Sunday, 22 November 2015

Life Update & Career goals.

I still have a blog?

Yes, seems like it.

It has been a LONG while since I typed away at my keyboard, sharing my journey in life, progressing through my engineering career. At this point in my life, I am living the life of academia as a attain my PhD related to electronic textiles and wearable technology. Applying my skills attained in my Electronic Engineering degree to this 3-year project has been fun, and with my crazy organsiation skills it seems like I am settling into PhD very comfortably. I say 'comfortably', but I have been so busy that I have rarely sat down with a cup of tea in my hand. Lab work there, soldering here, award ceremony over there... so much has happened! Let me refresh on some of the events that has occurred within the last few weeks.

Gym Life.
I got a new gym membership this year and really happy with the decision. Years doing sport, realistically, I would likely go to the gym after graduating compared to joining a sports team. Therefore, better get used to going to the gym more. Pure Gym is a chain of gyms that, honestly, I was not familiar with beforehand. However, the quality of equipment is really high at the gym that I go to and the building itself is so spacious. I prefer it much more than the University gym, and even better that my housemate who studies Medicine also goes - gym buddies. I sort of got into a habit of going home for consecutive weekends, meaning that I did not gym. Kind of bad. Happily, I am getting back into working out tomorrow which is needed - as being a PhD student if you are not in the lab you are sitting in front of a computer screen for the whole day. 

A friend in need.
My friend Cat, who has been featured on this blog before, was shortlisted for a national music competition a few weeks ago. I went to support her and it was a great way to spend a Saturday evening. Cat was one of the few acts that performed a song that she wrote and played a musical instrument, but it was good to appreciate all the acts who competed. A great outcome was Cat was invited to talk with music producers about her work, future ambitious, and ways to improve her music if she ever wanted to become a music artist. Exciting times!

BBC Radio 1 Student Tour.
What a day! An alumni from my University is a radio presenter for BBC Radio 1, one of the biggest radio stations in the UK, and they took a visit to our campus! It was part of their BBC Radio 1 Student Tour, as presenters Chris Stark and Scott Mills traveled to Universities all over the UK and set up their live show on University campuses. It was amazing, and because I am part of my University's Student Radio Station I appreciated it a lot - it is likely that in years time my fellow team mates will be prominent in radio stations after graduation. Additionally, it was surprisingly exciting to put voices you hear on the radio to faces as they set up stage inside our cafe 'The Bridge' at the Student's Union. I had the great chance of being recorded twice, one which is even on Youtube - you can watch the video here!

Treating the parents.
After a week or so settling into PhD life, my parents came down to visit me. I decided to take them down to the docks and pay for drinks and lunch. It was a beautiful, peaceful environment. Sharing my plans and ambitions for my PhD with my parents was pretty surreal. Especially the thought that months from now, my vocalisation of my future desires would have manifested by then. Sitting down and looking over the marina, looking back at my parents, and looking at my reflection from the window beside me, I realised that I have really matured since arriving to University as a fresher. Elements of me still reside - that wondrous curiosity for life and that sense of infectious enthusiasm to succeed and live life the fullest. However what has changed is my sense of what I am capable of achieving. When I first joined University, I was not aware that I could achieve or how high of a goal I could reach. Gaining that knowledge is partly due to people arriving in your life at the right time but also, it comes being assertive with the opportunities that present themselves to you.

Outreach, journalism, and hobbies.
The idea of become a freelance journalist has been on my mind for many years. I learnt that I could actually live this dream earlier than hoped thanks to an initiative called 'The Conversation'. The Conversation is an online newspaper website where the journalists are PhD students and academics. The articles are about their research or explain the academic explanation behind newsworthy articles. Extremely happy that I was re-acquainted with my previous summer internship boss from two years ago! He also attended the meeting as he was hoping that the academics working at his establishment could contribute to this website. My life has become even more enjoyable that I have been reading novels again. The book that has satisfied my creating writing appetite is called 'Quicksand' by Steve Toltz. I have recently finished it, and it was one of the craziest, funniest, loveliest, darkest, and interesting books I have ever read. I came across this book after seeing a lady carrying it on the London Underground whilst commuting to my summer internship in July. This book is so eye-catching I felt compelled to know what this book was called when I first saw it. I have reaped the benefits of that bold move since. A new extra-curricular activity for me is outreach. I have recently joined a group of PhDs and undergraduate students at my University who teach Science to the general public through artistic methods, mini lectures, and sparking imagination through questions - the group is called The Science Room. I have met so many interesting, and incredibly intellectual people through joining - a great way to befriend other PhD students and other passionate people. Very recently I have been asked to create animation for their promotional material and officially been asked to be part of their committee! I am extremely honoured by the invitation, and I am excited to entice the general public about science, technology, and engineering.

London Strolls and Adventures.
A took a trip to memory lane as I visited Cake Boy in Battersea, London, a week or so ago. I have visited there when I was 15, 17, just before I left for University, and now that I am 22. The patissere there is by Eric Landlard, and this cute gem of place is one of my favourite hiding places in London. My parents and I walked around Battersea and went to eat at a Syrian and Lebanese restaurant where I had one of the best food I have ever had in London. I want to go back, ASAP.

Sketches and Secret Tour.
Animation involves a lot of planning. The Science Communicating Outreach group that I aforementioned, The Science Room, is developing new promotional material and I volunteered to help create their new content. A small sub-team of us are making videos that will feature on the new website. We are going to be using the Rostrum animation technique (information on it here) and I am going to be doing the drawings! I can draw, only when I put my mind to it. It has been very refreshing picking up this skill which I have essentially left to accumulate with dust, and our team leader is so encouraging and enthusiastic that you want to do a good job. It means I have more work besides my PhD and Student Radio work but it can benefit a lot of people so it is worth it. After the meeting about animation and its planning/storyboards, which lasted 3 hours, our team leader gave us a tour of his department. He studies at the Vibrations and Acoustics faculty, where they have this enormous vibrating mechanism. I am still to understand what it was for, but it looked really amusing to watch a video of a man sitting on a chair with its floor surface vibrating - purely for the sake of academia.

PhD Electronics.
The integrated circuit (IC) chips and SO8 Adapter boards arrived at my PhD desk space two weeks ago, meaning I could solder them together! I am currently building my first prototype, and working on building it as quick as possible - following The Lean Start Up approach towards my PhD progress. I have already drafted my Introduction and Literature Review Chapter for my 9 month progress report now, meaning that I can concentrate solely on my electronics build. It is an exciting time, and I have already hit a snag with my circuit not working. All is well though; once I find out what is wrong with my circuit it will work, and I will have a result to show my PhD supervisors. Until then, lots of quality control and checking that enough voltage is flowing to different components in my circuit. Multimeters and power generators are going to me by source of company in the lab until I get this circuit working.

A Special Photoshoot.
A few months ago, I was asked to take part in a photoshoot! It took place at my University, and was to showcase my research. I chose to work on the screen printing machine, used to create circuits out of flexible substrates. It was an exciting morning, and I was geared up in a freakishly, 'bang the dirt is gone' white boiler suit. The photos should come out soon, and the photography team were really personable.

Student Radio Awards.
One perk of working in your University's Student Radio Station is the chance to attend the Student Radio Awards! Our radio station was nominated for two awards, which made going to the O2 Arena to hear the results was double sweet. The venue was filled with plenty of round tables all for students all over the country to sit down and get to meet others from different Universities. The table seating plan was arranged so that it would seat an equal number of students from different Universities. In our case, we were paired with students from The University of Bath! It was great to be acquainted with them all. There were so funny moments too, like the look one student's face when I guessed the brand of her dress (Lavish Alice), the look on the same student's face when she smashed her plate into three pieces whilst attempting to cut the dessert (chocolate covered pears are probably her nemesis now). It was a great evening, and I got a chance to get dressed up formally!

Piezoelectric Materials and a Forgotten Dream Come True.
Probably a fortnight ago, I traveled up to London for the day to attend a mini-conference held at the Institute of Physics! The location is by Regent's Park, a very opulent part of London where embassies trail the sides of the pavement. The topic was Piezoelectric Thick Films and the progress in the field thus far. Piezoelectric materials are such that either get deformed to produce electric energy or are when supplied electric energy they become deformed. Piezoelectric materials are found in many commercial devices such as airbag sensors and microphones. You can find more information about piezoelectric materials here. I attended the conference to gain additional knowledge for my PhD, to network with other academics, but also to support a fellow PhD student who was invited to give a talk on the day. It was a very successful day as I learnt about projects that I can mention in my Literature Review for my thesis. Rather than heading back to my University town after the mini-conference, I met up with my friend Marta who goes to University in London. I had not seen her since starting my PhD, so we arranged an impromptu meet-up to which she recommended The British Museum! I have wanted to go to The British Museum for years but I only knew about it through pictures and not its actual name. Imagine my surprise when I walked through the entrance and realised that I was under its iconic ceiling. It really was a forgotten dream come true. I have more photos of that day, which I will put in a separate photography blogpost.
The same day was Children in Need, and it was very convenient that individuals were collecting money for charity on the day as I got a chance to donate! The funniest part of the evening, were the group of people in fancy dress who were collecting money for Children in Need within an underground train. Cheering and the clinks and clanks of money as money were put into buckets gave a refreshing change to the otherwise silence that is usually endured whilst on the underground.  

The iSessions Photography job.
I was asked to provide photos for the iSessions singer-songwriter competition run by The Independent Newspaper last week! The Independent is one of the most popular newspapers in the UK, and every year they hold a music competition showcasing student talent at selected Universities. I worked Helen, a friend I made in Norway this summer, who conveniently is located in my University town for a while. These are some of the shots of the night, but not the ones that will be used by The Independent Newspaper. When they are online, I will provide a link!

A scientific evaluation of Mindfulness.
Yesterday, I spent my Saturday afternoon with my STEM outreach team, The Science Room. We welcomed members of the public to our event, called 'Does mindfulness meditation benefit our minds and our bodies?'. We had an external speaker, a meditation researcher, give her opinion of this and we even had a meditation session. It was amazing how packed the event was and to hear the stories how the general public heard about the team and the event. Some examples were they heard about the team through mutual friends, through a past event they attended or had to miss, or through a website that provided the venue for the events. I have been part of The Science Room as a volunteer, and this was my first time attending one of their events. I was incredibly impressed by how the day was orchestrated, how the atmosphere of the room was so jovial and full of curiosity, and the sight of a a PhD graduate having a highly intellectual discussion with a member of the public who had practiced mindfulness for 40 years! It is amazing how interested the general public are about Science, the majority I think did not study a STEM-related degree but wanted to learn more about this topic.

Naturally, I have accepted my eccentric lifestyle for what it is. For my friends, or people who are getting to know me, they find it quite bewildering to witness all the different happenings and events that I find myself in. Yes, it is like I am living a double-life where academia is on one side and media is on the other. Success on both parts of my life, but it takes a lot of work juggling everything which people rarely notice. They ask me, "Olivia, with everything that you do, what do you aspire for after graduation?" For the first time in my life, I say, "I have no clue.". I used to be so sure that in 5 years I would have achieved this, and by 10 years I would have achieved that. However, before I started University, I had no idea how incredibly fulfilling and exciting my life could be and it is amazing that I am living such a life now. I do know that I want to freelance in media activities, whether it be journalism, doing radio show interviews, maybe presenting on a television documentary, and even doing voice-overs. High sights would be contributing to Parliament or even doing STEM outreach at an international level. Yet, these will be side projects as I still want to focus my career on Engineering. I want someone to say my name and instantly know my accomplishments in tech, projects I have worked on, and my positive reputation. What this career is, I do not know right now and that is fine. Advice I have received is to follow my heart and to not limit my potential. Opportunities arrive in packages that are often disguised as one thing but turn out to be incredibly desirable. If I just follow my gut, I should get to where I want to be.

Short films are to be created and uploaded soon, the downside of being so busy is that time dedicated to my hobbies have taken a back seat. I have come across some music which has inspired me, which I might as well make into a music blogpost. I like them, it seems readers of this blog do too!
Stay happy, enjoy life, work easy.

Take Courage,

Olivia Ojuroye

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