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The care and feeding of minions February 9, 2012

Posted by mareserinitatis in education, engineering, research, work.
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Shortly after seeing the movie Despicable Me, the younger son asked Mike if the people who worked for him were minions (like the little yellow guys in the movie) or henchmen (presumably from some other movie he’d seen).  When I was in the lab one day, I asked a couple such individuals which they preferred.  The one who’d graduated said he preferred henchman, while the undergrad liked minion.  After that, we determined that we’d call all the undergrads minions, and once they graduate, they become henchmen.

It turns out that we’ve had one minion who started as a freshman and is the only undergrad working for my husband right now.  Because we’re both doing electromagnetics work, I would sometimes get the minion on loan.  One of these episodes was during the development of the Widget.  I came up with the idea and did a variety of simulations.  Once I got to a point where I didn’t feel we could progress much using the simulations, I had the Minion build up some prototypes and test them out.  He’s far less concerned about losing brain cells from nasty chemicals more adept in the lab than I am, so despite the fact that what I asked him to do involved a lot of drudgery, he was very willing.  What he didn’t realize is that he would make something and test it…then I’d go back and ask him to modify it and test again…and repeat that ad nauseum.

I really hate giving him all the ‘boring’ work but I have to admit that without his help, the project would have gone much more slowly.  He was put as second author on the Widget paper, and has also been lead author on a couple other papers as they were his own projects.  Now, he will apparently get a bit of publicity for his role as an undergrad who has had an opportunity to do some research.  He deserves this as he’s one of those people who you can hand stuff to and rely on them to do a good job and get it done quickly.

In fact, he’s so dedicated to his work, that he’s even willing to risk his own health!

Just kidding.

But seriously, thanks for everything, Layne.  We’re glad to have you around.

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