TITLE: Pop Interview! AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: January 30, 2009 3:10 PM DESC: ----- BODY: 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 I have discussed here. 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 in five?" -----