When I moved to Carbondale to go to college, I moved a few months early so I could be classified as a resident of Illinois to lower my tuition. I read an article in the student newspaper about the Research Glassblowing Facility, and so I wrote a compelling letter to the glassblower, William Curtis, asking for a job. Although he was reluctant since he hadn’t planned on having a student worker, he hired me anyway and I stayed on as his apprentice for five years.
During that time, I learned about scientific glassblowing from him, and got involved in all aspects of operation of the Research Glassblowing Facility. I designed a relational database for records-keeping. Doing so resulted in less paperwork, which increased the shop’s revenue. I performed regular inventory counts, and weekly equipment maintenance. The job required knowledge of procedures for safely working with explosive gases like hydrogen, oxygen, propane and other dangerous substances such as liquid nitrogen, and glass rods and tubing (borosilicate and quartz).
In 1995, I was selected as SIUC’s Student Worker of the Year.