Friday @ the Center
January 16, 2009
Advisor Corner: Will I Be Able to Walk?
Faculty advisors may discover in working with a senior, that he or she will not complete all of the degree requirements by the end of spring quarter. Will Shirley Senior be able to walk at Commencement in June? It depends. If Shirley has no more than a quarter's worth of credits (max. 20) to complete and will finish them in the summer, she can walk. But if Shirley will not complete her remaining work in the summer and will finish up in the fall, she will not be eligible to participate that June. SPU’s academic year runs from autumn quarter through summer quarter. For example, if Shirley Senior switched her intended quarter of graduation from Spring 2009 to Autumn 2009, she would be eligible to participate in the Commencement exercises in June 2010 (instead of June 2009), as the June 2010 events will honor students who graduated or are slated to graduate in the 2009-2010 academic year.
January Grant Advisor Available
The January edition of The Grant Advisor can now be accessed through on-campus computers. It contains 20-25 full program reviews and over 300 listings of grant and fellowship programs. If it generates any possibilities or ideas, contact Laura Lundahl, our academic grant writer, for an initial conversation about your ideas and the grant writing process.
And Now For Something Completely Different...
Thanks to Luke Reinsma for sharing this gem: the physicist Richard Feynman talking about his adventures at Los Alamos during WWII to explain the effectiveness of telling students why they are doing something:
"I was asked to stop working on the stuff I was doing in my group and go down and take over the IBM group. . . . And although they did three problems in nine months, I had a very good group. The first problem was that they had never told the fellows – they had selected from all over the country, a thing called Special Engineer Detachment. They were clever boys from high school, who had engineering ability, and the Army collected them together in the Special Engineer Detachment. They sent them up to Los Alamos. They put them in barracks and they would tell them nothing. Then they came to work and what they had to do was work on IBM machines, punching holes, numbers that they didn’t understand, nobody told them what it was. The thing was going very slowly. I said that the first thing there has to be is that the technical guys know what we’re doing. Oppenheimer went and talked to the security people and got special permission. So I had a nice lecture in which I told them what we were doing, and they were all excited. We’re fighting a war. We see what it is. They knew what the numbers meant. If the pressure came out higher, that meant there was more energy released and so on and so on. They knew what they were doing. Complete transformation! They began to invent ways of doing it better. They improved the scheme. They worked at night. They didn’t need supervising in the night. They didn’t need anything. They understood everything. They invented several of the programs that we used and so forth. So my boys really came through and all that had to be done was to tell them what it was, that’s all. It’s just, don’t tell them, they’re punching holes, please. As a result, although it took them nine months to do three problems before, we did nine problems in three months, which is about nearly ten times as fast."
Richard Feynman, “Los Alamos from Below.” From The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short Works of Richard P. Feynman. Ed. Jeffrey Robbins. Cambridge, Mass.: Perseus Publishing, 1999, pp. 82-83.