It’s incredible how many ideas that society regards as ‘good philosophy’ were essentially attempts by elitists (based on class, race, gender, etc…) to frame their notion of inherent superiority as an objective or scientific outcome.

Disgusting.

Passed my defense! I have a PhD.!

I officially passed my defense and obtained a PhD in Mechanical Engineering.

I’ve been worried about a lot of things recently, and am still worried about most of them, but for now I’m just going to enjoy the moment :)

In 2 days, I’m going to walk into a room. About 2 hours later, I’ll either walk out with a PhD. or crushing depression.

PhD. dissertation defense this Friday. Mechanical Engineering. Equal parts excited and nervous. Here we go.

Upcoming Article: Hurdles to Intersectionality and the Importance of Education about Alternative Power Structures.

I’m defending for my PhD. next Friday.

After that, assuming I pass, I hope to take some bit of a break and get back to writing stuff on here.

First one on tap is about how an inadequate understanding of alternative power structures leads to a lack of intersectionality among disenfranchised groups.

As an engineering researcher working in the energy field, I often become frustrated with people working on the political side of energy. This includes activists as well as corporations and politicians. 

I often get asked “why doesn’t everyone just use <insert favorite technology>!? If we did, the sustainability challenge would be solved!” by activists, corporate people, and politicians alike.

When I try to explain to them that:

  • There are still technical and integration hurdles associated with implementing different technologies in the requisite infrastructures which we’re trying to overcome in research.
  • Every option has pros and cons from a physical/technical standpoint, yes, even the one you love so much, but each one needs a comprehensive evaluation (even the ones you don’t like) on multiple criteria.
  • There are multiple pathways to meet sustainability goals, and we need to consider the pros and cons of each one on multiple criteria.
  • There is no one-shot answer to solving this complex problem.

I’ll get responses indicating how I’m somehow part of the ‘enemy’ and nothing I say can be trusted. It doesn’t matter what banner or group they come from most of the time, because as soon as I indicate that their favorite technologies aren’t as perfect as they believe and the technologies they hate may have some good characteristics also, I’m grouped in with the ‘other’ side of the ‘battle’.

That is one of the main hurdles of my professional career. The dialogue of sustainability right now is based on people finding one or a handful of reasons to invest (economically, politically, or personally) in a particular technology and bickering back and forth about why their technology is the best thing since sliced bread and why every alternative shouldn’t even be considered.

My entire research focuses on giving every option a thorough characterization of how it affects progress towards different sustainability goals, by being technology agnostic, so we can understand the different roles they can play and the different pathways we can take to meet them. Engineering details of how these technologies and infrastructures work often produce results that are not intuitive and highlights many unintended consequences that we need to address.

This field is so personally and politically charged that its so difficult to get this kind of perspective to have any traction.

But I refuse to ‘pick a side’ just to take part in the fervor, because from my standpoint there shouldn’t be any ‘sides’ and that’s the wrong way to go about solving this problem.

Consumer Culture 101:

Society: “You’re a terrible, worthless person. But wait, you can change that if you just buy my products or services!

For a few easy payments of $9.95 and a lifetime of personal insecurity, you can temporarily feel good and be distracted from actually solving personal and societal problems!”

Recently, I’ve been spending a lot of my time either:

  1. Questioning whether my research ideas are novel and useful enough to actually make a difference in the world or
  2. Worrying that if any of my ideas are good, someone with more prestige, ego, and a louder voice will steal them from me and either stall the idea or claim it for themselves.

This is what its like when you feel like you have so much to contribute but no one listens to you.

Prestige is not a proxy for making an impact.

Having prestige may help you make an impact because it increases your visibility of what you do. But having prestige does not necessarily signify that you’ve made an impact.

People don’t necessarily hold you in high regard due to the difference you’ve made in their lives. More often, its sourced from you occupying a higher position in a hierarchy that they believe in. 

I need to keep this in mind as I work around and unfortunately have to compete with people who seem like their main goal is to gain prestige as an end rather than to actually make an impact.

So I found out last Wednesday that I will not be a tenure-track professor this year. All of my applications were rejected without interview. I’ve had a bit to get past the initial shock stage, and I’ll probably say a lot more about it in another post down the line.

And then there were two.