Thursday, March 12, 2009

Amphibious Clean-Up

While touring the Caltech campus the other day, my friend Barbara and I witnessed the finals of the 2008-2009 ME72 Engineering Design Contest, also known as Amphibious Clean-Up. You may have read about it here. The students had been working hard for months, and Tuesday was the culmination.

The young men standing on the bridge were about to throw lightweight balls into the water to serve as "floating debris." Amphibious robots then dove in, cleaned up the debris (well, some of it) and crawled out the other side, scoring points. The robots were cheered on by the crowd at Millikan Pond, an ordinarily tranquil body of water that lies shimmering outside the Millikan Library.

The pond would be a good place for students to gather between classes. Yet I remembered there hadn't been a soul around when I'd photographed it last February. Barbara said it's unusual to see many students hanging out on campus. At Caltech they have too much work to do to.

Tuesday, however, they were enjoying the fruits of their labors. At least the engineering students were. I got the impression they enjoy their work. If you can turn what you love into what you do for a living, you're creating the good life.

13 comments:

Cafe Pasadena said...

Ahem, 1 reason "it's unusual to see many students hanging out on campus", is bcuz (last I ck'd) de Cal Tech student body pop is less than 1K.
Maybe most of the bright students have to much to do to be going to school! Amen.

sjan said...

It's a very quiet and peaceful campus. I used to read everyday at lunch time at the pond when I had classes there. The main gathering place in the evenings for grad students and professors was the downstairs bar at the Athaneum, on the other side of campus on Hill Ave.

cieldequimper said...

Well... I like the glass and water, the colours...

Margaret said...

I lived near Cal Tech when my oldest daughter was a toddler. We used to go walking there almost everyday. We hardly ever saw a soul, but there was still a wonderful energy to the place. Gosh, I love college campuses.

Leslie in Altadena said...

I am a Caltech BS alumna and staff member. I've been on campus for 18 years and never tire of its beautiful grounds.

I, too, was at the ME72 contest and was standing on the other side of the pond from your vantage point. Loved the competition this year!

There are about 900 undergrads at Caltech. You rarely see them out and about b/c they are either sleeping, in a class or lab, doing research, or working on problem sets. The east side of campus is more lively after sunset.

Interested in photographing the steam tunnels?

Desiree said...

Great photo great fun

altadenahiker said...

Steam tunnels? Oh, you must. I'm so glad you're giving us this exploration -- I love visiting here, mainly during spring break and summer.

Troos, this is so troos.

Timothy Leary of the tunnels said...

Mathmaticasting is often done in over these waters for

Big Bang Salmon and String Trout.

Petrea said...

Timothy, I'd love to cast for String Trout but I'd be in over my head, even though that pond is only about a foot deep.

Hi Leslie, you might be in some of my other pictures. YES YES STEAM TUNNELS PLEASE EMAIL MEEEEEE.

Peaceful. It is a lovely campus. It would be fun to take some sort of class, just to hang out there.

USelaine said...

I like the hint of the audience in those shadows. Otherwise, it's just two kids ready to float their rubber duckies! Sounds like a fun, fun day.

Cafe Pasadena said...

Yeah, I heard a while back, those tunnels are something to experience. Almost like going back in time! ST are very interesting...2 a dog at least.

Ms M said...

Lovely scene, and fascinating project. Wish I could have watched the competition.
What are the steam tunnels??

Petrea said...

They do look young, don't they Elaine? I thought I was so old when I was in college.

The steam tunnels at University of Illinois were a time trip when I was there, Cafe. I doubt they still are.

Ms M, if they're like the ones under the U of I, they're passageways under the campus where steam pipes and other utilities travel from building to building. There would be, I'm guessing, room for maintenance workers to move through them. They would be lit electrically. There might also be some interesting, forgotten places hidden down there.