June 26, 2010

First Week is Done

And I am extremely thankful. I will, thankfully, not have to be awake before eight any time in the next five weeks.

I just made my mini-presentation, which I did on how sticky Nutella is, and I am now sitting in the computer lab next to Kris, who appears to be actually doing RSI related things.

The night before last was Meet Your Mentor Night. I got all dressed up so as to make a good impression only to discover that, in fact, my mentor had neglected to make an appearance. I sought out my tutor, Kaylee, who informed me that my mentor is Dr. Bohdan (I apologize if there is a legit person named Dr. Bohdan somewhere out there, because I blatantly made that name up) and that he hadn't been resonding to emails. She advised me to just show up at some point the next day.

So, that's what I did. Yesterday morning, I woke up at 8:30, ate breakfast, checked my email, and went in search of the proper building, which turned out to be converniently located less that one block away from the computer cluster. I found the proper room, and there was a woman sitting at a reception desk. I went up and introduced myself, and she informed me that she was actually someone else's assistant, but that Bohdan's assistant would be there in ten minutes.

I sat down and occupied myself with some engineering magazines (there was a riveting article about designing nanodevices to actively deliver drugs), and about a half an hour later, the assistant finally showed up. I introduced myself, mentioned RSI and the CEE, and she looked vaguely confused and then told me that Bohdan was at his summer home until Tuesday, but that she could make me an appointment then, so I made said appointment before leaving.

I then called up Kaylee, who said she'd come over and sort things out (because Kaylee has a PhD and is thus capable of magically sorting things out). She walked in, all business despite ridiculously tall cork platforms she was wearing, and attempted to find one of Bohdan's students.

The assistant's first assumption was that Kaylee was another high school student who believed that she, too, was supposed to be working with Bohdan, which I found somewhat funny. However, we did get ahold of Chad and Nelson, two of the grad students. They had no idea I was coming, so they called the other grad students, who also had no clue (including the one who, like me, specializes in the many flaws of the electricity transportation system), but declared that this was "typical Bohdan" and that they were sure it would all get sorted out on Tuesday. Then Kaylee left, and Chad and Nelson decided to give me a tour of the lab. Well, Nelson gave me a tour of the lab. Chad got somewhat bored and left after a couple of minutes.

The lab was completely and utterly awesome. There was a random car in the middle that had been opened up, so you could see the engine and all of its component parts. There were also various smaller engines in different locations around the room that Ethan and others were working on. There were types of lights designed to turn on in new ways (I'm fairly certain I'm not supposed to reveal what people are working on via the internet), and a giant lightbulb used to test solar panels, and screw drivers and tools everywhere. Nelson showed me what sautering (I'm sure I butchered that spelling) is, and demonstrated. He works with ultracapacitors, which are pretty much extremely awesome. I think my favorite bit of everything I saw was just the volume of stuff everywhere. Unlike the sterile image of a biology or a chemistry lab, in which everything looks so white and clean and new that one should not touch it (or, at least, that's what they look like on TV), this looked like my garage, but about 6x as dangerous.

I realize that I will most likely end up doing an experiment that is more theory than construction. However, the whole 'building' thing is completely awesome, and Nelson said he'd teach me to do some hands-on stuff if I wanted, and I think that I definitely want, because how can you really engineer anything without getting your hands dirty?

I realize that I haven't really done any engineering yet, and I've barely even touched any power tools, but I think it would be a good idea to learn. I'll have to have Dad teach me when I get home, although I'm a wee bit worried that I'm too clumsy to handle that sort of activity.

But if I can just sit in a room of component parts for all of eternity, I'm not at all certain that I'll care.