Saturday, April 24, 2010

Still More Tales from the End of the Semester

Not too much of interest to report here. I'm dealing with the mountain of grading caused by the last regular exam of the semester. It's pretty common here to give 3-4 exams during the semester so that just about everything in the course is tested on a regular exam. Then we give a comprehensive final exam that hits the highlights of the semester.

I'm also dealing with summer job stuff. I need to find summer research projects for about 15 more students (in the Boston area). Fortunately these start in late June, so I still have some time. Needed research areas include: robotics, computational neuroscience, mathematical biology / genomics, robotics, aeronautical engineering (anything involving airplanes -- not spacecraft), computer science + music, robotics, digital signal processing, cardiology, robotics, a modest project in the physical sciences / engineering for a student with beginner computer programming skills, and something in the physical sciences / engineering for a hot-shot computer whiz who has raving recommendations from some dude who got a PhD in physics from MIT. And maybe something with robots.

New Job is also keeping me busy. The other day I drove out to New Job Location and got my access card and badge. Soon I will have to block out serious time all in a row and get some real work done and produce a deliverable.

Statistics class has a final problem set that I should also be working on.

Last night I took a break from all this and spent about 3 hours at a party. One of The Topologist's former students and two of my former students share an apartment in the student neighborhood just north of campus, and they invited me to their party. So I went. As you might expect based on the number of students that I teach in a semester, there were a lot of my former students there. I was actually hoping to run into a former student who is friends with the hosts. He's moving to Niskayuna after graduation to work at KAPL. (My students all know where I'm from because a lot of word problems are about Niskayuna and Schenectady. Especially problems about exponential decay. We use some census data to fit an exponential decay model of the population of Schenectady and predict when only one person will be left living in Schenectady. Problems about Niskayuna involve the Strontium-90 that was found in a parking lot near KAPL.)

I ended up talking to one of my former students for a while. It was really funny because it took her a while to place where she knew me from. She's graduating with a degree in Women's Studies. As she speaks Spanish and ASL, she figures that her best options for getting a job involve working with a non-profit organization in the social services area. She is thinking about maybe going to grad school. I told her to talk to a lot of people in her field and ask their advice before making a decision about going to graduate school in Women's Studies. (She claims to have really enjoyed my class. She said that if all of math were like the math in my class that she could have majored in math.)

I will point out that because I am still faculty for the next three weeks and because I am on not one but two medications that warn, "Do not drink alcoholic beverages while taking this medication," I brought a 12-pack of Fresca (surprisingly popular!) and store-bought brownies to the party.