BMGT490H: An Exercise in Teamwork
Article by Ryan Murphy (Q17, of Project of the Year team “A.I.deas”)
Throughout the Fall ‘11 semester, I had the pleasure of working with Jason Felder, Jeff Jacobs, Shiran Beroukhim, and Avi Prince on an interesting 490 project dealing with artificial intelligence and, specifically, machine reading. The project itself was interesting, novel, and, initially, completely foreign to me. In fact, at first, none of us (except for Jeff, who joined the squad a few days late) really knew much about machine reading or ontologies or DARPA or any of the elements of the final project that we were going to be working with. But, that proved unimportant.
The most important element of our project was our team. Like machine reading, I knew nothing about any of our team members before the project began. I was meeting all of them, except for Shiran, for the first time when we had our initial meeting. If I had the opportunity, I would have chosen to work with friends. However, I am glad that I never had that option as this was easily the best group project experience that I’ve had. Indeed, I learned a great deal about machine reading, artificial intelligence, ontology construction, and technology research methods, but I feel that I learned much more about teamwork.
Of course, during the semester there were times when we disagreed, times when we had to stay late working, and times when we wanted to kill each other. There were many more times, as I remember, that we spent joking, making fun of each other, and making light of situations. It was this mixture of humor and hard work that ultimately made us a cohesive team. It’s this lesson that I think will stay with me for sometime to come – ‘working’ with people on something doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy it. In fact, if you don’t enjoy the people that you work with, it becomes quite miserable. That being said, I think it is extremely important to go into group projects like this with an open mind and to strive to make the most of the experience. If I hadn’t adopted this attitude, I probably would have had a terrible semester, and I definitely wouldn’t be able to call the four other team members my friends.