On Changing Perspectives

Whenever I do goal-setting, I always welcome the possibility that my priorities would eventually change. Now that I am older and much different than my extremely idealistic I’m-out-to-save-the-world self, I do find my perspective and priorities changing. I was being interviewed the other day by a friend and his daughter who started a blog last year about women in technology. My friend refused to believe that my idealism was lessened through the years because to him my projects and advocacy on Humanitarian Engineering still sound idealistic. So I told him that, yes, idealism is still there, but there is now a touch of reality in it.

Take my perspective on PhD for instance. Just last month, I was telling my long-time mentor in the department that I wasn’t interested in taking a PhD. This was my view ever since because my role models in Humanitarian Engineering don’t have PhDs. They can complete impactful projects without that degree, so why should I whack my brain for 3-5 years just to get the title? Publications also never appealed to me until I was actually able to publish in a high-impact journal early this year. But it wasn’t seeing my paper published online that changed my view of journal articles. It was when I realized that students were actually reading my work that I started appreciating its significance. People read it! It’s not just “stuck on paper” as I always used to believe. People use it to advance their respective research projects, which will consequently help move humanity forward.

I was surprised how my change in perspective on scientific journals immediately dispelled my abhorrence in taking a PhD. All of a sudden, the 3-5 years looked exciting! It’s like an adventure in search of knowledge and skills development! The best part is if you get a scholarship you will even get paid to be on that adventure!!!

Thus, here I am applying for a PhD. I already have a prospective adviser who is guiding me in crafting the proposal for the scholarship. Hopefully, all goes well. Please pray for me! :)

#parasakinabukasan #parasabayan #paradinsasarili :P


Part 1: The “Misfits”

Ideas. The boy had a lot of them. He asked countless questions, something generally unusual in our students nowadays. He loves product design, which should be nothing peculiar. After all, he is learning to be an engineer, right?

Engineers design and create things, processes, virtually anything the mind can conceive…

The boy also loves to connect business and social science with engineering. To him, the engineer must create things with society in mind. Relevance is important.

What do people want? Will they use this product? Why do people prefer certain materials over others that seem to be more practical and effective? 

I suddenly remembered one of the Freakonomics podcast episodes about how the belt won over suspenders despite the belt being horrible in almost all aspects in keeping our pants from falling. Sadly, not many people question these things.

But the boy did. Unfortunately for him, and a few other students who think similarly, our current system does not encourage such thinking.

“He’s weird.”

“He asks too many questions, does he think he’s smarter than me? I’m the teacher!”

“We’re in engineering, not marketing.”

“The student is bored. What does he want? He’s too picky!”

I have heard one form or another of the comments above in my short time in academia. Some were expressed by faculty. Some by students.

These supposedly “weird” students have ideas that just might sound like a symphony to our ears. A beautiful song that they cannot not play for the world because there is no stage for them to perform on. They play on the side streets with people just passing them by, sometimes dropping a coin out of pity.

Society is quick to judge on a lot of things.