Saturday, April 24, 2010

Looking Back: BYU's Product Development Program

As I neared completion of my bachelor degree I shared my newest dream with Jennifer. Although surprised that I wanted to go to three more years of school to get a Masters in Mechanical Engineering and a Masters in Business Administration, she gave me her full support. At the time it seemed it would be forever before I'd graduate but it has come and gone. I just want to list a few key experiences from the program:

  • Engineering classes: optimization, statistics, advanced dynamics, etc. I took an especially engaging Product Development class that reminded me why I wanted to be an engineer and will also guide me in the creation of any service or product I make
  • Global Product Development Trip to Europe: Visited 21 companies in 7 countries. The mix of cultural sites and visits with chief engineers and CEO's of diverse companies was an incredible experience. For example, we visited: hand-built sports cars in Poland, a Toyota factory in the Czech Republic, and went inside a nuclear reactor in France, etc.
  • MBA classes: The program started out with a bang. I had never worked in such a team environment or faced such an array of high-paced, real-world business case problems. I felt like an MBA after the first semester and had found some life-long friends. There were far too many value-adding classes to list but a few I liked were finance, accounting, supply management, marketing, leadership, and especially negotiations, VBA programming for Excel, and sales management.
  • Business Presentations for Engineers Competition: I typically did not participate in the many competitions that went on due to the fact that any "extra" time had to go to thesis but I made an exception for a Dow Chemical sponsored competition. I decided that with my new found business knowledge I might have a chance at winning first prize, which was an aluminum-body Macbook, and even if I didn't I knew I would learn how to improve my presentations skills. I won the Macbook and I have used the skills I learned in every presentation since then including my end of internship presentation with ExxonMobil.
  • Internship with ExxonMobil: Entering the program put me in the right place at the right time to interview and accept an internship that I really enjoyed, leading to a job offer with the Natural Gas and Power Marketing group in Houston. I accepted and will start the last day of June 2010.
  • Thesis Project: Ah thesis, what can I say. This is the longest, most challenging continuous project I have undertaken to date. It stretched me and taught me things about myself while simultaneously helping me to grow. Believe it or not there is a non-thesis option, ha, ha, ha. Now that I'm on this side of it, I of course am glad I chose the thesis option. I worked all night several times as I fought to meet thesis deadlines i.e. thesis drafts, defense presentation prep, and formatting reviews. All of this was done while trying to balance a full load of MBA classes, help Jen through a difficult pregnancy, and occasionally attend a creative writing class from a favorite author Brandon Sanderson. I was trying to submit what ended up being the final draft for review from the hospital when the doctor came in to break Jen's water. I ended up sending the draft with corrections in the middle of the night after Scarlett's birth from the hospital room after mother and baby were asleep. The next day, with hours to go before the hard university deadline, the college review lady accepted my final draft. I printed and submitted the accepted, defended, three-year project with 2 and half hours to spare. For a good bedtime read or a glimpse into part of my world you can view a published copy by clicking the title of my paper: Optimal Design of a Planar 3-RPR Haptic Interface Based on Manipulability.

I couldn't help feeling nostalgic as I dropped off my cap, gown, and fancy masters hood and drove away glancing at the school in my rearview mirror where I struggled, grew, and emerged a much better and more complete person. I could not have accomplished what I did without many blessings from Heaven and the support of my, friends, family, an incredible advisor, supportive faculty, and BYU. I am ever indebted to Jennifer who sacrificed so much and gave me so much support and motivation through all my challenges. She was the one who stayed home while I went to Europe and Texas a month earlier than her and who went to bed alone at night while I hammered away at my work. She has my love and will always have it. I will leave this school now happy with my loving wife and beautiful daughter, grateful for the experience and ready to face my new challenges.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Tides of Change

Well, sadly Nana has left us. Saying we enjoyed having her here would be the understatement of the year. She cooked for us, she cleaned for us, she helped take care of Scarlett. When she arrived four days after we brought Scarlett home, we were beaten and battered and wondering what we had gotten ourselves into. Now, thanks to her, we're a little less beaten and a little less battered but we're still wondering what we've gotten ourselves into! So, goodbye Mom, thanks for everything!

On another note, it is insane how fast babies grow. With much sadness, I packed up all of Scarlett's newborn clothes yesterday since she could no longer straighten her legs out in her onesies. She is so much bigger than when we brought her home, even her cry has changed. (I enjoyed the newborn cry better.) I look forward to all that she's going to start accomplishing, but I will miss how little and booey woo she was those first couple of weeks.

Here is another video Wes made of her first bath!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Scarlett's Zeroeth B-Day

While I was up with Scarlett I discovered how to combine video clips and do some editing. Enjoy part of her first moments on the outside.