How to meet other math and science geeks when you're not in school?
November 18, 2008 9:42 PM   Subscribe

How to meet academic/intellectual/geeky people when you work in a mechanical trade (millwright), and can't feasibly go to college at the moment although you want to badly?

I'm aware that many questions have been asked about how to meet people in general. I'm more interested in how to get the sort of social interaction that it seems like so many of the various scientists and scholars I look up to got by going to college, until I can manage to save up the money to go there myself. The geeky joy of reading a new book and learning some new math, programming, or science is great; but it's no where near as fulfilling as being able to have stimulating dialog of some sort about those subjects. I've looked for meetups covering the subjects in my area (Seattle), and I haven't found any really that appear to be active. Anyway, I'm just curious if anyone knows how to get in touch with likeminded people even if you're stuck outside of their normal habitat?
posted by tehgeekmeister to Society & Culture (15 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
This is kind of a shot in the dark, but would you consider seeking employment as a millwright at UWashington? I don't know that much about millwrights, but it seems like there would be opportunities in machine shops and physics research labs and the like. That would give you instant access to a lot of social opportunities at the University where I'm sure geeky joy abounds!

If, as I suspect, you aren't willing to change jobs for this, you might consider trying hanging out at or even joining a cooperative living group at Seattle. I live in a coop, and we love having similarly geeky people hanging out and eating our food.

Here is a list of coops in Seattle. This one especially jumped out at me as something that fits the description of what you're looking for.

Extract from their homepage:
Presently our coöperative has 13 Members living in a large 1911 house in the University District of Seattle. We are no longer an exclusively student coöp, our members include recent students and community activists as well as students, both undergrad and grad.

Good luck finding what you're looking for!
posted by Salvor Hardin at 10:13 PM on November 18, 2008

Seattle Robotics Society. It's got more of a electronics/coding/robot slant, but each meeting has a featured speaker that should satisfy the intellectual/geeky side you are looking for.

As for active. According to their website:
The Seattle Robotics Society has had a meeting every month since 1982. It is pretty safe to assume that the meeting will happen. The location might change, but we will post a notice of that here on this web page.

The Seattle Robotics Society meets on the third Saturday of each month.

Probably 40 or so people attend each meeting and the IRC room is pretty active.
posted by johnstein at 10:17 PM on November 18, 2008

Try a club, like Seattle Robotics Society (a hobbyists club *after review, already mentioned*), or Dorkbot-Seattle (an electronic artists club), or Science on Tap (a Seattle Science Cafe).
posted by sebastienbailard at 10:24 PM on November 18, 2008

Response by poster: Salvor Hardin: I don't think there's any millwright work at UW, it's very rare to get a steady gig anyway. I'm currently unemployed and normally only work about one third of the year, so that's sadly not an option. The coop idea seems like a great idea, tho;; I'll check that out. Thanks!

johnstein: Yeah, I've been meaning to check that one out. I always seem to rediscover it right after the meeting has happened for the month. I'll put it on my calendar; thanks!
posted by tehgeekmeister at 10:30 PM on November 18, 2008

Response by poster: b1tr0t: Thanks; that's another I really need to work on. I've recently realized that a key to my feeling isolated is that I sit at home where there are no people to interact with. Good start might be just to be around people, and then talk to them... Anyway;; point taken. Thanks.

sebastienbailard: Yep. Going to go to SRS, hadn't found dorkbot! Looks cool. The subjects at science on tap haven't really interested me yet, but I've been keeping on eye on it. Probably worth going anyway just to meet other geeks and whatnot.
posted by tehgeekmeister at 10:41 PM on November 18, 2008

What about users groups? There's a linux users group in Seattle. It looks like their last meetup was on the 8th and they only meet monthly, and there isn't a new date set yet for December.
posted by philomathoholic at 11:38 PM on November 18, 2008

There's a few science-oriented lectures at Town Hall or Science on Tap.
posted by milkrate at 12:02 AM on November 19, 2008

Wow; others said it, and it's true. Speaking as a former physics grad student from Seattle, my favorite part of graduate school was the hours spent in the machine shop. And the smartest people in the building were definitely the machinists --- outclassed the string theorists by far. There may indeed be openings there; some folks left a year ago to join Intellectual Ventures (I think they are setting up a water-jet fab) ... maybe that's another place you might look.

Next time I'm in town, I'd have a beer with you and talk some Geek.
posted by fatllama at 12:47 AM on November 19, 2008

um, organise a meetup? I'm moving to Seattle in February and will be hoping to meet a new circle of geeky people to hang out with.

/shameless plea
posted by jacalata at 2:28 AM on November 19, 2008

I came in here to recommend Dorkbot as well: geeky and creative—it's a great combination.
Actually when you said Millwright I imagined you going to Dorkbot and ending up collaborating on some kind of giant water-powered, micro-controller driven musical instrument making that would be all kinds of awesome. Then I realised I was probably taking millwright a little literally. Seriously, though, you probably have a skill set that could be very useful in that kind of artistic context, and I imagine there could potentially some interesting opportunities for collaboration if you have the motivation/time ( and it appears you might have the latter, at least, and I suspect the former).
posted by tallus at 2:37 AM on November 19, 2008

There might be intellectual/geeky people working right beside you. Job titles often have little or nothing to do with brain power and/or the ability to engage in stimulating conversation. Have you tried making inroads with your coworkers about things that interest you, or did you just assume they weren't going to be able to meet your needs?
posted by amyms at 6:15 AM on November 19, 2008

Most universities host lectures for visiting or traveling scholars or other luminaries - often free of charge and open to the public. (See e.g., UW's Jessie and John Danz and Walker-Ames Lecture Series) Departments also host public seminars that are usually smaller and invite socializing, questions, and more in-depth and esoteric (i.e. geekier) topics. (See e.g. UW Math Dept's Combinatorics Seminar)

I also appears that UW's physics department (among others, I'm sure) hosts some pretty heady colloquia, too.

Search terms = {"University of ABC" seminar lecture "lecture series" colloquium colloquia}
posted by GPF at 6:42 AM on November 19, 2008

Look for student clubs at UW in topics that interest you.

Check bulletin boards, both online and in buildings where people with similar interests to yours might be, for events of interest.

You can still walk around campus and visit the libraries even if you are not a student. If you have the money, you might be able to register for one class and meet people there. At many universities this will enable you to get an account and use their computer center. If there are special computer centers for the types of geek you wish to meet, sign up for a class that will let you use those.
posted by yohko at 7:40 AM on November 19, 2008

At the risk of belaboring the obvious, MeFi meetups attract some pretty dorky interesting people. Seattle area meetups in particular should be chock-full of computer types, engineers, and science geeks, thanks to Microsoft, Boeing, and UW. Organize a meetup or two in your area and see who turns up. Good luck!
posted by Quietgal at 11:49 AM on November 19, 2008

another recommendation for dorkbot. it's awesome.
posted by groovinkim at 12:39 PM on November 25, 2008

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