Friday, October 14

Senior Design Project

A long time ago, in a far away galaxy I was a senior in college, majoring in engineering.  And as such I had to work on a "senior design project".  This is pretty standard fair to engineering majors.  Basically it's a semester long project that you work with your team on to develop various designs in your engineering concentration.  I recall working on my project with Stevie L and another guy, I want to say his name was Gary.  We had to find a plot of land, and design a building for that plot.  I worked on the septic system, drainage and the parking lot design; as the summer before I had a job doing just that for a survey company.  In the months we slaved away on this project, I don't think we ever called a professional and picked their brain; unless you count our academic adviser... and getting answers from him was like water from a stone.

Now a days, it seems like it's the normal for college students to call on professionals for assistance.

I can always tell when a new semester of college is starting because the calls at work start; Student X from University of Wherever is calling to discuss their senior design project.  The calls all begin the same, the student can barely get their name out of their mouth without tripping over their words, and it's always followed by "I found your company on the internet."  So I suppose the internet is to blame for this whole phenomena.  They want to talk details on a project that is not fully defined and they want me to do complex math calculations for them; and to provide to them details as to why or why not their hair brained idea will work.

Here's the thing I am a SALES engineer.  Emphasis on sales.  The more I sell, the more my quarterly bonus is (any my new transmission is thankful for that).  Talking to college students and being coerced by them to do THEIR homework does not help ME sell anything.  (Yes, sometimes it is all about me.)  They are not going to buy, they do not have real money.  I have real customers to talk to, real customers to design products for, real customers to create proposals for.  Real customers who trust me, and don't want to "see my math" on design criteria.

I asked my  boss how to deal with these calls, and he mentioned (under his breath) something about poor reception and dropping calls.  I will admit I tried this (not my finest moment); but the president students call back.  Good thing I have a colleague who is slicker with these kids than me.

I just pray that when these students enter the work force they encounter dealing with students just like this.  Oh, and they get a better grasp linguistic skills.


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