The man is second-year graduate student in Materials and Metallurgical Engineering program Mark Taylor. The myth is that grad students never emerge from the caverns of their work. The legend is people surviving the graduate program at Mines. Despite the rigor of his studies, Mark somehow manages to keep himself active outside the classroom, and in good spirits. This interview finds him in his office, at an intermission of his work.
Oredigger: So why does Materials and Metallurgical Engineering interest you?
Taylor: I kinda just fell into it. My junior year of undergrad, I took some metallurgical class. I liked it, so I changed majors. I didn’t really plan on it; [the class] was just an elective and I liked what I was doing… it wasn’t really planned.
What’s been your favorite class so far?
Transport and Solids because the professor had an abstract teaching style and he had a British accent.
Are you a geek and why?
Yeah. In high school on Friday nights, I would sometimes just sit at home and play Minesweeper all night.
What occupies the time not spent sleeping or doing schoolwork?
Playing tennis, hiking fourteeners, snowboarding, reading books… I’m currently reading [among other things] Mein Kampf. I like to cook stuff I see on the Food Channel.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishments thus far?
This summer, I won a couple of Open Men’s tennis tournaments. I hiked 14 fourteeners this summer. I shot a deer at about 100 yards with an SKS with an open sight.
If you were a time-traveler, when would you visit first?
The Battle of Thermopylae, just to see 300 men own an army of thousands.
What’s the best thing about life at Mines?
It’s convenient for someone with and outdoor lifestyle and there’s not much distraction [from] work (like women).
What’s the hardest thing about your graduate work?
Uncertainty… you don’t know if your experiments are even relevant or worth anything. [They] might just be a complete dead end. You’re still contributing but you don’t want to be the guy who found every way that doesn’t work.
If you could be dropped into any fictional setting, what would it be and why?
The Spyro the Dragon worlds. Everything looks perfect to me… just the way they look, it just looks like a perfect world for escape.
What’s your favorite quote or saying?
“Don’t take life too seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.”
Do you have any plans for your future?
I plan on travelling for a six-month to one-year period… mostly Europe, Russia, and Southeast Asia. After that, I plan on living in my sister’s pool house for an undefined amount of time. She doesn’t have a pool house yet, but she will by the time I get out.
Do you have any advice for your fellow Mines students and geeks?
You think you know what you want, but for most people, not until about age 26-30 do you really know what you want in life, so don’t bother trying to figure it out sooner. Don’t sweat it if you don’t know [what you want] and don’t spend so much time trying to figure it out.