Wednesday, October 8, 2008


I have now had many people ask me what it is exactly that I do all day. I can fairly confidently say that I spend a significant portion of my time in meetings. I enjoy the ones with students. The ones with professors - not so much. Especially with groups of professors (ie committees). And there seem to be lots of those.

These meetings appear to have no definitive end time. And sometimes no agenda is sent out (or formed) either. My parents always said a meeting must have an agenda - apparently that concept was lost on engineers. Without an agenda, the meeting meanders from topic to topic like a lost puppy.

In my department meetings, I am extremely fortunate. The room we meet in has a class immediate after (1 hr after the start of the meeting); therefore this is a limiting factor.

However, as an example of the topics covered in the last meeting: status reports from several seminar sub-committees on invites to speakers (speakers invited, dates being arranged), status report on faculty search (reading over CVs), random discussion over assorted yet unrelated topics. The first topics could have easily been reported via email; the second part (random discussion) didn't really need to happen - or at least it didn't really need to involve everyone.

One committee I'm on does everything 90% electronically. It is awesome. I can comment at midnight. And discussions end up being more focused.

The department seminar sub-committees (yes, I'm on these too) actually meet. Why, I have no idea. The meetings last for 45 minutes or so (again - what we talk about for this period of time, I really have yet to figure out - I tend to think of other things. But more importantly, the meetings have tended to take place in the middle of the afternoon, which completely disrupt an entire day. And they often are in a building far from mine. So a 45 minute meeting ends up lasting 1 hr, plus the additional disruption to my work.

In any case, one person commented on the 20% service requirement - this counts service. So, I easily am fulfilling my service requirement (committee work) - I also do other stuff. What is rather interesting is that as you do more research, you have to do more service (if you go by the percentage method). So you end up, in a sense, being penalized for doing research. But really, the percentages are guidelines anyway. The dept just wants to make sure you contribute.


Wyman said...

If there is such a question and I should happen by here again: What kind of engineer are you? Your speciality, I guess might be what I am asking. You mentioned lasers and you seem to do research, so does it relate to laser research, like Optical Engineering?

Enjoyed your posts. I am on a sometimes hunt for female scientists and engineers, as I often hear not many women go into those fields, but I remember on the whole when I was in high school in the late 60s and early 70s, ladies did as well as guys in math and science.

For a variety of reasons, ladies may not find or receive the same support as guys, but I have never thought it was lack of brains that yielded the results mentioned. I search out people like yourself with the hope of encouraging those females I might meet with an interest in these areas. I, myself, have only 2 years of college, but I would hate to see anyone give up on a dream because they think they are not allowed to try to fulfill their dream(s).

Thank you for your time. That committee stuff sounds duller than watching dirt. I was hoping you were doing some exciting research. Bye for now.

modularblues said...

I'm curious to know your field too. I'm a Masters student in electrical engineering with a chunk of computer science and biomedical leaning. Thinking of getting a PhD, so I'm trying to get a paper out before the year's done...

Anyway, glad to have found a blog where I might learn something from :-)