The purpose of my STEP Signature Project was to build a powerful PC capable of 3D-Modeling, Software Development, and game design. The project entailed researching the various components necessary to build a PC, followed by reading and viewing guides on how to properly assemble the components. After researching, I compared and selected the components I wanted based on price, reviews, and benchmark tests, and the next step was to complete the build.
Successfully building a computer changed my views of myself and led me to be more confident in a few ways. As someone who is majoring in CSE, and mainly interacts with software rather than hardware, I have never seen myself as very good at a hands-on approach to building things. This project helped me develop a sense of confidence in my ability to work with hardware and brought out a skill I never knew I had. In addition, the process of building the PC itself and researching to understand the purposes and function of each component, and how they interact, was beneficial to my education as a Computer Science major. Working with software can often have some hiccups which are hardware-related, so developing a better understanding of hardware is undoubtedly a good experience for me. Ultimately, I ended up having a lot of fun while completing the build as well as learning a lot, it was a good experience all around.
While the nature of my STEP project did not involve much physical social interaction, I interacted with various tech-forums and communities online in search of which components to purchase and in my research. The research for my project led me to discover the true breadth of the online tech community, as well as their willingness to offer insights and opinions to complete strangers. I also learned a great deal about computer components in general, one of the biggest things being that selecting the “best” components is not in any way cut and dry, and that a variety of builds using different components can yield the same performance.
Going into sophomore year, I feel that I often “played it safe” in life and didn’t step out of my comfort zone as much as I could. The STEP project, as well as everything surrounding the build itself, led to a profound change of character for me, and I feel I am much more outgoing and willing to put myself out there now. This was provoked by both the meetings with the STEP Cohort and private lunch with my advisor, Tim, which led me to social interaction and a broader world-view, as well as by the need to take initiative during the STEP program. During the process of STEP I was pushed into taking initiative in many ways from the social interactions and planning described above to the need to reach out and interact via email whenever I had questions, I became much less timid about communicating with strangers.
Finally, the build itself was a great relationship-building experience for myself and one of my best friends. My friend helped me complete the build- which ended up taking about 8 hours because we spent hours looking for a cable we lost which turned out to be right next to us buried under some papers…- and my friend’s patience and willingness to assist me for such an extended period of time really led to the development of a deeper relationship between us. In addition, I also felt that my communication and teamwork skills were enhanced by the interaction required to successfully build the computer.
As mentioned earlier, the entirety of the STEP project I completed, from cohort meetings to development events to the build itself was beneficial to my development as a person as well as my education as a CSE major. Learning how to build a computer and better understand hardware could be very beneficial in the future should I end up in a career in the tech industry. On the other hand, the social interactions and responsibility necessary to complete the project successfully and make it through STEP also contributed to the development of my character in an invaluable way. Overall, I am surprised by the impact STEP had on my professional and social development, and am very satisfied and happy with my decision to participate in the program.