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Cumulative Reflection

Logan Highland

CR1. How do you think ISU has prepared you to:

a. Design systems or processes?
b. Formulate and solve engineering problems?
c. Impact engineering solutions in a global/societal context?
d. Consider ethical implications of your engineering decisions?

I truly believe that what I got the most out of my education at Iowa State was a knowledge of
how to go about solving a complex problem. When it comes to engineering, especially Software
Engineering, there are many different solutions to most problems. There are a lot of ways to go
about trying to solve any problem, so instead of just needing to teach you the solutions to a
problem, they focus more on teaching you how to go about solving it in your own way. Because
of this, I am able to confidently go about solving problems that arise in real life scenarios,
whether it be needing to design an entire system or just debug a currently existing code base.

As for impacting things on a more global scale, I believe it is up to the individual and not the
school. As I previously said, I believe ISU really focuses on teaching you how to solve a problem.
That being said, it is up to the individual to decide what kind of problems they would like to
solve. With the right mind set, the tools to create solutions that benefit the world are available.

Another aspect of solving engineering problems is making sure the solutions you come up with
are ethical. Although ISU does not have a mandatory ethics class, it is mentioned in almost every
single class that involves creating projects to solve problems. I would like to think that I was
raised properly, and my own moral code would be even more strict than any code of ethics. Even
with this, it is helpful to go over the official guidelines, as well as have them to look at for
reference in the future.

CR2. What things have you done at ISU to prepare you to:
a. Work in groups?
b. Recognize contemporary issues?
c. Understand professional and ethical responsibilities?

I think one of the things that I have really appreciated about some of the classes is they let you
work in groups and create a solution in a team setting. This is nice because it is a simulation of a
real life scenario, or as close to one as you can get in a school setting. The issue is that doing this
in a school setting relies heavily on everyone on the team being up to the task. The solution to this
is waiting until the later years of school to start big group classes like this, thus weeding out some
people not up to the task much like an interview process would.

I also believe that being at a college campus has helped me gain a better understanding of
contemporary issues, as well as my role in trying to be part of the solution instead of part of the
problem. Being at a university like ISU, one with a lot of diversity, is a fundamental aspect of my
development when it comes to becoming a more well-rounded person. Another part of becoming
a more well-rounded person is refining my knowledge of what it means to be a professional
engineer. This includes my responsibilities, both professional and ethical. To accomplish both an
understanding of the issues in the world around us, and becoming a true professional, I believe
the action that I have taken that has been the most beneficial was just being a part of the
community. Actively participating in discussions around campus, talking with people about
different issues that we all face, even attending classes and lectures, all help with this task.

CR3. In class projects & problem solving tasks, did you draw upon information, research or
experiences beyond what was provided in class to successfully complete your work? Please
state which resources here and how they helped you to complete work (e.g. library resources,
specific professional journals, experts in field, other students).

I think it is very common to consult outside sources when faced with a problem, even just as a
starting out point. The most common sources I looked at were trustworthy coding sites like stack
overflow or talking to other students about their approaches to the problem. The main thing that I
looked for was just an idea how they initially started tackling the problem, and then we could
pick each others brain about what we were thinking might be valid solutions. Another source that
came in handy were professors outside of the class. The professors at ISU in my experience were
very helpful in talking you through a problem, while still allowing you to solve it on your own
and use your own approach.

CR4. How did learning activities outside of the classroom (required 124.5 credits), such as
Student Orgs, Career or Study Abroad Fairs, Undergraduate Research Experience (REU), or
other university programs help you to understand the importance of Lifelong Learning?

The main activity that I participated in outside of class was different student organizations. Even
though I tried absorbing as much knowledge as I could from these meetings, it was overwhelming
to me how much information there was. This really hit home as to how little any single person
really knows, and how important it is to continue your learning and never be satisfied with where
you currently are. Just in my small sample size of organizations, I was overwhelmed, and
knowing the huge amount of things I had no idea of before college really opened my eyes.

CR5. Have you started to undertake any new learning to improve your ability to apply skills or
knowledge to new problems and to develop confidence in taking risks? Please explain.

After learning about how little I knew, the first thing I wanted to do was to learn more. I tried to
focus on applicable skills, as I wanted to learn things that would help me on my journey to
becoming a successful software engineer. I went about this by starting up side projects outside of
class, as I figure that the best way to encounter new problems and new solutions was to go into
projects that I didnt initially have any knowledge of. The main project that I have learned the
most from is the one that is listed on my portfolio. This was an idea thought up by two college
students, me and my cousin, with no template for what to do or how to do it. I believe that doing
this project has helped me more than a project assigned in class would, as everything was directly
on our shoulders. The problems that we faced were not associated with a professor not detailing a
single part of an assignment, but in how we could create a feasible product that would be cheap to
build and easy to deploy.

CR6. In the context of the first four questions, if you were to do your undergraduate work
again, what things would you change?

If I was to change one thing about my undergraduate work, I would want to change the amount of
time I invested into fields that I was only in because people told me I should. Many classes and
struggles that I have been through have been caused by being in courses or majors that I wasnt
passionate about. I learned the hard way that it is more important to be in something that you care
about, than something that you find easy to do and you think has the lowest risk.