and NYC for a Balanchine festival celebration, and I’ll be meeting her early Friday morning, when I arrive from taking a red eye from SFO to EWR. I didn’t want to miss Thursday’s data science management class.

My days have been consisting of reading random books on science, math (calculus mostly), writing, literature, and other random topics.

I’ve been learning about the Arduino Micro-controller with C/C++, and the Raspberry Pi Microprocessor with Python. I love learning about how electronics work. Electrical engineering is most fascinating. Mechanical engineering is also pretty neat, but electrical engineering and radiation and the physics of wave forms and information and communication theory is just amazing. I love it.

I spent time with Ravi on Sunday. I rode my motorcycle around, gave it a good wash, had a burger at Jack’s Prime Burgers, and stopped by to help Claire and him garden and landscape. Then we talked about their work in the lab, and how everything is progressing at their post-doc positions and project proposals. Ravi is examining Killifish, and will be screening and raising about 100 fish to identify neuropeptides as they relate to aging. He’s trying to establish a definite connection between hormones and aging, which has already been established in IGF-1 and insulin, but thats about it. Its a fascinating proposal, and I love learning about how they must build the experiments, and consider endless factors to minimize variables. They’ll be using cameras to track behavior, and have automated feeding machine to regulate nutrition. At the end of 6 months, they’ll collect and dissect and biopsy and analyze imaging data and results.

SOo.. I’m officially enrolled at the College of San Mateo as an engineering student.  I’ll be taking 6 credits a semester or 2 classes, starting with Physics with Calc I and Intro to Engineering (or CS252 intro to C++ depending on scheduling).  If I do spring/summer/fall, and combine my credits with my previous college work, I’ll get my A.S. in Engineering in 12-16 months. So long as I enjoy this process, I’ll have most requisites to apply for most Masters in Engineering programs.

So, what is life? What is the purpose? Individually speaking, it’s about growth. Right? I mean, if you ain’t growing, you’re dying.

How much growth? As much as you can. Modify and augment you mind, your body, your ideas, your relationships, your vision.

A tree doesn’t just decide to stop growing one day. It grows as much as it possibly can with the resources available. And fortunately for us, unlike trees, we can uproot and find resources that aid in our development and growth.

I think it’s our responsibility to this gift of life, of being an American citizen in the 21st century, to seize every opportunity available to grow, personally, professionally, relationally, whatever. You are not a static entity. You are an evolving being.

I was trying to think of practical education. Education that will be an investment in my skills, in my abilities, in my knowledge and understanding.

I was considering an MBA, but I have an associates in business administration and a bachelors in economics… I took all the accounting and managerial classes. I’m not convinced an MBA would increase my earnings, or even current career prospects. Not at this moment, anyway. And I feel that on the job training is exponentially more practical.

An MBA would, however, be amazing for Virtue Signaling. AND great for networking with other hungry business leaders. And it’d be a great vehicle for a career pivot, maybe into something more finance or consulting related? Which, I’m not sure I’m there yet, or ever want to be there. Same rational with a JD.

But it’ll be $40+k a year for two years, plus significant lost wages if I pursue full time. If I do a part time and evening program, it’s same cost, but over three years. If I do a reputable online program, which is often significantly less, it kinda negates the networking exposure aspect, which is like 40% of the value of an MBA in my opinion. And, I’m still paying off a decent chunk of student debt. I’d like to pay that off the next few years before I add any more on.

So the other options were something technical that I can leverage that would help with problem solving.

Science and Engineering seemed like good technical disciplines, but science is more theory/ discovery/ research oriented. Sure, it’s great training, but it’s primary focus is less about creating and building than it is accumulating deep knowledge in a specific field/domain. If I wanted to pursue a career in biotech, for instance, I think a biology or chemistry education or classes or a degree would be a good idea.

But engineering (of any concentration) is the epitome of problem solving, and creating solutions. The training would make me a better problem solver, and I think it signals to others that you can do hard problems of any kind.

I didn’t take any science classes in college, sadly, even though its one of my favorite subjects. Took a lot of math classes for Economics and Finance, which I thoroughly enjoyed, even though they were a struggle at times.

I love reading and writing, but I don’t think taking more philosophy or psychology or sociology or writing classes would be challenging enough. I think I’d come out the other side more of the same. I make it a point to read all that shit anyway, because it’s just damn relevant and fascinating. And I write because I love it, and I need to. So that’ll all happen regardless.

Whereas engineering classes I know will challenge me, and force me to grow as a person. I know because I don’t gravitate to these problems the same way I do to the humanities, and I’d really like to, and I think training and classes would allow me to be more comfortable with those types of problems, much like philosophy has done for any topic relating to the human condition.

The other thing is, I’ve worked in the field of engineering for 5 years now. It’s demystified, and a lot less intimidating than when I was 20 trying to decide a major.

In addition to just the technical training and challenges and exposure, I think so long as I remain in the field of industrial automation, it’ll be a complimentary degree and education, and only make me more competitive.

State schools in California are so cheap its mind blowing. A couple hundred bucks per class. I’d be amiss not to take advantage.

I’m taking three classes at Stanford this semester in their continuing education program, and I just miss the classroom. I love having peers and teachers to talk to about interesting topics.

I recently read a story about a gentlemen from India who was a business executive of a mid-sized company who was laid off. He couldn’t get another job. So, in his mid forties, with a family of five, he picked up and moved to the united states, and took more menial jobs to support his family. Once his kids graduated HS, he began his education again. He just received his PhD at age 66.

That story inspired me. It’s never too late to become an expert, to learn, to grow. That’s what life is all about.

And of course there are other priorities that need to be accounted for. Family, work obligations, etc. But, when life allows it, and you have the time, I think you must take advantage of the opportunities while you can, because life is short, and investments in knowledge and education compound, and you never know what kind of returns you’ll reap if you’re proactively investing in your future.

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