Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Okay, prepare yourself because this may come as a shock: yesterday I did actual graduate student work for six hours. HOURS! It was exhausting. And boring, but at least I was accomplishing something for once. It could also have been physically painful, but fortunately I have an undergrad:

Here, Bjorn is cutting 120 pieces of carbon fiber prepreg for me to layup. I forgot the quilting rotary cutter that I bought for this purpose, so he had to use a razor which can make your hand quite raw from the gap for the blade adjustor. He had much thicker gloves than I have previously, and didn't take me up on my offer to trade jobs so I think he was actually okay.

After Bjorn cut the big pieces I had to stack them in specific orientations:

After adding each layer I had to pull down the top and a vacuum would cause it to compress the samples and make them stick together. Not fascinating work. It turned out the we had miscounted and made more than we needed for that day. It was annoying to think that we could have beaten traffic home had we realized it, but at least we won't need to be there as long tomorrow. Speaking of traffic; ugh. I am so not a commuter. I don't know how people do it every day. If only we had a third person so we could take the carpool lanes back from the Eastside. We could practically fly home.

Down at Boeing I did have a moment that was the first time that I have been extremely aware of being one of few women in engineering. At one point the guy who was helping us took us to a new room to get some supplies and introduced us to the two men who were in there. When the men looked up, and saw me their expressions weren't just the typical "oh, here's someone new" response. I definitely read, "Hey! A lady!" They practically fell over themselves to shake my hand. Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying that they were drooling over me. It wasn't about attraction, but it was a very clearly gender-triggered response. I am obviously female, but I'm not accustomed to that being the first thing people react to about me. I'm not sure that I'm explaining this well, but it was very weird. Fortunately, if our department is much of a sign of gender division trends, it looks like it won't be something that I need to get used to.


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