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Electrical Engineering stand up comedian

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  • Electrical Engineering stand up comedian

    When I was in college studying Civil Engineering one of the required courses was called "Electrical Engineering for Civil Engineers". As you might guess, the students weren't really interested in the subject matter.

    You see, there are four main branches of engineering: chemical, civil, electrical and mechanical. All the other sub-specialties hang from one or maybe two other main branches. Many civils tend to choose their major "because I can see what I'm working on". Hence the reason why civil engineering students tend to have a mental block on electrical. And probably why my university thought it important enough to require an introductory course.

    Our professor was, as the saying goes, "a piece of work". Let's talk eccentricity to the extreme. Probably 60 years old, about 5'-8" and 300 pounds. The course was two days per week, for 90 minutes, in one of those large lecture halls with about 300 seats, a steep sloping floor with a big laboratory bench on the '"stage" below.

    Our prof wore the same suit every lecture. I'm sure at one time it was a nice tan corduroy. The jacket looked like it had leather patches on the elbows- a fashion back in the day I'm sure, but in reality they were stains, presumably from bars were we're sure he spent most of his after hours. The pants sported a large stain running from the crotch area down the inside of one leg. Our guess was that he tended to overindulge to well past the point that any of us should.

    He and the university probably had a good understanding of his lot in life, and part of that agreement must have been him having to teach the same course for decades to students who had no intention of furthering their knowledge of his subject beyond the bare minimum. Aside from all this he was a gifted teacher, had a consistent daily agenda and gave fair exams.

    His class began by being about 3 minutes late, then sauntering into the hall and taking his time placing various books and materials that he never needed in precise locations. Then he'd tell a story, followed by a lecture, then a short question and answer period, a then finally a follow-up of what he had just taught. For first year electrical engineering students his lecture could have taken 15 minutes, but he understood his audience and geared his presentation as such. I thought then as I do know that the man was indeed brilliant.

    Every lecture would start with a story about some stupid thing that someone did with electricity. These were, by all accounts, some of the best stand up comedy that I've seen in my life.

    My favorite started out with 'Let me tell you about the student who set out to prove that he couldn't electrocute himself with a car battery.'

    The prof goes on a long, precise description of the preparation for the experiment. A freshly charged battery. Two brand new galvanized steel washtubs filled with salted water. New heavy gauge battery cables. Shaving of both arms to maximize conductivity. Finally the punch line: "Then the student kneeled down in front of the separate tubs, immersed his arms in both, then he died."

  • #2
    I studied Architectural Drafting in college. Along the way we had to do a section on bricklaying, plastering, carpentry, painting and guess what. I'm still no good at any of them. That's how much attention we paid to them. And that brown corduroy suit must have been universal because I seem to remember one of my lecturers wearing one to.


    • #3
      Back in the 1970s Cleveland State University required 8 hours of something called Group IV courses. The content of these courses were "urban" in nature. So I took 4 hours of Current Moral Issues thinking we would discuss pre-marital sex and the death penalty among other popular current day dilemmas. We attended class in an L shaped room. The instructor was a visiting professor who was blind: Dr. Johnson. He walked with a limp, and he was boring! The son of a gun didn't wear dark glasses and we stared into his blue eyes 4 days a week. Never mind the fact that he assigned 4 books to the course, none of which made any sense and one book had nothing but foreign phrases that we never heard of before.

      Well my 1st exam came back with a big red stamp "Multi-mark" which meant it was machine graded incorrectly. After class I walked up to Doc Johnson and began to explain my problem when he put his hand up to his face and one of his glass eyes came out of the socket. He cradled it in his arms preventing it from hitting the floor. I stood there speechless with my mouth open while he tried putting this back into the socket. I looked for someone to stop by to break up this awkward moment, but I stood there alone until he got the bogey back in, eventually.

      I can't remember anything about the course, but I'll never forget Doc Johnson.



      • #4
        "got the bogey back in"