Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Purswell

Part-time jobs within campus; (Ch. #38)

 

I was denied any kinds of scholarship in my first semester (1985) and my saved money ($5,000) had evaporated by the second semester.

In the second semester I received a quarter time scholarship that enabled me to pay tuitions at the same rate as US students. My scholarship was raised to half-time the next year. 

Throughout my PhD program, I had to work on at least three part-time jobs, at minimum wages inside campus by regulation, to make ends meet:  I could not earn a residence status to work outside the perimeter of the campus. Not many foreign students cared about these mean limiting laws, but I was raised to obey the law!

I used to wake up at 4 a.m. to start my first job cleaning libraries and class rooms, buffeting the floor, vacuum cleaning the sofas and on. I then rushed to attend a few classes, and off to serve lunch in banquets of hundreds of persons… I tried to study some more and then back to the main library in the evening to dumping the waste baskets, cleaning the restrooms before it closes at midnight.  I had to keep clean from trash four ultra vast floors of the university. A clean space for the students to have a proper place to study and chat:  The Students job was to dirty the floors again and again.

Other “sanitation engineer” employees would make the round once before closing; I did more than two rounds.  I had a kernel in the library to study in isolation, but I mostly used that tiny quarter for moments of solitude.  In addition to all these menial chores, I had to correct and grade countless homework and exams to satisfy the requisite hours for my scholarship.

The worst part was that I was excluded from the exciting projects that I applied for, of grants received by my department from companies. Most of the time, I was denied access to projects under the pretense of military or security credentials. For example, operation and quantifying the capabilities of jet pilots, or the control and displays in the redesigned new Ford motor series.    

I had attempted twice to present proposals not in the line of my advisor’s wishes, until he finally gave me an ultimatum to do according to his directives because he would no longer extend any grants.  I thus worked hard for a semester on his project that was related to safety and risk perception within a make-shift experimental chemistry lab environment. 

I have to mention that the company contracted by the university to publish dissertations sent me a letter stating that there is a page lacking and it needed corroboration or correction and I was no longer in the mood of handling anything related to my dissertation. 

I had paid over $100 for my dissertation to be published and for a copy left in the main library. All that I know is that I borrowed money to officially graduate, and I paraded in my gown, taken pictures and my diploma handed to me by my advisor.  Enough was enough. 

The light at the end of the tunnel was barely visible and my Golgotha road was just starting.

I experienced all kinds of part-time jobs after graduating PhD in Industrial engineering: Working at all kinds of fast food chains, all kinds of small and large restaurants, facilities for the elderly persons…

My dad had sent me a letter telling me that Maitre Emile Bejjani managed to reserve a position for me at the AUB in Beirut, but this harrowing and grueling period for graduating forced me to shun academic positions for years. 

I recall that I filled the application to the AUB but didn’t send it: I had to experience life in the USA a little more, and get my fill of humiliations and indignities. 

The Tunnel (Ch. 37 of autobiography)

 

The Dean, who was from India, refused me a grant as a former graduate in Industrial engineering. Dr. Foote, my former MS advisor, failed to actively support me as I expected of him.

I had no choice but to enroll in order to straighten my visa status from business to graduate student. I paid the full exorbitant tuition for 12 credit-hours and was completely broke by the end of the semester.

I had to take three undergraduate courses, two of them I had taken but the third one (Experimental Design) turned out to be the most interesting and very important for my field.  I settle for the Human Factor specialty within the industrial engineering department because Dr. Purswell agreed to be my advisor the next semester.

Dr. Purswell managed to offer me a quarter-time scholarships that allowed me to reduce the tuition rate.  Dr. Purswell was more interested in the health and safety aspects in this field: he had a private company in forensic engineering for work related accidents. 

There were not enough graduate Human Factors courses in the industrial engineering department for a PhD program: the human factors field was not well developed as the other industrial engineering specialties and the university lacked qualified professors in that field. I was lucky to complement my course requirements in many other departments which offered me new perspective and approach to the human element in all these artificial human made systems.

            I enrolled in a couple of graduate courses in the Psychology department and I felt at home; my heart got set on the cognitive aspect of human capabilities and limitations, instead of the physical aspects that is known as Ergonomics and the modeling of the human body versus the functions of the brain.

Thus, I ended up taking courses in various departments such as marketing, business, economics, education and others to fulfill the required number of graduate credit-hours.

I had taken many courses in cognitive psychology and various statistical modeling and software analysis programs that are frequently used in marketing, business, psychology and econometric  

One professor by the name Getty gave me credits for the Pascal programming language that I had audited and did all the homework and exams as I paid for the course the next semester.  

I was hooked to the cognitive field in Human Factors but my advisor would have none to do with cognition for my dissertation: he was not interested in such a field and it was not in his line of business.  To be fair, Dr. Purswell was more than patient with me and let me write two proposals related to cognition that both were turned down within a year. 

Finally, Dr. Purswell had to deliver an ultimatum or he would have no choice but to suspend my scholarships.

I was ordered to stop all part-time jobs. I obeyed and within a semester I wrote the proposal, designed the experiment, finished setting up the fictitious chemical lab and carried out several intelligence testing protocols just to divert the true objective from the over 120 “subjects”

The subjects were mostly first year Psychology students because they are required to submit to experiments for credit-hours. That semester was hectic but a lot of fun.

The next semester was the worst of all semesters because I had to input thousands of data and read hundreds of pages of computer statistical results and the gruesome task of writing up my dissertation.

I had Dr. Schelegel in my advisory team and he forced me to use a specialized word processing program, simply because the print was professional and versatile. The problem was that no one could interpret the error in the program and fix it when I got stuck except him. I occasionally had to wait a couple of weeks to meet with him in order to untangle stupid word processing glitches.

Something about my second university period in the USA (1986-1991;continue 35)


I applied for a Canadian emigration visa in 1984 in Jounieh but it was denied me; the representative in the interview did not interview me at all; he told me never to apply again.  The unique question that he asked me, but that he was not interested in hearing the answer, was: “Why did you lie saying you had no job?”  I have been told that my job is at an end since the construction project was over in Maameltein.  But the arrogant Canadian representative did not wait for an answer; probably, Canada had reversed its decision for further immigration of Lebanese due to the desires of the Maronite Patriarch.  I thus decided for a PhD program at the same university, the University of Oklahoma at Norman, with a tacit understanding that I would benefit of a partial grant.

I obtained a visa to the USA for 5 years and bought a returned ticket; I never used returned tickets in both trips. I did not apply for graduate studies or anything.  It was a decision of the moment and I obtained a business visa. My parents were taken by surprise as a climate of peace was rumored to last.  A month after I landed in the US, civil war resumed in Lebanon and this time it was between the Lebanese Army of General Aoun PM and the “Lebanese Forces” of Samir and it was localized in our district. This round of civil war was among the Maronites and in the mainly Christian districts and it was the worst; people huddled for 6 months in their basements.  I had to contact the Red Cross in Oklahoma for news on my folks and relatives.  I received encouraging news two weeks later by mail from the Red Cross.

I left with $5,000 of my own saved money, much devalued by inflation. Again, I had no one to receive me at the airport and had no acquaintances to shelter me; it was the same lonely and frustrating process as my first travel, it was as if I never learned anything, but I knew my destination this time around and what to expect to see. There were no internet facilities at the time and no versatile communications means.

I stayed two days at the temporary university boarding building.  A bright Lebanese undergraduate student in electrical engineering named Ghassan visited me at the dorm and connected me with a Lebanese graduate student in Environmental Engineering who rented a house far from campus; he agreed to take me in for a week and I used to accompany him in his car mornings and evenings.

Ghassan was to obtain his PhD in the same year of my graduation and worked with Cisco in Oklahoma City. I forgot the name of the Environmental engineer: my memory is the weakest element of my brain, especially in recall. I remember that I aided this student during his PhD project; I connected him with the specialized person in data design and acquisition and then I helped him imputing data for statistical analysis; he insisted on paying me and when I finally asked for $100 for a whole month of work (I was totally broke at the time) he got furious for accepting money since he took me in for free, 5 years ago for a week.  This is a typical Lebanese testing gimmick for loyalty or whatever you label it; they insist and your role is to continue refusing, but I was not proficient in that custom and abhorred it.

Note:  Most of my jobs and positions after graduation in 1991 with a PhD in Human Factors Engineering were not related to my specialty, a specialty that I am still trying to define and explain to myself.  Luckily, 15 years later, I had the opportunity to teach at a university in Lebanon, on part-time basis, two courses related to Human Factors in engineering and I ended up writing over 50 professional articles to explain this discipline to myself and also for lack of textbooks and professional magazines that the university dragged its feet in acquiring them.  Twenty five of these articles were my way to re-discover what this field is all about and transmit its concept; I thus published on wordpress.com the category “What is that concept of Human Factors in Engineering?”.  I think that I learned to think properly in designing experiments in my PhD years and getting familiar with the various Statistical packages mostly used by social and economic disciplines



adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

October 2020
M T W T F S S
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  

Blog Stats

  • 1,426,735 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.adonisbouh@gmail.com

Join 774 other followers

%d bloggers like this: