- Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project.
For my STEP Signature Project, I used the funds for rent and food over the summer so I didn’t have to work full time. In the extra time I had, I researched and ideated a design for a new marching percussion carrier. My goal in creating a new carrier was to produce a design that better catered to women and smaller-frame people.
- What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?
One of the most difficult things about the project was having to work on it every day. I quickly found that the 3-hour daily goal I set for myself at the beginning of the summer was not realistic. I am a highly self-motivated individual, but this summer I had to come to accept that I may not be able to work as much as I know I could on school or work projects in order to take care of myself as a person. Budgeting the money I received from STEP took some time, as well as physically getting myself to the grocery store or taking my bike to the shop (things I budgeted for).
However, I am surprised and proud at the progress I did make on my project. I have basically been making blind progress for the past two to three years on my design, and I made great strides this summer in terms of 1) What I want to create, 2) criteria/constraints for what I want to create, and 3) what is feasible for me to create at my level of education and current resources. In short, I was able to narrow my query, which is a great thing!
- What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you?
My project was unique in that it was extremely self-guided. I interacted with only a handful of people over the summer to guide my research, and most of that contact was online. I have done independent studies before, but this one was different because I was being paid, essentially, for the work I was doing. I felt more of a sense of urgency to produce something, which was a good and a bad thing. Bad, because in my opinion research shouldn’t be focused on the outcome, but the process itself; but good because I did produce something! And I’m excited about that product.
Though few, I’m thankful for the interactions I did have. I was able to communicate with a woman who published a dissertation at the University of Alabama on the creation and usage of a lumbar belt, an accessory to be used with a marching percussion carrier. I was able to speak with a man who I actually already knew, who represented the product and spoke with me about how it’s used and currently being advertised. I’m so grateful I got to speak with him because now he knows what I’m trying to do, which makes my project (which still continues) feel more legitimate. He also offered to be a resource in the future!
I also interacted with some faculty members from the material science department at OSU. I’m still working on finding a material that would be best to line the pads of my carrier with. I sent a faculty member a list of criteria I’m looking for in a material and I’m still waiting for a reply. I’m excited that my project is still moving in forward in that way!
Like I mentioned with the lumbar belt rep, those interactions with real experts in their field affirm my project, and make me feel like I’m making progress. It also makes me feel accountable to these people, if even in a small way. Many people I’ve talked to, not just this summer, have asked me to keep them updated on what I’m doing. It’s cool people back what I’m trying to do and are looking forward to see what I produce!
- Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable in your life?
This summer, I had to realize that some work I chose to do can never be quantified or visibly reimbursed; that is, the work that I do on myself. I wasn’t able to work 3 hours every single day on my project. I found that other, legitimate things got in the way: budgeting for my weekly grocery trips, going to get my bike repaired, or simply taking a nap. I have been learning over the course of a few years that I am allowed to make time for myself and my health, even over school or my job. I am still working towards fully embracing that idea, but this summer and STEP got me thinking in the right direction
Although I wasn’t able to work as much as I wanted to, the time I was able to spend on my project was all the more focused- and fun! I looked forward to the time I got to spend working on my design, rather than begrudgingly doing it every day. The limited time helped me develop strategies to work smarter, not harder: like creating checklists, keeping journals and making myself accountable to requests I’d write myself the day before. For example, if I had a question on Tuesday towards the end of the time I had to work, I’d write it down in my journal. When I had time to work on Wednesday, I’d look at my journal entry from Tuesday and create a schedule and daily goals from those notes.