Monday, March 26, 2007

Engineers r us

In one of my benevolent moods, I decided to do something for E-week (Engineers Week) to spread awareness of Engineering among the unsuspecting school children in my area. This also serves as a good community outreach effort to bring visibility to our company and a chance do something to impress the office manager. My work wasn't really doing it.

Mikey, the co-worker, offered to help out with this initiative... and help he did. He got in touch with his buddy who happens to be a Math teacher at a High school in the Pittsburgh area and before I could even say ‘holditbuddyweneedtograsptheseriousnessofthis', he got us committed to give 7 presentations one single day! Sigh, another trauma teenagers have to face these days- Two geeks talking about how building roads could lead to salvation. Oh well, why not! It’s a good chance to get out of the office and interact with a bunch of kids and tell them how cool Engineering really is with a straight face.

Engineering in the United States is not as popular a career option as in India or even Bihar. Kids here want to make a career out of American Idol or selling hot dogs in the Soldier Field. Not a bad idea, if you ask me at 2 pm every working day. If you are a fireman or a nurse, the kids go,’ Awesome, that’s totally kewl!’ Engineers rank highly at number 23 only after Farmers and Priests in the “Professions of Very Great Prestige” poll of 2006. I should have taken Circumcision 101 and become a priest instead. The possiblities! (wait, I need to soak it in). Ok yeah, many engineering companies are concerned about the dearth of engineering enrollment in the recent years and the fact that there might be no one to fill my size 10 shoes. Anyway, all this will have to change. Can't let them get away with that smirk!

I laid out the presentation and Mikey deleted a few slides as his contribution! Next we discussed at length on what we ought to be wearing to make a false impression about Engineers. Football jersey and jeans to look cool or Armani suit and Prada Sunglasses to look well paid. Mikey decided to wear thick glasses and a tie. I took my drafter and a drawing board hoping to complement him.

We start our spiel, ‘How many of you want to be Engineers?’

In a Math class of 20, one hand would rise and the guy would feel almost guilty and quickly wave at the guy next to him. I embarked into the various ways we Engineers make life for the rest of the species worth living. They were quiet kids for the most part especially when they slept soundly without snoring. From managing to keep my fake American accent going and remembering what I had to speak, it suddenly seemed like a daunting task. I had to pick the most attentive student and focus all my energy on him to keep my morale high. So the poor kid had to keep nodding and smiling and raising his eyebrows like he was understanding what I meant by perceived social needs and commercial applications. I had given presentations before, but never to school kids, who were enjoying passing notes (probably on my hair style or the lack thereof). Nostalgia of my school days took over and I only felt immense pity for my teachers. Since it was 7 presentations back to back (with a lunch break), every word uttered after Presentation 4 better not be used against me.

Presentation 1: Phew, I remembered to whip out a joke on my last name. At least the Math teacher laughed.

Presentation 2: Did I crack the cheesy butterfly joke in this presentation or the previous one as it seemed quite fresh in my memory of actually saying it and not hearing anyone except Mikey snort. Skip.

Presentation 3: Darn, I finished 10 minutes earlier than the previous time. I must have missed out all the jokes. Shall I tell them all now in one go?

Presentation 4: Holy Macro! What is she wearing?! Oh shucks, it’s a He! I am too tired of repeating stuff. I can’t do this anymore. Mikey, please take over my slides too. I'll teach you how to be hilarious. Trip and fall.

Presentation 5: That joke just sucks. It’s too late. My sense of humor level has already been established and if one of their dad’s owns a Comedy Club in downtown Pittsburgh, I’ve lost my chances of a stand-up debut.

Presentation 6: One more to go. One more to go. I will survive. Teaching is not a career option for me. How monotonous. Teachers get paid only so much? What a pity!

Presentation 7: Oh wow! My bald-eagle joke was a hit. Why did I have to think about it in the last presentation? Oh wow! They laughed at the way I called Mikey a nerd. Should have used that one earlier too. Darn! It’s over just when I was making an impact on young impressionable minds.

Feedback was provided in the form of a few lines of what the students thought about the presentation. Even negative comments were encouraged. Almost every response in the feedback forms were very positive and seemed like our presentation did exactly what we had hoped it would. Like so- ‘After listening to the presentation, I have become more interested in getting a future in Engineering. I had no idea how interesting and rewarding this field could be. The stability and pay benefits are also very appealing.’

Or politely decline like so- It’s not really something I’m interested in, but if it was, I would totally be an Engineer.’

We felt on top of the world. It was like a feeling that every mother gets when her kid is found watching TV instead of doping. But still we were pissed that we didn't get any critisism. Do we look super sensitive or frail?

On our drive back, I was rummaging through the two hundred or odd feedback forms; I came across one that could be taken as constructive criticism. I read it aloud to Mikey- Engineering provides many opportunities and advancement in a wide range of fields for different people. Their presentation was great, but it seemed like they would cut each other off when talking.

Mikey- Did he really say that?

Me- Yes apparently we both like to talk a lot.

Mikey- Come on! It was meant to be like that!!! We wanted it to be informal… like a conversation between two people.

Me- True. Or maybe this kid was in the fourth period when I wasn’t facing you and didn’t know when you were talking. Remember the weird set up.

Mikey- Whatever, but we didn’t cut each other off! That’s ridiculous! I would...

Me (cutting him off)- Here’s this kid’s handwriting. Maybe you could get your buddy to find out who he is. It’s not like they were paying us to do this that we need to get some juvenile rudely lashing out on us like that. Secondly, if we were to...

Mikey (cutting me off)- Ingrates! No appreciation for bailing them out of Math class! Dipshits!

...and so we agonized about that single comment till destination.

40 comments:

Zoheb said...

Tumne kaisan impress kiya re, transportasonwaa ka engineering. Jaroor bahoot bahilaye fuslaye hoyenge.

Mathi said...

wow! you sure u r not a screenplay writer?

Alpha Hydroxy said...

zoheb: the key was to talk about transportation engineering as needed. As in never.

mathi: True, as you can clearly see, I'm not even close to being one.

bloghopper said...

Bachchon ko mat darao, alpha !

Alpha said...

bh: its all a part of their character building process.

Zeya said...

Hey Alpha,

I liked the post. Very nice attempt to give back to society in some way..
Zeya

Alpha said...

zeya,
thank you. trying is everything at this point. making a difference might follow to my surprise.

AmitL said...

hahahaa..Twin,this was too funny...now,u know ur actual value as a 'cutting edge tech' engineer.:)Great post..I'm still grinning.

Alpha said...

amitji: lol, true...cutting edgeways is more like it.:)

anantha said...

Btw, why did you delete the previous post? :O

alpha said...

stop dwelling on the past.

After the post was read by the person for whom it was intended, the usefulness for the post faded.

anantha said...

Enna dwelling on the past? :P

Let's say, weeks from now, Pi wants to gloat to some friend of his about how his wife wrote a romance tinged post about him on her blog. And he comes back here and finds there is nothing! Imagine how bad he will feel! Heartless only you are! :P

Alpha said...

Anti- You think if he were to gloat about his wife, he'll bring them to this blog?

Rationale said...

Whoa! This was one looong post. Me thinks you arent done obsessing on that one comment?

Anonymous said...

what happened to "humko mann ki shakti dena?"

-Su

bloghopper said...

Yes, why did you take down that post ? Aiyyo Shivaaa, your parents/in-laws are now reading it ?

Me said...

pesama start alpha-3

anantha said...

And she deletes one more!

Anonymous said...

Hey Alpha,

Is there an email address I can write to you at? Would like to get some advice on planning a backpacking trip...

Thanks a lot.

alpha said...

me, alpha-3 sounds like a goood plan.

anti: that was deleted long ago!

anon: ahydroxy_at_yahoo. would be glad to help.

Minal said...

hey alpha post. I drop in everyday to check on it.

Anonymous said...

hellloooo....alpha ! where are you ??

Red Soul said...

oh ya.. weird USA students!

anantha said...

Backpacking advise venum na, ask Alpha !

Kalyanam panna advise venum na, ask Alpha!

Too much!

anantha said...

hmmmm......

anjali said...

Alpha, when are you coming back to this world?? You are my daily lunch read, and my food doesn't taste the same anymore without you.

Anonymous said...

waiting... waiting... waiting...

Keya

Anonymous said...

anjali:

check out terri, sujatha and sundar when you are next at lunch :-).

- s.b.

NAPP said...

hey alfa,

it's been sometime since we have been entertained like only u can . miss your wicked humour!!! . do alfas hibenate in summer?????

NAPP said...

hey alfa,

it's been sometime since we have been entertained like only u can . miss your wicked humour!!! . do alfas hibenate in summer?????

Sundar Narayanan said...

I have a lot of experience trying to get kids intersted in engineering !

the cool way to go is to get some liquid nitrogen and do some magic.. I would take a rose, dip it in the liquid nitrogen and break it by shattering it on the table!

thank god I was in materials engineering!

:)

Rash said...

postttttt!

Anonymous said...

waiting for your next eagerly ! overwhelmed by family ?

Keya

Sudipta Chatterjee said...

Hahahaa... ossum write-up. But what was your punchline or #1 reason why one should become an engineer? That you may crack management jokes? :D

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