When I finished my bachelor’s degree, I vowed that I would never return to school unless it was absolutely necessary or I had a really, really good reason. I’ve been weighing the pros and cons of grad school often recently, and I think I may have actually found a valid reason.

I was just accepted to a one-year Masters program at the University of Cambridge called Engineering for Sustainable Development starting in October 2010. After what will be about a year and a half in the field, I think this may be exactly what I need.

The program will give me a chance to really step back and reflect on everything I’ve seen and worked on this past year and in the coming 6 months. It will enable me to put my thoughts in a global context, and give me some much needed strategy and business knowledge to start working at the organizational (or should I write, organisational? No, never.) level – which is ultimately where I want to be. I have the technological background, but I want to focus not only on technologies but on people, and not only on prototyping but on projects from concept to dissemination. ESD fits this bill perfectly.

Sometimes I wonder if this knowledge can be gained in the field, but I see many advantages to a university setting and resources and many gaps associated with a narrow on-the-ground focus. Sometimes I wonder if I may be passing up some great field work opportunities given the number of contacts I’ve made recently and the number of projects that are currently in exciting stages, but I think this particular Masters degree offers just as many opportunties.

The field can wait a year until I return.

(Photo: Cambridge, Massachusetts, June, 2008)