Geeky Convention

I know I said I was going to post a lot yesterday, but I had a lot of e-mail, and I went to bed early because I was so tired from the convention. Speaking of which…

This past Thursday through Saturday was the National Tau Beta Pi Convention. Swarthmore has a chapter of TBP, the engineering honors society, so I was PA-Kappa’s non-voting delegate (Maila, our chapter president, was our voting delegate). I think we were probably one of the smallest chapters there at 4 members (at least until initiation in a few weeks), but on the other hand, that means that we had 50% chapter participation at the convention ;o).

The convention was held at the Radisson just outside of downtown Orlando. This meant that we never had to leave the hotel, but it also meant that we barely got to leave the hotel. I did go bar-hopping for two of the nights, but I’ll reserve those stories for other posts.

To be honest, I was expecting a total geek-fest. I mean, it’s an honors society that requires you to be in the top fifth of your engineering class by GPA, and on top of that, it’s for engineers. I was surprised; the vast majority of the student delegates were social, well-adjusted, well-dressed, properly hygeinated, even good-looking. I don’t know why I was stereotyping members of my own academic field, but I was expecting some hardcore dorks, and I was pleasantly surprised that I was wrong.

I quick summary: Robert’s Rules of Order are… weird. I guess they’re useful; I also get the feeling that I will never be in a business meeting quite so contentious as the one we had at the convention. Also, the food situation was abysmal. I’ll whine about that later as well. Finally, there was some mild drunkenness. Fun was had. I’ll probably write about the second presidential debate too, since I watched that while there.


2 responses to “Geeky Convention”

  1. Not all engineers are geeky. I think this is more true in civil and mechanical disciplines. I feel like there are really three types of engineer – the work hard, party harder engineer, the work really hard, party what’s that engineer, and the geeky engineer, who can really fall in either of those categories, both, or neither. Within all three categories, you can find people who are well socially adjusted and people who aren’t. In an ultimately socially demanding discipline such as engineering, it’s not inconceivable that the top people are strong socially.

    Clearly, you’re just an anomaly :)

  2. Heh. I went to the TBP meeting when I was president. (That year, that was a 33% attendance rate, as we were only 3 until initiation.) I’m extremely familiar and comfortable with the RRoO-style discussions, since I did Model UN in high school. The main lameness for me was that I was only 20, and *all* of the socialization took place in bars that only admitted 21+. The Philly district folks said they’d try to find an 18+ bar, but failed, and I don’t know that they tried that hard.

    I did come back with the elevator story, though, which was worth it all. And I’ll inflict it on you here:
    After the last meeting, I and another voting delegate (who also happened to be a girl) got in the elevator to go back to our rooms. We both immediately took off the badges and tossed them in our purses/briefcases. Next floor up, a man and woman (looked like husband and wife, in their 50s, dressed casually and without badges, so clearly not there for the TBP meeting) get on the elevator. Obviously trying to make polite conversation, the husband leans over to us and tells us that us girls should be careful — there’s a lot of engineers running around here. Without even looking at each other, in unison, we both pull out our badges and hold them up for his inspection. His expression was priceless, and we managed not to crack up until after they’d gotten off at their floor.
    I’m still not quite sure why he was warning us, as I’d think that, as random boys to pick up in a hotel, engineers would be some of the better choices. (Not that I had any intentions of trying to pick anyone up or be picked up, mind you.)

Nurd Up!