Thursday, February 11, 2010

Serious Grad Student Business

I am fortunate to work in a place where the administrative head of the department has done his best to make the office space for students conducive to good quality of life. We have two office complexes for grad students in my building - one on the first floor, one in the basement. Each one has nice large cubicles with desks for students, big windows, a conference area with table and chairs and projector, couches, and a kitchenette. To be honest, I haven't seen any grad office setup better than what I have. 

About 30 students fit in each complex. They try to mix around students so that you sit next to people who aren't necessarily in your lab, but you are never more than one or two cubicles away from someone you know.

This makes a nice social atmosphere - people eat lunch together at the tables by the kitchen, late in the evening there will still be people around to keep you company while you work, and everybody is generally friendly. You can always find someone to shoot the breeze with if you feel like procrastinating. Some of the students with bigger personalities will be yelling about something or holding conversations across cubicle walls. News and gossip spreads quickly, and it feels like a community.

We get work done, too. There's a white board in the office, and it's not uncommon for someone to be working out a problem on the board. If somebody walks by, they may help you out. Or someone will be in the middle of describing an idea, grab a marker and sketch out new concepts. It makes me feel like an official science nerd to walk in at 8am and be greeted by a nice classical beam bending derivation.

Figure: Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory has the whiteboard process down.

But for the past several weeks, the whiteboard has been dominated by something else. Feedback loops and free body diagrams have been replaced with a trickier, more visceral problem. Behold:

Figure: Yep. Those are football picks.

Our office had a pool going on NFL picks. The whiteboard was where the official list was kept of each person's picks. Each week there would be groans and high-fives as circles and X's went up and the scores were tallied.

This Monday after the SuperBowl, the participants gathered around for a final time, and money changed hands. The board is erased, now, and back to regular use. But if you look closely, you can see the faint images of the lineup still there - a reminder of the very serious grad student business that goes on around here...

1 comment:

  1. Your office sounds sweet! I think the best part about mine is the free coffee/tea.