Posted tagged ‘engineering’

Way Too Nerdy Thursdays :: A Weekly Theme Has Been Born

March 4, 2010

Engineers get a bad rap. We’re stereotyped as full out geeks: complete with taped glasses, poor fashion sense, pocket protectors, and nonexistant social skills. I little like my engineering friend Charlie:

(Just kidding. He dressed up like this for Halloween
At least I think he only dressed up like this for Halloween. )

And I wouldn’t really say that the stereotype is unfounded.  Just like all stereotypes, it doesn’t necessarily encompass the entire group and is the result of a few that give us a “bad” name.  But most of us are just like you non-engineery types. 

But yes, we do have our nerdy tendencies.  We have a tendency to over analyze things because… well… we can.  We can talk about the heat transfer properties of cast iron.  We can discuss the friction coefficient of tires.**  We are well versed in integration, differentiation, and laplace transforms.  And while “nerdy” can classify as anybody that knows way too much about any one thing (for instance, Tommy Lee probably knows an unreal amount of information about drums), we are the dreaded type of nerd because nobody cares about what we know.  Does anybody really want to know about the friction coefficient of tires?  NO!  THEY DON’T!  And if anybody were to accidentally overhear any of that conversation, they would probably say, “Wow, those engineers can tell a mean bedtime story.  This is so boring, I’m having a tough time keeping my eyes open… and it has only been about 15 seconds.”

But the thing is, I find those conversations to be hilarious.  And maybe it’s just me, but I get a huge kick out of how bullheaded engineers can be and how willing we are to argue details.  So yesterday, as I sat and did work while the men next to me discussed grilling and the physical properties of cast iron, the idea for “Way Too Nerdy Thursdays” came to me. 

Every Thursday (assuming I remember) I will share a funny conversation, random factoid you may or may not be interested in, or a fact about myself that could be considered “nerdy”.  The subject matter for these posts will come from conversations at work, with Dan, or just nerdy things that I have done in the past. 

And sure, I might be pushing forward the engineering “nerdiest people ever” stereotype.  And a lot of you probably won’t even think the stories that I’m going to share are interesting or funny.  Most likely, you’ll be sitting there scratching your head thinking to yourself… “Uhh… I don’t really get it…. was that a joke?”  But I will think they are interesting and funny, and I will be able to go through these stories at a not-to-distant point in the future and giggle like an idiot.  And to me, that’s the point of having a blog in the first place.  So I can reflect on it later.

And yes, “Way Too Nerdy Thursdays” can be renamed.  If you have recommendations, please feel free to let me know.

I don’t have time to write up a nerdy encounter this week, so until next Thursday, please enjoy reading (or re-reading) about The Monty Hall Problem.  It’s a pretty good post to get things started.


** Yes, those conversations really happened. 

I Don’t Know Where I’m Headed, But I’ll Know It When I Get There

January 22, 2010

Today, my desk-neighbor Erick had a question for me.  “So what are your big plans?” he asked.  “Are you staying here?  Are you looking elsewhere?  Where is Ms. Heather headed?”

I gave a little smile because I had been anticipating this question.  It has been on my mind a lot lately, and I am sure that many of my posts reflect that.  “Well..” I replied.  “I want to do something to help humanity, so I am looking for work that will help me down that path.” 

Erick’s response was something along the lines of, “You will grow out of that.  I used to want to do that, too.”

Personally, I have a lot of trouble understanding why I need to grow out of anything.  Since when is grow out synonymous with grow up?


The Monty Hall Problem

January 20, 2010

Want to get a room full of engineers into a frenzy?  Show them the following video:


3 pictures worth 474 words

January 4, 2010

I was looking at flickr’s “Your Best Shot 2009: Rain” and was inspired.  After reading the descriptions with each photo, I found out that most of them happen almost by chance.  The photographer sees something beautiful and rush to take out their camera in time to take a beautiful shot.  They see an opportunity present itself and do their best to seize it because it will be gone in a second.  It’s almost like a metaphor about life, right?


first week on the job

November 7, 2009

As I said before, I started work on Monday, November 2nd.  I was more-or-less hired on a “trial basis” since I had no prior experience in the aviation industry.  My job, as a parts intergration contract engineer, is to go through all of the parts between Delta and Northwest airlines (they are in the process of merging) and get rid of what they don’t need any more.  There area going to be a maximum of 77 people doing this job for the next year. Craaazyyy. And I admit that it’s not the greatest of jobs or anything, but it will pay my loans for a little while as I wait for the economy to be up and running again. 

I honestly thought that there would be a lot of relatively young people working this job.  I mean, I’m going to be honest here.  This job isn’t necessarily hard.  It seems more along the lines of a beginner’s job (to me), and while I am struggling a little because I don’t know a lot about the different types of planes or parts, I am not at all worried that I won’t be able to catch on.  However, there are only 5 of us that seem to be below the age of 25.  The rest have to be at least 35 with more than a few aged over 40 or 50.  I will be fair though — many of them are old Northwest Employees that were laid off recently or opted to take voluntary leave as the merger went on. 

Perhaps the weirdest part about working with all of these people who are decades older than me is that we are all on the same level.  They are not my superiors, and that’s very strange to me.  It’s like they have racked up years and years of experience, and yet here they are, sitting next to me doing the exact same thing as I am and we are all getting paid practically the same amount.  They are all very friendly toward me though, and while I have the chance I plan on soaking up their experience and learning whatever it is they have to teach me. 

Last week and the next two weeks will consist of training for the job.  We are learning to use several databases, and we are also learning how to tell if parts at Delta and Northwest are interchangeable with one another.  A lot of it is learning where to retreive information and how to use excel, which I am very good at since I have worked as an intern for the last 4 years and done the work that engineers don’t want to do — like updating things in databases.  Honestly, I am probably more prepared for doing this job than the older folks since I am computer savvy, although I admit that I have not really taken the time to understand the parts that I’m looking at.  Once they start understanding how to use excel, I am done for.

Additionally, the “trial basis” is no longer relevant.  We had reviews on Friday and my boss was very impressed with how quickly I am catching on and says I will be staying on board.  I am wondering, however, if anyone will be missing on Monday morning.

I am much happier now that I am getting out and doing something during the day.  I do miss having all of the time in the world to do whatever I wanted, but I feel like I’m going to be paid to do a relatively easy job, socialize, and miss out on the daylight throughout the winter.  I’ll take it 🙂

income shmincome

October 14, 2009

I woke up yesterday morning to a phone call from Delta.  I got a job!  I GOT A JOB!

It’s not quite my dream job.  My dream job escaped me about a month ago when I applied for the wrong “energy engineer” position (there were two that looked at first glance to be identical – it still kills me to think about).  However, the pay is still pretty good and the flight benefits are certainly something that I look forward to.  A few hours ago I sent my “Yes, I accept this offer” e-mail, and I will be starting on November 2nd.

So what did I do today?  SHOPPED of course!

I had to get it out of my system.  I have been so frugal and so particular this last year, I almost feel like I owe it to myself.  My jeans have holes in them, I haven’t updated my wardrobe in years, several pairs of my shoes have been eaten by my dog and have not been replaced.  And while I appreciate all of the donations that my family and Dan’s family have provided concerning the furnishings for our apartment, I have hardly contributed anything new.  No, I take it back.  I bought Dan a papasan chair for our 1 year anniversary.  Neat, huh?

And so today we went to Ikea and I bought a new bed.  The old bed we used was the one I grew up in. It had drawings all over the headboard, and it squeaked terribly.  I love the new bed and I can’t wait to sleep in it!

Ikea HOPEN bed frame

Ikea HOPEN bed frame

I also bought a duvet cover.  I hadn’t planned on buying sheets, but I have been looking for a duvet cover for years.  I never bought one because they are so expensive, but Ikea has them for under $50.  I couldn’t stay away.  Mine was $30.

I will buy a few more things, but for the most part my home furnishing shopping is finished.  I can’t say the same about my clothes shopping, though.  I do need some new jeans and at least one good winter coat and pair snow boots. Especially since I live in Minnesota and all.

After I am done with my shopping spree, it will be back to being responsible.  I have a lot of loans to pay back, and that will always be in the back of my mind.  But, for now, I’m going to celebrate and get myself a few nice things.

a new scene means a new me

October 12, 2009

Since high school, I’ve really recreated myself.  I guess, in a sense, that’s what college is for.  It’s not necessarily about answering the “Who am I?” question that hovers over everyone’s head, but it is more for getting a general idea of where to look for answers.  The answers could lurk in hobbies, the choices you make at pivotal decisions in your life, or the people that you allow to surround you.

I left high school feeling awkward.  I had braces, curly/frizzy hair I couldn’t control, acne, was quiet, and had [what I thought was] a funny-sounding voice.  My college graduation will find me confident in my appearance (even my curly hair), outgoing, approachable, and friendly.  Four years doesn’t seem like a long time, but a lot of personal growth certainly goes on. 

Today I am sitting in Saint Paul, Minnesota, 600 miles away from home.  I moved here one week ago with my boyfriend of 1+ years, Dan, and I’m planning on recreating myself yet again.  I plan on becoming more charismatic and, most importantly, more confident in my ideas and my intelligence.  As an engineering graduate, I am a woman in a man’s field.  It’s time that I step up and show them that I have something to offer.

At twenty-two, confidence and life experience are still missing.  Join me as I find them.