The Engineer's Sing Along Blog

William Saulnier '16

It's two in the morning, I have a design nature hopper to finish, a found percussion piece to write (don't ask), a modcon lab and prelab to write up, AND a diagnostic due on Friday, but there is something else I want to talk about, and that's completely outside of what you think of "engineering".

I'm a solver of practical problems, or so Dell Conagher would say, and that invokes many images outside of just sentries, hopping toys, and the survival of marine life. One "practical problem" that I've been working on for the past week is FWOP's rendition of Dr Horrible's Sing Along Blog. It will be put on today the 11th of October (at a more reasonable hour), the 12th, and the 13th, and the cast and crew have put the entire show together in just over a month (and with under a week in the theater!). My roommate, Myles, was cast as Dr. Horrible himself, and due to his striking resemblance he is now referred to as Neil Patrick Freshman.
Quite striking, isn't it?
My responsibility for the show was designing and operating lighting. My friend Justin, a fellow freshman, grappled the practical problem of sound. Together, we spent long hours yelling into mics, burning fingers on hot lights, switching gels, yelling into headsets, running up and down from the booth, yelling down from the booth, yelling up at the booth... Lots of yelling. It gets very stressful trying to make sure everything is working, and then all of a sudden things break horribly (pardon the pun), your lighting cues get messed up, you have to reprogram a long string of cues to ensure that the one light that seems to pop on at the worst moments is blocked out. However, when things like that happen, I remember being in the modcon lab, and trying to debug strange problems while Oscar hovers over your shoulder smiling as you work.
Olin's pretty good about giving you problems and the tools to solve them. Olin is also very good at letting you discover the solution. It reflects not only lighting, but also everything else as well. Most of the time the solution to a problem isn't something you can look up, or sometimes is known outright. If everyone had to solve problems that already had a solution, we'd be going nowhere, and fast. No matter if it's code or hoppers or circuits or lighting, Olin's filled with these challenges, and it can be frustrating. But it's the kind of frustration that's motivating, not defeating. It makes you want to work harder to fix the problems, and when everything clicks and works, it's great.
But I'm getting lost again. The play! Working on lighting for FWOP (Franklin W. Olin Players) was challenging, but now with showtime in less then 24 hours I'm giddy for everyone to see all the hard work all the crew and cast had put in, as well as for everyone to see everything (geddit? Sorry, it's 2 AM). Of course, all the hard work the primarily freshman cast and all the crew put in also means late night sessions trying to get all the work that's piling up done.
work session
Left to Right: Philip ('13), Molly ('13), Myles ('16), and Ilana ('13) all working on various work after a long FWOP Rehersal
It's a practical problem. One that I just love tackling. Just not when I'm ready to sleep.
Peace! But not, literally.
Posted in: Class of 2016