How To Piss Off Your Professor 101

Posted: December 22, 2013 in Non-Music, Storytime
Tags: , , , , , ,

Ahh, the things we’ll try in college. I went one step further and opted for grad school because the economy wasn’t looking too sharp in 1993 – wanted to give it a couple extra years to rebound. Since I had a degree in mechanical engineering, I thought it would be a super smart idea to get *another* degree in mechanical engineering! Along with my doubly-degreed friend Shawn, we went back to UNH for two more years.

Professor Gosz was not only a professor of finite element analysis, but he also owned one of the three signatures I needed on my thesis in order to graduate. So, no better person to mess with at the end of my graduate career, right? Shawn and I had been working for a long time on our final FEA project, some crazy thing that required writing lots of computer code and writing lots of English words about the results. I don’t remember a single thing about that project except for my cover sheet.

Shawn and I had been quoting Beavis and Butthead to death in our final hours of education, mostly to keep our sanity, and one of the most oft-quoted phrases was “What a bunch of crap!” I clearly remember saying it over and over while we were writing up our final reports. Shawn, in his subtly generous way said “I dare you to put that phrase in the title of your report. You’ll have my eternal respect as an engineer if you do.” Well … I’m not one to pass up a tasty challenge such as that, and eternal respect? Who wouldn’t want that? Notice he didn’t promise to respect me as a person, just as an engineer.

So, the last assignment I ever handed in, thesis itself aside, was a report called “Finite Element Analysis – Final Project (what a bunch of crap).” Shawn and I always sat at the back of the class, so this cover sheet was naturally seen by every student in the row ahead of us. Some of them thought it was an extra cover sheet I intended to rip off before handing in, and I got some great bug-eye responses. Then the waiting began.

We didn’t get the reports back for at least a week. We did see Professor Gosz on campus once in the interim – Shawn and I were playing tennis, and he walked by. No comment on anything. When the day arrived that we did get the reports back, mine had his writing on it at the top, in red (of course): “Catchy title. I don’t like it. Score = 12/10.”

Yes, somehow I scored extra credit for my work. Not sure if it was for my catchy title or my wonderful mastery of finite element analysis, but needless to say, I aced it. And … I have Shawn’s eternal respect … as an engineer.

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