April 19, 2003

Liberal Arts?

In a comment in a recent thread on the 2Blowhards blog, I admitted that I was an economics major in college. Michael Blowhard asked, "How did you manage to migrate from econ over in a more lib-arts kind of direction?"

By the time I saw the question, the thread was dead, and I'm not sure Michael saw my answer. So I thought I'd answer it here, instead, and point him at it.

The fact is, I didn't migrate from econ over in a more lib-arts kind of direction. Far from it. I started as an econ major, and somehow, by the time I graduated from college I was an econ/math double major. I completed the required General Education requirement, but took no elective literature, history, or philosophy courses. (I now regret that I didn't take Prof. Rick Quinones' Shakespeare class, which was famous. The chances of Prof. Quinones ever seeing this post are slim and none, I suspect, but if he ever does, he should know that his Western Civ class was a hoot, and I appreciate it far more in retrospect than I did at the time. Ah well.)

Then I did a year at Stanford University, where I got a masters degree in an esoteric field called Operations Research. Those of you who are old enough will remember the days when you went to the bank or the post office, and there was a separate line in front of each teller. The guy who persuaded them to use a single line instead was a practitioner of Operations Research.

And from Stanford I went to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is just a hop, skip, and a jump from where I grew up. Originally my intent was to do Operations Research stuff there, but after about three years the scales fell from my eyes and I started doing what I'm still doing almost fourteen years later: writing software.

So all-in-all, I find it amusing that I can masquerade as a liberal arts kind of guy well-enough to fool Michael Blowhard. A lot of credit no doubt goes to my alma mater, Claremont McKenna College, and the quality of its core curriculum; even if I focussed on mathematics, it's still a liberal arts school.

But mostly, I think, it's because I read a lot. I don't suppose that surprises anybody who's been following the site for any length of time.

Posted by Will Duquette at April 19, 2003 04:17 PM