September 20th, 2008


boring crap!

I'm mentoring some high school kids in a robotics competition. The point of the competition is to get them excited about engineering, science, technology, that sort of thing, plus they get to work with us and learn about design processes and all that.

Today was the kickoff where all the schools get together and learn what the contest is... it wasn't good. It was at 9 am, so of course I was still feeling hungover. It started with 45 minutes of powerpoint slides about corporate sponsors, with speeches from some area engineers about how important our industries are. Pretty much every speech started with something along the lines of, "My name's ___ and I've worked at ___ since 1982. Engineering is an i n c r e d i b l y exciting career."

There were some important breakout sessions where kids learned about what would be in the robot kits and how to program the stuff, but there was also way too much buildup and stupidity and "everyone applaud for [insert old white guy here] who helped put this all together!". AND THEN, an hour and a half after the event started, they showed us what the contest would be.

but by the end of it all, even I didn't want to be an engineer. AND I AM ONE. I mean, who's idea is it to drain the excitement out of building robots? that in itself is a challenge, I think. maybe next time we can talk about the chemical signature of a van gogh painting, so we kill appreciation for art, too?

At the high school I'm at, two of the mentors are dads with kids in the class, and then there's me... trying not to noticeably roll my eyes too much. I really want to help them understand that engineering is not about sucking the life out of you... but today the other side had way more evidence.