Momentum - February 2020 - 24
MANAGING EXPECTATIONS FOR
BETTER DECISION-MAKING AND
A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO, my SAE Aero Design team
felt they had solved the problem of their poor first-ever
performance at competition. As part of the competition,
SAE required teams to carry tennis balls to simulate
passengers. With prototype in hand, stuffed with balls,
they strutted onto the test field. The plane took off, flew
the circuit, and landed. Cheers exploded: "We're going
to beat everyone!" Looking back at me, they expected
my forthcoming praise. My response: "Great job! But
you aren't going to win." Jaws dropped. Why not? After
reflecting unsuccessfully, they asked me why. My answer:
"You don't have enough balls."
After a burst of laughter at my unintended pun,
they didn't agree. However, my years as a SAE Student
Member and faculty advisor had given me enough
experience to know what to expect. As predicted, their
expectations did not match their experience. Their
inability to manage expectations is a common problem
Oxford defines expectations as "a strong belief that
something will happen or be the case in the future."
We go through life full of expectations: studying harder
will result in higher grades, improved job performance
will lead to raises, co-workers will value our opinions.
We continuously modulate our expectations for
However, wisdom says that just because we expect
something to happen won't make it so-at least not
without good reason. When expectations aren't met, it
creates disappointment, anger, confusion, and anxiety.
Although current research suggests the secret to
meeting our expectations is to have low expectations, my
experience tells me that it leads to negativity and apathy.
We all need hope, the feeling that we are working toward
something meaningful in our lives. Our expectations,
anticipations, and pre-judgements help us to exploit
opportunities, improve our performance, and advance
both personally and professionally.
Managing our expectations is the key to our wellbeing.
It is a soft skill that should be discussed more often. When
there is a gap between expectation and experience, it is
often due to biases and a lack of knowledge. While using
old experiences to gauge expectations may seem right
and true, the results are frequently by chance rather than
analysis or careful choice. They are not necessarily a good
guide to our current reality and can lead to poor decisionmaking and performance.
24 February 2020
Members of the West Virginia University Institute of Technology SAE Aero Design
team pose with their plane.
Expectations can be easily managed as a function of information.
Do the research and ask a lot of questions. Unspoken expectations are
almost guaranteed to go unfulfilled.
This year, my Aero team will be traveling to Lakeland, Fla., for the
SAE Aero Design East competition with eyes wide open. Their past
experiences at competitions have taught them not to fly on a hope
and a prayer but by managing their expectations through a meticulous
review of the new rules, correctly following the design process, and
prototype testing for verification. Do they expect to win? No, but both
they and I expect that there will be enough balls this time.
Dr. Winnie Fu, Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering Department,
West Virginia University Institute of Technology, wrote this article for
Momentum - February 2020
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Momentum - February 2020
Momentum - February 2020
Getting schooled on benefits
One-on-One – Grant Prins
Engine switch propels UW – Platteville snowmobile team to new heights
Another year, another successful Cornell Baja SAE team.
Chevy tweaks 2020 Bolt’s battery chemistry to add range
Proving ground heroes
Introducing the 2020 SAE President: Todd Zarfos
SAE 101: volunteer recognition
Beyond the textbook
SAE and GM make smart choice for AutoDrive Challenge Year 3 venue
Introducing SAE AWIM Programming Each Other
Dossier: Martin Wissink of Oak Ridge National Lab
Managing expectations for better decision-making and performance
Momentum - February 2020 - Momentum - February 2020
Momentum - February 2020 - Cover2
Momentum - February 2020 - Contents
Momentum - February 2020 - Getting schooled on benefits
Momentum - February 2020 - BENEFITS U
Momentum - February 2020 - STUDENT GENERATION
Momentum - February 2020 - 5
Momentum - February 2020 - 6
Momentum - February 2020 - One-on-One – Grant Prins
Momentum - February 2020 - Engine switch propels UW – Platteville snowmobile team to new heights
Momentum - February 2020 - 9
Momentum - February 2020 - Another year, another successful Cornell Baja SAE team.
Momentum - February 2020 - 11
Momentum - February 2020 - 12
Momentum - February 2020 - 13
Momentum - February 2020 - BRIEFS
Momentum - February 2020 - Chevy tweaks 2020 Bolt’s battery chemistry to add range
Momentum - February 2020 - Proving ground heroes
Momentum - February 2020 - Introducing the 2020 SAE President: Todd Zarfos
Momentum - February 2020 - SAE 101: volunteer recognition
Momentum - February 2020 - Beyond the textbook
Momentum - February 2020 - SAE and GM make smart choice for AutoDrive Challenge Year 3 venue
Momentum - February 2020 - Introducing SAE AWIM Programming Each Other
Momentum - February 2020 - Dossier: Martin Wissink of Oak Ridge National Lab
Momentum - February 2020 - 23
Momentum - February 2020 - Managing expectations for better decision-making and performance
Momentum - February 2020 - Cover3
Momentum - February 2020 - Cover4