Happy Homemaker, Ph.D.

A novice homemaker's attempts to use her engineering Ph.D. to serve her family

New Year – New Hat

As this new year begins, I think it’s time for me to wear a new hat.

I devoted last year, though not entirely intentionally, to learning about this new “industry” of full-time homemaking and mothering.  There was plenty to learn.  Just as I felt I was getting a feel for the job, we welcomed a newborn to our family in March.  Then, sleep deprivation became a bit of an excuse for me.  Perhaps it was valid.  Perhaps it was a way to hide my laziness in some areas.  Time passed – quickly – and the end of the year came with me just trying to get by, falling short in all kinds of areas of my new job, and feeling rather hopeless about getting things turned around.  I was still learning how to manage my duties with two little ones, and the youngest keeps changing the game as she grows and develops.  🙂

I’m not looking back at 2012 with a lot of guilt, but rather, a motivation to make things better.  I’m a process-improvement gal, anyway, right?  You know, a gal with a Ph.D. in industrial engineering focusing on quality.  Surely I can make things better – especially since I’m really the Chief Operations Officer around here.

When I  began work in industry, my manager told me to read books and go out “on the floor.”   The advice was good, though a little flawed since reading heavy books about rubber compounding could put me to sleep after a few hours, and I wasn’t sure where to start with my observations on the manufacturing floor.   Mix?  Calender?  Build?  Cure?  All of them?  I think the message I was supposed to get was how important it was to understand our processes, to see the challenges the operators faced, to grasp how our development changes in the materials may affect manufacturing.

When I worked in the semiconductor industry, I was in the clean room for a while every day.  I got to see how some of the test data were used in decision-making.  That helped me understand the purpose and need for the project I’d been assigned – and also gave me a better vision for the importance and application of my dissertation work.

So this year spent in observation hasn’t been a failure or a waste, but it’s time for something new.  It’s time for Dana to get out her Lean Six Sigma hat, roll up her sleeves, and start solving the problems that plague our home.

That’d be really simple if it wasn’t so deeply personal.  See, I’m the main source of the problems.  Bad habits.  Lack of planning.  Poor organization.  Lots of issues that have been hidden by a busy lifestyle for many years.  (I think the new hat should be a hard hat – so I don’t get hurt when I open the coat closet to try to declutter.)  🙂

So here’s to a new year.  A challenging year, no doubt.  But, hey, that’s one reason I went into engineering.  I like a challenge.

I hope you’ll join me on my journey!