Saturday, February 21, 2015

Deep in the Laboratory...

Today's blog post is brought to you by: Fall Out Boy!

Just kidding. I am in no way affiliated with nor sponsored by fall out boy, or anyone quite as cool. 'cept maybe my wife... ;)

So I've been working in the lab all afternoon deriving some good ol' fashioned second order differential equations for RLC damping, and it's got me thinking... What do I want to do with this? And maybe not just this specific information, but what about my career? Is this what I really want to be doing?

I know, I know, it's normal to question where you're headed or what you might do in the future. But sometimes it just feels like you're all set and ready to go, heading the right way, and everything just kind of dies down until something just feels... off. Kinda like how when you neatly tie your shoes in the morning, and when you get home, not only are your laces loose but the tongue of your right shoe somehow made it under the ball of your foot. Weird!

That's where I am right now. And maybe all I need to do is tie my shoes again in the morning and keep going, but I can't help but ask myself if there's some way to fix it, like sowing the tongue on or tying my laces tighter. Or maybe I just need new shoes.

The last lab I worked on was building an Electromyogram circuit. It's basically a little device that you hook up to yourself and it monitors the electrical pulses from your neurons going into your muscles, and amplifies them to a readable/usable level. Pretty cool, I have to admit. Especially because I was able to get nearly 6V out of my bicep! Yea, my guns are illegal in some states...

But aside from helping to inflate my head, this circuit helped me to learn a lot about certain types of amplifiers, and even a little bit about how the body works.

So how can I use this stuff? First thought: combine it with RLC damping to create a neuromuscular powered coil gun to shoot paperclips! Nothing dangerous, of course. Hopefully just powerful enough to be annoying. (watch out spitwadders, here I come!)

Okay, no, it's probably not the most practical thing I could use this stuff for, as entertaining as it would be to launch paperclips with my brain...  But hey! You cant deny the neat-o factor.

So here's the deal. I'm doing all these cool things, and I have fun ideas with them, but I feel like it's not quite what I want to be doing. I want to design and I want to build... Mostly I want to build robots. Maybe I can work in some mechatronics classes. Or maybe I should change my major to mechanical engineering. Maybe I have the wrong idea of what being an engineer is.

Sometimes I feel like I think too much like an engineer, too analytically. I have all of these possible solutions to problems, when honestly all I need to do is step back and think about something else for a while.

I realized that what I really need is to take the time to do something else for a little bit. Stop worrying so much about the details of the minutiae, and get myself out of my own head for a bit.

I think this is really important, and healthy.

There's nothing I love more than spending time with my wife. She truly is my best friend. I also like to play guitar, or listen to music. Just something that really relaxes me and helps my mind to defragment. All I have to do is sit and play a couple of songs and... Eureka! Catharsis!

So that's what I'm learning in my lab right now. If you're feeling like something is off, and you start to question everything you're doing, it's probably time to lay off a bit and go for a walk or something. Don't say you don't have time, that's only saying that it's not a priority.

Make it a priority. It's worth it.

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