Sunday, September 7, 2008

First Week of Classes

School just started last week, so I've had the first of my lectures.

On Tuesdays, I have Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA). It's the applied economics course that follows Economics in Public Policy, which I took last spring. In this class we're going to learn how to find the cost and benefits of a policies and programs and than quantify and compare these. This is a good skill to have, but is especially difficult when dealing with large science or technology initiatives, in particular space programs, which may not be designed for immediate economic benefit. It will be interesting to learn how these issues are dealt with. The class has a couple of exams, but the main work is a long research paper in which we carry out a CBA on a policy or program of our choice. I haven't decided what to look at yet, but I guess I'll have to decide and get started soon.

On Wednesdays, my lecture is Politics of Earth and Space Science. The professor for this class has worked in the government for almost 30 years, a number of them at NASA. Rather than focusing on history or theory, this class looks at the reality of trying to get policies approved by various stakeholders. It looks at the differences in argument needed when getting the same policy approved by NASA, the hill, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), or others. We also have exams and one-page papers in this class, but the major component is a team project in which we actually come up with an argument based on a given scenario and then present it to professionals from the government. Almost all of the Space Policy second year masters students are in the class - Stephanie, Eric, Brian, Adam, etc. - which is really nice.

So, I have lecture only two days a week. You may be wondering what I'm doing with the rest of my time. Instead of a third class, I am taking an independent study, which will result in my writing a 50-page paper by the end of the semester. I'm still finalizing my topic, but hopefully I'll have it pinned down by the end of this week. I'm on the executive board of the George Washington Space Society, so I help organize meetings and space-related events. I'm also continuing my work with Raytheon, and looking at doing some space-related work as well. I'm still finishing the paper I was writing at NASA last spring - though I really hope to be finished with that in the next couple weeks. The space weather paper is also still in the works. In my spare time, I'm trying to learn Spanish. Other than that, I'm trying to take advantage of living in DC, and go to various lectures, concerts, and other things around the city. So I'm keeping busy. :)

1 comment:

Drew said...

Sounds like a lot of fun! It's good to hear you're using some of your free time for fun DC things :)