Graduating with a degree AND a resume

Boise State Engineering #13 in public undergraduate Engineering programs.

For those of you that don’t know I Graduated w my BS in Material Science & Engineering for +Boise State University in 2009. While there I was afforded with the unique opportunity while there of working on three different research projects. Most Universities with nationally ranked Engineering programs don’t let undergraduates touch research, let alone pay them to do it. The longest of the three projects is in the October issue of The Journal of Solid State Chemistry,
I also had the opportunity to present that same research at PacRim8
This isn’t meant to be a brag post, because honestly while I’m smart, I’m not smarter than thousands of other students graduating every year who didn’t have the opportunity to graduate with a resume in addition to a degree. I graduated with a great education, having passed the FE, with a 5 year degree, a laundry list of scientific equipment acronyms I know how to run (SEM, XRD, TEM, STM, etc.),  and a 5 year technical resume.

If you in the wild time of a life where you are trying to figure out how to go about transitioning through college and into the real world (whether you are still in high school, or already in college) I would give you two conjoined pieces of advice:

1) Look for opportunities! Look for an environment rich in opportunities. One of the greatest advantages to going to a school like MIT isn’t the absolute hell they will put you through to get your degree. It is the status of the degree that says “I’m smart enough to cut it at MIT”, the opportunities that degree will provide; and almost more importantly, the opportunities that will be provided to you WHILE you are there. One reason many people join fraternaties and sororieties is for the network, and opportunities that often come up when connected to those networks, though the greek system is not necessarily the best or only network on campus. Join clubs (or at least show up to the meetings for the free pizza and listen until the talk about doing something you want to be involved in) Engineers w/o Borders is a great one for the future engineers out there. If you have a specific dream or asperation, start chasing it now, don’t wait till later, there will always be a later, and if you make that awesome contact “too early” the worst thing they could say is “call me when…” and then you have a legitimate reason to bug them later on. Even if you think “it would be cool to…” then pursue it. It doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to google up whoever is successfully doing whatever it is you want to do and reach out to them. (tip: don’t just reach out to top dog, reach out to every person who looks like they have experience in what you want to do, especially if there is some sort of connection, even if that connection is that you both live in the same state or that you both like [insert a movie/book/tv show/artist/whatever here])

2) Take those opportunities! Both of the first two undergraduate research positions I landed was because of one simple fact that I don’t think I’ve told many people. I was possibly the only person to apply, and I followed up. It was really that simple. It helped that I was in a new program (Material Science had just started its undergraduate program a few years earlier), and every professor in the program had multiple research projects going on.  In no way am I saying “give up on your dreams” and take the first thing that comes along. But I am saying DO NOT hold out for something better to come along when you still have no idea what better is. If you have no idea exactly what you want to do, then you would be stupid (don’t worry we are all stupid at times) to turn an opportunity simply because you don’t know if you would like it.

Working in the face of disaster (Remembering September 11th and Katrina)

So my first major paper that is due for my MBA program at UNO (University of New Orleans) is on Telecommuting. And something that has popped up more than once is how telework (AKA telecommuting) allows businesses to function during crisis, and natural disaster situations. This is particularly of interest to companies in New Orleans, where I live now. Many businesses had to close during Hurricane Isaac the week before Isaac. And even those businesses who are not retail dependent where forced to close during Katrina, in most cases for several months, if not indefinitely.

Something I found in my research is “The Status of Telework in the Federal Government”; an annual report on telework among government agencies. The first one was in 2002, and therefore reflects data from 2001. And the only thing it discusses in its background besides how it fulfills a bunch of different bills and laws of section this of bill such and such, is “Post-Disaster Response” and this is what that section says:

“In the aftermath of September 11, telework has become an option of necessity for many employees and employers. Displaced workers in the New York area and at the Pentagon were left without offices. Road closings and increased security precautions exacerbated already severe traffic congestion. As a result, many federal managers began to take a fresh look at telework arrangements.”

Businesses have the ability to be more agile than ever before. They have the responsibility to be. I’m not saying that businesses should turn on a dime. But in the face of adversity, rather than slowing down you need to be able to speed up. I was hardly adversely affected by Isaac, but because of the storm I couldn’t be busier. If you or your business is not agile then perhaps this recession is your ice age. And I believe that it will drive more companies to extinction before it’s over.


I have brought this up a few times on Social Media over the last few months as I have hit different milestones; acceptance, passing peer-review, preliminary online publishing, etc.

But now the full article, with color figures, is available online.

Transmission electron microscopic study of pyrochlore to defect-fluorite transition in rare-earth pyrohafnates

Fig. 1. Schematic of the partial pyrochlore unit cell showing different cationic and anionic (O) sites.

It’s still free and open as I’m posting this, but I’m not sure it will stay that way forever. Hopefully in the not too distant future I’ll post a slideshare, or a video explanation. I’ll also check with Boise State to see if I’m allowed to publish the poster I presented on this same research at PacRim ’10 Conference.