|Katy O'Brien, SDM '12|
Photo by Kathy Tarantola Photography
O'Brien said that one month into the program, SDM's interdisciplinary focus has already helped her hone the essential management skills of collaboration and leadership, while allowing her to simultaneously expand her technical capabilities.
"I wasn't sure how my own work experiences would coalesce and how I would contribute to SDM as a member of the cohort," she says. However, the first design challenge took care of her concern.
"The assignment required our team to construct and program a moving, talking robot," she says. "My engineering experience enabled me to provide mechanical design input, while I collaborated with my teammates, whose code brought the bot to life."
O'Brien said that the breadth of her SDM classmates' accomplishments and the diversity among industries was immediately apparent. Her design challenge teammates represented an array of impressive and diverse backgrounds: a senior communications engineer from The MITRE Corporation, a technical staff member of IBM Research Labs, a commander in the U.S. Coast Guard, a PhD candidate in aeronautics, and a lead consultant at CARSA of Mexico. O'Brien said that this experience in team dynamics will serve her well at Draper, where navigating interdisciplinary teams is essential in her work as a product engineer and her assignments include, among others, fostering partnerships among colleagues working in unmanned aerial vehicles.
When the time arrived for final presentations, each team was required to introduce itself to the entire cohort by preparing a presentation, which "inevitably included dancing, singing and skits," she said. "It became clear to me that every team member was a key contributor, both technically and creatively. I continue to be impressed not only by the technical prowess of my classmates, but also by the creative and collaborative skills that have emerged in everyone throughout the design challenge. ... I'm incredibly lucky to be at SDM."