Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Months since my last post....

It has been about two and a half months since my last post. A lot has changed between then and now. The market is in a worse situation with the Dow under 7000. Additional companies are considering chapter 11 bankruptcy, while others are finding it difficult to remain open. News is always about how difficult the job market is, and the frequency with which layoffs are occurring. Is it me or is everyone just about tired of all the doom-and-gloom news..... how depressing is that. I just hope that I'll continue to have a job at least through my master's program. I think it would become difficult to continue with the program while looking for a new or starting a new job. Although you would have the time, I think priorities would change at that time.

Past students have said that this semester (marketing and system design metrics) is the most time consuming. There aren't any tests/quizzes this semester but instead papers and presentations (and marketing simulations). Even though its only March, I feel like that in a short time, I'll graduate from this program. This program has indeed progressed quickly. Unfortunately, there are materials that you wished more time could have been devoted to. This is the sentiment for a lot of students but then again, tradeoffs must be made. The fewer the class time, the fewer the opportunities to delve into specific topics. I remember during my undergraduate years many had decided that pursuing an advanced degree was out of the picture. However, after nearly a year and a half into this program, I actually look forward to our monthly class weekend. It provides a break from the professional lives, while helping us to improve in our professional lives.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays!!!

It's been a while since my last post. I've been tied up with end of semester activities for the negotiation and engineering economics class. It's been a busy last month with an econ case, negotiation paper, graded negotiation, and two quizzes. It's been a long month but now it's done and in the past. Looking back at this semester, I must admit that I got my money worth (if not more). I never realized how much there was to negotiation. Initially I thought it was just a matter of haggling and being stubborn. But after taking the negotiation course, I learned the many dimensions involved in a successful negotiation. In addition, the engineering economics was very interesting. What made this course even more enjoyable was the environment (the slumping economy and failing financial institutions) that we were in while taking this course. I must say that the professor (Dr. Duvic) did a great job of bringing outside resources to apply to what we were learning and to reality. I think one of the most valuable things I got out of this course was the concept of time value of money. It bought a different perspective to investment and money management. In the end, these courses provided skills applicable to any environment and situation.

There is officially about 1 1/2 days remaining until Christmas. So how many people still involved in last minute Christmas shopping? Well good luck.... I hope that everyone has a great holiday season and a happy new year, and I'll talk to you soon.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Comparison between EM and MBA

Other the day, a friend of mine and I were talking about the master's program that we are in. He is working towards his mba and I am working towards my engineering management (EM) degree. I had asked him about the courses that are required in the mba program. It involved the typical courses you will find: marketing, finance/accounting, statistics, and some electives. I told him about some of the courses that we take including, managing people and projects, engineering economics, negotiations, and law. He was impressed about the area of topics that we cover in the EM program. I agree with him. I believe that this program actually teaches you real management skills.... my condolences to those in an mba program. In practical management role, you need to know, among other things, how to deal with people, how to make a project successful, how to foresee and prevent risks, and how to negotiate. This is what the engineering management program teaches you.... practical management skills. Many believe that an mba program will teach you business management, but it seems from the courses offered that mba actually prepare you for business finance related area, not exactly management. Personally, I think this program will benefit individuals in management role, as well as outside the business environment.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Who are you going to vote for?

Son: "Dad, I have to do a special report for school. Can I ask you a question?"

Father: "Sure son. What's the question?"

Son: "What is Politics?"

Father: "Well, let's take our home for an example. I am the wage earner, so let's call me 'Capitalism.' Your mother is the administrator of money, so we'll call her 'Government.' We take care of your need, so let's call you 'The People.' We'll call the maid 'The Working Class' and your little brother, we can call 'The Future.' Do you understand son?"

Son: "I'm not really sure, dad. I'll have to think about it."

That night awakened by his brother's crying, the boy went to see what was wrong. Discovering that the baby had seriously soiled his diaper, the boy went to his parents' room and found his mother sound asleep. He went to the maid's room, where, peeking through the keyhole, he saw his father in bed with the maid. The boy's knocking went totally unheeded by his father and the maid, so the boy returned to his room and went back to sleep. The next morning he reported to his father.

Son: "Dad, now I think I understand what politics is."

Father: "Good son! Can you explain it to me in your own words?"

Son: "Well Dad, while Capitalism is screwing the Working Class, Government is sound asleep, the People are being completely ignored and the Future is full of sh*t."

So there is about 2 weeks before the elections and McCain and Obama are still fighting it out until the bitter end. I don't mean to be pessimistic, but doesn't it feel that like always, those not in politics always get short-changed? Politicians seem to work for special interest groups and lobbyists, especially when money and perks are thrown in their faces. However, I do hope that more focus is placed on what the people want. With the economic turmoil that we are in, and the uncertainty that exists throughout the world, one would think that "change" is indeed due. But suppose that one wanted to actually make changes, where would one start? With the deficit this country carries, the war overseas, the economic recession, and the never-ending problems with healthcare and social security (as if that'll exists when I retire), where would one begin to solve the problems this country is in. I know for sure that whoever wins the presidency, they won't enjoy inheriting what Bush leaves behind.

Also, I was wondering if there was any legit places to gamble on who would become the next president. Why not??? People bet on anything and everything, and with margin that is present between McCain and Obama, I think it would be interesting on placing a little friendly wager.... but then again, I'd probably be taxed on my winnings. Like I said earlier, "the people" never win.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A month after Ike... and now the recession

So a month has gone by since Ike, and life in Houston for the most part, is back to normal. There have been areas that have been completely ruined, and it has been stated that these areas (like Kemah Board Walk) will need to rebuild from ground up. Residents are having to deal with insurance companies in getting their property repaired. Unfortunately, I sometimes can't tell which is worse.... being in the path of a hurricane, or dealing with the insurance company. It is also sad that during this time, people find the nerve to hurt one another. I heard stories about home repair contractors going door-to-door asking residents if they needed their roofs repaired or checked-out. So residents would pay these contractors and the contractors would begin working on the roofs. A couple days later, the roof still wouldn't be fixed, and the contractors would have taken-off with their money. It's quite sad and unfortunate.

I was lucky that I didn't have any damage occur. I just had an uprooted tree which I needed to chop up. I also lost power for only a day. However, neighboring areas (5 minutes away) were without power for 2-3 days longer. Unfortunately, many were without power for a week. Businesses were also closed for rest of the week. Grocery stores and gas stations were the only places open, however, many times, you wouldn't be able to find much.

I'm pretty sure that many of you are aware of how volatile the current market is. Up 400 points one day, and down 700 points the next. Up 900 points, and then a drop of 400 points. You also see the same images of brokers with their face in their hands as the market keeps falling. Stock values have dropped considerably. Google stocks was once valued at $700/stock, and it is now about $372/stock. Not that I'm saying this is cheap, but it goes to show that for the most part, nothing has been able to hide from the recession-like environment that we're in. Businesses are closing, and families are finding it difficult to make ends meet. It seems like we have a long rough road ahead of us. I don't mean to be pessimistic, but it is obvious that the worst is not behind us.... contrary to what many analysts say. It's going to be interesting how the holiday season will unfold with many people tightening their budget. Looks like Santa's going to be frugal this year...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ike is upon us

So Ike is upon us, and it has left its mark. I lost power at my house at 12am on Saturday Sept 13. I couldn't do much but watch tv since there was a curfue out from 8pm til 10am. So I was watching tv when the power went out. I wasn't sure if maybe the electricity was purposely turned off to prevent any permanent damage. So I thought that maybe the electricity would be resolved by morning. But I also saw some green glowing outside my house near a transformer. That didn't seem right. Since I couldn't do anything, I decided to go to sleep hoping that centerpoint would have the problem fixed when I woke up. 10am and still no power, and its been that way all day. No tv and no internet..... can life get any worse. Yeah I know some critic is going to respond back by telling me how bad he had it, so let me clarify for everyone's sake, i'm just kidding. So I spent all day just walking around the house and looking at what damage has been caused by this hurricane. A lot of blown leafs and tree branches, and quite a bit of fallen trees around the neighborhod. No major damage where I live..... thank God. Now it's a matter of when Centerpoint can hurry up and get electricity running through my house again. I don't think its a good image to have on one's self when 93% of its customer's are without power, according to their website. I've heard that downtown has some damage... broken windows and the likes. 93%.... that's jaw-dropping. After spending all day bored out of my mind at home, I decided to come to my cousin's house who lives like 3 minutes away who does have electricity. I also noticed how the street signals outside my house can work but no electricity exists at my house. It's unfortunate for those who have been hit the hardest. I pray for the best for them.

I'll keep you posted on when I get electricity running through my house again.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Summer's here...

First off I hope everyone is enjoying their memorial weekend. I wonder how many weekend plans have been affected with the high gas prices. With the price at the gas pump increasing almost daily, I wonder if anyone has changed their driving habits. I know I have. I used to drive to and from work everyday. After gas prices hit $3, I have been riding the bus. I had been fortunate (maybe even spoiled) in not having to use public transportation, but with gas prices increasing at its current rate, I have had to consider other alternatives. But now having rode the bus for some time now, its not so bad. I have been able to get 20 minutes of sleep on the bus each way..... not bad huh?

I decided to spend my memorial weekend working on my summer master's research paper. For the engineering management program at UT, during the first summer, the students select a topic to research and write a paper on our findings. During the next summer, students write a master's report on another topic, or continue on the topic from the previous summer. I am still trying to find a topic to research about. I appreciate my professor's assistance on my research paper. I am thinking about researching about knowledge sharing... people's reasons against knowledge sharing, solution for better knowledge sharing, and its advantages. I think the greatest advantage that a company has is its knowledge, and I believe that it is such an important leverage, it can provide means to get ahead of its competition.

During the last couple of weeks, I have realized how unfamilar people are with the area of engineering management. I guess this is the reason why the HR of the company I work for is hesitant in providing me financial assistance. They are familar with MBA, but not engineering management. And so they aren't quite so ready to provide me with financial assistance. I believe students who persue a degree in engineering management will face some difficulties in explaining to people what is engineering management. Because so many companies are familar with MBA's, I think that companies may not be so ready to fulfill a position by a candidate with an engineering management degree. The good news however is that many schools are beginning to provide degrees in engineering management. This will slowly create a better understanding of engineering management among companies and management.