TITLE: Pop Interview!
AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford
DATE: January 30, 2009 3:10 PM
The phone rings.
"Hi, I'm [local radio personality]. I'd like to
interview you about the grant your department
received from State Farm."
"Um, sure." Quick -- compose yourself.
"So, what is this grant all about?"
A short game of Twenty Questions ensued. This was
a first for me: a cold call from a radio station
requesting an interview. Fortunately the interview
was conducted off-line; my answers were recorded and
will be used to produce a finished piece later.
I have done phone interviews before, some of which
But those were arranged in advance, so I had time
to prepare specific comments and to get into the
right frame of mind. to answer questions in that
context. Also, my previous interviews have always
been for my own personal work, which I know at a
different level than I know my department work.
Even though I wrote the grant proposal in question,
it was collective work, not mine, and that shows
in how well I feel the project.
A quick word about the grant... State Farm Insurance
is based a few hours' drive from here and hires many
of our best software engineering students into its
systems development division. Through its foundation,
State Farm supports universities with grants to support
educational work. A few years ago, one of these grants
helped us to build our first computational cluster and
begin using it in our bioinformatics program, and to
support a number of computational science projects on
campus. The fact that an insurance company would fund
this kind of work shows that it has a long-term view
of education, which we at the university appreciate.
We recently received a new grant to purchase two
quad-socket, quad-core servers and integrate their
use into our architecture, systems, and programming
courses. The world is going multi-core, and we would
like to give our students some of the experiences they
will need to contribute.
Anyway, I now have a new set of skills to work on:
the pop interview. Or I at least need to develop a
mind quick enough to say, "Hey, can I call you back