Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Wet Work and Writing
The most significant lesson I learned from 20.109 was that a scientist must not only be a master of laboratory techniques, but must also be a master communicator. In fact, I feel now that if communication skills are not as important as laboratory skills, then they are more important. Communication underlies the creation of projects, and furthermore, any work done in the lab would be useless if it could not be effectively communicated to others in the scientific community. This class, I feel, emphasized these facts through the numerous writing assignments given.
My favorite assignment was certainly the module 2 report. Writing this paper allowed me to synthesize all the lessons I had learned in prior assignments into a coherent manuscript, and the fact alone that I could see a paper develop together is what motivated me to press on and polish the paper into something that I liked to read and look at. The prior assignments were more isolated from their intended context, I felt, and the end-goal of what I was trying to do was more obscure- but the report solidified the purpose of our writing: to relate our findings to others. Additionally, I felt it was constructive challenge to write about an experiment that essentially did not work, since it pushed me to present what was useful about our work in an effective. Furthermore, writing this report helped me to understand the though-process that goes into an scientific article, and now I am better able at dissecting these manuscripts and parsing what the author is trying to convey. This last benefit is particularly crucial, since as an engineer, a large portion of my activities will be directed towards acquiring information, which I am now more adept at doing.
In sum, this course has rounded me off as a research scientist. I now delve into the future not only thinking of how I will accomplish my experiments or undertake a project, but also how I will communicate to people my intentions and my results. There is always a sentimental feeling I get when I have complete a course at MIT, but I have never felt so strongly about a class as I have for this one. It did not just teach me- it molded me.