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This is it – I have officially started my last semester at USC. The significance of this moment hasn’t really sunk in for me yet, but I haven’t had too much time to think about it as I’ve been mainly preoccupied with settling into my classes, catching up with friends, and attempting to stay dry in the bombarding rain that has graced LA this past week. Oh, and I just turned 22 years old, which is insane!

This semester will be my most academically challenging as I am enrolled in 20 units consisting of my last two undergraduate classes (BME-402: Control and Communication in the Nervous System and EE-348: Electronic Circuits) and four graduate classes. The plan is to complete my Master’s Degree in Engineering Management (which I have been pursuing through Viterbi’s Progressive Degree Program) alongside my Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering.

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My graduate classes cover topics such as Lean Operations, Economic Analysis of Engineering Projects, and Linear Programming & Extensions. But my most intriguing course so far has been the business elective class I’m taking called MOR-548: Competitive Advantage through People. The class discusses how firms develop employee talent as a source of competitive advantage. We will dive into the evolving role of HR in the success of companies across the world and how the perception and impact of the department needs to change in the coming years. We study a lot of real-world examples and analyze them using the models created and tested by our professor, John Boudreau, who advises numerous organizations including early-stage companies, global corporations, governnment agencies, and non-profit organizations. It’s a breath of fresh air to have subjective conversations where there is no definite right or wrong answer (a stark contrast to most engineering courses I’ve taken). In fact, there are many different approaches and factors that must be considered to come to a reasonable conclusion.

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The class itself meets every Thursday from 6:30 PM – 9:30 PM. Despite it’s 3 hour length, I have never had a class that has intellectually stimulated me in the manner that this class has for the past two weeks. I’m always involved with the content, striving to conceive thought-provoking questions, and seeking to critically analyze and provide unique insights with regards to the topics we are covering.

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The class size is very small, consisting of only 11 students, which proves for a more intimate classroom environment, where everyone is encouraged to share their ideas and experiences. I am the only one with an engineering background, while the rest are MBA students, which leads to some interesting conversations. While I’m thrilled with the fact that there are no quizzes,midterms, or a final, the structure of the class is what keeps me engaged. We are scheduled to have a number of industry leaders visit our class throughout the semester and share with us their stories while leading us in conversations relating to the topics we are studying.

All in all, I am really looking forward to the rest of this semester. It’s definitely going to be bitter-sweet, but I need to stay focused. My goal is to finish strong in every facet of my student life during my last semester! I want to have no regrets as I look to move into the next phase of my adult life.

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Daniel is studying Biomedical Engineering. Click the image above to find out more about him!

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