Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Mid-Quarter Update

At the beginning of the quarter, I listed some topics I wanted to make sure I learned about:
  • Bahasa Indonesia
  • history and culture of Indonesia at large with a focus on West Java
  • our code for the Arduino
  • our code for the web interface
  • Raspberry Pi
  • renewable energy in ASEAN countries
  • structures/structural analysis
  • stress, strain, etc.
  • modeling software such as SketchUp, ETABS
  • Proctor compaction test
  • environmental issues
  • German Energy Transition
  • Muslims in Germany

How am I doing so far? I've barely started learning Indonesian. I've read one political history book about it and am reading another, and check the Jakarta Globe frequently. My subteam partner for the Arduino is letting me write most of the new code so that I am familiar with how it works. We're putting off the web interface stuff because it depends on the rest of the system working. The Raspberry Pi guy is working away on his own so I need to get on that. I need to read more about renewable energy in ASEAN countries.

I'm getting better at ETABS but have not touched SketchUp or done outside reading on structures and structural analysis.

The grad student in whose lab I'm working is good about explaining what we're doing to me but to be honest I don't 100% grok all of it.

I'm not doing so great at reading up about environmental issues or the Energiewende. We talked a lot about Muslims in Germany in my German culture class and I may go deeper with that for the final presentation.

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On the whole, I do not seem to be doing great. But what I have going for me is that learning about some of this stuff will be enforced.

For my public service class, I will need to put together a final presentation that goes in depth into the history and culture of Indonesia, and, because my project involves it, renewable energy and rural electrification in Indonesia (with other ASEAN countries as context).

Each of my two German classes (language and culture) requires a final presentation. I'll pitch both to my partner for the culture class, and whichever one we don't pick can go for the language presentation. If she doesn't like either, then I'll do a coin flip and pick whichever one I hope the coin lands as. And for the other one there are plenty of articles that I can read, if I make the time. I've added the Jakarta Globe and Der Spiegel to my bookmarks on my phone, which I think will help even though it is kind of sad that that is what I see as being potentially effective.

I am currently writing most of the Arduino code, and will work on the web interface code once that is done. I foresee a steep learning curve but my partner on the transmitter team is a very effective teacher and a true bro. The Pi stuff might be trickier to get any experience with since the guy who's working on it has been working on it since the beginning of the year and me trying to insert myself would 1) decrease the time I have available for nailing transmitter stuff and 2) slow him down. I can offer my help with documentation, however, and since I'm going to be the only one of the team in Indonesia for the first seven weeks we all know that I have to know how to do things.

The structures-related stuff--structural analysis, ETABS, SketchUp--fit most naturally into our work sessions for Seismic. Unfortunately, we're not meeting as much this quarter since we don't have the pressure of an upcoming competition, and I often find myself unwilling to carve out time to work on that. So I'll have to capitalize on the meeting time we do have. I've modeled several towers in ETABS by now such that I think tonight I will ask for a lesson on SketchUp. Reading up about what makes a good structure is important; on the other hand, it is not a top priority at this moment.

A solid strategy, I think, is, later this quarter, to make a list of topics I want to read more about, get a bunch of books, and bring them with me to Indonesia.

The Proctor compaction test stuff and other things I need to know for my research comprise another knowledge area on which I will have to present. I will ask my grad student questions, parrot back the things he explains until I grok them, and articulate why we are running the tests that we are running.

That leaves Bahasa Indonesian and environmental issues as two things that are not going to be enforced by the classes and activities in which I participate. I'm going to use this site, Learning Indonesian, and hopefully since I have also bookmarked that on my phone I'll be encouraged to use it. I'll just also have to carry around my headphones more often since I don't like my phone to emit noise that others can hear.

As for environmental issues...my interest in renewable energy relates to that, and I'm starting to think that that will be my "thing"--energy infrastructure. I don't know yet. I don't think it is feasible for me to minor in EE, which would be very useful if that does become my thing, but there are quite a few cross-listed CEE/EE classes that I would like to take. I'm also going to live in a dorm next year in which many people are in the group Students for a Sustainable Stanford, and I might allow peer pressure to take me in.

There's a lot I need to learn and I haven't been doing much as I should, but I'm going to have to learn it for final presentations and project implementations. So it's going to happen; I should just get on it more than I have so that I'm not utterly miserable in the last few weeks of the quarter.

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