Hello again everyone, hopefully you all had a terrific Thanksgiving! As winter break looms, its getting to be that time of the semester where group projects are taking over and we are beginning to apply our skills we've learned so far this semester. Balancing three group projects at a time can be trying at times, but a few key pieces of technology provided to my by the U of M has been making my academic life a bit more manageable. First and foremost on my list of helpful technologies came about just a few years ago when our student email server "GopherMail" was integrated with Gmail from Google. If you aren't familiar with Gmail, Google Drive/Docs, and Google's other programs - I can assure you that it makes life as a college student a lot easier. It can be used as a regular email inbox, a much more secure substitute for Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel - and most of all, it provides us students with file sharing capabilities (below) so group projects can be worked on by everyone involved live from our own computers. That way, all group members can be connected and conversing without having to butcher our schedules by all having to meet in one place (often a hassle for many of us College of Design students who are always back and forth between Minneapolis and St. Paul).
Another technical tool that has come in handy is the Excel-based GREET Life Cycle Analysis modeling and calculation program one of my professors recently provided us with. I know, boring, I would have agreed just a few weeks ago - but, it has proven to save our group a lot of time when it came time to conduct our own LCA, so it is much appreciated. Another technology I've been revising recently from last year's map design course is ArcGIS, which is essentially geographic information software which turns data and metadata into maps. It's a good skill to have learned because sometimes certain projects or findings could be better explained visually as a map, and ArcGIS allows me to make my own maps to convey the data that I choose. So yay for technology! It is making my week go by a whole lot smoother.