Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Learning from Negative Example Part III

Posts one and two in this series.

Things I've recently learned from my advisor:

Don't leave town unannounced the day before a senior student's (hopefully) final data meeting
That student will be incredibly frustrated and angry when they can't find you, and only learn where you are by asking other professors if they've seen you. Younger students will start worrying about our own odds of ever graduating...

Let the movers lift the heavy things
Yes, it's a very delicate piece of equipment. But the man who can bench 200 lbs and lifts heavy things for a living will be able to set it down more gently than you, especially after you've thrown out your back already. 

Learn to adapt to new technology
Just because you learned to program in Fortran77 doesn't mean advancements haven't been made, that allow such crazy options as using descriptive variable names, and having lines more than 72 characters long. Every single programming language I know of got rid of go to statements for a reason...

Don't expect students to know exactly what other students on unrelated projects are doing
My role is to work on my project, and work with the members of my group doing anything related to my project. If there are people in the group who work in other physical locations, don't expect me to know what they've been doing: they aren't here while they're doing it and I have my own stuff to worry about. It's a good day when I remember what I'm doing...


  1. You had me until the last one.

    However, I will comment in context. I have most of my students working on projects that are inextricably linked, yet unrelated as far as they think. Thus, I expect them to know what each other are doing.

    Is that the case? If so, then I don't think it's unreasonable.

    1. Hence the caveat of unrelated projects: in this case, the only thing linking us is a shared advisor. There is often no shared equipment, software, materials systems or characteristics of interest. My polymer simulations are not related to impedance testing of silica sol-gels. So by unrelated, I really mean having absolutely no connections that any of us can figure out.

  2. Miss,

    I was hoping I could shoot you an email to ask a (somewhat lengthy) question that wasn't particularly related to any particular post, but I seem to be unable to find any sort of contact information. Would it be possible to find a way to send you my inquiry?