Wednesday, March 7, 2012


One of the classes I took in my first semester was C programming.  The class was held in the huge lecture hall in the Class of 1950 building.  The class looked to me to have a decent mix of guys and gals, but then we were divided into sections for our lab homework.  While I had a female Teaching Assistant, I was one of only three female students in the lab.  The rest were all guys.

I sat on my own, and figured most of the lab work out pretty fast, at least at first.  I still had plenty of late nights debugging code in the campus computer lab, too.  The other two women sat together, on the other side of the room.  We'd walk over and talk sometimes, usually them asking me questions, but I'm sure occasionally the reverse was true.

I didn't have my own computer.  I made it through six years of engineering school, never owning a computer or having internet at my home.  Purdue's computer lab hours were pretty reasonable, there was usually SOMEWHERE open overnight.  But I don't think it's the same anymore.  If I had it to do over again, I wouldn't have been *quite* so conservative on the student loans, and I would have bought a computer.  But it worked out.

As the final project came up, we were told to work in groups of 3.  By then it was clear to me that I wanted to work with the other women.  In high school and college, science classes and elsewhere, the guys I worked with tended to take over.  Instead of explaining what needed to be done, so I could do it, they'd tend to just do it themselves.  I never liked that, so I worked with the women.

The third girl had a computer.  We did a lot of our programming on our own, but as the semester drew close we needed to pull it all together.  So we met at her room, in Earhart Hall.  She was a little upset when we met, was having trouble with her roommate.  We tried working for a while, but she couldn't concentrate.  I finally suggested that she go take a walk.  I was worried that she might run into the roommate, so I asked our other partner to walk with her.  Meanwhile, I worked on the code.

The roommate came back while they were gone.  She got in my face, staring down at me.  Me, I look up at nearly everybody, so I just looked up at her, explained that my partner had gone for a walk.  She wasn't happy about it.

Somewhere in that time, we ended up calling the T.A., who came over to help us out. But when the roommate raised a ruckus, the three of us ended up going over to the T.A.'s house to finish the code.

Some time later I ran into that partner again.  She told me that her roommate had threatened to kill me if she ever saw me again.

Purdue's a big campus.  I'd already had my fiance walk me around campus in the evenings, for midterms.  Mostly I just stayed with people.  I should have reported it, I'm sure, but I didn't.  And I had pretty well forgotten all about it... until Glee.

All three of us started as Electrical Engineering majors, we had another class together later, probably the first circuits class.  But cooperative education throws your education out of sync.  I did see them around campus occasionally, and I remember speaking to each of them around their last semester.

The one who lived down the hall from me, rushed a sorority and got in.  She changed majors from Electrical to Mechanical Engineering.  I believe she graduated in 4 years.

The partner with roommate troubles majored in Computer Engineering, and graduated in 5 years.