Today, I had a much needed meeting with Dr. Karon MacLean from the UBC Department of Computer Science. She is co-supervising my thesis along with Dr. Elizabeth Croft of the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

As you may have perceived from my latest online ramblings, I’ve been quite down about on how things have been progressing with my thesis and the lack of funding. The last time I met with Dr. MacLean she told me to brainstorm some ideas up. I tried, but I thought my ideas were horrible and she would be probably be disappointed with them.

At the start of today’s meeting I told her not to expect anything great today. She reminded me that good brainstorming is without criticism. I had forgotten that. It’s true. Early criticism can deflate potentially great ideas. Hey, I learned that in my product design class! Anyways, so I rambled off my five ideas to her, hoping she wouldn’t wince at each one. To my surprise she actually thought three of my ideas were very interesting and the other two might work as well. I also listed a few companies that might be interested in funding my ideas. Dr. MacLean was impressed with the research I had done. Wow, that’s a surprise since I thought I hadn’t done enough work yet.

I then expressed to her how depressed I was about my lack of progress with the thesis topic and funding. Dr. MacLean informed me that I was actually way ahead of schedule compared to other students when it came to picking a topic. She said that at least in Com Sci, students actually take a few classes and don’t decide until the spring. They don’t even have a supervisor when they start. So, in that respect, I guess I’m doing alright. The one caveat I had was that I’m officially in the Dept. of Mech. Engineering, so their timetable might be different. Time to talk to Dr. Croft now.

Now as for funding, Dr. MacLean was very sympathetic about that. I was concerned that I would be the first graduate student ever to pay for their entire education. She thought that would be very unlikely, as at least to her knowledge, no one has ever had to do that. The worst-case scenario as she described it, would be that I would have to pay maybe for the first eight months. Funding somehow would come from somewhere, it always does.

Furthermore, she warned me not to mix up choosing the thesis with the funding. I had fallen into the trap of thinking about topics which would be attractive to companies that might want to fund my research. Dr. MacLean said to always think about why I decided to go back to school and what I wanted to learn while I was in school. Sometimes, she said, you just have to let go of the money issue and concentrate on studying what will make you happy. If you have to get a student loan, then that’s just the way it has to be.

Her final suggestion was to not to dwell on the negative amd not get depressed. I should keep on working towards getting more ideas and refining the good ones I have already.

The meeting did much to bring up my spirits. My attitude now is, I will continue to work on ideas and investigate funding opportunities, even if it takes all summer. If school starts and I still don’t have the money, then that’s ok. The money will come from somewhere and that my research is what matters the most.

Of course, now that I have this attitude, I immediately thought, “Great, I can start buying DVDs again”. Silly me.

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