Day in the life

One of my favorite classes to teach library sessions for here is writing for engineering. The students are usually juniors, so they pay attention; they are motivated to get the assignment done so they can work on other things, like their design projects; and they usually have interesting topics. I try to make it interesting and efficient, and while sometimes I bring a topic I think is a good example for the specific assignment, sometimes I like to mix it up by searching on a topic someone gives me.

From this morning’s class:

me: does anyone have a example they want me to search on?
guy in the back: helix traveling wave tube
me: what?
guy in the back: helix traveling wave tube
me: hang on, let me write that down. Helix…
guy in the back: …traveling wave tube
me: so I would start by analyzing what keywords we might search on. Er. Helix. OK. What field is this, exactly?
guy in the back: electronics
me: great. *stalls by doing some other stuff like an exercise¬†about types of sources”
me: OK, now that we know what types of sources we need and we sort of have keywords, let’s search. Helix… traveling… wave guide.
some other guy in the back: Helix traveling wave tube
me: oh right. OK. Let’s hit search.

hundreds of results come back

me, to myself: THANK GOD there are articles. Hooray!

In case you were wondering, this is a traveling wave tube¬†— they are apparently used all over the place, like in radar and satellites, who knew — and here is a sweet patent we found. Yep, that’s a helix in a vacuum tube, alright.

Engineers are the best, seriously. I learn things every day.

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