The Semester of Getting Shtuff Done!
posted on Sept. 24, 2013, 5:31 p.m. by Fernando Rodriguez
last edited on Sept. 24, 2013, 5:34 p.m.

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Hey guys! Has it been a year already? Are we doing the start-of-fall-semester "what are your goals?" post again? *Sigh* Well, let me see if anything has changed from last year's post....Oh, that's right. I actually went to PR that summer! Now I'm jealous of my past self :\ Anyway, let's get to it!

How's Engage going, you may ask? You don't ask? Oh, you don't know/remember what Engage is. Allow me to refresh your memory: Engage is a narrative game-based learning environment for middle school computer science that is being developed at the Center for Educational Informatics lab here at NC State. We've had several pilots since my last post, and development has been very productive. However, this past summer was my last semester as an RA for the Engage project, since I was awarded a graduate research fellowship by the NSF (first-world graduate student problems?). I am super pumped about getting funded to do my own research, but I still help out with Engage in any way I can. For instance, I am currently working on ways to automate our data collection of pairs of students solving computer science-y problems by using a Kinect camera to record audio streams from students individually. I'm still into games (was there ever any doubt?), so my personal research will be moulded to fit my interests as much as possible. I've reached a crossroads where I need to start deciding what exactly will the rest of my Ph.D. look like, so I'll be doing a lot of deep thinking and soul searching and meditating under waterfalls and stuff. We'll see how it goes....

Classes have been pretty chill so far, but this semester decided to kick it up a notch. BAM! I'm taking a Mixed Methods Research course from the College of Education which has been extremely useful in getting me to think about my dissertation work and how to construct it. I also have an Educational Data Mining course which promises to be pretty hardcore. Projects are coming up soon, and I need to get a partner (or team) and a project idea ASAP. Once again, we'll see how it goes....

The people that know me know that I value my spare time very much, more than the average person should. That is why I have decided that if I have to work harder, I also need to play harder! My backlog of games is getting too big, and I ain't getting any younger. Obviously, I don't let my games interfere with my school/research work, but I always try to remember to have a little fun every once in a while. I think I definitely prefer playing games to making them, but they're both fun in their own ways. Aside from that, a new fitness program hopes to get me into a shape that's not round or amorphous blob-like. It's back to the basics: eat less and exercise more! We'll see how it goes.... again :P

I dubbed this post "The Semester of Getting Shtuff Done" because recent events have proven to me that if I want to see shtuff get done, I have to do it myself. You can count on your friends and comrades to help out, but in the unfortunate case that they can't, you can't just give up. Learned that the hard way :S

As for the future... you guessed it! We'll see how it goes....

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