Connecting the Dots

The title is taken from the famous Steve Jobs’s quotes during his commencement speech of Stanford in 2005.

During his speech, he said that:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them, looking backwards.

You have to trust in something. Your gut, destiny, life, karma or whatever. Because believing the dots will connect down the road, will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well worn path. And that all make the difference.”

By reviewing my journey since I was in high school, I can understand how the dots connected to each other. It was unexpected, and works in a mysterious way that only God knows.

 

1. High School

 Until the last year in my high school, I was still thinking that I might become a doctor, following my brother’s path. But after a while I took a look at my brother’s doing, I felt that I wasn’t interested at all reading all of those medical and anatomy books. I realized that I love more physics than biology.

When I was studying in an Extra Course in SSC Tebet, I met two brilliant teachers with unique mind, Sabda and Pak Meidi, who made me in love with physics. They taught me about the concept of physics and fundamental of thinking, which is very different from what has been taught in school. In my high school, all of the curriculums are already written in the book and it seemed very monoton only to follow what’s in the book.

In SSC, I was taught about the very basic concept of physics, and how to think about how something can happen. I was very interested in physics since then, and I followed my heart to learn more in “physics and math” major which led me to electrical engineering. The first time I thought about electrical engineering is computers, handphones, and robots, and my teacher from BTA, Bang Doel also told me that. I love all of that, that is why I decided to take electrical engineering as my next study in college.

– If my brother wasn’t a doctor, would I know what a med student’s reading? I might end up in a medical faculty university and got really bored since I don’t like it.

– If I did not meet Pak Meidi and Sabda, would I be so interested in Physics?

 

 

2. College Life 

The first time I stepped on the campus, I felt like I would like to build a robot in my college life. By following my curiosity, I was exploring more about the smart robotic contest, which is held annually by The Minister of Higher Education of Indonesia.

On the first day of orientation of EE Students Organization, I was shown the greatness of Workshop Division, a division within the union for electrical hobbyist. At that time, even only a simple circuit of clock and flip-flop already amazed me as a second year student of EE. After that, I decided to focus on the workshop division. I met many geniuses of Workshop, both from my contemporaries or my seniors. One of them is Syawal, he is a very calm person but genius inside.

During my third year of study, I would like to start my own robotic team, that was when I met my colleague Ichwan, and also added Syawal to join the team. At that time, Syawal actually already started making a hexapod robot on his own. But it was a very beginning since the robot found it difficult even only to stand up. Therefore, I asked him to continue the research on robot together as a team, Where we can develop faster and moreover, getting funding from the campus.

Also helped by Dody, the boss of robotics unit in ITB, we got sufficient amount of money to build robot and well organized. Dody found the robotics club in ITB. with his hard work, all robotics team in ITB are well organized and well funded. Sometimes I think that he deserves to be remembered by making his statue in the lab :)) Even at that time, there was a famous story in the office of students. When Doddy came to the office, all windows and doors are closed to avoid him looking for money :)) *please don’t kill me, Doddy :))

At that time, none would know that we started a BIG THING for ITB. After a lot of work hard in about a year in Autonomous Vehicle Research Group (AVRG) Lab, We successfully made it to the national champions of smart robotic contest, and were sent to the US. Pak Soni (Dr. Kusprasapta) and Pak Doni (Dr.Widyawardana) also helped us a lot during hard time in the lab. They were always there.. encouraging us.

I also worked on my final project with Pak Doni and Pak Soni. They asked me also to do a conference in an international conference in Bali. I made a paper, and I presented it during the conference. I didn’t think that this paper would be very crucial in my next step.

– If did not join Workshop, I wouldn’t meet my geniuses colleagues.

– If I did not meet Syawal and Ichwan, would we be able to succeed in the contest of robotics?

– If I did not meet my great colleagues in AVRG and Dody, would we make it to the end? I don’t think so.

 

3. Work Life

After finished my study, I started to work in IBM as an apprentice in IBM Apprenticeship program 2010. I was very thankful to have a chance working with tremendous persons at my age. We worked hard, getting passionate about what we do, and had so much fun also. I would never be able to thank enough especially to my great mentor and role model, Mas Ivandeva, who has inspired me until today. He also made me a brilliant recommendation letter.

 

I am also fortunate knowing my inspiring friends, Laksita and Ronald, who really boosted my spirit to continue to master degree. Both of them would like to continue study overseas. Especially Laksita, I’ve never met such a diligent girl like her. Even after working hard until night, she worked really hard in pursuing her masters study, learning IELTS and other things tirelessly and sleeplessly. Her efforts brought her to a full scholarship in TU Eindhoven in Netherland. She also helped me a lot while I was making my essay for application.

After the graduation of apprentice, I had a very hard time to settle with my job. Even though it was so much fun in the beginning, much pain and hard work also colored most of my time. I worked really hard during this 2 and a half years. There was time that I did not sleep for 2 or 3 days, and worked during weekends. But I found it fascinating. I love challenges. Once Mas Ivan told me,

Being confused is a sign that we are developing ourselves.

if we stop being confused, it means we stop developing ourselves.

So keep being confused! :D

I still keep dreaming on getting my masters degree in robotics/comp science in top universities. I felt that managing the time for work and preparing my masters study is very difficult. Moreover, GRE is a very tough exam for Indonesian people since we are not used to use very difficult english verbal language. Thanks to my GRE teacher Milo, who taught me the essence of GRE. Being in the class with many inspiring and hardworking students such Christian and Rina also encouraged me a lot, A LOT!.

I got more confidence in doing the GRE and scored nicely on the math section. After the formal Exam of GRE, I scored very bad for the verbal sections (only 11% from 100%) while my math is more than 90%.

I submitted my applications to MIT, CMU and ETH. I thought I was very reckless for only submitting 3 applications while my friends usually submit 10-20 universities at a time. Even worse, my GRE score is really bad. Moreover, those 3 universities are top ranked of the world. MIT ranked 1st, CMU 3rd, and ETH got 8th place (based on these articles:

http://inet.detik.com/read/2012/07/13/130044/1964623/398/9/10-kampus-ilmu-komputer-terbaik-di-dunia9

QS : http://tinyurl.com/bmnb34d

 

Well, it seemed everything went better than expected.. Thank God.

I was rejected by MIT and ETH, but CMU once gave me a chance to have an interview with me via Skype. The Director of The Robotics Institute of CMU himself interviewed me. He said that I was lacking of GRE’s Verbal score, therefore he needed ‘Something’ to boost my value in the replacement of bad GRE’s Verbal Score. Again, thanks again to Pak Doni and Pak Soni and also my robotics team, I created papers for conference in Bali and for documentation of the robotics team. These papers were appreciated much by the director. The director also told me, he appreciates my 2 years of work experience in IBM. After that interview, I got a acceptance in 2 weeks.

– If Pak Doni and Pak Soni did not ask me to have a conference in Bali, would I make such paper?

– If I did not participate in the robotic competition, I would not be recognized by the director.

– If I did not get into IBM, I would not meet those great people..

– If I did not know Laksita, maybe I would not be able to make such a good essay

– If I did not meet Mas Ivadeva, would I be developed like today? Would I get his recommendation letter that really amazes me?

Finally, I believe that there will be so many dots to connect in the future. Maybe some of the dots are already here again, and will connect with the others in the future in a way which only God knows…

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