SEDEX: Self-Directed Projects As A Means of Innovation and Progress

At my school we have this event called SEDEX (Software Engineering and Development Extreme), where students get together for a night of programming funtimes. The goal is to create a project that can be demoed the next day, and it is meant to get students interested in programming again after having to do so many assigned projects. It’s really just a chance for people to spend time doing something they enjoy doing, and participating in a collaborative work environment. The concept reminds me of hackerspaces. Unfortunately there’s not a hackerspace in the area, so these events are my way to do something similar.

Tonight I’m going to be working on a Arduino-driven Binary Clock as shown here: stemak.org/sites/default/files/LED-BinaryClock-1.pdf

And I’m going to be working on my Python-based “poemgen” program as described previously on this blog.

Stay tuned for updates…

EDIT: 12:16 AM. Got LEDs and resistors set up in the proper pattern but the lights aren’t lighting. Currently digging through code. Getting pizza soon. Met some really cool people here.

EDIT: 12:40 AM. Upset at codes. That seems to be the consensus at the moment. Ordering pizza.

EDIT: 2:18 AM. Finally figured out my Arduino issues. Wiring is sort of difficult 😦 Pizza consumed, and I had the “grad school talk” with two grad students and a professor. Good information to be had. Going to figure out this clock soon!

EDIT: 4:08 AM. Frustrated. Everything works fine but I can’t get it to pull the current time. Without that, I don’t have much of a clock.

EDIT: 5:00 AM. Arrived back at apartment. Manually setting the time on the clock for now. Perhaps dynamic time updates will come in the future.
EDIT: 1:23 PM. Showed my coworkers the clock, they thought it was the coolest thing ever. I explained the concept of SEDEX and they’ve told me they’re going to try to talk their respective departments into implementing something similar. Heck yeah open education!

A preliminary picture is posted here: Currently displaying 00:01

Plight of the Multipotentialite

This is a bit more of a personal post, but something that I wanted to talk about. I have a lot of interests. And I do mean a lot. And sure, you can say everyone is interested in a lot of different things, but I feel like this is different. Yeah, I’m doing a computer science degree in college, but I love so many other things just as much. I wish I could just do everything.

I have sort of an obsessive personality such that when I get interested in something, I go full force on it for some time. Inevitably, however, the fervent interest I once had will seem to fade, and a new venture will spark my excitement again. I’ve went through these stages all my life, and I feel pulled in multiple directions, never able to settle on one true “calling”, or even a few.

I feel like this puts me at a disadvantage. Many of my peers “do one thing and do it well”, and this will certainly help them get a job in the workforce. These people have extensive experience and advanced skills, along with multiple independent projects that bolster their merit. On the other hand, it seems like I haven’t done as much by comparison. As I said above, I’m a computer science student, and I am attempting to apply to graduate schools this fall. However, I feel almost sorely outmatched. I don’t know 20 different programming languages. I haven’t made any “apps” or websites or done any significant research. The skills that I do have are mediocre at best. And that’s where I feel like this problem is.

Becoming good at anything takes time and deliberate practice. And because I find myself perpetually hopping between a myriad of hobbies and projects, I never take the time to become an expert in any of them. It’s the stereotypical “Jack of all trades, Master of none” deal.

There are multiple ways that I could go from here. I could narrow down my interests and try to pour all my time into improving my skills in just a few things relevant to my career ambitions. I could also carry on the way I have, learning many things in hopes that a multitude of skills I’m okay at would be better than having a few skills I’ve mastered. I feel like it would be a better career move to cut down all the frivolous things that I do and focus only on skills such as computer science and math. However, I feel like that would be a hard transition to make. I’m just a naturally curious person, and as such I like trying as many new things as I can. I’m just worried that this will hurt me both in academia and the workforce.