MITASC member Océane Boulais is preparing for her first-ever field work this fall, studying sustainable fisheries practices in the Pacific. On her PubPub blog, where Océane records her thoughts about her research and environmental interests, she wrote this reflection on embarking on field work as an electrical engineer.

Thesis season is coming!

As a rising second year in the MIT Media Lab’s masters program, I’ve begun thinking about the exciting (and slightly surreal) concept of having a good sit to write and write and write and write….

I’m particularly psyched about opportunities to do a landscape assessment of the field before I dive into writing the thesis. Coming from a standard electrical engineering background, I’ve always thought quantitative > qualitative thinking…mainly because, well, efficiency. I would whiz through problem sets in Linear Systems, but if I spent an extra 30m thinking about how the problem sets related to some bigger picture, it would’ve taken 3x as long to complete.

I was trained to efficiently arrive at the destination, but not to understand why I was on the journey in the first place.

Alas, I’m still in school trying to figure out how to go about understanding larger systems without deducing them into tiny buckets for the sake of efficiency, although that framework of thought certainly has its time and place. This thesis work will be a foray into ‘unlearning’ that “quantitative or nothing” mindset that I’ve been so fond of.

Read the full post on Océane’s blog.



This public reflection was produced as part of the work of the MIT Action Sustainability Corps. Learn more about MITASC here.