Of clowns and satellites: Staff Celebration Day
This years Staff Celebration Day featured 63 booths at which staff members from all over campus demonstrated the workings of their departments. It was an afternoon packed with information, entertainment, good food, and professional pride.
Brad Allison was there with his Fatal Vision goggles. Allison is a crime prevention officer with the Department of Public Safety. The goggles, purchased in partnership with the Stepping Up project, simulate the visual effects of inebriation. There are two different strengths, bronze and silver, that correspond to different levels of drunkenness. Allison uses them to show students what a snootful can do to their physical coordination.
"Theyre a great learning tool," Allison said, as giggly staffers donned the goggles and stumbled off, over, around, and everywhere but on a taped line on the floor.
Collin Just was there with his Van Kel Friabilator. Friable, according to Merriam Websters Collegiate Dictionary, means "easily crumbled or pulverized." The Friabilator is a machine that does nothing but crumble and pulverize. Just, an engineer in the Center for Advanced Drug Development, demonstrated how it measures the amount of medicine wasted in the form of dust at the bottom of the bottle. In one of the machines twin rotating drums were samples of aspirin and ibuprofen, tumbling away and leaving a sizeable residue of powder. In the other drum were tablets that had been coated and left no waste. The coatings were, of course, black and gold.
Dan Sovers was there with a brand-new global positioning system (GPS) device. It looks like a plastic globe on a two-meter-long pole with a computer keypad attached at the middle. The device communicates with the approximately 20 satellites that orbit the planet to locate places on the Earths surface with pinpoint accuracy. Sovers, a clerk with Facilities Services Group, demonstrated how the system will enable staff members to, say, dig for buried water pipes without accidentally disturbing buried fiber-optic cables.
"You cant dig a hole on this campus without hitting something," said Tom Dewey, an engineer with Operations and Maintenance. Thanks to the new GPS equipment, accidental hits will be a thing of the past.
Sovers wasnt too busy to let a curious fyi reporter try out the device. He selected a location from among several hed programmed ahead of time. The machine guided my steps, directing me closer and closer to the predetermined spot. Finally, I was within a few tenths of a foot of the desired location. I looked down. The bottom of the pole was pointing straight at a dandelion with a twig driven through it.
"You found your dandelion," Sovers said. "Now you can go."
by Sam Samuels