Thursday, May 04, 2006

evening, ladies and germs...

senior design presentations are an injustice against students, particularly but not limited to mechanical engineering students at my school. this is ridiculous. nothing should be such a big deal, least of all a two-credit hour class that most people don't care about anyway because they're graduating in a week and already have jobs. the system's messed up.

today we had our final presentations, and had to sum up all the work we've done for the past two semesters into a 15 minute slide show. dr. o made it very clear that any group that went over fifteen minutes would be severely penalized. since the department is trying to trick us into thinking that these projects are the biggest deal, ever, all of our classes today were canceled. they also chose this day to hold the second bi-semesterly ABET accreditation advisory board meeting, and told us over and over that all the board members would be attending and evaluating our presentations. of course, these men have nothing to do with the department's actual accreditation, but they make us think that the unstable future of mechanical engineering depends on us impressing the board. no pressure, huh?

then of course, everyone is threatened to look professional or else, so we all have to dress like we're going to a wedding (or a funeral, in the case of jon's group. all six of them were dressed like paulbearers). i suppose in a few cases looking nice can make a person feel empowered, but mostly it just makes everyone more nervous. as if all that wasn't enough, instead of having the presentations in a classroom, we had them at the big stage... you know, where we have our plays and concerts and freshmen orientation. this place is a freakin opera house. which means we have stage lights and microphones and remote-controlled slide changers and all that shtuff. why? because they're trying to freak us out.

so this morning, when we didn't have class, my group got together to do a final run-through and make sure everything was organized. we had a lot of time to do this. and a lot of time to get nervous. the more we gave each other suggestions and tweaked the slides and rehearsed, the more nervous we became. i'm not one of those people that fears public speaking, but by eleven o'clock i was freakin out. so just imagine how bad it must have been for, say, casey, who gets really stressed every time we present, even to a small crowd.

and that's a shame, by the way. casey is incredibly smart and did the finite analysis of our design single-handedly, and he did it well. but of course, when he presents he's so nervous that he's not very eloquent and since he speaks rather slowly and is a big guy i'm afraid he comes off as a "dumb jock," which is entirely unfair. poor guy.

but the time came, and we gathered up to face our doom.

being dressed up around my class is tiresome even if i don't have to stand on a stage and sound intelligent. there are three, count em, three other girls in the department right now, and about fifty guys. not joking. being dressed up makes the guys realize, "bloody hell, you're a girl!" and then they act really strange and sort of swarm. it's not enjoyable. on top of that is the wait. being dressed up isn't that bad, but sitting for four hours while you're dressed up gets old.

my shoes were killer though. horribly uncomfortable, but totally hot. they're like mary poppins shoes... but hot.

we finally presented. leroy couldn't get the remote to work, but was okay other than that. travis wasn't as good as he usually is, but he did fine, as did derek. casey was really smooth. i was proud of him. i think i said "actually" about twelve and a half times (doh!), but didn't stumble around or anything. christian was by far the worst due to some technical difficulties, but still wasn't all that bad.

i'm so glad that's over with. our department is screwed up though. they wait until we're seniors to do this to us so it's too late for us to change our minds and go to materials or civil. and they're holding our grades hostage to make us jump through all these ridiculous hoops to make the department look good. what jerks.

i wish i was graduating.

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