Monday, July 30, 2007

What an Extraordinary Friday I Had!

This past Friday was most unusual in that I got to see and observe some very large and important pieces of equipment that very few people get to see, much less young sophomore engineering students. They were equipment especially used for research in various fields.
On Friday morning, I was able to see and walk in the room that contained one of the top ten largest supercomputers in the world. This was only possible because of certain connections I had...
Actually, I ran my fingers down one of the large racks. They are interesting because they look like big black boxes that have been tipped. Like a parallelogram. And they make quite a lot of noise, though not as much as the chillers do.
Then, I went to my lab thinking that was a great deal of excitement for the day.
But then,
my professor came in at four and asked the only other student in the lab, Mike, and I if we wished to go with him right then to the SEM. Of course we said yes, even though that meant I had to stick around a little bit longer than I normally do.
So we walked down to the clean room and put some really funny looking costumes that reminded me of the costumes the kids were wearing in the old version of Willy Wonka where they all went to see the large chocolate bar made small. Except our suits weren't white. They were blue striped. And they were rather baggy. Mine was especially baggy because my professor thought I was about 2XL in suit size because I was so tall, but that was way too big. We had to put on boots that went over our sneakers, gloves, hoods, and suits. And Mike had to wear something over his beard and mustache.
After all that preparation, we shuffled into the clean room which is actually a whole section of rooms each dedicated to some sort of equipment. The SEM room actually has two SEM's. Now I will explain what SEM means. SEM stands for Scanning Electron Microscope. It's basically a large microscope that shoots electrons at whatever you are looking at. That enables you to see things on the nano-particle level. Mike and I couldn't touch it because we hadn't had three hours of training plus a test. But our professor could. So I spent over an hour in the clean room looking at things no one can see with their naked eye. My experiments turned out to have failed in accomplishing our project goals, but I didn't really care. Who can think of things like that sitting in the clean room with such amazing pieces of equipment?


Homemanager said...

Great post! That is an exciting day! Glad you enjoyed it. So you don't care about the results, just like looking at the are definitely an Engineer! :-)

Lindsay Todd said...

Want to power on the big Blue Gene next time, say Wednesday?