Part-time Passions: March 2013

Members spend their free time drawing cartoons and raising bees

8 March 2013

Jessica du Maine
Buzzing Buddies

IEEE Senior Member Jessica du Maine is in awe of her buzzing partners. “Bees are just amazing,” she says. “They live in a matriarchal society, they’re engineers, the workers are female, and the only purpose of the male drones is to mate with the queen.”

How does someone get into beekeeping? For du Maine, it was a need to occupy herself after her youngest child left for college last year. “The year before that, I thought, what am I going to do with myself when I’m not raising kids?” she recalls. She considered raising goats but learned they needed milking twice a day. Bees, on the other hand, “produce food, and you don’t have to babysit them,” she says.

Du Maine, who lived in Missouri at the time, started attending meetings and taking classes at the Eastern Missouri Beekeepers Association. “Turned out there was a whole urban beekeeping thing going on in St. Louis,” she says.

du Maine Passion:
BEEKEEPING

Occupation:
PATENT EXAMINER

Hometown:
ALEXANDRIA, VA

She bought a starter kit that included hives, a smoker to calm the bees, a suit to protect herself, and a honey extractor. She got her first bees soon after, when an association member brought her some starter hives (including 10 000 bees and one queen) from a bee farm in Louisiana.

During the colder months in Missouri, du Maine fed her bees a syrup of boiled-down sugar water—a weekly 2-hour task. When honey production started, she checked on her bees monthly. “It’s like taking the roof off a house,” she says. “You don’t want to bother the bees too much. The best time is in the morning, after the forager bees [with stingers] leave to gather nectar. The only time I got stung was when I went into the beehive late in the day without wearing proper equipment.”

Harvesting, extracting, and filtering the honey took a few hours, she says. “Working with the bees was scary at first,” she adds, “but it felt like a partnership. I kept them fed, and they returned the favor.”

In August, she became a patent examiner with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria. Before leaving Missouri, she donated her hives—which she couldn’t take with her—to a St. Louis beekeeping program for teens.

Now she’s looking into teaching beekeeping courses.

“Patent examining is a high-stress job. It’s all about production,” she says. “It’s very calming in the bee yard. Bees respond to pheromones. They know when you’re excited, so you have to center yourself. They’re such hard workers, they make you feel like you should be doing more.”

Sudeendra Koushik
Crafting Cartoons

By day, IEEE Member Sudeendra Koushik creates products and services as the director of innovation for HCL Technologies in Bangalore, India. By night, his creations take a more visceral form.

Koushik spends most evenings perfecting his cartooning skills so that his drawings can be exhibited at the Indian Institute of Cartoonists gallery, in Bangalore. A member of the IIC, he specializes in cartoons about technology, management, engineering, and Indian current affairs. He posts his work at KoushikCartoons.blogspot.com.

“Cartooning helps me innovate because both sides of my brain are engaged,” he says. “A cartoonist sees various aspects of a situation. That ability helps me see different solutions to an engineering problem. It increases the left-right brain connection, because you’re writing a joke with one part of your brain and drawing it with another.”

Koushik Passion:
CARTOONING

Occupation:
INNOVATION DIRECTOR

Hometown:
BANGALORE, INDIA

Koushik began drawing when he was 7 years old, at a time when a career as a professional artist was less culturally acceptable. He had an affinity for science and math, so he decided to study electrical engineering at the University of Mysore. There, he drew cartoons for the university newspaper and designed posters for campus events. After graduating, he worked full time as an electrical engineer and part time as an advertising illustrator. “I was drawn to the efficiency of advertising cartoons,” he says. “Messages had to be short but convey a lot without much dialogue.”

As Koushik’s engineering duties increased, he abandoned his advertising gig and, later, his cartooning. But he never stopped thinking about it. When his work took him to Singapore and the Netherlands, he noted the local cartooning styles.

“I returned to India with a more global sense of humor,” he says. He resumed his hobby, frequently adding European touches to the backgrounds of his cartoons.

Today Koushik draws about four times a week. About six months ago, he began drawing on a tablet computer, using Paint.net, Corel, and Photoshop. It takes about four hours for him to craft a cartoon, and a solo show at the IIC gallery requires 50 professional-quality cartoons.

“I hope having a show will give me the momentum to approach newspapers and magazines with my work,” he says.

Top: Nicole du Maine; Bottom: Kruthika Koushik

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