Academic Brightside

So it might not have been my first choice for how to spend a Friday when there was 70 degree weather and a blue sky for miles, but it was a good one.

Today we took a little field trip, dragging a few of our students to a research conference. Imagine a car filled with your department members, no music (!!!!!), and several undergraduates about to attend a conference where they're going to present their own research. It wasn't the most thrilling spot to put oneself into, but it really went well.

We've put this as a priority for awhile now, though this is the first time we've really tried it. In part, we wanted to get a sense of what other departments in the region are doing and of where are students are sitting at the end of their time here. In both regards, that was comforting - our students did a great job presenting. They handled some tough questions; they had projects that were as well informed or better than similar ones from other schools.

For the students - who we'd not factored into this quite so much - it was good, too, for very similar reasons. The confidence they pulled from it was amazing, and now they not only see that we're not the only ones asking them to understand how to do research, but they see that they can do it well and make it matter to other people. That their research - and their projects - don't just have to be things that play to a class seems really important to me today.

On top of that, I got to see one of my former advisees, now in graduate school, and about to graduate, and they're doing quite well. We managed to get everyone together for dinner and a beer, and we compared notes. My sense with them is that they've outgrown the graduate program they're in - and how awesome is that when they're about to graduate? They'll be doing interesting things soon, and they've got something beyond the job that matters to them that they're pulling into their work.

Today it all feels like a success.

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Brigindo said...

Sounds like a great day even if it meant forfeiting the sunny skies.

Congratulations to you and your students for a job well done.

April 18, 2008 at 9:22 PM