Sunday, December 14, 2008

So, do you have what it takes to be a nuclear engineer?

Every once in a while, when I tell people I'm studying nuclear engineering, I get strange comments like "Nuclear engineering, that must be hard.", or "Wow, that sounds cool". And of course, the inevitable "That sounds incredibly boring and lame". I think many people have the wrong impression about nuclear engineering. Maybe they see me and they think that to be a nuclear engineer, you need to be ruggedly handsome, witty, incredibly strong, graceful yet manly (girls might not worry about the manly part so much), and have a clear, stately manner of speaking. But, don't worry, while these traits are ideal, you do not need them in order to be a nuclear engineer. In fact, I'm here to let you know anyone who has the desire can make it. In fact, the desire, it turns out, is optional.

Yup. This is me. And someday I might be a nuclear engineer. Speaks wonders for the profession, doesn't it?

To be a good nuclear engineer, you need first and foremost, a good sense of humor. The idea is, you sit through classes that may be boring and you may not understand, and then afterwards you get together with your classmates and joke about how you really enjoyed all the many things you learned in class, and how easy it was. Also, you must have a strong ability to complain. After the joking, a complaining session usually is in order. If you're complaining abilities are weak, you may not have the endurance to last through this. It can be very long, and very intense.

When all else means no matter what, you are most likely going to fail too, so you might as well have fun with it. This guy had the right idea.

Nuclear engineering isn't all about classes. A significant amount of it is lab work. You need a highly developed skill set in order to be successful here. You will be asked to do things like: heat something up. Cool something down. Clean something. And my personal favorite: spend hours on end sanding and polishing steel bars. If you don't have these skills already, they can be developed. It takes a lot of work and commitment, but it is possible. Watching the Karate Kid can help, especially the part where he sands the deck.
See, first you glue metal bars to a bigger metal bar. Notice how uneven and unshiny they appear. Your job as a nuclear engineer is to change that. You must clamp them down and then sand the day...and possibly most of the night, away. Only when you've masted the art of sanding, will you be worthy to gain the title nuclear engineer.

So yeah, if you can joke around, complain, and sand things, you could quite possibly be an exceptional nuclear engineer. In related news, Salvation Army has an impressive selection of awesome sweaters. There are like two rows of them and they are even sorted by color. It's kind of like being in heaven. Knowing that somehow heaven must be better than Salvation Army really motivates me to make good choices in this life.


Nathan S said...

I can burn stuff. I can make fun of incredibly dry professors. I can smile like a cheezeball.

Where's my degree?

Jon said...

Hmmm, you say that the desire is optional, that I can believe. But then you say that the classes might be boring and that you might not understand them, as if those things are optional. You must be going to different classes than me. However, it is all worth it in the end because ultimately you fail and then end up in heaven, which looks a suspiciously lot like Salvation Army.

Dan Ritter said...

Well, I see you finally got some feel any better now?

Katherine said... seems that becoming a nuclear engineer has much in common with being an art teacher. Or a teacher in general. We sit through classes, get bored, complain, laugh about the students, heat stuff up, cool stuff down, etc. The only difference is that there IS some desire in being an art teacher, but your students quash it out of you after a while. Ah...good times.