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Robots, dissertations, and disappointments

If today wasn’t a whirlwind of emotions I don’t know what was. There were ups, there were downs, there were robots. I think it’s safe to sum up today with the quote, “the best laid plans of mice and men…” which as you may have guessed, didn’t go the way I had expected. It’s not all bad news, but it’s not all good either. Let’s just quit being cryptic and dive into the events of the day.

It was a good attempt! I’ve finally finished all the equipment I need for “big idea.” It’s been months of planning and weeks of working, but it’s all finished and because I’m me, we have spares of everything. We’re still waiting on the arrival of some equipment we purchased specifically for big idea, but thankfully that’s equipment I don’t have to make! The bad news of the day is that the experiment was canceled… boo.

That’s right, when I got the email over the weekend and hospital-PI confirming I had assumed everything was finally in order. Right now, for a lot of different reasons, the IRB process is taking significantly longer than it has in the past. We submitted the IRB for this project a few months ago, which was within reason to assume that it may have been approved by now. That was my mistake, because I had thought the only reason hospital-PI would confirm was because we had approval. Turns out he was being optimistic and hoping that we would have some forward movement today, so we had to cancel the experiment and now we wait to hear back from the IRB, which I’m sure I’ll be one of the first to know because as mentioned yesterday (here) this is a huge deal.

It just goes to show, even controlled chaos is still chaos.

That was the bad news and for the most part, the day has been pretty annoying since that happened. As I was finishing the final touches to one of the things I was making, it broke. I’ve made exactly 134 of these connections and the last two, literally the last two, broke. Not even at the connection I made, which as I mentioned there’s only one proper way to solder two wires together. No, it didn’t break there, it broke further up on the wire. So that was fun, but despite the little annoyances of the day, there were some upsides.

The first is that I’m about to get the recommendation for robot paper! It’s been roughly six(ish?) weeks since I submitted the revisions to the journal (more) and technically (since I can see what they are doing via my account) the recommendations have been submitted to the editor three weeks ago. I just (as in within the hour of me writing this post) got the email finally letting me know that the editor recommendation should be coming soon. Anticlimactic for sure, but still good news because it’s forward progress and there’s a decent shot that robot paper will finally (finally!) get published. It’s only been four years or so, what’s a couple more days/weeks between friends?

I also got word from school-PI regarding my dissertation proposal defense. There are several modifications that he wants me to make, but I think that once they are finished I should be ready to start scheduling my proposal defense. The plan was to be doing it in the next few weeks, but it will probably be the beginning of next month? I’m not sure even what the original plan was. Regardless, I will need to work quickly once the data are collected because I really want to graduate.

All in all, it was not the day I was hoping for, but at least there were small steps forward. Am I disappointed I didn’t collect my data? Of course, but I’m trying to remain optimistic because I know it will happen eventually.


4 responses

  1. That’s rough. Especially after you were so excited you lost sleep and whatnot. But yeah, the day will come. I hate the feeling of lost time, though.

    It was still better than what I thought might’ve happened … again. My brain likes to read your blog titles and jump to the worst possible conclusions, I guess. I was afraid Robot Paper had gotten rejected. No bad news on that front, at least. Phew!

    I’ve been having some “fun” of my own lately. Today I learned that a “new bug” I thought I had somehow introduced to an FPGA design, was actually caused by somebody else changing the system so that the test technique I was using no longer worked. So I just spent the weekend thinking my build was broken and a good part of a day chasing a bug that didn’t exist. Yay (not).

    Well, I hope we hear soon that robot paper gets published. Do you think they’ll make you do another round of edits or is this response probably the go/no go?

    Liked by 1 person

    March 21, 2022 at 8:55 pm

    • Yeah it was a bit of a letdown. I’m sure I’ll be just as excited when the day finally comes, it’s just taking its sweet time.

      That’s just awful! I can’t imagine hunting for a bug that didn’t exist. It sounds like it works though? Maybe? So that wouldn’t be the worst news.

      As for robot paper, I don’t even want to wager a guess. It’s so variable, it could be accepted, it could be minor edits, I doubt it will be rejected though since we went through another round. I tried to address the reviewers comments as best as possible, but it’s always so person dependant. I would not be surprised if the reviewer who said we had too many citations has some other horrible feedback though.

      Liked by 1 person

      March 22, 2022 at 2:09 pm

      • Yeah, at the end of the day my stuff works, and it was a relief to find that out. It just caused some wasted time … and angst.
        This is why working on a shared prototyping system with a large, multidisciplinary team stinks. It’s not like anyone is rude and changes things without telling others, but the system has so many complex interrelations that it’s easy to break someone else’s operation without knowing it. With multiple FPGA people, flight software, and test software all trying to upgrade and debug at the same time, the test platform turns into quicksand under everyone’s feet.

        Liked by 1 person

        March 22, 2022 at 3:09 pm

      • Teamwork is my least favorite word, I can’t imagine how stressful that type of job must be. I get that you need that kind of team to put together super high tech space equipment, but I’m still surprised teams like that actually work.

        Liked by 1 person

        March 23, 2022 at 5:56 pm

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