Thursday, October 22, 2009

Juggling by an Academic Couple

Academic as well as any working couples with children have learned how to juggle and to make the most of all the constraints imposed on them. Some academic couples (including some of my former students) are quite lucky and have found positions in neighboring colleges/universities or even in the same department! Others that you may have heard of juggle their positions and commutes across the country or even across the Atlantic Ocean earning more frequent flier miles than pilots!

My husband and I have been offered positions (excellent ones) elsewhere but, for various reasons (and we still wonder) we have stayed at our respective institutions (for now), which means that he has the long commute. Besides commuting, however, as academics, we go to conferences to present our work and at such venues one learns from other colleagues and also has opportunities for networking.

Last week I was at the INFORMS conference in San Diego and this week my husband spoke at the Frontiers in Education (FIE) conference in San Antonio. If one has children, one may end up, literally, "passing the parcel" to each other at the airport. Now that our daughter is a teenager with numerous activities at her prep school (and beyond) the logistics of daily life can get very complicated. There is something to be said about living in a city where there is a lot of access to public transportation so that youth can learn to navigate such systems and be more mobile and independent. However, since we live in Amherst and activities are spread out such an approach is not feasible. So, we attempt to optimize within all of our constraints.

The FIE conference, according to my husband, was really professionally and personally rewarding. He even saw a colleague from England who he had not seen in 20 years. More information about the conference can be found here. The paper that he presented was entitled, Software Defined Radio in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Curriculum.

Above I have posted some photos that he took in San Antonio, including a photo of the Alamo and the River Walk, as well as one of him holding my latest book, Fragile Networks, which was displayed at the Wiley booth at the conference.

En route back, at the Baltimore airport, he even saw a colleague of mine who had just given a seminar at the University of Maryland. It is fairly common for professors to get hearty "hellos" in airports around the world! Thanks to Southwest's seating system, they were able to sit next to each other on the flight back to Hartford/Springfield.