First TDY Post

Well, I would be remiss if I didn’t make a blog post while on TDY (For folks not familiar with military acronyms, TDY stands for temporary duty).  I have spent the last week in beautiful Leesville, LA doing some testing for a project I work on.  I’ve spent most of the time (including all of last weekend!) at Ft. Polk, which has been pretty cool, though a bit tiring.  Can’t post any videos on here, but it was cool nonetheless.  🙂  Here is a picture of me from our last trip down to Ft. Polk.

TDY and My Career

Travel is a core part of my career (I spent approximately 25% of my time on travel).  It has its advantages:

  • Able to travel to various places in the U.S. (and potentially overseas if I happen to be on a project that requires OCONUS travel in the future) and see things I would not see otherwise.
  • Arguably the best reason why I like going on TDY is going with my IPT members.  As always, you learn more about who you work with outside the work environment, and this provides an opportunity for that.
  • Nice change of pace from the office grind, helps to put things into perspective.
  • Learn about different manufacturing processes and get a better appreciation for how things are produced.
  • Talk to Warfighters who have gone to Iraq/Afghanistan, listen to their stories, and most importantly, identify what problems they are currently facing.

Of course, it does have its disadvantages:

  • Going out to eat everyday at a fast food/restaurant for lunch & dinner is not exactly healthy.
  • It seems like TDY’s tend to come in spurts.  Multiple TDY’s really set you back on office work when you return, and result in playing catch-up.
  • Days are usually longer than the normal workday, and it is very tough to motivate myself sometimes to do homework.
  • For long TDY’s, you start to miss being home.
  • Since as Government employees we need to take the contract air carrier, this usually results in us having to take connecting flights, which as anyone who travels knows, leaves many ample opportunities for flight delays.

Overall, the positives most definitely outweigh the negatives, and I wouldn’t change anything about it.

School

Classes are going well, and are most definitely keeping me busy.  I got back my midterm for Project Management, got a 26/30 on it.  Overall he said I did a really good job, but didn’t agree with some of my conclusions.  I am not too worried about it, I am doing well in the class overall, will just have to work hard on the final project when it is assigned.

My accounting class so far is relatively easy (roughly a 98% grade in the class so far).  He currently has us looking through two annual reports, one from Tyson Foods, and the other from Smithfield.  It has been tough to focus on it while on TDY, but I am hoping to knock out a lot of the work tonight after finishing this blog post.  🙂

Work

Work is going really well, just hit my 2 year mark and received my promotion.  Now, it is a matter of just continuing to do my work, taking on additional tasks as time allows, and networking until I am ready to compete for a team lead position.  We’ll just have to see what the future holds.

Other

I bought a PlayStation 3 the other week, and I must say, I was pleasantly surprised.  First game I bought was Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.  Graphics were awesome, and the story was actually pretty good for an action game.  Sort of felt like I was in a movie while playing.  I also bought Modern Warfare 2 but haven’t played it yet due to not being home.  From what I heard so far, the game is well done, looking forward to playing when I get back.

Lastly (but most definitely not least :)), for my b-day Jessica got us tickets to go see the musical West Side Story.  I have loved this musical since I was a kid, and I can’t wait to see it.  We are going to see it this Saturday; I’ll be sure to review it for you guys.

I am traveling back to NJ Friday morning (6AM flight!), but at least that means I’ll be back at EWR aroud noontime and will have time to relax before choir at night.  Miss you all in NJ, see you soon!

Advertisements

Going back to School… Degrees #3 & 4!

Well, as I discussed in my first post, I recently started attending school again to get my M.S. in Management, with a concentration in Technology Management.  My goal after that is to continue and get the MBA.  I estimate the whole process to take about 3 years. 🙂  To put things in perspective though, I think we need to go back to my MIT days.

Grad School 2004-2007

As some of you know, I initially applied and was accept to MIT for the Doctoral program.  After suffering through quals and my thesis proposal, I was noticing that this really wasn’t a path that I wanted to be going down.  I much preferred the work I did in undergrad and my internships as opposed to the research lifestyle, so I decided to forgo the PhD and instead switch to M.S. CEP (Masters of Science in Chemical Engineering Practice).  Looking back now over 3.5 years later, I 100% believe I made the right decision.  However, I do not regret at all attending MIT.  In fact, the experiences there made me a much more well rounded individual, both socially and technically.  It was the first time I had lived away from home, and I was able to experience that for 3 years (I even learned how to cook :P).  In addition, the method of approaching situations was different at MIT than NJIT, and at the end I was able to draw on both experiences to tackle problems.

Another benefit of the M.S. CEP was the experience of a lifetime of Practice School.  I won’t bore you with all the details (click here if interested), but it allowed me to travel with other students for 4 months, two in Minnesota, and 2 in London (Fall-Winter 2006).  It was my first real experience of completing a project in an industrial setting in a small amount of time, and even though some weeks were crazy (70-80hours), I enjoyed it.  You can find some pictures of London here (then scroll down to the London/Cambridge pics).

The Call Back to School

So, suffice to say, after graduating and then starting at Picatinny, I wasn’t exactly looking to go back to school right away, haha.  After a year of working (which I must say I love my job), I felt like I wanted to go back to school.  Call me a nerd/geek (I know I am, you won’t be insulting me :D), but I always liked school, and it is something I excel in.  After looking at different programs closeby, talking to my mentor, supervisor, etc., I decided to chose Stevens and do it online.  This was a brand new experience for me, and I was a little leery of how the setup would be.  I really liked the curriculum and how it focused on managing technical people (who by the way, are completely different than other professions), I thought this would be a good fit for where I aspire to be in the future.

Today

So, now 2 months in, I have to admit I really do enjoy the classes.   Right now, I am taking Managerial Accounting, which is pretty basic and not too difficult for someone with an Engineering background, and Introduction to Project Management.  The best part is being able to read and interact with other professionals, all in different organizations and companies.  It allows you to compare and see what things your group does well, and what it needs to improve and/or incorporate to stay on the competitive edge.  So, even though I initially had misgivings, I really enjoy the online format.

Sure, you might hear me complain about the homework, lack of time, etc. (a good friend once said that “Anyone notice that the word “studying” is derived from a mix of “student” and “dying””, which has a lot of truth to it) but just to be back in school and in learning mood again is fun. 🙂

First Post!

First off, let me just come out and say it, this is not the 1st blog I have attempted to maintain.  It seems that I keep it up for a few months, and then it dies.  I believe that if I set more realistic goals of the number and topics of posts, I will be successful this time.  Only one way to find out. 🙂

My name is Daniel Perez (Dan for short), and I live in Elizabeth, NJ.  I graduated from NJIT in 2004 with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering, and then went to MIT, graduating in 2007 with a M.S. CEP in Chemical Engineering.  Afterwards, I came back home and applied to various places, finally taking a job at Picatinny Arsenal as a Quality Engineer for the US Army in October 2007, and have been there since.

I also recently went back to school at Stevens Institute of Technology.  The current plan is to get my M.S. in Management, with a Technology Management Concentration, followed by an MBA.  I am going part-time, mostly through online classes, and the whole process will take approximately 6 years (3 years for each degree), so this is definitely a long term project.  To be honest, it is fun to be back in school.  I missed being in class and learning about different topics, and in this case, this will prove to be useful as one day I would like to transition into a managerial role.

I also have a girlfriend named Jessica, and we have been going out for almost 3 months.  I’ll save the story of how we met for another post. 🙂

Well, if you actually read this far (!), welcome to my blog.  If you have any suggestions, comments, criticisms, etc., please leave a comment and let me know!

And if you use twitter, you can follow me here.