First Day of Classes!

Full MIST student body

Today is the first day of classes!  It’s been over three and a half years since I have sat in a classroom, so I am definitely a bit nervous, especially because some of the classes seem like they will be pretty technical.  Fortunately, we only have two to three classes each semester.  The rest of our time is supposed to be spent working on our research thesis. I’ve never had a research project that lasted more than a few weeks, so working on one project for two years is going to be very new to me.  Something tells me that this thesis isn’t going to be something that I will be able to pull together last minute like I did throughout most of my academic career to date.

Because we are the first class of students here, there are not really any choices as to what classes we can take. My program’s two main classes for this semester are Systems Optimization and Systems Project Management. However, due to my research topic I will be taking Industrial Ecology instead of Systems Optimization this semester, which is awesome because System Optimization is very math based and sounds terrible. Unfortunately, I will have to take System Optimization with the incoming first year students next fall. I will also be taking an ungraded preparatory/brush up course in Engineering Math and Methods.  It’s somewhat remedial for most of the engineering students, but might be quite difficult for me, especially after not having taken a math class since 2002. We shall see.

I have also determined what my thesis research will be and who my advisers are.  I will be performing a Life Cycle Assessment on a type of integrated biofuel production system that combines aquaculture (fish farming) with the agriculture of a type of plant that produces an oil seed that can be processed into a biodiesel or other type of renewable liquid fuel used in the transportation sector.  The benefit of this system is that uses saltwater from the ocean to irrigate the plants so that it will not deplete freshwater sources nor will it compete with food crop farmland. It also produces marketable food products in the aquaculture portion of the system.  The waste from the aquaculture actually fertilizes the crops within the system. I will be determining, based on the inputs and outputs of the system, whether it is actually carbon neutral, what resources are necessary to support it, and which emissions are produced. There’s a cool video about a similar system here:

3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mom on September 7, 2009 at 3:54 am

    u’r first day of class does seem to be intimidating but I know you wil settle in. Your thesis progect should keep you focused and research oriented; a mighty premise to be debated, I’m sure.
    I’m excited that you are so passionate in u’r pursuits and love the goals u’r seeking – always move towards that which drives u to make changes in the world even if many others may need persuading – the Power of One!!

    love you,


  2. Posted by Alan & Shelley on September 8, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    Hi Brian. The video was extremely enlightening. What a way to begin to “save the planet”. We hope your research shows that success can be achieved at a very high level. Clearly it is people like you who could be the world’s great hope. We look forward to hearing about your experiences.


  3. Posted by Nute on September 16, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    Yo, I just read this from a cubicle. Not as cool as fish farming. Not even close.


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