On the way to the lecture hall I saw Ryan and Jeff and told them how excited I was feeling.
L: (really excited) DUDE! this is going to be GRRREAT! I can't wait, I am so ready!! Man, I'm not usually this perky!
RYAN and JEFF: (at unison, while rolling their eyes in annoyance) Yeah actually, you are.
The session starts and I am the third presenter. By the end of the first presentation I was worried because the room was emp-tee. At 9:10am people start swarming in as the second presenter is answering questions. I am psyched, you don't even know, I was ready to take on the world and deliver this amazing talk, there are over 100 people in the room, I was really excited even as the session chair introduces me. Then I step up to the podium and... The fucking air escapes me, I can't breathe, I try to utter some words, I even had a joke prepared:
L: Good morning (shaking). I want to thank all of you for attending this session... (silence... I decide I need to put some effort into breathing, otherwise I will pass out in front of all this people) This is my first conference and I have to say it has been a wonderful experience. I wanted to congratulate the Organization Committee for doing such an amazing job, however I do have one suggestion: If you are going to gift a woman with a money clip, it should at least be pink.
(There is some minor laughter in the back of the room where all my friends are sitting, I had asked them to attend and be my official joke laughers. Other than that, the room is cold and silent)L:... And I am sure all the ladies in the room will agree with me... All three of you.
(Again some sort of mumbling, maybe somebody giggled or sneezed)
L: Ahem (still nervous, somebody do something!)... Well, that is not what I am here to talk about, I am very excited and grateful to be here today and have the opportunity to share with you my research... etc...
I had practiced the talk so much, I somehow managed to unconsciously spew out some intelligible English. Mid talk I can actually breath a little easier, and at the very end I was sort of "normal" again. Now it was time to answer questions, and they only let me have at three before the time ran out. Questions were easy, phew! All three people who asked their question congratulated me, said they were impressed with our results, and one of them even said that the implementation of pass-through mode (you need to read paper to know what that is) was "quite clever".
The next presentation was from my advisor, on microinverters for PV roof shingles. The room was full at this point, and afterwards there was a 30 minute break before the next talk. People swarmed around us, asking more questions, asking for my email, congratulating me, shaking my hand, asking me to kiss their babies, etc, etc. I felt like a million bucks! All kinds of people approached me saying they were working on very similar stuff (dc-dc solar module integrated converters) and they were from all over: Georgia Tech, MIT, U of North Dakota, some guy from India, Spain, Japan, it was AWESOME! I have always felt like my work is cool and relevant, but I also always wondered if other people think so as well. There are many solar power skeptics out there, and even I have my doubts about the future of solar power sometimes, so it is great to be reassured this way. I want to do a conference again!!!!
Afterwards I escaped to the Adams Morgan district looking for a cafe with free wifi to relax and get away from the engi-herds for a little while. I met up with some of the guys at a diner and we had lunch and beers.
I slept for the rest of the afternoon because I was really tired and the sore throat was coming back. In the evening we went to Chinatown for dinner. Then Ryan and I met up with Leah (Erin's college roommate, sweet girl, funny, works at NPR in Washington) at a bar. And we also met up with Alfredo! this is a friend from high school, he was a year older, in my brother's class. He found out I was in DC through Facebook and met us for beers! It was really fun and I was so happy to see him again. Ryan, being the eccentric he is, bough everyone some really fancy Belgium champagne beer, rested in French oak, /*insert more fanciness here*/
Then I had one last beer at the hotel with the rest of the guys and now I am off to bed. Must wake up in 3 hours for the flight home and I am NOT feeling good.
What I learned today: Engineers are robots! I am funny goddammit!
Currently feeling: Tipsy, tired, stuffy...
Currently listening to: "Reckoner" by Radiohead