Weird. As I become more of a hacker, I move farther and farther away from engineering. I still love it dearly, but it's often through a thin fog now, a bit of distance - it's like leaving behind your best friend from childhood when you move to another state. You write letters back and forth, and you know you'll move back home someday, but that when you meet again you'll have grown up so much as to barely recognize each other and that your relationship will grow all the richer for having to get to know each other over again. Puppy love, and then something more.

Yesterday I accidentally intimidated Chris Morse by posting a two-page dense ramble of engineering education resources in response to Nikki's innocent query to the metaf07 list for thoughts on ways to do a 2-credit independent study on pedagogy at Olin. "Mel, you covered 10x more material than any 2-credit independent study could cover in a semester," said Marco. "What do you think I've been doing for the past 5 terms?" I replied. "I haven't been studying engineering. I've been studying engineering education. I'm an E:E."

The second 'E' stands for education. Or maybe ethnography. Or editing - I enjoy writing a great deal. (You're not seeing me in top form in this blog, since everything I write here is basically a pure braindump with typos removed.)

All excited, I went and emailed Gill. "Gill! Can we talk to you about self-directed learning? About grading, about-" You could see him smiling and shaking his head in his email response. "Get back to work," Gill said. "I won't discuss this with you until you finish your work to graduate." "Sweet," I replied. "Now I actually have a good reason to get my work done." It's like a big carrot - I hate walking towards carrots, but gosh, this is one shiny carrot. And I have a topic for the OSS paper I'm about to write for Gill, too. Little does he know what my topic is...*

How did profs like Gill and Chris ever decide to waste their time teaching punk kids like me? I'll never really understand it, even when I do it myself someday, but I'll always be incredibly thankful for it.

I'll be back, engineering. I'm going to go away and grow up for a while in some other fields, but I'll be back.

*yeah, it's got the words "engineering" and "education" in the title... but a couple more crucial ones, too.