Friday, August 22, 2008

Summer Semester

It's pretty hard to believe that I've been living in Boston and leading the life of a college student for the past 3 months. Time has pretty much flown by and I'm still deciding if I'm happy or sad about that...

Regardless, I figured it'd be a good time to reflect back on my first semester as a grad student.

Before I jump into it, I had so many people tell me when I decided to return to school and come to LFM that I'd work hard but I'd also have a lot of fun. And, all I can say is that it was so true - all in all, as I look back on the past 3 months it's been a fun time, a lot of laughing, exploring, meeting new people and learning (can't forget that ;)).

The school part was admittedly tough. We took 5 classes this summer: Leadership, Lean & Six Sigma, Operations Management, Systems Optimization and Probability & Statistics. The work load started out relatively normal but it quickly ramped up to the point where our summer teams became critical (and not just because of group assignments). For the most part the material in the classes wasn't terrible (difficult, confusing, etc.) but there's always a few concepts I get stuck on and naturally, a few classes I wasn't as enthusiastic about. This is part of the reason the summer teams were so important - there's usually at least one of the 6 people who understands the material and/or feels passionate about it. Thus it helps to have people focus on certain areas and take the divide & conquer approach. But, a big lesson learned from our team was to not get so wrapped up in dividing & conquering that we forget to give each other the opportunity to learn new things.

Some of the highlights from the classes were 2 leadership building/team bonding days. The first was for our summer teams which was an Outward Bound trip during the first week of classes. It was a great time to learn about each other, but not quite as exciting as we had hoped because the rain put a damper on our opportunity to climb ropes and do other physical outdoor activities. The second was with a new group of 6 people (randomly selected) at Fort Devens Army Base, and this time the weather cooperated and everyone
seemed to have a blast challenging ourselves mentally, physically and getting to know some new classmates better. My team of 6 for this challenge was arguable the best team - we spent about 90% of the time laughing so hard our stomachs hurt PLUS we were able to successfully complete almost all of the challenges.

There were also some fun group assignments - one was a paper helicopter design contest (for Statistics). Unfortunately, our design did awesome when we prototyped and did our final practice drops. However, the pilot must have had bad nerves, because during the big event, we looked a bit sad. Although, we take pride on the fact that we weren't last. ;) We also tried to tackle a challenging System Optimization project of optimizing the seating chart for a wedding reception. A good friend of mine is getting married in August and we used her as our customer. It was fun to tackle something different than the usual production mix question! It was also really interesting to hear from our classmates what they did and see how practical the material we learned in class really is (dorky, I know - but learning is much easier when that's the case)!

Ok, I'll stop dorking out now and move into the SOCIAL side! Our class of 2010 - some of us are pushing to change from being referred to as the "10's" to the "X's" - is a blast. We've had numerous parties to celebrate birthdays and .... well, just about anything that we can. Most Wednesday nights were spent at the Muddy Charles (on campus bar) followed by Beacon Hill Pub (BHP) where we were claiming our territory since that's the normal Wednesday night hang out when the rest of the Sloanies show up. We've done a lot of fun touristy stuff and I've had a blast seeing the city with others who are not from the area. It's true that it takes some time to find those people you connect with, but I'd say that for the most part, when a big social event is planned, you can count on at least 20 people from the class joining in on the fun. We are all very social people and know how to have a good time.

Wow, this post has become very long. So, I'll spare any other details for now and return to enjoying my last 3 days off before Sloan Orientation starts.

As always, if you want to know more about something, feel free to leave me a comment and I will gladly share more!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Images from the Summer

Tomorrow is our last day of classes for the summer. It's hard to believe how quickly the 2 1/2 months have gone by!

Although there is a lot to talk about, for now, I thought I'd post a few photos to capture the craziness (aka - excitement) from the last couple of months.

Also, if anyone has any specific questions about the program or wants to hear more about anything specifically, feel free to leave me a comment and I'll incorporate it in one of my posts!

The LFM class of 2010!


Pictures from the 4th of July in Boston

Fireworks on the Charles River


LFMs with the city in background


Leadership Reaction Course (LRC) at Fort Devins



Hanging out with other LFMs



Saturday, August 9, 2008

A Little Bit About Me

Hello! Welcome to my blog. Over the next two years, I hope for this to be a great way for me to share as much as I can about my experiences living in Boston and as a student in the MIT Leaders for Manufacturing program.

I tend to be a talker, and can often go on and on about anything that interests me and since we're almost done with our first semester of school, there is a lot to talk about! But, for now, I think it's best to take the time to introduce myself a little bit.

My name is Johanna, I'm currently a student in the MIT LFM program, class of 2010 and I've been living in Boston now for about 2 1/2 months and am finally feeling settled. Before moving to Boston, I'd been living in Los Angeles, CA for the past 10 years. (So, this is a BIG CHANGE!!!) I am one of the "few" people living in California that are actually CA grown. :) I was born in San Diego and have lived in California for most of my life.

I found my to Los Angeles for school - I graduated from the University of Southern California (Go Trojans!!) in 2002 with a B.S. in Industrial & Systems Engineering. After I graduated, not only did the football team get a lot better, but I decided I loved L.A. and stayed there to work at Northrop Grumman (one of the LFM partner companies) as an Industrial Engineer. I spent 5 1/2 years at NG (before coming to MIT) and was fortunate enough to have many diverse opportunities while there. I worked on 2 different major fighter plane programs and worked both on the manufacturing side and on the business management (finance) side of the world.

Deciding to leave NG and California was not just one of, it was THE toughest decision I've made in my life. Now, don't get me wrong, when I applied (this is the only school I applied to), I knew that if I got in, I was coming. But that didn't make it any easier -- I didn't leave L.A. because I was not happy or felt trapped in my job or hated where I lived. I decided to embark on this adventure because I felt like there was something more out there and I realized it was my responsibility to get out and figure it out. LFM was the best place for me to do this because I already had a great foundation - both education and work experience, engineering and business - and I've always had a passion for learning.

So, here I am... sitting in my studio in Boston, still not quite believing it all, but excited about what's to come.