Live from Duke University

Another packed week. I was running on all burners to get enough done to leave Olin at 6am today. I fled to catch a flight down here to Durham, N.C. for the National Academy of Engineering summit on the Grand Challenges in engineering. The two big last hurdles to leap for the departure were 1) interviewing Candidates and 2) finishing the poster that I'll be presenting tomorrow in the student poster competition.

Between the two of them, these two worthy activities left me about 3 hours to sleep before hopping the shuttle to Logan airport this morning. It was my first experience interviewing Candidates at Candidates' Weekend, and it was wild. I think I got pretty lucky with the group I interviewed, because it was a real pleasure getting to know these few would-be Oliners. It blew my mind how rich the experience is to observe, and how desperately one must try to soak up as much of a person as possible in this brief time to discover their fit with Olin's people and values. I left it wanting to ask more, wanting to get deeper into these people. I found it difficult to talk with other Candidates in more casual settings without asking searching questions about their hopes and dreams and character. It felt like a significant act to participate in, this unusual admissions process, which would quickly become clumsy if its scale grew (or its yield shrank) much beyond its current size. I was a little apprehensive about my interview team, where I was joined by two staff members from the finance department. It turned out that my two interviewing colleagues immediately reassured me that when it came down to fit with the student body and the particulars of the intense Olin student experience, I was the one best equipped to judge the connection. We worked well together in our difficult task of evaluation. Best of luck to all the Candidates and I hope you find the clarity to see where you fit.

As for this conference, I'm gradually slipping into the vibe of meeting, greeting, and discussing in quick succession. There are 23 Olin students present, a great showing for a small but feisty school joining in to a meeting of a prestigious, nationally recognized group. We did help organize it, though (mad props to Jaime '12 who kept us all organized and moving through our travel today.)

Today I took a tour of the Duke Smart Home, a sort of live-in lab experiment combining elements of home automation and sustainable technology. Hopefully as it rolls along they'll get deeper into the latter component than purchasing the top end, high efficient appliance X for each task X. But the place is on top of its game enough to be LEED Platinum certified, so they've done a good quantity of work, at least. The program itself has some pretty rockin' student-driven and project focused elements. Check out its page here.

Of the 400 students supposedly registered for this summit, a lot of them must be from the host school, Duke, since we saw maybe a fourth of that today at the Student Day activities. Tomorrow, the program will go over the Grand Challenges for the future with regards to Energy/Environment, Health, and how entrepreneurship will play a role in solving them. The next day we'll hear about the Challenges in Security and Learning/Computation. I've already met some pretty interesting students and faculty, working my way towards the people with the most aligned interest and imagination along the lines of environmental sustainability. Check out what the summit is all about here . More updates tomorrow- lots of sleep to catch up on now.


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