Well, having completed my first complete academic year, I'm now entering into semester 3 and I need to start planning what it is that I want to achieve over the summer whilst most of the students are away. There's a common misconception it would appear, that academics all bugger off to Tuscany for the summer running care free and naked through the hills with the wind blowing through their hair, finally returning in September to teach again.
The truth of the matter is that this is perhaps the only time in the year when we can actually get stuff done that we want to, we've access to the laboratory and we're able to crank through all of those things that we've just not had opportunity to get round to through the academic year due to other pressures. The key to getting things done though is to create a list of what it is that you want to achieve... so here's my list (in no particular order yet as I need to put timescales next to them).
- Review COMSOL and attend a training session.
- Develop a series of Mathematica sheets for calculating geometry.
- Learn ANSYS.
- Learn Inventor.
- Update lecture materials for the MSc and some of the first year modules.
- Write 2 chapters for my PhD.
- Complete my Lynda.com training session for Blackboard 9.1.
- Completely re-populate all of my Blackboard area, embedding Mathematica.
- Complete WriteTEL2 programme with Napier.
- Write resit papers and mark any resubmissions from repeating students.
- Obtain ethics approval for my innovative structures teaching programme.
- Finish two journal papers.
- Become registered as a STEM ambassador.
- Complete a 'Meet the Engineer' session at MOSI.
- Arrange next year's Technical Lecture Programme for the IStructE
- Complete my examination marking for the IStructE
- Complete the Advanced Structural Behaviour Exam paper for the IStructE.
- Submit draft textbook outline to McGraw Hill.
- Define a solid workflow for creating technical illustrations, MS Visio or Adobe Illustrator.
- Explore Wolfram SystemModeller.
- Find and create a pool of study buddies...
In amongst this I've also a significant build on with our new house, although we've a good builder on board so hopefully it shouldn't drain too much of my time. I also intend to take some time out for a holiday, as well as doing some hill walking with a little landscape photography thrown in too.... but here's the rub... when I look at the list above I find myself thinking that's quite a lot of stuff to fit in through the summer months, but the difference being that actually I find the activities listed above good fun and I've actively taken on board these activities through my own volition... they're not crap that has been dumped on me by an inconsiderate boss.
This ability to be highly self-indulgent is perhaps the thing I like the most having joined academia, although I still feel guilty come every Friday when I've not completed a timesheet... but just to be able to make time in my own diary to head off and read about something I find interesting is incredibly liberating...