Monday, March 30, 2009

Experimental Error

Today I was very excited to come into work, because my To-Do list contained one very important item: crank out a run of parts. And if I am lucky, this will turn out to be the last set of parts I need to finish my thesis!

So I carefully assembled the blanks I made last week with which to make my parts, gathered my lab notebook and my favorite pen, and fired up all my equipment. I ran a couple of warm up parts, and spent the rest of the afternoon laying down some very hot manufacturing science.

The chiller hummed away, the air pressure from the wall remained steady and strong. My poor little ceramic pieces which are so prone to breakage stood up cleanly for every cycle. The little solenoid valves soldiered on, heating up a bit from the work but faithfully actuating the heat sink without a hitch. Every two minutes and fifty seconds, a new little part popped out and I loaded in the next blank. I gave everything the "blue glove treatment," as my advisor says (keeping everything fingerprint-free). Under my watchful eye, my stack of petri dishes full of parts grew beside me, balanced precariously on the laser cutter. Hey, I ran out of work space on the lab bench.

This had to be a manufacturing run, which means the whole set of parts had to be made consecutively and consistently. I had cleared my schedule so as to have no distractions.

But there was unfortunately a variable I never considered. It came into play when I was just about two-thirds of the way done. I realized that I was by myself in the lab, nobody else knew how to run the machine, and... I had to go to the bathroom.

Drat it all. Shouldn't have had the soda with lunch....

I made it for seven more parts, but shortly thereafter anyone watching would have witnessed the equipment operator running frantically down the hall toward ladies' room, yelling behind her "Nobody touch anything!"

The neat little note in my lab notebook between parts 58 and 59 reads simply - "Short break"


  1. It was almost poetic. Right up the needing to go to the toilet thing :P