LG2 Reflective Statement – Professional Networking

As with previous work, this report required reaching out and networking with industry experts. However I found for this work when discussing new topics with professionals working in that industry, it required plenty of background research and understanding the basics beforehand. After weeks of reading up on cybersecurity fundamentals and information systems, I started to contact a selection of relevant individuals. I had less success than my networking attempts during LG1, with many individuals not having the time to speak with me. I was able to bounce ideas and discussion points off a colleague at work, Mark Muller who is a contracted web-developer and graphic designer. Whilst not directly in the field of cyber-security, Mark is well educated in the filed due to his work building websites, applications and databases for a variety of clients. Mark has also invested in several crypto-currencies and was an advocate for the use of blockchain networks in manufacturing when I discussed the prospect with him.

I also had a useful correspondence with Tim Rose, VP of business development at Identify3D. He was happy to answer my questions, comment on drafts of my report and sent a selection of articles and research topics to consider, even including a pre-release copy of a report his company had written in collaboration with the National Centre for Manufacturing Sciences in USA, which happened to focus on the exact same topic as my own report. Tim was kind enough to send several emails over many weeks and was a vital contact during this module.

LG2 Reflective Statement – Practical Case Study

This module involved researching, planning and carrying out a practical experiment testing the strength of modified 3D printed components. Whilst in practice, designing, slicing and printing files was not new to me, understanding the core code  beneath the surface of this process was new ground. I felt the experiment, whilst small in scale considering resources available was valid and a success, however was not without some errors on my part. Creating more samples and using approved part geometry would’ve enhanced the credibility of the experiment. I also feel if the experiment was conducted in isolation and not as part of a broader research topic, more of my final report could’ve been spent discussing the results and the repercussions of this topic.

LG2 Reflective Statement – Report Writing Techniques

Early on in the essay planning stage, I discussed the core structure of the report with my supervising lecturer. We outlined key areas of interest which would form the chapters of the report, which we then assigned an approximate proportion of the report’s word count. These proportions varied as the report was developed, but I found it useful to have an idea of the depth I could explore each section whilst staying roughly within the word limits available.

Another new technique used for this learning goal, was to write an early draft report halfway through the module, under exam conditions. With such a vast research topic, I found that one relevant article or paper would lead to another and another and so on. My supervisor suggested that we select a deadline to stop all researching and at that point to write the first report draft within a few hours, without any internet or library resources, relying only on the research notes I had made to that point.

This exercise was useful as it confirms how much was gained from researching in a  short space of time. By drafting the report halfway through the module, I had plenty of time to refine and improve it, and the work became more manageable and less stressful. It is certainly a technique I will employ in future learning goals.

LG2 Reflective Statement – Literature Review and Research Methods

Following advice from my sister, who recently completed an Msc course, I changed my approach during the early stage of this module, to ensure my research was kept focused and the time was better spent finding relevant sources and quotes.

I created a hard copy research folder, with the learning goal objectives and learning outcomes printed as the front cover. This encouraged me to refer back to these objectives far more frequently, keeping my report’s progress on track. Every article, paper or draft of my report validity and usefulness could quickly be evaluate it’s against the aims of my report.

Another change made to my research techniques, was to highlight useful quotes and significant pieces of information whilst first reading the document. Whilst a fairly minor change to my working habits, it made collating the information far quicker when writing early drafts of the report. With a selection of checked, highlighted and sorted quotes and facts to hand, writing the report was a far quicker process and I was confident that every source was of benefit.

LG2 Reflective Statement – Summary

Unlike my research for the the LG1 module, the content of this goal was completely new territory to me. Cybersecurity, information systems and network structures were just some of the topics which I explored during the research for this report. The practical case study of 3D printing components for tensile testing involved looking deeper into the workings of the printing G-Code then I had covered in previous work.