Thursday, April 15, 2010

Psychology

During class yesterday, a panel of my peers was asked "If you hadn't gone into engineering, what would you have studied?" I've actually pondered that question quite a bit since high school, and although I haven't seriously considered ditching engineering and taking up something else, it's still fun to think about.

My first couple answers dodge the purpose of the question. Honestly, my first option outside of engineering was computer science (something I will probably be getting a degree in anyway). Beyond that maybe I would have spent my last four years pursuing a degree in mathematics, but the proofs are a little over my head and my brain isn't built for making connections and leaps of logic in that way. All of those "different" options are actually pretty similar, except with the thought processes applied to different areas.

I may have already given it away (I know I could just change the title, but I'd rather not), but my other ideal educational pursuit would be psychology. I don't think I'd have a very easy time being a psychologist, so I probably wouldn't have a great professional career, but the subject matter intrigues me to a point that I could see myself studying it on my own, or perhaps even going back to school eventually to learn more. My biggest motivation for that would be to learn a little bit more about myself, although it would be nice to get the inside track on what others are thinking all the time as well.

Every couple days I find myself daydreaming about psychological matters, often related to my level of motivation in one area or the next. Why is it so much easier to decide that I'm going to put all my effort into this homework assignment right up until I need to actually do it? How is it that I go to Church in the morning and learn something profound, only to disregard it later that week, or even that same day? More importantly, how can I change that behavior?

Regardless of whether I pursue a degree or even an independent study in psychology at some point, it seems to me that just spending the time to be introspective about psychological matters is important for my development as a human being. I may not know the jargon or methodology behind my personal observations, but just making the observations provides insight into how I work on a very fundamental level. It's also important for me to remember that just because I observe a behavior or a trend in myself doesn't mean that others function or behave the same way.

I'll stop, because I'm beginning to ramble. Questions, comments, concerns?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Stewardship Expanded

I'm about to head over to church for a stewardship team meeting. I was asked to participate a while ago, and have attended meetings for the last three months, and each time I learn something new about my church and myself.

We meet once a month, and between meetings we have been reading chapters from the book "Firstfruits: a stewardship guide for church leaders" by Robert Heerspink. Each chapter takes on a different aspect of stewardship as it applies to the resources of the church in general, and how those aspects each apply to the management and guidance given by church leaders. In this week's readings, the two sides of wealth were discussed in a way that resonated with me.

Anyone who has read the Bible thoughtfully can see that there are two opposing views on wealth. The first view is that wealth is a gift from God. When a passage says that someone was blessed by God and acquired great riches, this message is clear. The other side of wealth is the dangerous precipice those with great riches find themselves on, trusting too much in their money and not enough in God.

To align their lives with the Bible, some take the position that all wealth they acquire is by default a blessing from God, and they are free to use it as they please. Others decide to shun wealth altogether and live as frugally as possible. In my understanding, and I seem to be in agreement with Heerspink, both of these views neglect large portions of the ideal perspective on wealth and money.

Enjoying money is never proclaimed to be a bad thing in the Bible, but the love of money is said to be the foundation of all evil.

All of these issues are things that I am currently encountering in my life. Questions like, "Should I go to grad school, even though I will be spending a lot of money I don't currently have?" or "Is my goal in becoming an engineer to better myself financially?" can be difficult to answer, but the key is to take a step back and realize that the questions really shouldn't be money-centric, but God-centric. I need to alter my perspective to ask, "Taking into account my financial situation, is grad school a responsible investment that a good steward would make?" or "How can I use my engineering education and my possible wealth to further God's kingdom?"

Shifting perspectives can be hard, and it takes a lot of practice, but in questions of stewardship where there are many possible "correct" answers, it is invaluable.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Accepted!

Well, it's official. I've been accepted to the Computer Science & Engineering Masters program at the University of Michigan. Please excuse any sudden joyous outbursts that may occur. I waited a LONG time for that acceptance email, and not just since I applied in January. I've told people since middle school that my plans were the following: Graduate from high school, go to Calvin for Electrical and Computer Engineering (with a possible minor in Mathematics), and UofM for grad school. I've either been very lucky or very blessed, but there hasn't really been a hitch along the way of those plans, and my acceptance keeps that dream of mine alive. The situation isn't that simple though, and I'll talk more about that later.

Life has gotten hectic, frustrating, and exciting all at once it seems, and more changes are just around the corner. Between classes, senior design, an admitted half-hearted (or less) job search, and questions about grad school, most of my personal time is spent sleeping or zoning out. My lack of productivity is a topic that I won't get into now, but I will say that I'm working on it.

Senior design has been the biggest source of frustration for me lately, though it has been a ton of fun and I'm thoroughly enjoying myself. Someone once said that frustration only comes because you feel out of control, and that's true in my case. Little (and sometimes large) inconveniences add to the pressure until it's hard to focus on the task at hand. Waiting for crucial parts for five weeks only to have to reorder them the week before they're needed is an exercise in patience for me, and an exercise in trust for the rest of my team I'm sure. "No really guys, I know what I'm doing. We'll have the parts in time! (Knock on wood.)" Things are going relatively smoothly though, and I'm thankful for that.

My plans for after graduation have caused me considerably more anxiety. Should I take a job, should I go to grad school? Pay or get paid, fall behind to get ahead, learn in the classroom or in the field, lots of tough questions. I haven't made a decision yet, but I guess I'll have to in the next couple weeks.

Faith lessons have been abundant throughout all of these situations, and many others I haven't discussed yet. I'll spend more time expanding on those in the near future as I try to get back into blogging. I think it does a good job of organizing my thoughts, and that's something I could always use more of.