14 April 2007

 

Christmas Letter in April

Dear Readers,

I've been busy, as you might have noticed. Got back from Louisville on Tuesday a week ago. That Wednesday, we had our semi-annual Faculty Assembly (photos here). Thursday night, thanks to ERAU's Kevin Snyder, we hosted two outstanding speakers with a program about their coming out stories and LGBT+ acceptance. Spent the weekend catching up on things at home, as well as getting started on some long-overdue grading. (My weakest attribute as a college prof is how long I take to get around to grading some things, usually homework-type assignments. I'm pretty good on getting exams turned around quickly, but homeworks have been known to sit weeks waiting to be graded.)

Had a Faculty Senate meeting this past Tuesday night, where I had to present about some of our meetings last month at our Prescott campus. Wednesday, I got a Facebook group up for faculty and staff to support a new student Gay-Straight Alliance that's forming on campus. (I have been the adviser for GALBA, the campus gay student group, but student involvment there has gotten minimal. The new group has over 100 members already, which is excellent.) (Also, I have no idea how Facebook links will work externally.) Finally got finished with the grading started above on Thursday.

I've been teaching three courses this semester. One, Signals and Systems, is a revision of a class I'd taught previously. It concerns signal processing, filtering, Fourier transforms, spectral analysis, and the like—material near and dear to my heart—so it hasn't been too much trouble.

The other two are what we call "new preps." One, Computing in Aerospace and Aviation, is a new course with no text. I hope to write a text for it after it's been offered a couple of times. This is not exactly material that I'm expert with, so I have to do a lot of research and preparation for each class. I'm learning a massive amount, from how the aerospace industry was pretty much the private consumer for computers in the early days, to details of how safety-critical systems like fly-by-wire implement redundancy, to the communication, navigation, and surveillance schemes proposed to replace radiotelephony, radionavigation, and radar in the air-traffic systems. Good stuff, but, man, my brain is getting full, and the stream of constant deadlines has been challenging.

The third class, Certification of Unmanned Aviation Systems, is a grad class. I figured it'd get a few people and would be offered as a seminar. Instead, since all the grad students in our Master of Software Engineering course need electives to finish their program, I ended up with close to 20 students. We've been reading and discussing papers related to unmanned vehicles and what it'll take to get them flying in the National Air Space. My research work this past year has been looking at propulsion systems aspects of unmanned systems (go figure) for the FAA Tech Center, so my selfish motive in offering this class has been to create a stable of grad students who know something about the issues and could go to work on projects in this area. We'll see how that works out if I can get additional funding from the FAA, who've been dealing with operating under a continuing resolution instead of having a real budget. I've put a lot regarding operation of the class onto the students taking this class by assigning papers to the class, then having teams of students present summaries and commentary on those papers to the entire class, but I have to read the papers, too. The group turned out to be a little too large to have effective discussions, and the seminar style doesn't mesh well with many students' expectations to be able to sit back and have the material handed to them with little active participation on their part.

In both these new courses, I've learned a bunch. I hope the students have, and I hope they can trust that the next times these courses are offered, they'll be delivered better.

Next week, we do project review for the FAA research, and we have some other FAA people in town to talk about unmanned systems. I have my usual courses to teach. But Friday, I'm taking the PE Exam so I can be a licensed engineer in Florida. Not quite sure what bug got into me to do that, but by this time next week, I hope to have passed those eight hours of tests.

Semester ends the week after that. There's a chance I'll be working at Boeing this summer. I'm an alternate for one of their Welliver Fellowships. If someone else drops out, I get to go. Still waiting to see whether the promotion to full Professor comes through. Ought to know by the end of the semester.

At some point this semester, I joined the Board of Directors for NOGLSTP, the National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientific and Technical Professionals. (Just need to throw in an 'E' for "Engineers" after Technical!) I hope to advocate for LGBT+ students in engineering and the sciences, see if we can't get some scholarships set up, etc. Also working to facilitate devleopment of a social network for LGBT+ staff and faculty at ERAU. That's separate from supporting LGBT+ students. We had one get together at a colleague's place and hope to do more. I need to set up a mailing list for that using our web site.

Things are great with Mack and me. He got a chance to do a good deal of inspection work on flood-control structures in South Florida earlier in the year. He's been working for Malcom Pirnie for over two years now. We went canoeing on the Wekiva River last month: Gorgeous. Saw five alligators and beaucoup turtles.

We'll have been in this house for two years in July. We'd like to put in solar hot water and solar electric generation, but don't have the capital right now. With the housing market as cool as it is, we might not have the capital any time soon. That's kind of frustrating, but at least we can go ahead and make some plans.

Enough. Hope all is well with all you readers. Thanks for reading and for thinking about us. I appreciate it.

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Comments:
Damn, my life is boring...

~ BT
 
Don't be silly: Average over a longer time! Your life is not boring, at least not from my point-of-view.
 
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