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July 2009
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What courses to take next year?

It’s that time of the year when students are scrambling to pick their courses for the year (myself included). What courses do they take that both inspire them and open up doors for their future working careers?

When looking at the courses available this morning I was required to request permission from the instructor to enter the course, not an uncommon thing. I am interested in Dr. Heather MacLean’s Sustainability of Engineering Activities and what caught my attention were the questions she was asking.

Why do you want to take this course?

That was the first of the three questions she posed for our applications and really all students should ask that question before they take the course. Just because it is mandatory stop and think about why you need to take the course, it may change your perspective and improve your grade. Dr. MacLean asked what our previous research experience was and finally what our backgrounds were with sustainability.

My path to where I am now.

That last question really got me thinking about where I am today. In high school had you asked me if I would be a transportation engineer or interested in sustainable development I likely would have said, ‘No.’ Like so many before me somewhere along the way my focus shifted. I was first inspired to go into civil engineering after Laura Taylor’s Urban Geography class when I was doing my economics and urban geography degree. I didn’t believe you could affect urban form without understanding the science behind it and off I went to pursue engineering. While in engineering traffic congestion really frustrated me and I wanted to change it. What I have learned since then is that building more roads, building wider roads is not the answer. Instead it is about compromise, it is about shifting what is considered the cultural norm and accepting that not everyone will share my vision.

My quest for learning continues as I try to finish my masters this fall. Who knows where my learning path will lead me and what will inspire me next, but I’m sure whatever it is will lead to some interesting discussions on my blog!