Three years ago, I was interviewed by Jason Cremeen, a student writing for The Master's Piece, a student publication of The Master's College. What I love about this article is how Jason emphasizes that this course is not an engineering program for computer nerds only -- it's a hands-on critical-thinking course for anyone.
You can read Jason's article here.
The students were so engaged last night that I asked them whether they'd like to stay an extra half-hour, and every one of them said yes.
After the lecture, we spent time in the lab building our test robots. It's going to be a lot of fun helping them move from inanimate software development to moving parts!
For more info on the course, see here.
Starting this evening, I'll be teaching Intro to Robotics at The Master's College once again. I love having this opportunity to teach students critical thinking and problem-solving in a very hands-on way -- by building robots that solve puzzles and attack each other!
I created this course at Master's a couple years ago. At the time, a few students from the College made this (admittedly silly) video to show in Master's chapel to promote the course:
Of course, this video is not wholly accurate. Students never watch cartoons in my class (though they have been known to eat M&M's).
And since we're on the subject of teaching...
Which TMC faculty and staff did you see in the video?
How many different robots were shown?
Bonus: whose lab was this shot in?
I look forward to sharing more about this class!
A fuller description of the course is available at masters.edu.
Now, I need to learn how to properly finish the metal, including sanding and painting. I'm thinking of either finishing the bare metal with a clear sealer or perhaps painting. I have zero experience with metal finishing but YouTube is my friend and I'm willing to learn.
If anyone has links to share or experience to offer by phone that would be great!
Last week I shared how Kathleen and I met and how we've been making music together for the past 25 years. Today is the anniversary of our engagement.
Kathy shares the story of our engagement as she experienced it:
I had just come through the worst graduate class created on the face of the earth - Anthrolopogical Linguistics. It was the last class I needed to have my clear teaching credential. I'll tell you what, I just did not understand that class. I could not figure out how one African tribe's dialect differed from another's, and why I should care. In 20 years of teaching, I've never needed any of that information. Oh well, that aside. I had just finished the final exam. That's the background information you need to know.The next day, we celebrated our engagement by spending the day at Disneyland.
We had arranged to have dinner with a couple with whom we sang in choir. Their daughter was going to be in my kindergarten class the following school year, and they said they wanted to get to know me better. Janet said she would stop by and pick me up, and we would pick her husband up from work before meeting Eric at a restaurant for dinner.
Janet's husband, Steve, was a flight instructor out of Burbank airport. On the way to the airport, about three blocks away, Janet's car broke down - I later learned this was not part of the plan. We walked the rest of the way.
When we got inside the lobby, I told her I was going to find a phone and give Eric a call to tell him we would be late. As I walked across the lobby, I looked out the big picture window and saw Steve and Eric standing outside. I expressed my surprise, and Janet steered me out to where the plane was parked.
Eric pulled out a rose, and told me we were going on an airplane trip to celebrate the completion of my class.
Steve and Janet promptly put on their "Peter Pan" and "Tinkerbell" identification tags, and we were off.
We flew to Santa Barbara, and Steve took the plane to the end of the runway. There was a restaurant there, The Elephant Bar, and we were dropped off. Steve and Janet taxied away. Now I was really confused. Why were our friends, whom I thought were celebrating my class being over, going away?
We were taken to a corner table, where I was presented with another rose - by the way, did I mention that I received roses throughout the day? At work, and in my apartment. Well, the love of my life asked me to marry him, and I was shocked that he pulled off this surprise. I knew the proposal was coming - after all, he had already asked my father, and several times over the previous weeks he would say, "Now, IF I were to ask you to marry me, what would you say?" He really had me believing that it would happen the following weekend, though.
Of course, I accepted, and was given a beautiful engagement ring. The silly waiter snapped a picture of us, and himself, and we had a delightful dinner.
When we finished, Steve and Janet were waiting outside with yet another rose. Did I mention that I love red roses?
We then did something I always wanted to do, fly over the coast and Los Angeles. We even flew down to Long Beach and over the Queen Mary.
Now, along the way, we stopped at the Oxnard landing strip, and were greeted by Eric's friend, Rick. He toasted us, from his tailgate, with sparkling cider and another rose.
When we arrived back at Burbank, we were greeted by another friend from church, who presented me with another rose, and he drove us back to Eric's condo. There, we were set up with more sparkling cider, cheesecake, and more roses!
To say the least, I was absolutely blown away with the attention to detail and love that went into this. So many people worked together to help me feel special, and they did a fabulous job!
So, Eric, thank you for asking me to marry you 15 years ago today. The years have been full of the good and the bad, but I'd do it all over again to be with you. Love you lots!!!
Posted at 5/26/2005 8:57:14 AM by Kathy Mack
Although we sang in the same choir, we never met until one night when half the singers were out sick and Peter Beers asked everyone to move to the center, which put me right next to this very pretty girl. I promptly introduced myself and struck up a brief conversation with Kathy (sorry Peter). She seemed nice, was very pretty, and appeared to be single -- all good signs for me. Thinking we could go out for a soda (remember when folks used to do that?), I politely asked her what she was doing after choir. She responded that she was going home to bake cookies for her children. Ouch! Next week, all the choir was healthy, so we moved back to opposite ends of the row. Needless to say, I didn't pursue her further at the time.
It turns out she really did have children -- wonderful children, more than 20 of them in fact! (What I didn't know was that she was a kindergarten teacher, and very nice, and very pretty and single.) Many months later I spoke with her again, and once we got that sorted out, I watched for her at rehearsal and on Sundays. Then, I asked her out again. But that's another story for another day.
Have you ever asked yourself, "self, why did I waste my time in that way?"
I've done both. Many times.
As I continue to do research in high performance knowledge work and personal knowledge management, I've collected a number of tools and methods to help me make smarter decisions about what to do or not do.
Today, I'd like to share one of those tools with you. I call it my opportunity decision matrix,
When I was in graduate school and trying to run my consulting business and launch a software company and be a loving husband and father to my four daughters, I hit a wall. Something had to give. But what?
My good friend, Michael, gave me some sage advice that helped a lot. He told me to ask myself two simple questions to ask whenever I needed to evaluate options.
Here's how this works:
First define the "opportunity". Perhaps it's "Attend ABC conference". Next, evaluate that opportunity through the lens of two filters: opportunity and timing, like this:
Question #1. Is this the right opportunity?
If it isn't, stop. Don't waste your time. Done. Decision made. If it is the right opportunity, then, I continue to question #2
Question #2. Is this the right timing?
Many times, I have a right opportunity but bad timing. It makes no sense to proceed unless both the opportunity and timing are right.
I have since expanded into an this 2x2 opportunity decision matrix:
This matrix has proven extremely valuable to me when I have a lot of hard choices to make and a new one shows up (like, "hey, do you want to fill in the blank.... ?")
For example, at a particularly busy point in my life, I got invited to speak at a conference. It was a great opportunity and I really wanted to go. However, it was not the right timing, so I declined. Having this simple two question matrix really helped me make a hard decision easy.
The following year I was invited to speak at a different event. I concluded that it was both the right opportunity and the right timing, so I accepted the invitation and the "Beyond Planning Conference" was born.
Sometimes, when it seems like I have many large or complex decisions to make, It helps me to pull out a sheet of paper and make a 4x4 matrix, like the one above. Then, I list of all of the options on my plate and one by one, and I write them into the appropriate quadrant.
It's usually quite a sobering experience.
Next, I cross off everything in quadrants 3 & 4 and move quadrant 2 items to my "someday/Maybe" list. This leaves me with only my quadrant 1 items, which I do.
By being ruthless in evaluating all of my choices against these two criteria, I can get unstuck quickly and feel good about the choices I make.
How do you make choices? What tools have you found helpful to make decisions?