In my previous post about the GDP, I had attributed its challenging nature to its enormous academic value and its vast scope. I had also briefly mentioned how there is never any fun in a venture like the GDP if it is easy. Rather confusedly, I am happy to say that as the project has not been one bit easy, it has been filled with learning and tiny (almost miraculous) achievements.
The GDP taught me to use resources wisely. On several occasions, the engineering course expects a student to rely solely one’s own self to get through its rigour. However, the vast scope of the project meant that I had to understand my own short comings both technically and organizationally. The short time scales meant that I couldn’t afford the time to work slowly and carefully. I had to rope in a colleague to share the burden, or delegate my task to a colleague more capable at succeeding in it than I. This required getting the right balance between experiential learning and asking for help so that progress could be made.
The GDP took me out of the theoretical bubble. A significant portion of the project’s design process revolves around Computer Aided Design (CAD). Us students tend to abuse the software; take its suggestions and results as the final word. The result is that we have a beautiful model of a product/ assembly in the virtual world that sometimes just cannot be realistically manufactured. This is mostly due to our lack of foresight regarding how things are assembled and put together and can be developed only through experience; which the GDP has offered a reliable platform for. Design processes do not conclude at the design stage and almost certainly involves iterating between manufacture, design and back to drawing board stages.
The GDP taught me to stand up and manage expectations. A very intricate aspect of the project was balancing academic goals, sponsor’s requirements and supervisors’ expectations. It was absolutely terrifying attempting to appease all parties equally. Sometimes this led to stagnation on progress. Therefore, it was important to develop the skill to be assertive, negotiate and modify procedures so that progress could be made while still keeping the project relevant to the sponsor.
In contrast to last year’s Individual Project, which focused on my specific technical skills, the developments of the GDP ensured that many other transferable skills were required. Such as book keeping, setting and executing meeting agendas, keeping up team moral during stressful periods, improving decisiveness and many more. On several occasions, I also had to deal with external consultants to provide certain services or products and seek these out myself. To sum things up, the execution of a successful GDP required work on several fronts; not unlike what is expected of us in the real world. Regardless of its stress and difficulty, I am glad to have got to experience it in my final year.