After the GROUPER lab meeting on September 8, and in concert with my own blog entry, I asked both the continuing and new students to consider their experience in learning about life in the lab. There were several styles of response, from undergraduates and graduates, new and continuing, that describe GROUPER in ways that I couldn’t. So, let’s just hear from them.
The first commentary comes from Jeremi, who actually created her own blog post at: http://jeremilondon.wordpress.com/2011/09/22/grouper-lab-__-chess-club-__/.
Next is Marissa:
School is back in session and with that comes new students. There are a few new graduate students who are currently trying to figure out if GROUPER is right for them. At the most recent lab meeting, Dr. Caldwell decided it would be best for the current GROUPERs and the “prospective” GROUPERs to bond over some pizza. One of the new graduate students asked me how I came to the conclusion that I wanted to study “information and knowledge sharing and nursing expertise coordination in healthcare”. I turned to him and empathized as I was in his exact predicament a year ago. I was trying to figure out whether or not GROUPER was right for me and also a specific research interest. I told this student that I was not one of those students who knew exactly from the age of five that I wanted to go to Purdue University and be a member of the GROUPER lab studying in the healthcare field. I was quite far from it. (I think when I was five I told my dad I wanted to be a ballerina.) The only things I knew when I sat in the GROUPER lab for the first time a year ago was that I wanted to study healthcare and that I enjoyed working with people and studying how they behave.
The GROUPER lab does not recruit one specific type of graduate student and quite frankly, the lab doesn’t even stick with just graduate students. Not all of our students have a main focus in industrial engineering and not all of the students are stellar at one particular component of industrial engineering. (The only common ground is that all lab members study how people get, share, and use information well.) When I joined the lab, there was one student studying space flight operations, one student studying first responders, and two students studying two separate components of the healthcare delivery system. Once I joined, two more students deemed GROUPER right for them. One was studying another unique component of healthcare and the other, like me, had no clue! Through the lab meetings during my first semester as a Boilermaker, two of my GROUPER labmates, Dr. Caldwell, and myself decided that we would write two papers for a conference simply because we had an interest in the two subjects of the papers. One of those papers became the basis for my research; I found the topic absolutely fascinating. Therefore, the above wordy description of my research was neither my idea nor Dr. Caldwell’s idea; in essence, it was GROUPER’s idea.
GROUPER is filled with diverse, forward-thinking overachievers. What makes us unique is that although we have very specific and different research topics, we are able to come together to talk about what we find interesting (or funny, controversial, frustrating, inspiring) in order to help each other, and even ourselves, find one’s niche.
A few words from Kelly:
As a new student to the GROUPER lab, I have had a lot of positive feelings toward the lab in the short amount of time I’ve been here. The collaboration that happens during the lab meetings is productive and beneficial, even to members who are not working on the project that is being discussed. Everyone is very welcoming and is not just willing to help, but happy to help. With the number of projects going on, it would seem that it would be hard to get the entire lab to come together and focus on helping the lab as a whole. But, this is not the case. Each person in the group wants everyone else to succeed and has the best interest of the lab at heart. The GROUPER lab has been so welcoming and helpful and I look forward to starting my own research and continuing to work with this group.
Finally (and fittingly), comments from Natalie:
Each time I explain my research project that analyzes information sharing and adherence in Congestive Heart Failure patients, I pause and wait, and without fail, the respondent utters some form of the question, “Oh, that’s interesting, but how is that engineering?” Explaining what GROUPER does, requires revamping the stereotypical definition of engineering. Yes, most engineers build, design, or formulate ‘things’. However, many people struggle to grasp the concept of engineering the intangible. GROUPER focuses on engineering information and communication in such a way that the system associated with the information is understandable for all users. We strive to bridge the gap between information and technology. If we cannot find a way to deliver this advanced technology on a consistent basis, what purpose does it serve?