We all have only 24 hours a day, and planning them effectively influences all aspects of our lives: our happiness, our relationships, our health. Beyond adopting time management tools and techniques, there are many technical and philosophical aspects of time that students at electronics faculties study. These were the focus of my mentoring session titled “Techniques In Managing Effectiveness (TIME)“.

One year after serving as a jury member at Electron (see my previous edition blog post here), I am returning as a mentor to the event. This year (2024, 9th of March), the event has scaled up in complexity and funding, with more participants and industry supporters.

The themes for this edition were:

  • ML & AI (Develop a specialized system for improving, restoring, and analyzing images in the context of security, using artificial intelligence technologies.)
  • Capture the Flag (This challenge is aimed at those oriented towards creative and unconventional thinking, through structured challenges covering various disciplines. The goal is to test the ability to deduce and practically apply theoretical knowledge.)
  • Connect and Control (This challenge gives participants the opportunity to test their skills as future electronics engineers, familiarizing themselves with integrated devices and associated communication protocols.)

I was pleased to see my previous employer, Orange, as the main supporter of the event, reminiscent of the old days when they supported us in organizing Electron‘s ancestor, MobilPRO.

It was also a great opportunity for networking with my former professors at ETTI.

My mentoring session for this edition consisted of a talk about Techniques In Managing Effectiveness (TIME).

First, discussing time with electronics students provides a great opportunity to explore more than just “time management“. There are so many different perspectives on time to analyse in such a group. We divided our discussion into four parts:

  1. The physical and philosophical aspects: The relativity of time and humanity’s current understanding of it, and its fundamental role in the Universe. As electronics engineers, relativity and quantum mechanics are core concepts you start studying even in your first year as a student.
  2. Our human experience of time. We all feel the passage of time from past to future, and our lives are based on planning how to best utilize our time. Time is perhaps the most important resource we have, surrounded by many unknowns. We explored some graphics illustrating how we spend our time during our lives with different people (family, partners, friends, children, etc.). Source URL here.
  3. Time management and time tracking tools. Although all we have is time, and our knowledge of ourselves and the world is tied to it, we often are not aware of how we spend or plan to spend it. We descended into a discussion about causality and the deterministic nature of the Universe, as it relates directly to time planning. Can we predict the future based on the past? If so, is the Universe deterministic? Does that mean we lack free will? If not, does quantum randomness play a role at large scales? How can we still plan things accurately? These questions are particularly intriguing among electronics engineers because, beyond planning or tracking time as humans, we often make careers out of programming things – which is nothing else than planning events, actions, and decisions for the future. It’s all about time management and estimating what lies ahead.
  4. Using our time effectively. So, apart from discussing technical and philosophical aspects of time, we addressed practical real-life contexts that help us manage our time more effectively, beyond mainstream advice like “stay organized“, “set goals“, “estimate“, “do not overcommit” etc. These can be particularly useful for electronics students who possess specific skills that are effective time management tools:
    • Automate everything. Whether electronics students are programmers or not, most are trained and have the capacity to design automations, be it software or hardware.
    • Reuse time. Time planning isn’t just about efficiency; it’s also about making connections. It’s always a good idea to repurpose effort from one project to another, thereby adding value to both. I shared examples from my personal experience, directly related to student life: my bachelor’s and master’s degree projects. Both were intertwined with other projects, not solely for educational purposes. Interestingly, my bachelor’s project was a software app that served as a “personal planner“, which I linked with my long history of organizing events. My master’s project was a smart home & IoT platform that I connected with EFdeN and our participation in Solar Decathlon Europe 2014. Similarly, university students can repurpose their academic or diploma projects as startups.

Staying connected in communities is vital for personal growth. Having the opportunity to engage with the ETTI student community, meet the new generation, and know smart people, is something I greatly appreciate. I would like to thank  to LSE for organizing this and to Anca-Maria Gaina, Bogdan Carp and Teodora Mirzan for inviting me, exemplary representatives of the next generation of tech talents and professionals in Romania.

Electron is an amazing project that grows each year, and I believe events like these are crucial for building a strong national tech community.