From generation to generation

12 Mar 2015

I took a day off work on March 9th to drive down to Chicago and see my grandparents, who were in town for a family baptism. As is typical when members of my extended family get together, there was a lot of sitting around and updating everyone about the present, but also telling stories about the past.

For me, that involved telling my grandparents about my (still) new(ish) job at UW Madison, working as a research computing facilitator. I described my purpose: help on campus researchers use the large scale computing resources available on campus and consult on computing generally.

For my grandpa, that meant telling me stories about when he was in graduate school at Purdue in the fifties, working in Purdue’s then-state-of-the-art computation laboratory. He was paired up with the dean of the engineering college (who was doing research for the government) and helped write code to analyze data, and then ran the code in the computation laboratory. My grandpa was just a lowly masters student, but whenever he came up to the dean’s office with new results, he got to see him right away. Researchers want their results, no matter what decade!

My work is more consulting and instructive than coding, but it’s still pretty similar to what my grandpa did in the fifties. To sit around and share stories about your 20-something self doing pretty much the same work as your grandpa’s twenty-something self, just in a different era? Pretty cool feeling.

stories » computing, family, work, true story, RCF, personal,

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