Geek of the Week: Paris Spinelli (Senior, Chemical Engineering)
Many of the geeks at Mines prefer to focus their nerd energies on specific areas such as science, gaming, computers, science fiction, or any number of stereotypical nerdy engineering interests. However, the population at Mines is nothing if not diverse and it is not difficult to find a geek that both holds to and breaks the stereotypes with great enthusiasm. Enter Paris Spinelli, a Mines Renaissance man. He is a wordsmith and an outdoorsman who finds himself equally fascinated with both the works of Shakespeare and classical works of fiction as he is with inter-molecular reactions and the quantum realm.
[Oredigger]: Why Chemical Engineering?
[Spinelli]: Originally, I wanted to be a Mechanical, but then I took Chem 2, loved it [and] thought “Hey, maybe if I like this Chemistry thing, I should try Chemical Engineering.” I decided to take O-Chem, see if I liked it, and I loved it and that was it.
What has been your favorite class so far?
Physical Chemistry (P-Chem) deals with chemistry on the ground level, which I find fascinating. The quantum world is both so completely incomprehensible and fascinating.. The fact that we can come up with so many mathematical models to describe it but we don’t really know the character of it…that’s fascinating.
Are you a geek and why?
Definitely yes, although I would redefine “geek” to “nerd.” I am a word nerd. I love words, I love science, I love knowledge. If that doesn’t make you a geek, I don’t know what does.
How do you spend your spare time?
My spare time is spent in that dungeon known as the Coady Lab. Although, what I do do with some of my spare time [is] X-Kitchn on Friday afternoons from 11:30-1, which is free food for students at the Cru-Plex, 1611 Arapahoe Street Apartment 6, just across from Marquez. This is for you, person reading this!
What is your favorite thing about Mines?
I really like the way it challenges me. It’s really good to be able to work hard. It’s hard work, but there are good rewards. Also…it’s really cool how the engineers all need each other. Basically, we’re all just one big happy family that’s giving each other a group hug and that’s Mines in a nutshell.
What are your greatest accomplishments?
One time I ate three pounds of chili. But seriously, it probably would be getting into Mines. I also completed the Triple Bypass two summers ago, which is a bike ride that is one hundred twenty-six miles.
Who would win in a fight between Carl Sagan and Bill Nye the Science Guy?
Carl Sagan obviously wins the baking contest, Bill Nye wins the bow tie-off, but a fight…if the fight is in space, Sagan wins. If the fight takes place in an animal cell or chemistry lab, Bill Nye wins. Of those three, Bill Nye would take two of the three, so Bill Nye wins, though it’s close. Sagan’s too kind and the turtleneck might not help.
If you could be dropped into any fictional universe, what would it be and why?
I would live in Minas Tirith all day e’ry day. I would be in the Tower Guard, which as Beregond says, it is no small honor to be amongst the Tower Guard. I would hang out with Pippin all the time. Also, Farmir’s my homeboy.
What is your most interesting random talent?
I can continuously whistle because I can whistle while breathing [in or out].
What is your best nerd moment?
One time, I was doing a problem and I thought I had to use a geometric series to solve it and all I wound up doing was proving that ½ = ½. Also, one time I was in Waffle House and someone asked if I knew the opening to Romeo and Juliet and I totally did! It was pretty dope.
How would you react if you suddenly found yourself face-to-face with a Balrog?
[Assuming I’m a Tower Guard,] I’m gonna try and stab him with my spear, I’m gonna fail, he’s gonna swipe at me, I’m gonna burn alive, but that’s okay. My spirit will live on in the halls of my fathers. I will have done my duty to the city.
Do you have any plans for the future?
Getting an internship would be sweet, graduating would be sweet, sleeping at some point maybe.
Do you have any advice for fellow geeks and Mines students?
Work hard, play hard, work hard, stay awake, do your homework, go to class, read Lord of the Rings, George Lucas is awful and he hates you.
Do you have a favorite quote?
I actually have many, but I’ll leave you with this: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt