I just realized that no one knows what I am doing these days. Before the pumpkin carving post, my last writing was toward the end of last semester. Many months have passed with no updates. Well, let’s fix that.

This summer I returned to DLP at Texas Instruments where I worked on firmware. I once again took the opportunity to meet some great people and gain new knowledge and experiences. I even ended up being offered a full-time position.

I also spent the summer spending time with my family, flying Zoe around the house and chasing Emma (Fortunately, only my back was injured in the process–no nieces.). Perhaps the most fun I had this summer, was driving my car. I got the top fixed early in the summer and kept it down whenever I could (I have the fading tan lines to prove this.).

It seems that no one was actually keeping track of how long I have been at MIT, because no one realized that I did not graduate. Due to my dropping classes in past years, I still need to complete 2 courses in order to complete my degree requirements. So, I am back at MIT this semester taking those two classes (Biomedical Decision Support and Biomedical Computing).

I must admit that I was somewhat depressed by the fact that I was not graduating “on-time”; however, I see the situation as a blessing in disguise. After my visit to India and work on the patient database I was really excited about learning more about bioinformatics and creating better medical data systems, but I simply did not have time in my schedule to take the courses. Now, both of my remaining courses are focused on bioinformatics and I am truly enjoying the learning experience.

Additionally, I am taking a class known as D-Lab (the ‘D’ stands for development, design, dissemination, and whatever other terms that begin with ‘d’ and relate to international development and poverty relief). D-Lab is based in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning and focuses on bettering the lives of the poor through the use of appropriate technologies to make life easier. Some examples of such technologies include cheap devices to shell peanuts/corn, grate cassava; sustainable biofuels for use in generators and vehicles; or, electricity from solar and hydro sources. I am working with a team of students on projects in Ghana. Specifically, I am working on a biofuels project and determining methods to grow and process jatropha for use in diesel engines.

By the way, jatropha is one of the best sources of oil for biodiesel and diesel fuel contains more energy than gasoline. Diesels carry a stigma that is just now being overcome now that the economy is in a downturn and people are really focusing on their expenses. Jatropha has 10 times more energy than corn-based ethanol and 4 times more than soy. What is really great about jatropha is that once the oil is pressed from the seed, the oil can be used immediately in existing diesel engines with no additional processing. I am amazed by the fact that so little effort is put into using jatropha in the United States. Instead we use corn–a food crop–which offers less energy and requires extra processing for conversion to ethanol.

I’m off of my soapbox. Did I mention that I’m going back to Ghana in January? Well, I am. I will be there for about 3 weeks, and spend the final week writing a report at MIT before leaving to start a new journey.

Currently, I don’t know where that knew journey will take place. I have the aforementioned offer from Texas Instruments. Additionally, I expect to receive an offer from a company in the Boston area, VistaPrint, and have interviews scheduled for Accenture, Booz Allen Hamilton, and PA Consulting. Everything is in the air at the moment, but once the interviews are over and offers extended, I hope to make a decision before the end of the year.

Life is good. This extra term has given me time to reflect on the past four years and my experiences at MIT, TI, HP, and abroad. I have had a really great time. I almost pity those who graduated MIT in June. Many of my classmates were simply too stressed with deadlines for job interviews, theses, and graduation requirements to just take time to reflect on their experiences. If you asked them today, they might express their loathing for MIT. Me: I love MIT. I love the people I have met. I love the knowledge I have gained. I love the experiences.

We have an acronym here at MIT: IHTFP. IHTFP can mean either “I Have Truly Found Paradise” or “I Hate This Fucking Place”. I’m going to go with the first definition.