A History Degree?

Jan 23, 2024 min read

I’ve told this story many times, but might as well put it here. I started at Purdue in the nuclear engineering program for NROTC with the intent of becoming a naval officer working on “really cool physics stuff.” I had a full ride scholarship to do so but…

  • I was not prepared for the amount of outside-class work required.
  • I was not prepared for the physical toll of P.T. on top of the academic load.
  • I was not prepared for being taught physics and calculus by (some) professors who were not native English speakers and who were not interested in teaching.
  • The commitment required for the commission was 4 years longer that I had been initially lead to believe.

Well what do you do at the end of the first semester when you’re presented with the choice of “you can stay in the NROTC program and we’ll pay for your education, but you have to do this for 10-12 more years,” “you can decide to drop out of the NROTC program later, but then you will have to enlist after college,” or “you can drop out of the NROTC program now and pay for college yourself, with no guarantee of a job in the United States after college.” I chose the last option.

I finished out the first year course schedule, but dropped out of NROTC and gave up the scholarship after the first semester. In the second semester I found the Purdue anime club and a sub-group called boilermaker-anime. They were the ones that re-sparked the interest in computers and programming that I had in middle school. My goal changed to getting into the computer science program and doing something along the lines of high-performance computing (beowulf clusters were the cool thing at the time).

My second year was spent trying to convince the Purdue computer science department to let me in. It was a college transfer away from engineering so it came with a lot of red tape. I was a good boy and did as instructed, but after a year of being told “no you need more of these classes that cover material you learned while sitting on the couch in your apartment,” I was getting frustrated and running up against graduating on time and in budget.

With two years left, I looked through the course catalog and found that a B.A. in history would only require those two more years and allow me to essentially go learn whatever I wanted in the process using required electives. So it was decided that with only a single extra semester, I could graduate on time and in budget with a degree in history. I used that time to learn about the history of science and technology, especially concerning the development of nuclear weapons and energy. Most of the electives were taken up by earth and atmospheric science and cosmology classes because you cant keep a good nerd down.

That last semester I only had one class, so I took a job at a local outsourced-tech support company. One thing led to another and here I am.