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Thread: how did you decide on your thesis/final project?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian dandy_warhol's avatar
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    how did you decide on your thesis/final project?

    i'm currently working on my master's. i am supposed to graduate in August. however, i have yet to decide on my final project. i keep coming up with different ideas but then none of them seem to pan out or feel like they have enough to become a solid topic. at this point i'm not looking to make any groundbreaking discoveries. i just want to graduate!

    how did you decided upon your final thesis/project?
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

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    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

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    Member CosmicMojo's avatar
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    I'd been reading the local paper, keeping up with local planning, development and revitalization issues, so there were a lot of current issues and questions on my mind.

    Keep up on what's going on in your area. Is there a particular agency you'd like to work for when you get out? Choose a project that would prepare you for that organization and that could give you a chance to work with them on your thesis and show them how good you are.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian dandy_warhol's avatar
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    my problem is that i'm in school in part of the country that i don't want to end up in. i want to end up in the Northeast and right now i'm in NOLA.

    obviously there are a ton of planning related things happening in NOLA but i can't seem to find one that i'm interested in.

    right now in 3 of my classes we're working on projects for the rebuilding and redevelopment process in two neighborhoods in NOLA. do you think i could take one of those projects and run with it? or try to at least?
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    There are so many things that you could do and piggy back what is going on in NO. Planning for Natural Disasters, Post Disaster Planning and Recovery, the process and procedures used to redevelop certain areas, how a neighborhood works together, or apart, to rebuild, affect of natural disaster on social capital, economic effects on businesses that remained open (might be surprising), it endless and all of the research and information you would need is probably available to you from all of the agencies working to rebuild NO.

    I just picked something I was interested in and researched a small part of the issue and wrote about it.

  6. #6
    Member CosmicMojo's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by dandy_warhol
    obviously there are a ton of planning related things happening in NOLA but i can't seem to find one that i'm interested in.
    What field of planning do you want to work in?
    Transportation, Historic Preservation, Economic Development, Comprehensive planning?
    Your answer to that will be step one in defining a project.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Planderella's avatar
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    I went the final project route as opposed to a thesis. I decided that I really wanted to just graduate and I didn't want to waste any time trying to develop a grandiose thesis. I was working at the chamber of commerce at the time and I was really interested in heritage tourism. Since the particular chamber members/businesses I was working with wanted to strengthen their tourism market, my final project fell right into my lap. I wrote a plan on they could develop the heritage tourism market in their region (The River Parishes - St. Charles, St. John and St. James). I even presented my findings to them at their monthly meeting.

    Word of advice - don't make it any more complicated than it has to be. Once you get into the real job market, no one won't give a darn about your thesis/final project anyway (unless you plan to stay in academia). I'm not familiar with the new professors over there at CUPA now, but one thing my friends and I did when we were there was pick the laid-back and easygoing professors to chair our projects. We knew they wouldn't give us a hard time or make us do a bunch of uneccessary and time-consuming research.
    "A witty woman is a treasure, a witty beauty is a power!"

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    Cyburbian Mtn Woman's avatar
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    A friend of mine did an analysis of the frequency of conservation subdivisions in a town that touted itself as Smart Growth Central. Turns out that the statute was on the books but the planning board wasn't using the powers given to it to insist on its use.

    I'm doing a short case study of three neighboring towns that are again touting themselves as Smart Growth meccas. Some of it's working (density in hamlet areas) some of it isn't (farmland preservation).
    Living and dreaming are two different things-but you can't do one without the other."
    -Malcolm Forbes

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    maudit anglais
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    Quote Originally posted by Planderella
    Word of advice - don't make it any more complicated than it has to be. Once you get into the real job market, no one won't give a darn about your thesis/final project anyway (unless you plan to stay in academia). I'm not familiar with the new professors over there at CUPA now, but one thing my friends and I did when we were there was pick the laid-back and easygoing professors to chair our projects. We knew they wouldn't give us a hard time or make us do a bunch of uneccessary and time-consuming research.
    Excellent advice. The only thing I would add is don't pick something that holds absolutely no interest to you. Figure out what interests you (besides graduating) and see if you can find some application to what is currently going on around you.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian dandy_warhol's avatar
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    thanks for the advice, everyone.

    i'm interested in the environment/greenspace/open space, people, and GIS. i want to do a project that would be useful to the rebuilding process rather than just something that will collect dust on some shelf somewhere. i think part of my problem, besides hesitancy in pulling the trigger on a project, is that some of the ideas i have are dependent on where rebuilding occurs, and until that information gets more flushed out i feel like developing a network of trails/paths/open space for a neighborhood would be useless. am i wrong?


    planderella, i think i made a mistake in picking out my committee, i've got two hard-a**es and one nice person. i think i'm going to go try and switch one of the sticklers for an easier person.


    btw, thanks for listening to me whine, b*tch and moan. i appreciate the support!!
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

  11. #11
    Member CosmicMojo's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by dandy_warhol
    i'm interested in the environment/greenspace/open space, people, and GIS. i want to do a project that would be useful to the rebuilding process rather than just something that will collect dust on some shelf somewhere. i think part of my problem, besides hesitancy in pulling the trigger on a project, is that some of the ideas i have are dependent on where rebuilding occurs, and until that information gets more flushed out i feel like developing a network of trails/paths/open space for a neighborhood would be useless. am i wrong?
    Seems like if you did a regional open space plan, it should respond to natural conditions (such as drainageways, swales, etc.) rather than manmade. You have an excellent opportunity in that a lot of the manmade obstacles that usually limit greenways are now up for redesign. Why don't you be the one to tell them where to build that stuff based on the optimal greenspace plan? It's a rare tabla rosa opportunity. Instead of designing greenspace around the existing built environment, here's a rare chance to identify the optimal greenspace plan based on environmental sensitivity and fill in constructin around that.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Just to echo others' comments here, I think it is important in doing a project/thesis that you be LIMITED in your project (because, once you get into it, no project is really very small). You have a lifetime of planning to undertake your life's work, so the thesis/project just gets you underway. I also don't think the topic is too critical in terms of future work. A great many planning projects involve the same kinds of skills to undertake, regardless of the subject matter. That (I think) is what employers really care about since every project will involve unique challenges and they need people who can respond dynamically.

    In the words of a friend who lamented to her advisor that she didn't feel her project was brilliant enough: "Finishing is brilliant..."

  13. #13
    Member CosmicMojo's avatar
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    I think the subject matter is helpful in finding a future job not so much because prospective employers read it and are blown away,
    but because you'll be making contacts with related agencies while you're working on it.
    IE-if you're interested in transportation planning, you can conduct some information interviews with the state trans. dept. as part of your thesis, and make good contacts for future jobs, showing them how bright your are during your interview. When you need to make some cold calls for jobs, you've already met the people and can reconnect.

    OR if you're interested in open space planning, you call on local env. planners to review your plan and they get to see you're a visionary. Then in a few months when you call for an information interview, they'll be receptive to spending some time as a career mentor.

  14. #14
         
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    My master's project was decided upon after contacting and interviewing fifteen city governments. I asked them if they were interested in having one of their general/comprehensive plan elements updated. Unfortunately the first fourteen interviews produced no interest. When the fifteenth offered me a safety element update for a city with 6,000 people, I took it. Terribly dull topic dandy_warhol, but in your words, "I just want[ed] to graduate!"

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