Servingthe industry

It’s interesting when you get to see the professors that you try to please week to week trying to please their higher ups. (I was hesitating to replace both “please”es with “suck up to,” so I’ll let you do that yourself if you want.)

This week was CUMIRP week at the department, which essentially translates to “Oh shit oh shit, all the industry guys who give us money are coming, convince them that we’re using their money for good stuff! And try to get more money!” Working in a big industry-attracting department, I’m always vaguely aware that we’re, say, researching fuel cells with Army money, but this week brings it front and center. The usual jeans-and-button-up attire of most of the professors gives way to full suits, grad students and faculty alike show up at the ungodly hour of 9am, and some nice tablecloths and centerpieces (usually cornucopias of some variety or another) magically appear from the back of a closet somewhere. It’s nice to see us put on a good show, but screw cornucopias. I still say some of the glassware around the labs would make for awesome centerpieces. I’ve also heard more acronyms and phrases like “Cluster E” tossed about than from a classified CIA report.

All the usual faculty and seminar talks/meetings get tweaked too. It seems there’s generally less charts and nitty-gritty science, and instead we get a whole lot more pictures of our shiny, fancy equipment and lines like “We could sure get some awesome data if we had a bigger one of these…” The importance of knowing your audience, I guess.
Oh, and we get fed. We get fed well. For example, I haven’t eaten a single meal at home for the past two days. I wonder if Dow/3M/the Army know that we spend their money on dessert spreads. Ok, that’s decidely not true, but there must be some sort of Jewish polymer industry, maybe like Chasidic Chemicals (you’ve got to say Chemicals with “kh”). What else would explain yesterday’s corned beef sandwiches?