Blogs of Future Past by Professor Sandy Antunes
Every year, another crop of students graduate and go out to make the world a better place. Most communication these days takes place via Google docs, Discord, and other near-real time platforms. Often, I wish students might leave us spectators some sort of travelogue or record of their time, an Adventurers Journal of the path they took. Pleasantly, many student projects have used the semi-permanent format of blogging as a way of tracking and reporting on their progress in real time. Reading the blogs is reading their journey of exploration, in their own unique and authentic voice.
Here are excerpts from three of my favorites. I enjoy the Balloon Payload Program for their headline-worthy titles and accurate writing, the IEEE Club quadcopter build for really capturing the realism in being a student leader for a student-run project, and “Summer Intern 2013” for great first-person writing of their journey. They are by necessity brief, often only capturing the “middle eight” of the 16-week semester, that core build period after “project conception” and before “delivery.”
Let's start with the first year in the ramp up of the Balloon Payload Program, as documented by Jeff Williams and Ben Serano. If curious, visit it at https://ctubpp.wordpress.com/ to read items such as, "We’re just a hair away from completing our main goal for this semester: Launching tethered balloons for the projects flying on the high altitude balloon. We’ve managed to gather everything and are now awaiting on mother nature to let us fly." I applaud their use of effective, evocative titles such as "Back to the Drawing Board," "Testing the “Funbox,” and "Now, We Wait.”
Amanda Shields's capture of her tenure as president of Capitol's IEEE club in 2013 is practically a master class in the ups and downs of handling student-run club projects. It is visible at http://ccieee.blogspot.com/. Covering the first 2 months of creating a club quadcopter, she and VP Ethan Reesor, at one stage, manage an accidental lab take-over from another club, via "Turns out the leadership of the robotics club, who was overseeing the robotics lab, has dissolved. I'm not sure what's going to happen to the club, but the lab, and everything in it, has been turned over to us."
Their blog includes an insightful and accurate capture of the people issues faced by student projects. She writes, "As I, the project lead and holder of important keys, couldn't get to campus, the quadcopter project didn't happen, and apparently no one wanted to come to work on other projects. This friday should be our first day. Five weeks after we agreed to start this project. Four weeks after I ordered all the parts. Life."
The last of today's student voices is the elusive "Summer Intern 2013", whose blog at http://worktodate.blogspot.com/ closes out with some of my favorite prose. "We've come a long way from knowing nothing to learning something. My knowledge and understanding of satellite signals has grown and the personal desire for them has increased. More research and information discovered. I have continued to try and contact the radio station with out much hope but hope is still alive. The journey continues...."
And so it does,
Dr. Sandy Antunes