Student Spotlight: Morgan MacDonald | Assiniboine Community College
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Student Spotlight: Morgan MacDonald

Student Spotlight: Morgan MacDonald

Written On: 02 December, 2015
Category: Student Spotlight Technology
Related programs:  Communications Engineering Technology

Second-year Communications Engineering Technology student, Morgan MacDonald, sits down and answers a few questions for us in this Student Spotlight.

Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where did you attend high school?

Hi, my name is Morgan and I’m a second-year student in the Communications Engineering Technology program. I'm also the only female in the class. I grew up on a farm around the Ninette/Dunrae area. I’m really into technology, which is one of the reasons why I’m taking the program at ACC.

Have you been to Brandon before? How are you enjoying your time here?

I moved to Brandon two years ago. I’ve been to Brandon many times before that—quite a few shopping trips! Brandon is nice because it’s not a super big city, yet, you still have access to almost anything you could want. It definitely has the small town mentality where you feel like you know everyone and people share the same values when it comes to community.

What made you decide to come to ACC? Why did you choose Communications Engineering Technology? 

Well, I originally wanted to become a Nurse. In high school I always wanted to be a Nurse because I liked the idea of helping people. I actually tried to get into the Nursing program here at ACC but, of course, there is a really long wait list for the program. I decided to take Office Administration to become a Health Unit Clerk while I waited to get into the Nursing program, but I realized pretty quickly that it wasn’t for me and decided to explore other options.

I started looking around at the other programs and became really interested in Computer Engineering Technology. I started talking with Grant, one of the instructors in the program, and here I am now. I’m really glad I’m here.

Have you always been interested in technology?

At first I never really thought about getting into technology as a career because a girl in technology wasn’t really a common thing at the time. It’s definitely becoming more commonplace now though. Being the only girl in the class did feel a little weird at first but I quickly realized it’s not really that bad and I don’t feel segregated at all.

I was always really interested in technology during high school—new cell phones or new kinds of tech, I was always the first to know and talk about it. As for my classes, I was actually setting myself up for my career in nursing and took courses like biology, chemistry, and math. I actually love math, I took three different math classes in high school

How has your experience been so far?

It’s extremely challenging, which I like. It is very much math based and you have to take a calculus course in the first year. It’s fun and really hands-on, I’m always busy doing something like making circuits or doing tests.

Has anything surprised you about the program so far?

Well, I knew it was going to be difficult coming into the program. I didn’t actually realize that there was going to be so much public speaking and presenting though. For our final projects we actually have to present and pitch our idea to possible employers. I wasn’t expecting that at all coming into the program and I haven’t had much experience as a public speaker. The experience so far has been great.

I understand CET usually creates a capstone project. Can you tell us a little about that?

The capstone projects are our final projects that we will start to officially work on in January. We start pitching our projects in a couple weeks and will need to hand in our project proposal describing things like what kind of technology we’ll be using, our timelines, and the overall goal of the project. In January we start the actual process and begin ordering parts and working on it. We’ll have some class time to work on it but a lot of the project will involve us working into the evenings—at least from what I’ve heard from previous students. We’ll have the project finished in April.

I’m actually working on two different ideas right now. I’m meeting with one my instructors to narrow my ideas down to one. The one idea is a radio-frequency identification (RFID) tracking system for cattle. Growing up on a farm, tracking cattle was always an issue. By using passive tags a farmer can be notified via a text message when an animal leaves a fenced in area or could be tracked using a web page. The same tracking system could be used to notify a farmer of a potential health issue with an animal by tracking if it has travelled to a specific drinking source throughout the day. If it hasn’t, the farmer could then check on the animal and learn the reason why, which might be because of sickness or injury. We start with a basic idea at first and they can always be expanded in the future. 

You use a lot of different software and hardware in the program. What’s your favorite?

For software we use MATLAB which is we use to generate and test functions. We also use a lot of coding software and languages such as C++ and Arduino. We use a graphical editor called Simulink to create circuits simulations for testing circuit boards. We do a lot of circuit building and use breadboards, we’re constantly putting together circuits, testing how they work and creating filters.

What are your classmates and instructors like?

Everyone is really friendly and we get to hang out quite a bit. We all have the same goals so it’s really nice to have people pushing you to finish and do a good job—we all want to graduate together. The instructors are always there to help and want us to succeed and explore new ideas.

Is there anything in particular you’re excited to learn about?

I’m excited to learn more about Arduino boards in my upcoming capstone project. We had one course with them but it wasn’t enough for me and I want to learn more about them and all of the different functions. Learning how to send a text message using the board is something I’d love to learn how to do and is something we didn’t have time to learn during the course—but I’ll get the chance to learn how for my project.

I understand the program involves a practicum. Have you had any thought into your placement?

At the end of the year we have a 4-month practicum. For me, I’ll hopefully have the chance to work with MTS which is where I did a summer employment at the end of my first-year. I was able to get a lot of experience last year, it involved traveling around to many different communities, troubleshooting networks, system setups, and electronic maintenance.

Did you do anything to prepare yourself coming into the program? Do you have any advice for other people looking to take Computer Engineering Technology?

Having your math skills up to par is extremely important. You do take some math courses in the program itself but being prepared coming into the program helps.

Do you have any plans for after graduation?

I’m not exactly sure but a lot of students end up working for the same company they take their practicum with. MTS or even Manitoba Hydro are possibilities.

What’s something about you that would surprise people?

Maybe that I’m into technology or enjoy math? I know a lot of people don’t enjoy math so I guess it’s kind of surprising that someone actually does.

Are you involved in any activities outside college?

I used to work at La Senza. I loved the job, but I reluctantly had to quit because I knew just how much work would be required this year in school. Basically now it’s just school, homework, friends and family.

What’s your favorite food?

Chocolate—I know, a typical girl answer.

Do you have any favorite TV shows/movies or hobbies?

I’m super into Grey’s Anatomy right now. I’ve probably watched the first three seasons in the last three weeks.

I haven’t done it for a while but I like to ride horses. I enjoy exercising, skating, hiking, and just chilling with friends.

Thank you for taking the time to chat with me, Morgan. Good luck with your capstone project.

Thank you!