Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Growing the "Computity"

Something fun that I get to do in my job is give tours. My boss doesn't want me to do more than one a week, and because of his prohibition, I give tours infrequently enough that they are fun every time. I give a 15-minute spiel on the "observation deck" overlooking our machine room, before escorting them upstairs to the visualization lab.

There are some standard tour guide tricks that I perform. If you tour any cave, there are standard cave tour guide jokes (such as the wishing rock... the rock you wish you hadn't hit your head on), and likewise there are standard leadership computing facility tour guide jokes.

I make the jokes to keep people awake and interested. But I hope that I do more than provide light entertainment to all our visitors, but especially the students.

In particular, I hope that my words reach deeper than a light-hearted tickling of their funny-bones. I hope that some of the students who visit come away with new ideas about their futures. I hope that they discover that supercomputing is a fascinating field. I hope they can see all the things I love about my job, and seriously consider a career in high-performance computing. I hope that they can see that scientists are normal folks with people skills and good senses of humor.* I hope that I can be a role model, to girls in particular, who can remember me as a counterexample when people tell them (directly or indirectly) that science is not for them.

Even if they don't remember me later in life, I hope that I have planted a seed in their minds, and that someday, some of these children grow up to be computational scientists. The "computity" needs new members!

* Nerd joke: How do you know that you're talking to an extroverted {mathematician, computer scientist, physicist}? Because the {mathematician, computer scientist, physicist} is looking down at your shoes rather than his or her own while talking to you.

Another good (but only tangentially related) joke: How do you know that you're dealing with the mathematics mafia? Because they make you an offer you can't understand.


Guest said...

I must be a nerd, I thought those jokes were hilarious :-)

Rebecca said...

Yay, another nerd!!! :)

Amanda said...

I'm definitely a nerd! I thought those jokes were funny (and easily adapted to biochemists!).

ScienceGirl said...

Those jokes are too funny! I can't resist the urge to share them on my blog (with the citation, of course!).