Stargate: Succumb to the Power of the Ritual

Thanks for your prayers, voodoo magic, encouraging tweets or other tweaking the fabric of our multiverse:

Yesterday I have passed my final exams and defence – I did very well, and I am a Master of Science in Sustainable Energy Systems now. As the sensationalist title indicates I tried to play it cool but finally was nervous as you simply have to be nervous. Exams like this are setup as rituals and you should take the chance and feel the illusion of passing through a wormhole.

Edit: The title of my thesis was Security Architectures of Smart Metering Solutions. I add this based on a question in a comment as I had forgotten to mention it. So the following statement has been proven correct.

I am too exhausted to write anything coherent so I will provide you with some random factoids and opinions:

Rumors. People had speculated on G+ if my degree is in physics or ‘some sort of rocket science’. Unfortunately not – just down-to-earth engineering peppered with law and politics. I graduated in physics a long time ago.

Vanity. Many Austrian technical or science programmes continue to issue the traditional title of Diplomingenieur instead of Master of Science. I assume the rationale is to distinguish technical degrees from so-called post-graduate MSc degrees which don’t require you to hold a bachelor’s degree (similar to MBA degrees). DI has ever been a shortcut for ‘this person passed something hard and quantitative’. I am biased enough – I happily agree with this practice. So in all its glory my set of titles reads now:
Dipl.-Ing. Dipl.-Ing. Dr.

(Did I tell you that this is going to be a rather self-serving post?)

Random Reference to this Blog’s Title: Preparing for exams and defense I got as close as possible to combining anything: I really enjoyed reading old physics text books and popular science books on foundations of physics in parallel to engineering text books and legal texts.

(Did I mention I hate anything close to ‘teach to the test’, standard questions, minimizing learning efforts, centralized quality management of education and the like?)

Fluffy Ideals. I strongly believe in the vision and the necessity of combining a well-rounded education with learning down-to-earth skills while keeping your curiosity and at the same time meeting formal requirements and having to prove yourself.

Self-Made. Contradicting myself – blame it on residual adrenalin! – I am also an advocate of learning-on-the-job, being not at all impressed by degrees and judging others based on demonstrated skills. After all, I have worked successfully in IT without having acquired any formal qualification. I don’t count vendor-specific multiple-choice based certifications – yet I still think that people who make fun about those exams should take the tests themselves in passing if they believe it’s so easy.

Education. Probably ‘education’ will become a future pet topic of mine on this blog – I have been a life-long learner, very often in a formal academic setting, and I have been some sort of (part-time, moonlighting) teacher since nearly 25 years: starting as a tutor as a physics master student, teaching all kinds of physics lectures and hands-on labs as a graduate student, then working as a trainer in IT for very diverse audiences – from unemployed people with no technical background to international IT experts in a very specific field –  until I gave an IT security lecture at a university until 2011. Despite my horror of participating in anything resembling an association or a committee I even served on boards concerned with curriculum design and strategy for two times. I should have to say something about education. But for now I have decided that I am more than happy to being neither a student nor a teacher in any organized settings – no classrooms, no agendas, no exams!

Freedom. I am grateful for the freedom I had in picking the subject of the master thesis: I wrote about smart metering and security (thus deliberately not picking anything directly related to the heat pump stuff I was working on). I think I have now – once for all – reconciled all my ambitions in IT, physics and engineering.

Subversion. Officially I am not allowed to use the new title until the graduation ceremony. So probably this post contains illegal content. But after picturing myself as such as conformist collector of degrees I need to throw in something subversive.

More Rituals and More Subversion. The graduation ceremony and related culture might deserve a post in its own right. You (American readers) might be surprised to hear that students here had not worn academic gowns until recently. We re-imported that tradition from the US as young people enjoy graduation ceremonies in US movies – as those students are unaware of the history of the European student riots in 1968 that have eradicated academic icons and symbols. In Germany there even weren’t any ceremonies at all. Currently I think I will not wear that fancy costume as I don’t open the door on Halloween either.

Edit: Oh wow – this was the 100th post on this blog. I haven’t noticed that before! There is something like true coincidence!

Edit 2: I did not mention what my thesis was about – thanks Dave for asking. The title was: Security architectures of smart metering solutions.

30 Comments Add yours

  1. Congrats Elke. Glad you survived the gruelling thesis and have come back to play the the digital sandbox :)

    1. elkement says:

      (Edited the typo you have indicated)
      Thanks, Judy! Yes, although I had any freedom in picking a topic that allowed me to combine energy engineering and IT (Smart metering and security), a great supervisor, and stimulating discussions with external contacts… scientific writing was not that funny though. Actually I had planned to write some posts somehow related to the thesis, but then I figured the content is not that exciting really (My post on cber security was the only exception). Probably I just tried to keep the essayist in me at bay who wanted to write stories about hackers attacking the grid instead of doing mind-numbing research on communications protocols.
      But I guess, I am preaching to the choir (of master students) :-)

  2. True coincidence – there are new things to appear. Jung and Breton would say so. To success.

    1. elkement says:

      Thanks, Steve – I even learn something from your short comments. I knew about Jung (hoping it’s the same Jung you had in mind), but I needed to consult the internet for learning about Breton!

  3. Peter Mander says:

    Congratulations Elke!

    1. elkement says:

      Thanks, Peter! But I am still looking forward to learn more about thermodynamics ;-)

      1. Peter Mander says:

        Stay tuned Elke, CarnotCycle will deliver :cool:

  4. Congratulations, Elkement! It’s great to hear you did you well! This deserves a self-serving post, doesn’t it? ;-)

    1. elkement says:

      Thanks, Pipteinpteron! The best thing now is that suddenly I have so much time again :-) I am now really looking forward to reading other blogs and blogging myself regularly again!

  5. Congrats on your 100th post, and your 2nd Dipl.Ing!

    1. elkement says:

      Thanks a lot – now I could try to extrapolate the dependence of the number of degrees on the numbers of posts ;-)

  6. marksackler says:

    Congrats. I used to be devoted to lifelong learning. Then I started blogging and it turned into unlearning. :D

    1. elkement says:

      This is very Zen, Mark! Isn’t there a quote by some management guru: “Learning new things is easy, forgetting old habits is tough.” (I can’t find the quote on the first two pages of Google results though. So I probably just made it up?)

      1. marksackler says:

        Zen? There is nothing Zen about me. I’m the opposite of Zen. Like, neZ, maybe.

        1. elkement says:

          I tried to create a Google poem now (see searching for
          ‘the opposite of z’
          Resulting poem:
          the opposite of zero
          the opposite of zenith
          the opposite of zen
          the opposite of zoom

  7. M. Hatzel says:

    Congratulations, Elke. :)

    1. elkement says:

      Thanks, Michelle!

  8. It’s so nice to see that you have something GREAT to show for your work. I am very happy to hear the news. So now you get to sit back and observe the world from your new point of view. From this new mountain top it must look just a little different from what you saw before, of course. Now you get to take a new look and decide what you’ll do next…but not right away, of course. Now you get to celebrate :-)
    It’s nice to see you back online and I hope that you will be able to share a little of what you have learned, maybe, here on you blog. But take it easy on us–you will have to explain/derive your formulas for us :-)

    1. elkement says:

      Thanks, Maurice! I really do plan to blog about physics and engineering (and security and anything in between…) now! But it does not feel like sitting on top of a mountain – the more you learn about diverse subjects the more you realize how much remains to be learned :-)
      I am celebrating all the day on social networks now! :-)

  9. I think I have already congratulated you on your achievement but I don’t believe it can hurt to do so once again. What do they say about these advanced degrees … they require 10% inspiration and 90% motivation? It is clear that you have worked hard to get where you are … and if you have done it in an unconventional way it has been even that much more difficult. All of us here in the Blog-o-sphere are proud of you. Nice job. Congratulations. So … the only question which remains is … are you done? Or, is there a PhD in your future? Perhaps that is a sentence that you don’t even want to read right now! D PS: What was the title of your thesis?

    1. elkement says:

      Thanks, Dave! Ha ha – no more degrees! I think I am done now :-) No, really – I was a non-traditional student now, most of my colleagues being (a lot) younger than me. I was OK with that – it was interesting actually… but I believe in a few years that would feel really awkward ;-) But probably I could study philosophy or history of arts then – these are the programs typically picked by retirees in Austria.
      The title of the thesis was: Security architectures of smart metering solutions.

      1. Hey Elke, this is a most inappropriate place to ask a technical question … but I don’t like the WordPress forums. Any idea how and or why i might be receiving comments to a post made at a blog I follow IN MY READER? This is a blog that just recently migrated to … I’m wondering if that has anything to do with it? D

        1. elkement says:

          Yes, I think this is the way comments on self-hosted ( blogs are displayed. I am also following a self-hosted blog and each comment is displayed in the reader as if it were another post – unfortunately.

          1. And … no work-around to prevent this? How annoying.

            1. elkement says:

              I don’t think so – you need to switch to another (RSS) reader and don’t follow these blogs in your WP reader, I guess.

  10. danielmullin81 says:


  11. Herzlichen Glückwunsch, Frau Dipl.-Ing. Dipl.-Ing. Dr. Elke! ☼

    1. elkement says:

      Herzlichen Dank :-)

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