Geek of the Week: Christina Bailo, Senior, Engineering Physics

While most of the world thinks of geeks as scrawny, super-smart, socially-impaired bibliophiles who spend half of their time studying and the other half playing nerdy games, Mines geeks tend to break stereotypes so thoroughly that only a combination of duct tape and Chuck Norris could put them back together. Christina Bailo is a perfect example of this phenomenon. Her status as a senior in Engineering Physics would imply she spends all her time inside studying. However, her interview with the Oredigger manages to eliminate that conception entirely.

[Oredigger]: So, why did you choose Engineering Physics as your major?
[Bailo]: Someone told me it was the hardest major at the school and I took that as a challenge.

Were they right?
I hear it’s a toss-up between Physics and Chem-E. I found it very difficult, but the subject is really interesting so I’m really glad I picked Physics!

What are you most looking forward to about your major?
All of my senior design research. I get to grow an anti-reflective coating of nanowires on top of solar cells to make them more efficient. I’m really looking forward to doing stuff like that; getting more into my degree.

What’s been your favorite class and why?
I’m in a creative writing/poetry class right now and it really helps me look more at the creative side of my brain instead of the equation side…although I do get my nerd on and write poems about electrons and such. I just can’t escape the nerdiness. I think my next goal is to write a poem that’ll be a dramatic monologue from the perspective of a positron.

Do you consider yourself a geek and why?
I totally consider myself a geek just because I love the implication of being smart and I love being able to go up to people and talk about the geekiest stuff. I’ll go up to people and talk about Physics and quantum tunneling and…they’ll look at me like I’m crazy. Plus, there’s stuff like Star Wars, pi…

What do you do with the five minutes a day you’re not in class?
Play video games on my computer. I’m really into Portal and Portal 2 because they’re super awesome games. I like the idea of portals and often think of what I’d do with them. I’m now playing Dungeon Defenders, which is a tower defense game except it’s interactive. You build your towers and you get to call the wave and lead your creatures.

What are some of your greatest accomplishments?
When I was in eighth grade and we still had Pi Day, I memorized pi out to 210 digits. I also learned how to solve a Rubix Cube in high school and I still know how to do it. I don’t go for the speed cubing, but I can solve it in a minute and a half.

One does not simply walk into Mordor, so how are you going to get there?
I’m gonna use my portal gun. I’ll probably fly above it and shoot a portal where I want to go. Then I’ll go back somewhere safe and shoot another portal and just go in. Actually, I won’t even have to walk, I’ll just be able to throw the Ring in and then make a portal somewhere else because portals are awesome.

What’s your favorite thing about life at Mines?
The fact that I can wear a hoodie that says “Nerds Rock” and people I don’t know will be like “Awesome hoodie!” or I can wear my Schr√∂dinger’s zombie cat shirt and people will be like, “That’s such an awesome shirt,” and we can geek out together about its awesomeness.

If you could be dropped into any movie, what would it be and why?
Star Wars because I’ve loved Star Wars since I was in 4th grade when Episode I came out and I saw how totally awesome Darth Maul is. So I’d probably join the Star Wars universe and become a Sith because they’re awesome.

What’s your favorite video game?
Kingdom Hearts. I love that you get to play in the Disney worlds and explore [places like] Aladdin’s hangout, Agrabah, and Atlantis and Halloween Town while battling bad guys and having fun.

Do you know the Muffin Man?
The one on Drury Lane? You know, I’ve met him a couple times. He baked me some muffins, but they turned out to be really burnt, so I portaled him to the moon. But that’s all in confidence, because I don’t want anyone to find out I sent the Muffin Man into space exile with Space Core and Wheatley.

Do you have plans for your future?
I’m going to be a pilot in the Navy. I’ve been accepted into a degree completion program where they’ve guaranteed me a spot once I finish college and boot camp.

Do you have a favorite quote?
Einstein’s “Imagination is more important that knowledge,” because I really believe that to be true. You can know book-smart things and be getting “A’s,” but if you can’t imagine what you’d do with those smarts or if you can’t imagine what you’d do with a portal gun, life isn’t very fun. We need imagination to come up with new things — that’s how discoveries are made.

Any advice for fellow geeks and Mines students?
Don’t be afraid to show your geekiness every once in a while. There’re some people here that refuse to accept that they’re a geek and then they turn around and talk about Portal or Minecraft. Don’t be afraid to show it because it’s so much more fun once you embrace it.

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