This afternoon, in my daily meeting with my research advisor, we tried to size things up for possible autocadding and then burning to plexiglass soon. Tomorrow, we'll travel to the Vislab again to talk to them about how they need to draw out the templates on the computer. Once the drawings are done, we can varify them, and then slap a piece of plexi into the machine and out will come cut templates ready to help me design sweet looking chemical plants (almost typed chemical pants, woops).
My area of expertise is chemical plant simulation. Basically, what I do is take a plant design and then put it into a computer aided design application that allows the computer to predict how the plant will behave under various operating parameters. Basically, once this is designed, I can then further optimize the plant, and because I don't have to make changes on an actual plant, save the company lots of money (the cheapest the plant and the most production I can make, the bigger the profit). This isn't an easy job for a blind person who is using a completely graphical computer user interface to build the plant within the computer. So, we use a very big tablet PC-like screen (21 inches on the diagonal) which one can use a pen to draw things on. Because the pen knows where on the screen it is clicking at all times, I am able to lay templates down on a sheet or transparency, and since it is premeasured, I can lay icons on the screen reasonably straight, and the clicks remain relative on the screen (clicking in the middle of the screen is the same every time). The biggest thing that the templates allow me to do is connect objects. All I have to do after laying down objects is find the input and output holes, (pumps and other chemical plant components take stuff in and belch stuff out), and since the icons are properly sized to my screen size and resolution, and since we've got holes that line up with the input and outputs, it works properly most every time. Once everything's layed out, I can then feel the layout, and this also lets me have a visual-tactile feeling of what the plant looks like on the screen so I don't have to remember everything.
My internship will be at a chemical plant consultant company in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where I'll do this design work for like for or five process pieces that are used in most oil refineries. These will become templates that the company will be able to use for other people, so they don't have to lay it all out again, almost like you'd do with a Microsoft Word template. Basically, if Company X needs a sour water treater (takes sulfur out of gasoline so we don't produce acid rain), then they can pull up my design for a base case, and modify it. I'll be there for probably three months, and I hope it will be doable. We shall see, no one has ever done what I'm doing as a blind person, so it will all be a trial run for everyone including the company, who has never had an intern (blind or sighted) before.
In other neat news, Dr. Beitle has been working on a proposal to NSF which would create a program where one could get a P.H.D. in Chemical Engineering, and also get a certificate in public policy. If I don't have a job by the time that funding comes in, this might be a really neat idea. The issue I've had with Chem E and a PHD is that most people who get a P.H.D. work in R&D (in a lab), and this isn't something I really want to do. The Public policy certificate would align me with organizations like the NSF, who require PHDs for jobs there, and who like public policy people as well. It would just allow me to open up some doors, so that might be cool. I'd also have the neat??? opportunity to intern at a senator or representative's office, and since I'd be a PHD student, perhaps I wouldn't be stuck licking envelopes all the time. I'm still going to look for jobs though, and if I get a smokin one, I'm there. Otherwise, if this goes through, I'd definitely be happy to stay in Fayetteville.
Once I get back from the internship, I'll try to get my thesis done and defended, and then I'll graduate, hopefully in August. I'm planning on living in Fayetteville while I search for a job. I have connections with emergency services, and I may work for a 911 call center (very cool), or as a dispatcher in the interim. Would definitely make for interesting writing. None of this (job after graduating) stuff is worked out yet, so don't get your hopes up for entries about heart attack people I had to deal with yet.
I've got laundry to do tonight which I'm not looking forward to, but one must do things that one does not necessarily like doing, right?
pain and agony day at the dental surgeon = t pain minus 1.5 days. :( :( :(