All my projects, homework, lab reports, etc. are done for the year and all I have left is one final exam tomorrow. Whee! I’m excited about the holiday break, but I really think I’ll miss school a little bit.
I know my hordes of readers are waiting with bated breath [note: I had to look up the proper spelling of both hordes and bated – doh!] to hear how my egg project turned out. Well, we were incredibly surprised to learn that we had the highest score in our whole class! It wasn’t that our project was bad, it was just smaller, cheaper, and a little less complex than some of the others. Plus, one group brought in a live chicken. Granted, the live chicken didn’t do anything, it was just a prop, but it was a LIVE CHICKEN.
I think one of the things I learned from this project was that over-engineering is not necessarily a good thing. We didn’t spend countless hours doing unnecessary things like adding lights with no purpose and doing endless brainstorming. One group I talked to spent six of the eight weeks we were allotted just throwing ideas around. I was very mindful of our specifications and goals and kept reminding the group of them at every critical decision. I also was charged with keeping the group “on track.” I would let them go off on little tangents and socialize some, but when nothing had been accomplished in a while, I gently nudged them back to work. Also, the “lost boys” started to refer to me as the “den mother.” This might have been because I provided snacks at our major meetings but hey, eighteen-year-old boys work much better when bribed with really good cookies. We used our time fairly well and were able to win even though I’m pretty sure we spent fewer man-hours than the other top-ranking groups.
Now, I know that working as students on a project is different than a project in the workplace, but I was really surprised how easily I fell into the project manager role. I contributed heavily to 2 of our 6 steps, so I didn’t feel like I wasn’t a part of the actual engineering but I have to admit I was critical in the management role. I feel like some of this was due to my age/experience and some of it was due to my gender. I will be interested to see how projects go in the future.