General Education Reflection

My experience at Iowa State university has helped to shape my professional academic and career goals by giving me a better understanding of the possibilities. By enduring the difficult classes here at Iowa State University I have realizes that I enjoy being intellectually challenged and I wish to continue to push the limits of my understanding by pursuing a higher degree. Additionally, I’ve also come to enjoy the unique challenges presented though working as a software developer and wish to pursue a career in this field. My general education classes made me more well rounded and have taught me to consider other viewpoints when solving a problem as well as supplemented my skill-set.

I realized my love for being intellectually challenged though taking on advanced courses and wish to pursue a higher degree in the future. In my time at Iowa State University I have even taken some graduate level courses such as Principles of Artificial Intelligence (CS572) and Molecular Programming (CS533). I plan to pursue a Masters and PhD either immediately after completing my bachelors degree or after working in as a software developer for a few years to keep up with my student loans. I am still deciding between whether I wish to pursue a degree in Computer Engineering with a focus on software to continue a more well rounded education to further my understanding of both hardware and software or whether to pursue a degree in Computer Science and focus on theory and algorithms. I chose to study Computer Engineering for my bachelors because I felt it gave me  a more balanced education since I study both hardware and software and I have been very satisfied with my decision. However, after taking the Theory of Computation (CS331) and Molecular Engineering (CS433) I strongly believe I would also be satisfied if I took this route instead. Getting my doctorate is now somewhat on my bucket list, although I may not continue my study immediately after my bachelors it is something I aspire to do in my future.

Since my experience in high school studying at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA) I aspire to work in a position where I can make a meaningful positive impact on society. The mission statement of IMSA included the goal to “ignite and nurture creative, ethical, scientific minds that advance the human condition” and now I too aspire to advance the human condition. The internships that I have had were chosen because I believe in the values of the company and products that they produce. When I worked at, the mission of the company was customer focused rather than profit. At National Instruments, there was a strong emphasis on volunteering and support for STEM education (Lego Mindstorms). Finally, my most recent upcoming internship at Epic is a company that produces medical information technology that improves healthcare globally. When I work full time after completing my study at Iowa State University, I hope to work at a company with whom I share similar values and produces products that I can be proud of that can help advance the human condition.

In addition to aspiring to work at a company with values and goals that overlap with mine, another strong criteria for my ideal job is that I am constantly intellectually challenged and that it I can build upon the skills that I have. I have worked a few internships as a software developer and I have found much of the work to be very satisfying. That being said, an option for my ideal job would be working as a software developer at a place where I can be constantly introduced to new engineering problems as well as be given opportunities to investigate new technologies and further my learning.

One of the major benefits to my general education courses are the broader range of skills and information that they offer that I wouldn’t have traditionally be introduced to in my base classes. In the Music Technology courses (CS246, CS346) I’ve learned various things such as how to interpret midi messages and has also made me more appreciative towards those in sound design field though learning the complexities of what comes into play. When I took Reading Russian Literary and Cultural Texts (RUS314) I learned how to understand new words through context which is a skill that can be applied to many things such as reading very technical documents such as datasheets. So, in short, my general education electives have advanced my problem solving skills.

I have learned about viewing a problem from various dimensions mostly though the advanced communication course (ENG250) where the focus was international cultures.This course taught me about identifying various different viewpoints and this skill can easily be transferred into analyzing the various  kinds of impacts of an engineering solution. For example, when undergoing a project there are things to be considered. If the solution to be analyzed is something physical like building a structure like wind turbine, there are environmental, social, and economic factors to be considered. For the environmental impact, the danger to birds should be considered. Strides should be taken to minimize risk and the location may also need to be evaluated. For example, if the location is a popular breeding ground for some rare or endangered bird species then this location would be very unfavorable. The impact on the local residents should be considered including popular opinion and the sound level in relation to the distance to residential areas.  Additionally, the weather in the area should be considered to be sure that it is economical to construct in the chosen location as opposed to others. In software solutions there are also many risks to consider outside of the basic functionality. One of the most common risks is the integrity and security of personal information.

My study at Iowa State University has helped guide me on my path. I have a good idea of how i would like to continue and will proceed based off of the opportunities that arise for me. In combination with the base courses for my major the general education courses have helped to prepare me for the future and advance my skills.

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