Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Equipment Training Karma

A couple weeks ago, I was sitting in a very cold equipment room, doing a long set of very tedious measurements.

Suddenly I heard banging at the door, as someone fumbled with the keypad entry. A curly head popped in, and a guy who looked about 12 chirped at me, "Hi! I'm new here! Hello! I'm supposed to learn to use this equipment! Hi there! Hope I'm not bothering you?"

Whew. New kids....

But I put aside my cranky old grad student persona, and offered to train him how to use the equipment (it also helped I was dead bored with what I was doing). Turns out he was genuinely enthusiastic, very sharp, and picked up the procedures really quickly. He thanked me, and I felt like I had done my good samaritan act for the day.

Now this week I have gotten new samples of ink for my own research, but because they are one-of-a-kind, the manufacturer does not know the viscosity. I need to know the viscosity, though, so this leaves me a bit in a bind.

However - SCIENCE! It's what we do here. Surely there is a way I can figure this out.

I inquired around, and a friend of mine introduced me to a friend of hers who knows how to do viscosity measurements. The equipment you need is called a rheometer. I arranged to meet with the guy, and this morning went over for an initial chat.

What do you know - it was the same chirpy 12 year old!

The upshot is, that this guy knows how to use the most sensitive rheometer on campus, and this Friday he has dedicated 10am-5pm to work with me - training me on the equipment, and then helping me run a bunch of samples.

What goes around comes around, and in research as in life, if you can help someone out more often than not it is worth it.

Knowledge - pass it on when you can!

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