03 November 2006

Certifiable? Indeed

The final exam for Fundamentals of XXX Engineering is scheduled as a three-hour ordeal with some wiggle room before lunch for those who might "need a little extra time."

The instructor warned us that the first part of the test would be closed-book covering a particular diagram he handed out on the first day of class. "You might well find it useful to memorize that diagram," he said several times over the course of the week.

I have this "thing" about memorization. It cost me a couple of letter grades in chemistry, because I just never quite saw the point of memorizing a chart that I could just as easily hang on the wall over my desk and refer to it as needed. If you use something day in & day out, you will slowly memorize the useful bits and refer back to the rest, right? It's not laziness; it's just that I prefer to fill my limited number of active brains cells with useful things.

And so I looked at the diagram, allowed the concepts behind the diagram to fill some of my brain cells, and went to bed early (while my classmates were out cramming for the final. Yeah, sure: They were out being 21-year-olds.)

I finished the final in about an hour; call me an over-achiever. The "memorization' part was simply a matter of matching words to picture, rather than actually having to come up with the words from a blank slate. And so I was extremely glad I had not wasted a lot of time trying to memorize anything. The remainder of the test was fairly straightforward, with about 10 questions I had to answer with a SWAG (Scientific Wild-Ass Guess).

In the end, I missed four, thus passing the course. Not bad for a gal without an engineering degree. My success was apparently of great interest to the other engineering instructors; it seems they'd never had a non-engineer in one of these classes before. And thus, my progress was a curiosity, like the dancing elephant: It's not so much that the elephant can dance well, but that it can dance at all. Happily, I managed to dance quite adequately, thus opening the doors for other non-engineers who might have some interest in these classes and for myself to expand into other Fundamentals.

The company does a cool thing with certificates for these classes. A photographer comes in one day during class and shoots a group photo, which then becomes the background for your certificate of completion. It's a cool thing, and I've hung it proudly on the whiteboard in my office. I'll look for a nice frame this weekend. Yeah, I'm certifiable... and certified.

And, dangit, I'm very proud that I took a step outside of my 'comfort zone' in the right brain to spend some time in the scary left brain. It was well worth the trip -- but I am very glad I don't have to live there all the time.

1 comment:

Lee said...

Congratulations, Smukke...it was worth the effort after all! :) Now you can rest those brain cells over the weekend!