Friday, May 13, 2016

Some Final 20.109 Reflections

20.109 is by far the most useful class I have taken thus far in my life. After reflecting over my experience in this class, I have realized how much I have grown as a communicator and as a researcher. With respect to my writing for example, I have usually struggled with being verbose. Although I definitely need to keep working on that, this class has helped me to become much more aware about the ways in which I can be more concise and still convey a significant amount of information. This was particularly the case with the methods section. I have never attempted to write a legitimate methods section with the same components you would find in real research papers (which I always skipped while searching for the discussion or conclusion….). I never would have thought that I would actually develop a level of comfort writing a section that always seemed to be mumbo jumbo to me.

Furthermore, learning how to develop schematics and diagrams, as well as how to appropriately describe them whether you were writing its associated caption, results, or discussion section was also invaluable. I again, have never really had the opportunity to try consolidating the important parts of an experiment in a schematic, or to put together and interpret results that I helped to generate myself. All of these technical writing skills were difficult at first for me to get used to. Thanks to the super useful feedback that I constantly received from my professors, however, I was able to learn how I could organize myself in order to start writing those components, and learned what I needed to look out for while revising my writing. I now feel confident tackling any other Module 2-type of research papers that lie ahead in my future.  

Another aspect of my communication skills that have greatly improved is my ability to give a presentation in front of a crowd. 20.109 wasn’t the very first occasion during which I gave a powerpoint presentation in front of a class. However, the stakes have never been as high as they were here. The simplicity of some other projects I had presented in high school, and the lack of a real Q&A session after those presentations made them look like a walk in a park compared to what I went through this past term. Although my Journal Club presentation was a nightmare for me, I was able to get ahead of my work and prepare much earlier for my second class presentation in order to work on my communication skills. Going to the BE Communication Lab was also very useful in setting my partner and I up for performing better on our final presentation than we had individually before.  

Time management issues and not spending as much time preparing for my assignments as I wanted to were certainly recurring themes in the blogs I have posted the past few weeks. The difficulties I had in these areas made preparing assignments for 20.109 and fulfilling my commitments in other classes pretty stressful. In an attempt to  save others from following the same tracks I did, I will continue to emphasize to start assignments and seek help EARLY! If you find yourself in a vicious cycle of sleep deprivation and the inability to finish assignments on time, don’t be afraid to ask for additional assistance from professors or other MIT faculty whom are there to give us a hand.

I would like to that this moment to also give a shout out to my great lab partner, Skirma.  I am really grateful to have collaborated with her, and for the patience she had even when I messed up badly during lab. I wouldn’t have made it through the tough moments of the semester without her. 20.109 did a great job of making us work in teams, where we had the opportunity to develop communication and collaboration skills that will be useful in any occupation we choose to pursue.

Last, but certainly not least, I want to thank the best professors I have ever had. This class could have been terrible without them. I really appreciated their time and dedication, and for helping me to really see what it means to be a Biological Engineer. I will always remember them and will cherish all of my experiences in this class. 20.109 was definitely a lot of work. But I would have never grown so much as a scientist without that work and the presence of all of the professors. Once again, thank you!

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