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Kurt Markham

Fall 2019
Cumulative Reflection
As of the time I’m writing this, I’ve spent five whole semesters studying at Iowa State
University. Although I have two more semesters until I graduate in May 2020, I’d like to spend
some time reflecting on what has happened since I first enrolled. I laid out this reflection in
chronological order so that I can show what I learned and experienced during my journey
through ISU and these last three years.
When I first got accepted to ISU, I expected it to just be an extension of high school. I
took a few classes at the University of Iowa during my senior year of high school, so I thought I
knew what the classwork would be like too. I learned during my first semester that there were
a lot of things I did not expect. I had to share the same room with an old friend of mine, but he
moved after a month, so I was left to find things by myself. I started going to the gym regularly
and joined the kumdo club on campus to improve my physical fitness. That year I also had my
first engineering group project in a group with three others (one who turned out to be a
roommate junior year). We worked on making a snake game using an Arduino and an LED strip
stapled to a plank of wood. Since it was the first group engineering project for most of us, we
relied a lot upon each other and our lab assistants to help us. The rest of the year progressed in
the same way with more group projects and core engineering classes. I did well academically
freshman year because I used the supplemental instruction (SI) program at ISU. The SI program
helped me by providing voluntary study sessions where I could go review difficult concepts, ask
questions, and learn good study habits to rely upon.
For the first semester of sophomore year, I studied abroad at the National University of
Singapore located in Singapore. Although an accident left me unable to finish my semester
there, I know my time there completely changed me from the person I was when I first started.
It was my first time going overseas and I was the only person to go that semester, so there was
there were plenty of new experiences I had to handle by myself. I learned how to be self-reliant
when all my previous contacts are on the other side of the globe. Going on the study abroad
was a big risk, but I’m glad I took it. Describing everything I did and learned there would go far
beyond the scope of this reflection but I will say, if I had the chance to do it again, I would take
it with no hesitation.
This last year has been comprised of more engineering classes related more to my major
and areas of engineering I want to focus on. It’s been building upon the skills I have already
learned and branching out into different knowledge areas that act as the foundation for my
position as a computer engineer. I decided during my sophomore year that my focus in
engineering would be project management and I have taken courses related to it accordingly.
Those project management classes previously helped me through my internship at RSM LLP
after my junior year and currently for my senior design project. In order to avoid risks and
complications that occur later in project development, I’m using my skills and experience in
project management to help keep our senior project well defined and satisfactory for our
clients requirements. And I know that the experience I get actively using my skills will directly
relate to my efficiently in the real world wherever I end up furthering my engineering career.
My time at ISU had given me the technical and social skills required for me to be a
successful engineer and a successful person. Although the journey was not what I expected it to
be, I have become a different person who is ready to tackle any engineering problem.