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Unread 11-12-2006, 10:33 PM
Erin Rapacki's Avatar
Erin Rapacki Erin Rapacki is offline
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Re: To Dream the Impossible Dream (Full Version)

Warning: long post, got a little carried awayÖ but I need to let the story out.

Great Speech! The steps in thought from thinking that FIRST is cool, to deciding to pursue a passion and a dream, were well outlined and that exact thought process has occurred in my own life.

I have had five years of engineering education. I will be graduating in Industrial Engineering in May, 2007. Why Industrial? Well, itís the best undergraduate business degree you can get (IEs can make a lot of money Ė the course work is well aligned with management). In addition, I switched to Industrial from Mechanical Engineering a few years ago because Mechanical was hard. Mechanical was really hard. I didnít feel like spending all that time on the homework. I wanted time to wander around Boston and figure out what my passion was. I didnít think I could continue on with all of those equations. I wanted to run conferences, events, start a business, run a company, be an entrepreneur (not an engineer). I was worried I couldnít get good enough grades to keep my scholarship. I loved robots, but I figured Iíd do the market research and hire other engineers to build them. I never thought that I would be doing design work in my life. Instead, the plan was to be the visionary.

Well, I learned somethingÖ its hard to be a visionary in a technical field when youíre not comfortable with the material in that technical field! Also, I like designing stuff, it's fun.

I will say that things worked out perfectly. I do not regret the decisions I made in the past five years because now is now, my path is my unique path, I learned a lot that is unusual for a college student to know; but, now I know exactly what my next step is.

Iím glad I was Industrial Engineering during my undergraduate career because a lot of weird/cool things worked out that wouldnít have had I been Mechanical (projects, jobs, professional societies, conferences, seminars, networking, etcÖ). Regardless, now I really want my Mechanical Masters, possibly a PhD, because there arenít enough engineers in this country REALLY know what theyíre doing.

Am I willing to work hard?

Do I know exactly WHY I want to work this hard for another five-six years?

My goal in life right now is to pursue the opportunity that is the most difficult and the most rewarding, given that I have a lot of life left to live. Life is LONG. So much has happened in five years, a lot more will happen in the next sixty as long as I stay active. I tend to wonder, how far can I go with life? Where can I end up? How can I make this world a better place? Will pursuing my own dreams help inspire people to pursue theirs? Can I exemplify that any average, confused, middle-class teenage girl can grow to have a dream and achieve it? Can my brain, after becoming an even better trained engineer, figure out how to create products that can help people live their lives better? Will I ever be recognized as a visionary?

FIRST has guided me in many ways. It has also taught me how to pursue a dream. Having a vision and aligning other people to it takes: perseverance, dealing with anxiety, a feeling that youíre going beyond yourself and what ďyouíre allowed to doĒ, a stance that can look people straight in the eye and convince them to want what you want, and a level of passion. Iíve learned that after the upset stomachs, the confusing phone calls, the meetings, and the ďnot knowingĒÖ that I usually get my way. Actually, when the idea is important and worth doing, I always get my way. I get to do something beyond myself. I get to create something. I get to pursue MY OWN idea and turn it into a reality. Itís a wonderful feeling, really. I highly recommend it.

SoÖ growing up I wanted to be one of two things:
Astronaut OR Leader of a technical company

I figured out recently that I could do both.
Hereís how:

Iíve been bumping into high-level NASA guys and astronauts recently.

I ask them the question: Realistically, when will you be bringing on a new astronaut team for moon/mars missions?
They answer: How old are you?
I answer: 21.
They say: thatís perfect. Weíre looking 2018-2020. Youíll be mid thirties.
I ask: So what youíll need are adventurous high-stakes healthy people that are effective with hands-on electrical/mechanical repair, possibly robotics, can follow procedures precisely, and live in confined spaces?
(I then tell them about my robots, hang gliding, hiking, running, etcÖ)
They say: Yes. All you have to do is GET YOUR PhD.
(Hence the PhD in Mechanical Engineering idea)

Ok, so now I know that being an astronaut ACTUALLY is an option. Thereís no certainty that Iíll obtain that dream, itís just a door Iíd like to keep open. The other reason why I want to work towards higher education in Mechanical Engineering is:

If I want to start my own company itíll likely be a technical company. Meaning, Iíll need a lot of VC and Investor funding to get it off the ground. Granted, Iíd probably start really small so I can keep more share in the organization; but, when I need that boost of a few million dollars, Iíll need to convince investors that Iím qualified and my team is qualified. Most 20-somethings wonít get funding. So I figured, work on product design and market research while still in school (maybe do thesis work on it) and use professors as consultants. Then, with the higher education, be better at convincing investors and VCs to invest in the idea and grow the company from there.

Ok, I just poured out my soul onto ChiefDelphi. This is something I donít do often anymore, but this is my thought process right now and I donít think itíll change much. Just letting you know. Why? Because FIRST taught me that I can do this. FIRST opened a door and I walked through it. FIRST has fantastic role models; every conversation, every informal meeting, and every few lines exchanged at a restaurant added to my knowledge base. I listened. I wondered. I see a better world and I think I can help make it happen.

Call me a dreamer.
Iíll fail if I give up.
If I do one thing, just one small thing to help this world, I would have succeeded.
Iíll fail if I get lazy.
Life will be fun because Iíll be caught in a puzzle to turn ideas into reality.
Iíll fail if I work only for paychecks.
Possibly inspire others by giving motivating speeches.
Iíll fail if I take advice from the wrong people.

And thatís my most important point: Take The Right Advice!

There is so much bad advice in this world. Follow your own path, make your own decisions, and remember that if you keep adding to your resume:

Only take advice from people who you want to be like.
(This sometimes breaks the ďlisten to your parentsĒ rule.)
If you want to be a visionary and help people; take advice from Dean, Woodie, or Dave.
If your parents are living life for paychecks, watching too much TV, or complaining about workÖ do not take their career advice. Enough other people will still tell you to go to college and get a good job, but choose youíre specific role model(s) and follow their lead.

I canít emphasize that enough: only take advice from people you want to be like. Youíll hear conflicting advice throughout your entire life. Trust your gut.

Ok, thatís enough.


BUZZ 175 (01, 02) - NUTRONS 125 (03, 04) - QUEEN 1975 (06)
Beantown Blitz Founder (04) - FIRST Robotics Conferences (04) - Boston Regional Volunteer Coordinator (06)

Last edited by Erin Rapacki : 11-13-2006 at 08:34 AM.
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  #17   Spotlight this post!  
Unread 01-01-2007, 11:41 AM
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JoeXIII'007 JoeXIII'007 is offline
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Re: To Dream the Impossible Dream (Full Version)


Since you posted the short version of the speech, I sort of had to read the long version... this is marvelous. Thanks! (I don't think there's much else to be said, I'm sort of speechless after reading).

(goes off to think for a while)

Joeseph P. Smith
University of Michigan - Informatics (B. Sci. 2012)
General Purpose Programmer - Cooperative Institute for Limnology and Ecosystems Research (CILER) at NOAA-GLERL
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