Sometimes Cramming For Exams Is Just A Little Too Late

BajaBlogDSC_0111_2.jpgS&T’s Baja SAE team is marking it’s 5th anniversary with a pretty ambitious schedule. They planned to compete in both South Carolina and Bellingham, Washington, right next to the Canadian border, but now that schedule has been cut in half.
Anyone who’s ever attended college is intimately familiar with cramming for finals. You know, burning the midnight oil for two or three days trying to cram in the details that you SHOULD have been studying all semester. That’s kinda what the Baja SAE team has struggled with this year. Too little, too late, especially for the first competition of the year.
They had some complicated design work that took longer than expected to complete, but they also left too much of the work in the hands of too few people. In any group project there’s always a dedicated core cadre of people who do most of the work, a larger group who contribute as their schedules allow, and maybe a few people who just tag along for the glory. If you’ve been out on the workforce for any period of time, you’ve certainly dealt with this; might as well be exposed to it early in life.
There are some benefits to finding yourself in such a position, because you learn to swallow some pride and make tough decisions. Yes, you could take an incomplete car to competition and hope to finish at the start line, but when you’ve been “cramming” for five days straight, what are the odds that you’ll remember to pack everything? That you’ll have good responses when, unshaven and groggy, you try answering judges’ questions? That you’ll embarrass yourself and your school? That you can safely drive halfway across the country when your crew hasn’t slept for three days? It takes some maturity and honest self-reflection to admit to your failures and learn from the experience.
All is not lost, because their is still a challenging trip to the Pacific Northwest. That means time to step back and evaluate, build, test and refine, so that you are confident in your design, testing and training. And it won’t devastate your team’s finances to reach for too much. That’s a good business decision.
So get some much-needed sleep, go back to your classes (remember those?), and let’s make this right.