Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 5

Cumulative Reflection

Over the course of my 4 years at Iowa State University of Science and Technology, Ive
learned a staggering array of material. Ive taken courses dealing with Physics, Chemistry,
Electronic Circuits, Software Design, Algorithms, Operating Systems, Networking, Embedded
Systems Design, and more. Ive learned to use a plethora of IDEs programming languages,
and frameworks in order to write ever-more-efficient and complex code, and having
already had the opportunity to utilize some of this knowledge in the workforce, I think
Ive learned them to a sufficient degree to help me throughout my career. Ive learned the
course material for those classes, as well as how to search existing knowledge for solutions. In
the absence of existing solutions, Ive also learned the appropriate methods to search for and
create new solutions. However, a thought that occured to me throughout my time at university
was that it would be possible for someone to learn the majority of this course material
individually, create some independent project work, and simply enter the workforce,
congratulating themself on their ingenuity and motivation having saved them the cost of college
tuition. This thought leads me to question myself: have I ever considered myself to be wasting
my time at university? Could I have simply learned everything I wanted and needed without
going through the middle man of ISU?
While technically possible, this is also extremely unlikely, because the sum total of my
college experiences arent something that I could gain from studying. Had I tried to individually
educate myself, I would have missed out on access to experienced professors, networking
opportunities at the career fair that have lifelong benefit, and access to advanced machines,
readings, and software unavailable to the general population. I wouldnt have had the
opportunity to work in group design classes, a fundamental part of the ISU curriculum, as well
as the most important classes to emphasize and focus on throughout your education and your
entry to the work force. Therefore, my personal belief the difference between simply teaching

the material to yourself and attending university isnt something so small that you could
overcome it with an equivalent amount of effort, and therefore, Ive gained significant value from
my time at Iowa State.
One thing that I never couldve learned by myself is the dynamic of working in a group.
Group work is likely to be the most used skill of any that anyone learns in university. The reason
for this is simple: company projects are always far larger, and far more expansive than anything
that one engineer could ever hope to deal with. No one man could possibly do all of the work to
maintain and build something on the scale of Amazons website, or the software to keep
airplanes on track. Like it or not, everything I ever do after entering the workforce is likely to
consist of group projects, and thus, the most important skill that need to be taught in university
is how to work in groups. For example, when taking Software Development Practices, the entire
semester consisted of forming and developing an original project. This semester long, intensive
course that has only token inclusions for Homework and Exams is widely considered to be one
of the most difficult and necessary courses for a computer engineering major is a testament to
the importance of learning to coordinate and work with group members.
The nature of a project class necessitates the use of outside resources. For my project,
our team developed a mobile application whose purpose was to get people interested in politics
by evaluating a student's political beliefs, and then matching them up with politicians who
happen to have similar beliefs. This required extensive knowledge of programming in Android
and SQL, which few of us had; therefore, we had to look up resources for both of those
programming languages. Such an occurrence becomes more and more necessary the further
you go into your engineering curriculum, and eventually, you realize that covering everything
that you need to know in order to do well in a class simply isnt possible by just attending class
and keeping up with your course work. For instance, in Embedded Systems II, the brunt of the
coursework consisted of learning to program in assembly, yet the lab work consisted of a large
amount of modeling software in VHDL, a hardware design language. No required class in the

university teaches VHDL; you have to learn it on your own while also studying the course
material for the class. In order to understand the course material for a course like Embedded
Systems, you have to really extend how much and how often you are willing to research on your
own time simply to continue to learn relevant material. This is part of the lifelong learning
process that is also one of the end goals of the ISU curriculum, as well as a valuable life
skill. This event isnt even simply isolated to keeping up with your classes. After a while, you
realize that everything youre learning in class isnt enough, and you need to know more to have
a relevant base of skills. For example, Ive used, on my own time, tutorials from MKyong,
W3schools, Program Academy, and Khan Academy in order to understand and learn Javascript,
PHP, SQL, the Spring Framework, and the TestNG Framework. This was all on my own time,
and all because I realized that the knowledge base that Ive obtained throughout my classes,
while certainly not small, didnt cover everything I wanted to know how to do and know. I think
this is a good example of how attending university can broaden the scope of how you think and
learn, not just in environments where thinking and learning are encouraged, but on your own
time. Ive spent my own time going to lectures outside of class time in order to better learn how
to use the tools and knowledge at my disposal, and I dont think that I would have that kind of
motivation and drive had I not attended university.
Though working in groups is one of the most important things you do in university, that
isnt to say its the only important thing you learn. Though I, myself, have learned plenty from
studying individually, I couldnt have learned about the social perspective of my work without the
mandatory classes in the University curriculum. Technical communication, for instance is a
valuable skill that doesnt really have much to do with engineering. Being able to make people
outside your area of study is of tantamount importance. Similarly, I must be able to understand
the needs and desires of the people who my work affects. For example, if I create an extremely
efficient battery that utilizes rare-earth metals that could be used in phones, then that would be
great. However, if that process created negative externalities due to the fact that the

manufacturing process creates large amounts of industrial runoff is something that you also
have to consider. University isnt simply about cramming the skills you need to succeed; its also
about developing an awareness of your affect on the world. This is taught both in the course of
your engineering courses, and also throughout the general education courses that you have to
attend. Ive found that the general education courses do a surprisingly good job of teaching you
to be aware of the effects your behavior & work has on the people around you. There are
Professional responsibilities that everyone is expected to know, but there are also moral
and ethical guidelines that are introduced that you are unlikely to discover, were you to
go about the course of your studies individually. The battery example I gave earlier is a
good example of this; though companies might be in an arms race right now to make more
efficient batteries for ever more complex smartphones, the process of making those batteries
can have a huge environmental and social impact, which would be something youll need to
take into account throughout the course of your work.
If I were to go through the undergraduate program once more, Id no doubt attempt to
work harder than I had the first time during group projects. Ive been fortunate enough to get
some work experience during my time at Iowa state university, and I find that the classes that
are the easiest to write off as meaningless time fillers also tend to be the topics that are the
most relevant to actually working with other people. Therefore, if I had a do-over, Id likely work
far harder in any class that had to deal with Design. Id look through my own resources, find
more online, and even set aside extra time during the day between classes to find somewhere
quiet and get, not just caught up with my course load, but ahead of it. I dont regret the many
lifelong friends and experiences Ive had at university, but after going through everything once, I
cant help but regret that I felt so stretched out during my time here. Ive covered a huge array of
courses, but if I had to go through them a second time, rather than focus on trying to understand
enough material to get by without burning out, I would instead work not merely to complete
classes and get a little closer to my graduation, but rather to better myself solely because I want

to learn. The greatest takeaway Ive gotten from my time here is a desire to learn more, and I
think thats something that will serve me well both professionally and personally for the rest of
my life.