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Doing the victory dance…on my own July 14, 2014

Posted by mareserinitatis in engineering, research, work.
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Over the past couple months, I’ve been putting insane amounts of time into a project in preparation for some field testing.  Once the widget was deployed, I was fully expecting to feel this great sense of accomplishment.  In particular, this was something that some people were skeptical would work, so getting working widgets out for use is a big deal.  Even some people who advocated for the widget were probably not expecting I’d be able to get it to work as they seemed surprised when I informed them I had finished.

One would think I’d be overjoyed.  I should be waiting for people to pat me on the back.  I should be intensely satisfied that I can tell the doubters, “Told you so!”  I should feel vindicated and totally kick-ass.

Except, I don’t really feel that way.  I just feel a huge sense of relief that the crunch in over and maybe I can actually sit and focus on finishing the never-ending dissertation (aren’t they all?) for a while.  I can disappear for a few days and not have constant distraction.  I don’t have to field questions and phone calls and emails even in my off time.

It’s not that I even want to go on a vacation or do something like that.  I’m okay with working…I just don’t want it to be around other people.

This, friends, is success for an introvert: being left alone for a while.  But I’m dancing on the inside.

dilbert

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A flair for the mundane February 7, 2013

Posted by mareserinitatis in engineering, research.
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A few months back, we had someone from one of the local papers interview some people from our group about one of the widgets we’d been working on.  We were in a different lab than the one where we’d done all the work on the widget.

As we were talking about it, the reporter seemed rather interested and asked a lot of good questions.  Before he left, I suggested we give him a demonstration of the widget.

That was an awful idea.  We turned on all the equipment, got things set up, and…nothing.  It didn’t work.  There were a couple of points where we got something, but it was all bad data.  As we were trying to get this figured out, I could see that the reporter was obviously losing interest.

There never was an article about the widget in that paper.  After the awful demo experience, I’m not surprised.

The lesson I took away from this was to always make sure your demos work before you show them to anyone.  We did eventually figure out what the problem was (some sort of hardware incompatibility), but I wish I’d known the demo would’ve been a no-go and not made us look like dorks in front of the reporter.

The Widget Revealed May 18, 2011

Posted by mareserinitatis in electromagnetics, engineering, research, work.
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Yesterday, NDSU filed the provisional patent on my widget.  This means I am provisionally an inventor, according to the USPTO.  I think that no one can ever again question my engineer cred.

Okay, not really.  What it really means is that I can talk about it now without worrying anyone else will take the idea.  However, I also have a paper in the works (which, once I finish fighting with LaTeX, will be submitted shortly), so I won’t bore you with the details.

The widget, if you’re curious, is an UHF RFID tag that works on metal, using the metal surface for its antenna, and it’s about 2 mm thick.  (Commercial tags for metal are about 2-3 times this thick, minimum.)  The goal we’re working toward is, of course, a flexible, paper-thin antenna that will work on metal.  I actually think that’s doable, but I can’t say for sure how long it’ll take.  (And I’d be wrong if I guessed, anyway.)

So that’s the gist of it.  Details will be in the paper…whenever and where ever I manage to get it published.

Quantifying my emotional roller coaster February 24, 2011

Posted by mareserinitatis in engineering, work.
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A couple months ago, I came up with a great idea for widget.  (I talked about it a bit on Engineer Blogs.) Since then, I have become extremely emotionally invested in the outcome of my little project.  While the widget itself is sort of cool, part of the reason I’m invested in this is because it’s based on some physics that is well-understood but not ever used in this particular way (that I can tell).  It’s pretty big stuff.

For fun, I thought I’d give you a graphical representation of the past few months.  Unlike FrauTech, I’m cheap and refuse to use Office to make fancy graphics.  Sadly, this means you’ll have to suffer through my equally effective but far less snazzy looking OpenOffice generated plot:

 

The vertical scale is my emotional well being.  Zero is the worst, five is neutral, and 10 is elated.  The legend is as follows:

1 I have this great idea!
2 Boss agrees and gives me funding
3 Initial results okay
4 Tweaks not helping much
5 More tweaks making it worse
6 Trying some new things
7 One of them worked! Order of magnitude improvement!
8 These changes aren’t improving much
9 Oh look! That was awesome!
10 Oh crap. I was using the wrong stuff
11 I have an idea on how this needs to work
12 I’m sick of doing simulations, need to make something
13 I can’t order the stuff I need
14 They want me to sign an NDA before they’ll even tell me if they have what I want
15 Stuff shows up
16 Minion puts prototype together
17 And it sucks
18 Minion improves design, works much better!
19 But still needs lots of improvement

I knew things were going to be a bit rough and that they’re would be ups and downs. I had no idea that it was going to be this bumpy, though.

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