What I have come to realize in Grad School

SNUSAT-1's IFBATT under x-axis random vibration test
to simulate Space-X launcher vibration profile here at SaTRec, KAIST, Daejon
I would have loved to say that when I was growing up in the dusty, smoke ridden streets of Kathmandu, I would dream about outer space; outer space where I would escape all the messiness of what was my then present. That I would plan my days, and weeks, and years ahead to follow my passion, my dream becoming an engineer, that too an extreme one; a space engineer.

I would have loved to say that.

But that would all be bullshit. I didn’t dream about space. I dreamt about stupid stuff like Pakistan winning the cricket world cup (they came close in 1999 didn’t they?), honeymooning with that girl in that class (blame my hormones) and when in my residential school, dreamt about sitting in front of Pentium II computer, playing those delicious skirmish missions in Red Alert 2. Those were my dreams. And getting to eat momos everyday too.


Circumstance of all the other things, led one thing after the other, a choice between India and South Korea came forth, and I obviously chose Korea for obvious reasons. I already looked like an Indian, didn’t want to have that accent associated with me too. Call me a racist bitch, but I am just writing what I feel here.

(Remember this is my blog, I do my own censoring)

And here I was, South Korea of all the places. Should have been Japan if I really did my homework on aerospace well. But it had to be South Korea. It just had to be.

Soon after joining the school, I realized I had made the biggest mistake of my life, but as with all the things in our life, you take decisions on decisions you have already made. In other words, I had to make the best out of whatever situation I was already in. I dragged my way through undergraduate school, taking just about any half English course they had on offer. Wrapped up my degree, didn’t take any graduation photos because I didn’t like it, and headed straight to graduate school.

IFBATT, the battery board built by Seoul National University CubeSat Research Center for CubeSats
The IFBATT has a STM32F405RG 64pin LQFP processor, which has flight heritage on OBC developed by Nano Avionics.

That’s when I really started learning. Learning about space systems design, embedded electronic design, sub-system and payload design. The way my graduate studies works is simple; I have projects I am adhered to, they have a specific time limit with a limited budget and I am expected to have results. Otherwise, the prof won’t be happy. That intensity to do work formed other habits of waking up on time, getting to work on time, not eating on time and other sub-habits that forms due to simple everyday 6 day-a-week, 12 hour-a-day routine. Make that 15 when prof’s around.

When you do that for 2 years straight, the amount of things you force yourself to learn just staggering. I won’t deny that there’s a lot of time stagnating, not progressing or even time spent in bed desperately trying to get rid of soju-makkali-tequilla monster, gigantic, godzilla hangovers; but at the same time, there was a lot of time spent thinking over designs and really engineering the shit out of everything with the limited resources/knowledge/time you have in front of you.

I am, in a way, convinced that my work ethic defines who I am. I wasn’t the smartest, fastest or most intelligible in my graduating class in the most respected school in Nepal. Far from it actually. But what I have come to realize is that by doing what you are doing and just by the sheer fact that you are spending time doing it, increases your skill level in just about anything you do.

And that, my friend, is a very liberating thing to know. I was under the impression that my fellow friends who were better than me were had better ability to learn because they were “talented” but guess what, I can do it too. Just need time, patience and lot of work.

So here’s my stellar conclusion to my stellar blogpost: Do what you do, just keep doing it. And you will learn to love it too.
Just like I did.

Electronic Ground Support Equipment, developed by CubeSat Research Center, Seoul National University
Short termed as EGSE, the board helps engineers conduct functional testing before and after space environmental tests.

Anyways, just got really bored here at the satellite testing center. Catch ya later. 


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